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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has a repost-worthy op-ed, “Trump Has Turned His Back on The Working Class” at Newsweek. Reich argues, “Trump probably figures he can cover up this massive redistribution from the working class to the corporate elite by pushing the same economic nationalism, tinged with xenophobia and racism, he used in 2016. As Bannon has noted, the formula seems to have worked for Britain’s Conservative Party. But it will be difficult this time around because Trump’s economic nationalism has hurt American workers, particularly in states that were critical to Trump’s 2016 win…Manufacturing has suffered as tariffs raised prices for imported parts and materials. Hiring has slowed sharply in Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states Trump won, as well as in states like Minnesota that he narrowly lost.”

Reich continues, “The trade wars have also harmed rural America, which also went for Trump, by reducing demand for American farm produce. Last year, China bought around $8.6 billion of farm goods, down from $20 billion in 2016. (A new tentative trade deal calls for substantially more Chinese purchases.)…Meanwhile, health care costs continue to soar, college is even less affordable, and average life expectancy is dropping due to a rise in deaths from suicide and opioid drugs like fentanyl. Polls show most Americans remain dissatisfied with the country’s direction…The consequences of Trump’s and the Republicans’ excessive corporate giveaways and their failure to improve the lives of ordinary working Americans are becoming clearer by the day…The only tricks left to Trump and the Republicans are stoking social and racial resentments and claiming to be foes of the establishment. But bigotry alone won’t win elections, and the detritus of the tax cut makes it difficult for Trump and the GOP to portray themselves as anti-establishment…This has created a giant political void—but also an opportunity. Democrats have an historic chance to do what they should have done years ago: create a multi-racial coalition of the working class, middle class and poor, dedicated to reclaiming the economy for the vast majority and making democracy work for all.”

CNBC online editor John Ellis makes the argument that “Pelosi’s best move might be to keep impeachment in her pocket and not send it to the Senate.” As Ellis writes, “She could say: “I’m not sending these articles of impeachment over to the Senate. There’s no point in doing so. The majority leader has made it clear that he has no interest in a ‘fair trial.’ There’s no point in wasting everyone’s time and taxpayer money to arrive at a decision that Republican senators have already made. Everyone, including each and every Republican member of the Senate, knows that President Trump did exactly what he stands accused of doing. And impeachment is a fact. So we’ll let it stand as is; a monument to the president’s dishonesty and corruption, to be contemplated and remembered by Americans for generations to come.” She could add, “we’ll send it over  when the senate leadership expresses a sincere commitment to a fair trial and to calling relevant witnesses. That could be a while.” Indeed, it could. But this approach should be carefully measured against the downsides of not making Republican senators cast votes for giving Putin’s puppet a free ride, not showcasing McConnell’s blatant autocratic mindset and having the mess concluded in time to focus on the issues favoring Democrats. Tough call.

And give due credit to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the sole Repubican elected official of stature, who has said she is “disturbed” by Mitch McConnell’s saying he was acting in “total coordination” with the White House in arranging the impeachment proceedings. Murkowski said, “To me, it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so I heard what Leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process,” report Kevin Liptak and Manu Raju at CNN Politics, who add “As a moderate, Murkowski, who opposed Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, will be closely watched during the upcoming trial, and she told KTUU she is undecided as to how she’ll vote.” Given all of her comments about impeachment of Trump thus far, I’ll be surprised if Murkowski votes for conviction. But if she does, she will be an instant front-runner for the “Profile of Courage” award — and will likely gain influence, if Trump loses the presidential election.

At CNN Politics, Harry Enten notes that former Vice President Biden has a big lead in endorsements from governors, senators and congressmen and that “candidates who lead in endorsements at this point usually do well in the primary.” Enten doesn’t verify a cause and effect relationship. Also, even people who like politicians understand that their endorsements are likely motivated as much or more by partisan calculations as the endorsee’s merits. It also depends on the demographic a candidate is trying to motivate. If, for example, a candidate wants to increase support from young voters, an endorsement from another politician may be of less consequence than one from a top pro athlete or a hot performing artist, which is more of a conversation-starter, while a political figure’s endorsement would be more of a yawn-generator. Just a theory, absent data testing the notion.

He may not have had the rank of congressman what’s-his-name, who recently switched to the GOP. But this statement by  Rep. Andy McKean, Iowa’s longest-serving Republican lawmaker, on joining the Democratic Party back in April, provides an eloquent template for Republicans of conscience who have had “enough” “With the 2020 presidential election looming on the horizon, I feel, as a Republican, that I need to be able to support the standard bearer of our party,” McKean told reporters at the Iowa Capitol during a news conference on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, that’s something I’m unable to do…He sets, in my opinion, a poor example for the nation and particularly for our children by personally insulting, often in a crude and juvenile fashion, those who disagree with him, being a bully at a time when we are attempting to discourage bullying, his frequent disregard for the truth and his willingness to ridicule or marginalize people for their appearance, ethnicity or disability…his actions have coarsened political discourse, have resulted in unprecedented divisiveness, and have created an atmosphere that is a breeding ground for hateful rhetoric and actions. Some would excuse this behavior as telling it like it is and the new normal. If this is the new normal, I want no part of it.” (as reported by Mahita Gajanan in Time Magazine).

In his Politico post, “3 factors that could make or break Trump in 2020: The president’s big economic achievements were wrapped up in 2019. Now Trump needs momentum in the economy and markets to stretch out for more than 10 months through Election Day,” Ben White notes, “Perhaps the biggest risk to Trump — and the toughest knock on his record — is the monthslong decline in manufacturing that began as Trump’s trade wars really took hold. Manufacturing tipped into recession territory over the summer and has yet to turn around, leading to weaker economies in states that Trump needs to win in 2020. That includes places like Pennsylvania, where the unemployment rate is rising and hit 4.2 percent in October…Michigan also has an unemployment rate above the national average at 4.1 percent and saw declines in the manufacturing sector in both September and October, though some of that came from the now-ended strike at General Motors.”

Eliza Relman and Walt Hickey note at Business Insider that “Satisfaction with Biden among Latinos who say they’ll vote in their state’s Democratic primary is about 40% — 15% below his support among white voters, 14% below his support among Asian voters, and a whopping 26% short of his support among black voters…The top two candidates running to Biden’s left — Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — both perform significantly better among Latinos. While Sanders’ approval is at 57%, Warren’s approval is at 54%…Biden’s relative lack of support among Latino voters will likely hurt him in two of the most important presidential primaries next year in Texas and California. The two states have the largest numbers of eligible Latino voters in the country, and California moved up its primary to Super Tuesday, which is on March 3.” But any Democratic nominee will almost certainly win California’s electoral votes, and Texas may be too much of a stretch for any Democrat. In addition, Biden’s comparatively moderate stance on immigration may be a plus with the white working-class voters who are a majority of voters in key swing states.

From Nate Silver’s “Do You Buy That… Spending A Lot Of Money On Ads Can Help Win the Democratic Nomination?” at FiveThirtyEight:

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    Justice delayed is justice denied. Sufficient grounds to vote articles of impeachment are sufficient grounds to send those articles to the Senate promptly. Speaker Pelosi should shit or get off the pot.


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