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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Chris Cillizza reports at CNN politics that, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, “Asked whether the “Democratic Party has moved too far to the left, too far to the right, or would you say the Democratic Party hasn’t moved too far in either direction”, nearly half — 47%! — of respondents say that the party has moved too far left. Asked hat same question of the Republican Party and just 37% say it has moved too far right…Almost 6 in 10 men (57%) say Democrats have moved too far left as do 55% of whites with a college degree. Whites, generally speaking, are much more likely to say the party has moved too far left (53%) as compared to Hispanics (33%) and blacks (17%).”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “A report released last week by the Center for American Progress sheds important light on the party’s choices. One of its key findings will cheer Trump’s foes: If every demographic group votes as it did in 2016, Trump will lose the popular vote by an even greater margin than he did last timeand fall short in the three states that put him over the top: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin…Why? Because, write Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, the study’s authors, “the nonwhite share of the eligible electorate will increase by 2 percentage points, almost entirely from increases in the shares of Hispanics, Asians, and voters of other races. That will be balanced by a commensurate decrease in the share of white noncollege eligible voters…But Democrats should not think that victory is already in the bank. The electoral college decides who is president, and Teixeira and Halpin note that these demographic shifts alone would produce only very narrow margins in the three key states. If Democrats fail to convert some of Trump’s voters or increase turnout among the faithful, the party’s candidate would still be at risk…“Whoever the Democratic nominee is,” Teixeira said in an interview, “he or she must do two things above all: reach out to the white working class and increase black turnout.”

Julia Azari, author of “Delivering the People’s Message: The Changing Politics of the Presidential Mandate,” writes at FiveThirtyEight that “ultimately, as history shows us, a big or fragmented Democratic field doesn’t carry real general election risks. A large and unwieldy primary field can produce an unexpected nominee, but it doesn’t mean a party can’t or won’t rally behind a candidate by the time of the general election…Granted, we can’t be totally sure of the effects of a field this large. But I’d argue that a primary as competitive as the current one can be better for the party than artificial unity (even if 12-candidate debates are a bit exhausting). The primary thus far has helped to clarify what those factions actually are — and what they’re not. It tells voters important things about the state of politics in the party, including divisions over policy solutions and among different demographics. It also illustrates the challenges faced by parties trying to resolve these issues and highlights the fact that democracy, even within parties, is difficult and often full of disagreement. All that said, having 10 or two candidates in the race by the Iowa caucuses should have little bearing on whether Democrats are competitive in 2020.”

In her Cook Political Report post, “Can Warren Beat Trump?“, Amy Walter pinpoints some of the likely problems Warren’s nomination would entail: “Warren will want to go toe-to-toe with Trump on economic inequality and corporate corruption. Trump wants the fight to be about ‘open borders’ and ‘socialism’ and ‘gun grabbing.’ Remember how effectively Trump lambasted Hillary Clinton for saying she wanted to put “a lot of coal mines and coal miners” out of business? Just imagine how Warren’s call to “ban all fracking” is going to play in western Pennsylvania…The other big question mark hanging over all of this analysis is for where Trump sits in November 2020. The closer he is to the low-end of his approval rating trading range (35-40 percent), the easier it is to make the case that almost any Democrat can win. The closer he is to the higher end (43-46 percent), the stronger the case for Trump. Warren becomes more of a risk the less-risky he looks. At this point, however, from his rage tweets over impeachment, to his disjointed policy on Syria, to his ill-advised decision to try and host an international conference at his own hotel, President Trump is doing everything possible to look like the more dangerous pick.”

Also at CNN Politics, Harry Enten reports that “Impeachment isn’t popular in Wisconsin and these 5 other key swing states,” and notes, “In the context of the 2020 presidential election, we need to be looking to swing state polling to see how impeachment may play out on the campaign trail. The polls indicate that impeaching and removing Trump in these pivotal states is far from a slam dunk…Indeed, take an examination of the battleground states that Democrats almost certainly need to make inroads into in 2020. The New York Times and Siena College, 2018’s most accurate pollster, took a poll of voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona. These were closest states in the country that cast their electoral votes for Trump in 2016…Just 43% of voters in these six states want to impeach and remove from office at this point. The majority, 53%, do not. This means that the margin for not impeaching and removing Trump in these states (+10 points) is running well ahead of Trump’s margin in these states of about 1.5 points. Put another way, impeaching and removing Trump from office in these states is not a popular position.”

From “‘Digital is the testbed’: Why the 2020 election is focused on online advertising” by Kristina Monllos at Digiday.com:  “What we’re seeing now is that digital is the testbed, the momentum-gatherer for these candidates and these campaign platforms,” said Alex Funk, vp of strategic development at 3Q Digital. “We’re going to see a lot more TV as we get closer, but until then, digital strategists will have candidates diversify across a number of different platforms.”…The digital ads serve as a quick and relatively cheap way for candidates to test out campaign messages, platforms and even a myriad of creative executions for those ads to see what works and what doesn’t. The feedback from voters online from those digital ads can then be used to craft the television campaigns, which typically flood the airwaves six to eight weeks before Election Day, and even help presidential hopefuls figure out where they need to spend more time with voters…“It’s a data capture game,” said Nick Venezia, managing director of Social Outlier, a digital shop that has worked on digital advertising for political campaigns. “You have to start telling a story with messaging people can get behind now so that people will buy it later.”…Overall, Kantar predicts that $6 billion will be spent on paid advertising during the 2020 election, with 20% or $1.2 billion going to digital, 53% or 3.2 billion going to broadcast television and 20% or $1.2 billion going to cable television. All told, television will account for 73% of the political ad spending in 2020 versus the 20% expected on digital, per Kantar.”

Are Blue-Collar White Women Trump’s Red Wall?,” asks Anne Kim at The Washington Monthly. Kim writes, “While Democrats made crucial gains among these voters in the 2018 election, these women may now be rallying to Trump’s defense…Opinion polls have shown increased momentum toward impeachment since evidence came to light that Trump pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Biden family. As of October 21, Real Clear Politics’ average found that 51.0 percent of Americans support an inquiry, whereas 42.8 percent are opposed. Among blue collar white women, however sentiment is moving in the opposite direction, according to Trendency Research, which maintains a longitudinal panel of more than 1,000 Americans polled daily…As of October 21, Trendency found that a solid majority (54 percent) of non-college-educated white women either outright oppose or lean against impeachment, while just 37 percent strongly support it. In fact, blue-collar white women are the strongest opponents of impeachment among all white voters (see chart below). This opposition is in stark contrast to college-educated white women, among whom only 26 percent indicated “no support” for impeachment as of October 21.” However, notes Kim, “Blue-collar white men, in contrast, have swung dramatically in favor of impeaching Trump. While just 26 percent of blue-collar white men showed “strong” support for impeachment as of September 28—with 59 percent who outright opposed—40 percent of these men now strongly support impeachment as of October 21 and a minority of 47 percent now oppose it.”

Kim continues, “By sheer numbers, blue-collar white women are the nation’s biggest voting bloc.  According to Democratic political research firm Catalist, non-college-educated white women made up 25 percent of voters in 2018 and 26 percent of voters in 2016. These women outnumber both non-college white men, who accounted for 22 percent of the 2018 voters, and college-educated white women, who comprised just 15 percent of the 2018 electorate…Luckily for Democrats, blue-collar white women are still a potentially winnable group. Catalist’s analysis, for instance, found that while Democratic candidates lost among both blue collar men and women in 2018, the margin of defeat among non-college-educated white women was half that among non-college-educated white men. (Democrats lost by 36 points among blue-collar white men and 18 points among blue-collar white women.)…These women have also shown more willingness to cross the aisle. Although college-educated suburban white women won much of the credit for delivering House Democrats a majority in 2018, blue-collar white women have shown some shifting allegiances, even if not of the same magnitude. Democrats’ performance with them in 2018 was still a three-point improvement over 2016, according to Catalist. (By comparison, Democrats gained 11 points among college-educated white women, solidifying their new status as a core constituency of the party.)

Kim concludes, “All of these findings, however, predate the inquiry into Trump’s impeachment. The question now is whether the specter of impeachment has catalyzed renewed support among blue-collar white women for the president and erased the gains from the 2018 election…For Democrats, regaining their toehold among these voters means two things. First, and most significantly, it means investing more resources in understanding what’s happening with blue-collar white women—and why. Democrats cannot afford to overlook this vital constituency; they should neither write them off, nor take them for granted.  Second, Democrats should continue to push their message on health care and other kitchen-table issues that matter to all voters. The party leadership’s current instincts are correct that impeachment should not overtake the entirety of the political conversation through next fall…Ultimately, though, Democrats can’t view this challenge as a test of Trump’s resiliency with the white working-class voters that comprise so much of his base. Rather, Democrats have to see it as a test of whether they can devise a durable economic message that outweighs Trumpism’s appeal and unites women across all socioeconomic lines. It’s a challenge they should tackle now, before it’s too late.”

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