washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Isaac Chotiner explains “How Democratic Candidates Win the African-American Vote” at The New Yorker and interviews Fredrick Harris, professor of political science at Columbia University, who has written extensively about African-American politics, who notes: “For the first time, black turnout surpassed white turnout in 2012. I do think it will depend on some degree of enthusiasm about the candidate. But I think the Party didn’t do enough last time around to put money into mobilizing these voters. I think that was a crucial mistake by Senator Clinton. And so I think there are two sides to this: how motivated people are going to be, and what kind of resources the Party’s going to put in place in order to get these voters out to vote…I think the Vice-Presidential candidate is going to be an important factor, because if it’s a person like Stacey Abrams—who does have the “friends and neighbors” sensibility, who, after her loss in Georgia, has become a national celebrity in the Democratic Party and loved by many black voters—that could make the difference.”

“From aiming to register hundreds of thousands of new voters to earlier and better on-the-ground canvassing, and from investing millions of dollars in recruiting local organizers to more finely focused outreach efforts on a sizable Hispanic and African American communities, Democrats are going all out to reverse the notion that Florida is unassailable Trump country,” Richard Luscombe writes in “The Democratic war council working to turn Florida blue in 2020” at The Guardian. “New voters are needed, lots of them, and in May the party announced a “monumental” $2m investment to register 200,000 statewide before the 2020 election.” In addition to health care and the climate crisis, Dems see wage inequality as a potentially pivotal issue for mobilizing turnout in key urban areas. Much of the effort will focus on “Miami and other tourist-rich areas of Florida, such as Orlando and Tampa,” where many “work in lower-paid, service-industry jobs including hotel, retail and food service…In Orlando, the median service-class wage is $24,057, the lowest in the country, according to the 2017 US census community survey, and in Miami it was little higher at $26,532.”

From Michael Tomasky’s “A Dem for All Seasons?” in The New York Review of Books: “So it might turn out that all this hand-wringing about the Democrats is misplaced. On the other hand, if they should have learned one lesson from 2016, it would be about the perils of overconfidence. They need to put the Obama coalition back together. And they mustn’t choose between Obama-to-Trump white working-class voters and younger, more multiracial and “woke” voters. They need both. It’s the nature of the Democratic coalition, which is far more diverse—racially and ideologically—than the Republican one. Right now, the two current front-runners are speaking to only part of the coalition. The nominee will be the one—Biden, Warren, or in this still-fluid contest perhaps someone else entirely—who can best reassure the other part.”

In his Counterpunch article, “The Democratic Party’s Missing Electoral College Game Plan,” David Schultz, professor of political science at Hamline University and author of Presidential Swing States:  Why Only Ten Matter, explains: “Democrats need a strategy to hold all the states they won in 2016 and then how to pick up Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin.  Yes, they could try to flip Arizona, Georgia, or Texas as some pipedreams hope for, but the reality is winning them is distant and difficult.  They key is flipping critical swing states…their electorates are generally to the left of recent Republican Party presidential candidates and to the right of Democratic Party candidates.  In many ways they are states more centrist than the non-swing states, and certainly more in the middle compared to the overall Democratic Party base…what we know is that who is a swing voter is less and less likely to be someone who moves back and forth between voting Democratic or Republican and more so whether they swing into or out of voting.  Democrats did badly in 2016 because swing voters, especially suburban  females, stayed home or did not vote for them…In 2018, those suburban females came out for Democrats.  Winning in 2020 is getting these women to vote.  What we know about these voters is that they are socially moderate to liberal but are not left of center.”

Also at The Guardian, Chis Kromm, executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies, shares some telling statistics about the Democratic victory in the Louisiana Governor’s race in his article, “How did Democrats win Louisiana? With classic progressive populism“: “Aside from Trump’s diminishing power to inspire voters, what else might Louisiana tell us about the country’s political landscape heading into 2020? One lesson is that, if Democrats hope to succeed in 2020 – not only in the presidential contest, but all down-ticket races – they must energize and mobilize their base. In much of the south, this means African American voters. Edwards only got a majority in one congressional district, but the 85% of votes he won in the heavily African American, disproportionately urban 2nd district made all the difference. Between the 12 October primary and last weekend’s runoff in the governor’s race, turnout in the second district jumped by 42,000 voters – a critical boost in a race Edwards won by just over 40,000 votes statewide…That mobilization didn’t happen by itself. The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, a group of progressive community organizations in Louisiana, contacted 900,000 voters in the fall elections – mostly in communities of color – through door visits, phone calls and text messages. National groups like Black Voters Matter raised visibility about the elections in African American communities. And teachers, a key force in Edwards’ first victory in 2015 as well as Democratic governor-elect Andy Beshear’s recent win in Kentucky, also mobilized tens of thousands of voters.”

Harold Meyerson offers some perceptive observations at The American Prospect, including “One of the oddities of the ongoing Democratic debate about how the United States can get to universal health coverage—an achievement every other nation has somehow managed to pull off—is that no one ever asks the presidential candidates about their fallback positions. But if American history has any lessons to offer, it’s that major social and economic reforms always get enacted piecemeal, over time. And so when questioning the current crop of presidential aspirants as to the plans they’ll put forward, we also need to know their criteria for accepting or rejecting the halfway-house health coverage policies likely to emerge from Congress…Given the lack of anything like consensual support—not just in the nation, but in the Democratic Party itself—for Medicare for All, how should supporters of Medicare for All (like myself) respond? The most sensible course is to push for the most we can get, which, if we have a Democratic president and Congress in 2021, should be along the lines of taxpayer-supported Medicare for anyone over 50 or under 26, raising the income threshold for eligibility for those between 26 and 50, allowing individuals still not eligible to buy into the plan, and allowing employers to buy in for their employees as well. Such a plan would mark a massive expansion of the public responsibility for Americans’ health care…”

Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, takes a look at open seat House races and notes, “Whoever decides to not seek reelection to the House will add to the retirements we’ve already seen this year. So far, 28 House seats are going to be open in next year’s elections, meaning that there will not be an incumbent on either the primary or general election ballot. Additionally, there are four vacancies in the House right now. We’re not counting these as true open seats, because presumably new incumbents in these seats will be seeking full terms in their own right after winning forthcoming special elections…Of 28 open House seats, Republicans are defending 20 while Democrats are defending only eight…Of eight the Crystal Ball rates as competitive, Republicans are defending all but one…Open seats, along with pending redistricting in North Carolina, give Democrats a small buffer as they defend their majority…Democrats stand to benefit more from retirements than Republicans. Also, significant one-off events, like Amash’s defection and the North Carolina redistricting, are making life harder for the Republicans…That’s why the Democrats continue to be favorites to hold the House of Representatives majority.”

In another Crystal Ball article, “The Governors: Party Control Now Near Parity,” Kondik writes, “Following the 2019 elections, Republicans retain a narrow 26-24 edge in governorships…But that’s a big shift from mid-2017, when Democrats held just 15.” However, “A majority of Americans, a little less than 55%, will live under Democratic governors once Gov.-elect Andy Beshear (D-KY) takes office next month…There are only a relative handful of gubernatorial races next year. The big prize is North Carolina, where Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) is a modest favorite to win a second term in the only large state that will feature competitive races for president, Senate, and governor next year. The GOP’s best target is the open seat in Montana, and that’s also the governorship likeliest to flip.”

Many on the right are yearning for a dialogue. They are the real silent majority” writes Egberto Willies at Daily Kos. “Democrats are going to win in 2020. The right, while trying to delude themselves are losing sensible people. I believe the response to polls on the Republican side but strongly believe it is just a tribal abstraction. Enough people will switch which will provide a solid win for progressives. That said, Democrats can have a landslide of monumental proportion if they add empathetic engagement on the right. I am not talking about asking them to be either progressive or a Democrat. I am talking about creating the narrative that you are tolerant of their Republicanism and conservatism. But at the same time ask them, for the sake of their children, their families, their friends, that in the privacy of the voting booth, to do what is best for their personal economies. Speak our values in their language. This humanist uses Jesus a whole lot…Many consider engaging the other side is either a fool’s errand or undeserved engagement. The thing is, this isn’t about being nice. It is about being necessary. We need more than fifty plus one for transformational change.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    “That said, Democrats can have a landslide of monumental proportion if they add empathetic engagement on the right. I am not talking about asking them to be either progressive or a Democrat. I am talking about creating the narrative that you are tolerant of their Republicanism and conservatism. But at the same time ask them, for the sake of their children, their families, their friends, that in the privacy of the voting booth, to do what is best for their personal economies”

    I don’t know what being tolerant of their Republicanism and conservatism but asking them to vote for their personal economies means.
    Its good to find a way to engage but we can’t all be politicians or activists. Also encountering people in public spaces looking for converts is an unpleasant experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    I usually go out of my way to avoid political discussions with people but I do like the idea of talking to people on the right but in a controlled environment in person where everyone arrived there for that reason. The best outcome for that situation, in my opinion, would be for both sides to get a better understanding of why the person their talking to thinks the way they do and to you know, agree to disagree most likely and then talk about anything other than politics.
    Still we don’t have to like each other or vote the same for the effort to be positive and a form of necessary resistance to what is happening to this country.
    We’re all on the same side sharing roads, grocery stores, parks, buses schools and government. We can’t be enemies.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.