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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who some observers believe won the last presidential debate, still lags in polls by double digits behind her 4 competitors in Tuesday’s televised debate. But expect that she will try to make a splash tommorrow night. Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. previews Tuesday’s debate, and notes, “More than anyone, Klobuchar needs to upend the dynamic of the contest. Her survival as the fifth option is not a trivial accomplishment given how many other candidates have already fallen by the wayside. But her candidacy is unlikely to continue past Iowa unless she can cut deeply into Buttigieg’s and Biden’s vote shares. This gives her an interest in provoking dramatic moments on Tuesday while hoping that her two immediate rivals falter.”

Meanwhile, Nate Silver makes the case at FiveThirtyEight that “Sanders Now Leads A Wide-Open Iowa Race.” As Silver writes, “We don’t necessarily plan to publish an Election Update as a result of each single new poll, but Friday’s Selzer & Co. poll of the Iowa caucuses, published by the Des Moines Register and CNN, warrants an exception and did have a somewhat material effect on the model…The poll showed Bernie Sanders ahead with 20 percent of the vote, followed by Elizabeth Warren at 17 percent, Pete Buttigieg at 16 percent and Joe Biden at 15 percent. This is a reasonably big shift from the previous Selzer & Co. poll, in November, which had shown Buttigieg ahead with 25 percent of the vote…Amy Klobuchar was next in the poll at 6 percent, but that was unchanged from November despite a couple of debate performances since November that voters rated strongly in our polling with Ipsos. Andrew Yang was sixth at 5 percent.” In terms of the national race for the nomination, “Biden remains the most likely candidate to get a delegate majority, with a 38 percent chance, followed by Sanders at 24 percent, Warren at 13 percent, and Buttigieg at 10 percent. There’s also a 14 percent chance that no one wins a majority, which could potentially lead to a contested convention.”

But don’t ignore the prospects of the unprecedentedly self-funded candidate who is skipping the debates. As Charlie Cook notes in his Cook Political Report,”The Democrats who do emerge out of those first four contests will face at least $160 million in media buys by Bloomberg, according to Advertising Analytics, in addition to an 800-person staff spread across 30 states. His plan: Accumulate delegates here and there in districts that his rivals will have never either visited or spent a dime in. After the first four states, it’s only about the delegates, which the Democratic Party rewards for as little as 15 percent of the vote share in a district…he may position himself to be an electable alternative to the current five contenders—more centrist than Sanders and Warren and without some of the baggage that he presumes Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar carry…Maybe it works, maybe it won’t, but any polling taken over the last few days would indicate whether Bloomberg’s ads are taking hold or not.”

From”Nancy Pelosi explains what Democrats gained by holding onto the articles of impeachment” by Katelyn Burns at Vox: “First, she hoped to pressure Senate Republicans into accepting Democrats’ requests that witnesses be called in the trial. “We wanted the public to see the need for witnesses, witnesses with firsthand knowledge of what happened,” Pelosi told This Week’s George Stephanopoulos…“Over 70 percent of the American people think that the president should have those witnesses testify. So, again, it’s about a fair trial,” Pelosi said. “And we think that would be with witnesses and documentation. So, that dynamic has — now the ball is in their court to either do that, or pay a price for not doing it.”Pelosi also said the delay was to allow the public time to see further “documentation which the president has prevented from coming to the Congress” — that is, more evidence of wrongdoing.”

The last thing Republicans want to talk about is health care reform, since the sum of all their ideas quickly boils down to a return to the status quo ante Obamacare. In another Katelyn Burns Vox post, she reports that “The Trump administration wants the Supreme Court to not rule on Obamacare until after the 2020 election: Democrats have asked the Supreme Court to hear a case that could determine the fate of Obamacare. The Trump administration wants the court to wait.” Burns notes, “Should the Republican plaintiffs succeed in getting the ACA struck down, the Urban Institute estimates that about 20 million people in the US will lose their health insurance. And the result of a Supreme Court ruling could have stark effects on both Democratic and Republican pitches to voters ahead of November’s elections…Studies have shown that Americans — including Republicans — like the benefits the ACA has given them. For example, a 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 80 percent of Republicans like the ACA’s provision that lowers the cost of prescription drugs for those on Medicare, and that 58 percent of Republicans like that it stopped insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions…Overall, the foundation found that 52 percent of Americans approved of the ACA as of November 2019, and that 56 percent feared they, or someone they knew, would lose coverage if the Supreme Court overturned the law.”

Amy Walter mulls over “The Durability Advantage” benefitting Biden and Sanders at The Cook Political Report and provides some salient insights, including, “Biden and Sanders are not just the best-known candidates in the race, but they also have the most defined identities. You know what you get with them. And, that means they have a more stable base than anyone else in the field. While a late November Quinnipiac poll found that almost two-thirds of Democrats said they might change their mind on who they currently support in the primary, 43 percent of Biden voters and 49 percent of Sanders voters said that they were committed to supporting their candidate. Meanwhile, just 29 percent of Sen. Warren voters and 25 percent of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg voters felt similarly…The challenge for Warren and Buttigieg is that while Biden is certainly vulnerable, the two of them are untested and unproven entities…Only when you’ve been through this grueling process can you understand how to prepare for it. This gives Biden and Sanders — and their campaigns — perspective and patience. Something that even the most disciplined first-time candidates don’t have.”

It’s way early, but Joel K. Goldstein kicks off the veepstakes speculations with “The Democratic Vice Presidential Derby: Look Beyond the 2020 Contenders: History suggests broad guidelines for the kinds of candidates who will be considered” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Goldstein argues “The history of vice presidential selection suggests some overarching trends that will guide the eventual Democratic nominee’s selection…One piece of history stands out: Presidential nominees often, though not always, opt for a running mate who was not a candidate for the nomination…Vice presidential candidates tend to have extensive experience in certain feeder positions, and they typically are not chosen to win a key swing state.” Sounds reasonable enough. but the Democratic field of presidential candidates has been  unusually impressive, and it’s not hard to envision most of the Democratic also-rans doing a solid job as a running mate. If one of the older Democrats wins the presidential nomination, a younger, energetic running mate becomes even more important than usual.

In his Salon post, “The Democratic debate stage is now all white. It doesn’t have to be this way,” David Daley, author of “Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count”, writes about tomorrow’s debate at Salon and notes, “Only six candidates will take the stage. All of them will be white. Only three will be under the age of 70. One will be a billionaire. Years from now, historians might compare photos of this debate with Democratic gatherings in the 1980s or 1990s and not be able to tell the difference. It’s an awkward look: The party that lays claim to the nation’s multiracial future will present five white people as its leading contenders…It didn’t have to be this way. Democratic leadership, anxious about the crowded field and unwieldy debates, intentionally structured the process to winnow down the number of candidates before any ballots were actually cast.” Daley reccomends ranked-choice voting in polls, giving all candidates more exposure as a possible solution for enhancing diversity.

Sarah Luterman writes in her article, “Elizabeth Warren Has Made Disability Rights Central to Her Campaign” in The Nation that “in the 2020 Democratic primary, almost every major candidate has put forward some sort of disability policy plan, albeit of varying quality. (The Sanders campaign will be releasing its plan in the coming weeks.) This is the first time that disability has become a mainstream campaign issue. Policy can be a life-or-death issue for those of us in the disability community. Social benefit programs keep many of us alive. In 2018, voter turnout among disabled people spiked by 8.5 percentage points, according to a report from Rutgers University, with 14.3 million disabled Americans voting. For a sense of how many that is, the number of disabled voters surpassed the number of Latino voters. One in four Americans have some form of disability.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    Thank you, J.P. Green, for the link to David Daley’s column. Ranked-choice voting is a good idea and with so many candidates in the Democratic Presidential primary campaign, the party ought to try it. The result is likely to be a “dark horse” nominee, a compromise candidate chosen to unite competing factions. Yet, at least under ranked choice voting, the dark horse nominee would be chosen by the party’s voters and thus give the party the nominee best suited to unite the party going into the general election.


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