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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “You can forget about the predicted political backlash against Democrats for impeachment,” at CNN Politics, Julian Zelitzer writes that “one thing seems certain: The predicted political backlash over impeachment that Democrats were frightened about will not be taking place. Republicans won’t have an easy time employing the standard partisan witch hunt argument…The case that House Democrats are making to the public about how Trump and his inner circle abused presidential power, skewed foreign policy for personal gain and then tried to hide and obstruct the investigation that followed the revelations is becoming overwhelming. The President himself keeps helping Democrats build their case through his tweets and public statements…Democrats will be able to vote in favor of articles of impeachment with a rock-solid case to support their decision and a clear picture for the public about why the party feels the need to take these steps.”

If you are wondering “Why Deval Patrick Is Making A Late Bid For The Democratic Nomination,” Perry Bacon, Jr. has some answers at FiveThirtyEight: “…I think the real opening for Patrick is essentially to replace Buttigieg as the candidate for voters who want a charismatic, optimistic, left-but-not-that-left candidate. Patrick, I think, is betting that there’s a Goldilocks opportunity for him — “Buttigieg but older,” or “Biden but younger” — a candidate who is viewed as safe on both policy and electability grounds by Democratic establishment types and voters who just want a somewhat generic Democrat who they are confident will win the general election…On paper, Patrick seems fairly similar to Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris — charismatic, black, left-but-not-that-left. But he has two potential advantages over them. First, Patrick has a last-mover advantage — he’s seen how the other candidates have run and can begin his candidacy by taking advantage of their perceived weaknesses. As a new candidate, voters might also give him a fresh look in a way that perhaps the two senators haven’t been able to get…Patrick can now enter the race knowing that he is aiming to win Democrats who self-identify as “moderate” and “somewhat liberal,” basically conceding the most liberal voters to Warren and Sanders.”

From Dylan Scott’s “Elizabeth Warren’s new Medicare-for-all plan starts out with a public option” at Vox: “In her new health care agenda for the first 100 days of her presidency, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) makes a tacit concession: The health care plan Democrats are most likely to pass in the near term is a robust public option…Warren rolled out a laundry list of health care executive actions on Friday that she said she plans to take in her first few months as president, making her the first Democratic candidate to offer such a robust administrative playbook…She also laid out her plan to get to Medicare-for-all, beginning with passing a bill at the start of her presidency that would create a new government health plan that would cover children and people with lower incomes for free, while allowing others to join the plan if they choose. It’s a particularly expansive version of a public option…Only later, in her third year in the White House, does Warren say she would pursue Medicare-for-all legislation that would actually prohibit private health insurance, as would be required for the single-payer program that she says she, like Bernie Sanders, wants.”

Brad Woodhouse explains why “Why Democrats are winning on health care” at The Hill: “The elections last week confirmed what we know to be true — health care is the number one issue for voters. Just as health care propelled House Democrats to win the majority in 2018, it once again delivered for Democrats in 2019 and is poised to be the issue that helps Democrats win elections in 2020…We are roughly a year from the 2020 elections and there’s every indication that health care will remain at the very top of voters concerns. Between now and then there will be a likely decision in the Trump-Republican lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which, if successful, would strip coverage from 20 million Americans and protections from 135 million more with pre-existing conditions. Democrats should be reminding voters of that fact every day…Looking ahead to next year, the argument for Democrats to keep winning on health care is a simple and effective one: focus on costs, focus on expanding access and contrast Democrats’ positive vision with that of Republican’s repeated and ongoing efforts to sabotage American health care.”

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein writes, “Perhaps the best that Democrats can do is persuade voters who already disapprove of Trump to fully back his removal. In the most recent Quinnipiac national survey, Trump’s supporters remained a brick wall on impeachment: Among voters who say they approve of his overall job performance, 99 percent oppose impeachment. Just 8 percent of those voters said he was acting to advance his personal, rather than the national, interest in his dealings with Ukraine…But voters otherwise skeptical of Trump aren’t as unified in their views about removing him. In the same poll, 94 percent of voters who disapprove of Trump’s performance say he was pursuing his own interests in Ukraine. A considerably smaller share of those voters, 81 percent, said they believe he should be impeached and removed. Similarly, just 79 percent of those who said he was pursuing his personal interests now support his removal. With the hearings, Democrats may have a chance to close the gap between those who express a negative opinion about Trump and support his removal, and those who think similarly but don’t want him removed.”

“The gap between those groups is especially pronounced within two key blocs in the modern Democratic coalition: college-educated whites and young people,” Brownstein continues. “While 60 percent of college-educated whites said Trump was acting in his own interest in Ukraine, and 58 percent disapprove of his job performance, just 47 percent backed his removal. The gap was even more pronounced among young adults ages 18 to 34. Sixty-seven percent thought Trump was pursuing his own interests in Ukraine, and 61 percent disapprove of his job performance. But, again, only 47 percent supported his removal. With other groups important to Democrats, including seniors and African Americans, there was a smaller gap between negative attitudes toward Trump and positive feelings toward his removal.”

In his New Republic article, “The Vigilante President,” Alexander Hurst warns “As impeachment and the 2020 election loom, Trump’s hard-core supporters are poised to unleash a wave of violence against their enemies.” Hurst echoes a concern shared by other progressive commentators. Indeed, from what we know of Trump’s bullying and penchant for threats, it’s hard to imagine him gracefully accepting a repudiation at the polls. There is every reason to believe that he will try to incite intimidation and violence. Hurst writes that, “Trump has made the prospect of violence more palpable. Since Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into the president’s attempts to strong-arm Ukraine’s government into targeting Joe Biden, Trump has labeled the House of Representative’s constitutionally enumerated actions “a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of the United States of America!” He has said that a successful impeachment would “cause a Civil War.” He has called for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, the Democrat leading the impeachment proceedings, to be arrested for treason, while reminiscing about the death penalty punishment that crime had routinely carried. During an October rally in Pittsburgh, he mock-pleaded with his supporters, “Make sure you don’t hurt them, please. Thank you.” There will likely be some violence if Democrats win the presidency by a close margin. But there is no evidence that a significant number of Trump supporters are ready to risk their futures and indeed their lives by committing serious violence on a national scale. It would nonetheless be wise for Democrats to have a plan for addressing outbreaks of violence.

The Atlantic has a primer on “The Electoral College’s Racist Origins” by Wilfred Codrington III, a fellow at Brennan Center for Justice of NYU School of Law, which progressives may want to keep handy for the day when Dems have the power to abolish it. Among Codrington’s insights: “…The nation’s oldest structural racial entitlement program is one of its most consequential: the Electoral College. Commentators today tend to downplay the extent to which race and slavery contributed to the Framers’ creation of the Electoral College, in effect whitewashing history: Of the considerations that factored into the Framers’ calculus, race and slavery were perhaps the foremost…The populations in the North and South were approximately equal, but roughly one-third of those living in the South were held in bondage. Because of its considerable, nonvoting slave population, that region would have less clout under a popular-vote system. The ultimate solution was an indirect method of choosing the president, one that could leverage the three-fifths compromise, the Faustian bargain they’d already made to determine how congressional seats would be apportioned. With about 93 percent of the country’s slaves toiling in just five southern states, that region was the undoubted beneficiary of the compromise, increasing the size of the South’s congressional delegation by 42 percent. When the time came to agree on a system for choosing the president, it was all too easy for the delegates to resort to the three-fifths compromise as the foundation. The peculiar system that emerged was the Electoral College.” Even today, Codrington notes,  “The current system has a distinct, adverse impact on black voters, diluting their political power. Because the concentration of black people is highest in the South, their preferred presidential candidate is virtually assured to lose their home states’ electoral votes. Despite black voting patterns to the contrary, five of the six states whose populations are 25 percent or more black have been reliably red in recent presidential elections.”

It appears that former Vice President Joe Biden may have written off the youth vote. As Owen Daugherty reports at The Hill, “Biden defended his reasoning to not legalize marijuana on a federal level if elected president, saying there is not “enough evidence” as to “whether or not it is a gateway drug.”…“The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug,” Biden said, according to Business Insider. “It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”…Biden, as he has throughout his time on the campaign trail, said he supports medical marijuana and insisted possession of the substance “should not be a crime.”…But he also said Saturday that he thinks the decision to legalize marijuana should be left up to individual states.” If Biden loses the Democratic nomination by a close margin, his ‘gateway drug’ rationale will likely provide fodder for post-mortems attributing his defeat to being “out-of-touch.”

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