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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his CNN Politics post, “Democrats’ new impeachment message: Expel Trump now,” Stephen Collinson sets the stage for th next step in the impeachment drama — and the stakes for Democrats: “Democrats are injecting an urgent new argument into their already fast-moving impeachment drive: President Donald Trump poses such a flagrant threat to the republic that there is no time to waste…The dispute over how fast to go and over the scope of the Democratic impeachment case spilled over — in far more civil and respectful terms than the bitter exchanges between lawmakers — in a debate between four renowned law professors asked to testify to the committee on the mechanics and justifications of impeachment…Three of the four, who were invited by Democrats, agreed that the President’s transgressions were already sufficiently severe to justify the ultimate political sanction of impeachment. The fourth, a Republican invitee, urged Democrats to slow down and to exhaust the full extent of the law to compel testimony from key witnesses before making a case to the nation that Trump should be removed…”Are you ready?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her caucus on Wednesday, setting the stage for an accelerated timetable that could see Trump impeached by the full House before the Christmas and New Year break. The speaker is also quietly taking the temperature of her caucus before making a final decision on the end game of the House process — and how widely to draw articles of impeachment, CNN’s Manu Raju reported on Wednesday.”

“Democrats used their witnesses to paint a picture of abuses of power by Trump of such staggering proportions that his immediate removal is the only way to secure America’s democracy,” Collinson continues. “All three law professors called by the majority agreed that Trump had committed multiple impeachable offenses, in the commission of the Ukraine scheme and obstructing Congress in covering it up…”The evidence reveals a President who used the powers of his office to demand a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency,” said Pamela Karlan, a Stanford Law professor…Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman warned: “If we cannot impeach a President who abuses his office for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy.”…But the White House’s blanket refusal to honor 71 Democratic requests for documents — revealed in the report — and its blocking of testimony from key White House officials is strengthening the obstruction case and presents an opportunity to make a more complete case to Americans.” However, “Party leaders have warned that they are unwilling to allow the White House to stretch out the impeachment drama for the many months that multiple legal challenges would entail.”…There’s a political motivation as well — Pelosi’s desire to quickly send Trump’s fate to the Senate is seen as an effort to pivot the political focus to Democrats’ bid to oust Trump at the ballot box next year that begins with the Iowa caucuses in February.”

E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s column, “The Moral Imperative of Impeachment” distills the essential argument Democrats must deploy as the political party which defends America’s democracy. “The most important charge in the Intelligence Committee’s report is this one: that “the President placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the United States.” Trump’s other offenses flow from this one. That is especially true of his willingness to press foreign governments to meddle in our elections, as he did with Ukraine’s president, or to issue an open invitation to a foreign government to jump right in. That’s what he did with his infamous “Russia, if you’re listening” comment during the 2016 campaign…“Trump being Trump” — or what Republican Reps. Devin Nunes of California, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Michael McCaul of Texas tried to glorify as his “ ‘outside the Beltway’ approach to diplomacy” — can no longer be an excuse for overlooking how much weaker the United States is today than it was 1,048 days ago.”

Thomas B. Edsall’s NYT column, “The Savage Injustice of Trump’s Military Pardons,” spotlights some instructive political opinion data regarding active military personnel: “In an article published on Nov. 19, “Donald Trump falls out with the military establishment he once wooed,” The Economist reported that “the highly educated officer corps dislikes Mr. Trump,” while “47 percent of the enlisted ranks, largely without college degrees, back him.” (The magazine did not provide specific figures on the percentage of those in the enlisted ranks who oppose Trump or on the percentages of the officer corps who like and dislike the president.)…A September-October 2018 poll conducted by Military Times found approval of Trump among active duty military personnel falling from 46 positive and 37 negative in 2016 to 44 positive and 43 negative in 2018. In other words, Trump’s favorability among active duty servicemen and women fell from plus 9 in 2016 to plus 1 in 2018…The Military Times survey also showed a split between officers and enlisted service members. Among officers, “more than half have an unfavorable view of his presidency, against 41 percent who have a favorable view,” while among enlisted personnel 45 percent had a positive view of Trump while 41 percent had a negative view.”

Some of the revelations from the Blue Wall Voices Project, a collaboration between the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Cook Political Report, which examined the attitudes and experiences of voters in several key battleground states leading up the 2020 presidential election: “There are many undecided voters and a few persuadable swing voters. One year out from the 2020 presidential election and without a clear frontrunner in the Democratic primaries, a large share of voters – about four in ten (41%) – say they have not yet made up their minds about who they plan to vote for in November 2020. These “swing voters” either report being undecided about their vote in 2020 or are leaning towards a candidate but haven’t made up their minds yet. With a substantial number of votes still up for grabs, this analysis looks in-depth at this group of voters to explore the policy issues that could swing these voters to vote for either President Trump or the Democratic nominee.”

Also, Blue Wall Voices found that “President Trump himself is the defining factor for voters – both positive and negative. When asked to offer in their own words what one thing will motivate them to vote in the 2020 presidential election, nearly three times as many voters offer responses related to defeating President Trump (21%) as offer responses related to re-electing him or not wanting a Democrat to be elected (8%). Defeating President Trump was offered as the top motivation to vote in 2020 by four in ten Democratic voters (39%) while responses related to re-electing President Trump/not wanting a Democrat were offered by 21% of Republican voters. One-fifth of independent voters offered responses related to defeating President Trump while fewer (7%) of independent voters offered responses related to re-electing President Trump. Overall, one-fourth (23%) of voters offer issues such as health care, the economy, and immigration, as their motivation for voting in the 2020 presidential election.”

The BWV project also notedThe 2020 election may be a lot about health care and the economy, two issues that voters judge President Trump’s actions on very differently. Health care and the economy are the top issues for voters leading up to the 2020 presidential election but they are also two issues on which voters give President Trump very different marks. Overall, voters are somewhat positive in their views of how President Trump is handling the economy (-1 percentage points net approval) while a larger share of voters “disapprove” than “approve” of the way President Trump is handling health care (-21 percentage points net approval). Health care is one of the only issues in which President Trump’s approval is lower than his overall job approval (-18 percentage points). President Trump also has low approval ratings (-20 percentage points) on the way he is handling foreign policy– an issue of increasing importance among voters in these states.”

Most swing voters in these states see bans on fracking, stopping detainments at the U.S. border, and Medicare-for-all as bad ideas. The poll also consistently finds that while Medicare-for-all has played a significant role in the 2020 Democratic primary debates, it is not the top health care issue for Democratic voters. Large shares of swing voters in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin say stopping detainments at the U.S. border for people cross into the country illegally and a national Medicare-for-all plan are “bad ideas.” Swing voters are slightly more divided in their views of a ban on fracking with large shares of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin swing voters saying such a ban is a “bad idea” as do a slim majority in Michigan and half of Minnesota swing voters.”

A final note on the ‘suspension’ of Sen. Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign: Her departure leaves a void in the Democratic field, not just because of her race and gender. Harris was one of the most ardent and skillful debaters, always focusing on the central moral questions underlying the issues. She displayed admirable passion and a fierce fighting spirit in each Democratic debate, particularly the last one. It was not hard to envision her skewering Trump into a muttering mess during the final presidential debates next year. Indeed, Harris provided one of the best anti-Trump zingers yet, in her response to Trump’s gloating tweet about her exit from the campaign, “Too bad. We will miss you Kamala!” To which Harris responded, “Don’t worry, Mr. President, I’ll see you at your trial.”  As a demographic twofer, Harris will likely be on the eventual nominee’s short list for vice presidential choice, or perhaps Attorney-General, if Democrats win the white house. As it is, her departure underscores the hard reality that a great campaign launch, a terrific work ethic and a strong message don’t necessarily insure that a presidential candidate can stay competitive, especially in a large field.

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    More than trying to discredit the candidate Trump and anyone wanting to dismantle the US gov felt the most threatened by, I think this Ukraine bit was created to be worked on as the reason for why they wont accept the results of the 2020 election (whether Trump is on the ballot or not)
    If Trump wins they’ll likely use it to go after everyone involved in the Russia investigation and impeaching DT.

    Both scenarios probably seems far fetched but you can see how the gop is trying to build on this now and it always grows with them.
    They’re doing that messaging thing they do where they transform and link across their party like some kind of a rage filled dark voltron looking to devour hearts and minds of Americans to hold onto and gain power.
    Hopefully Democrats are ready for it this time.


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