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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From “Democrats lose impeachment votes but hatch a strategy” by Lauren Fedor and Courtney Weaver at The Financial Times: “The first day of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial may have stretched late into the night, but that did not mean there was any doubt how the session would end: in vote after vote, Democrats were defeated in their effort to subpoena documents and witnesses the White House has repeatedly refused to congressional investigators…Even though the party-line votes were foregone conclusions — no moderate Republican, including those who had signalled they were open to hearing from new witnesses, backed the amendments — Democrats appeared to be trying to do something other than just accessing emails, memos and text messages. They were building a political case that the president’s party was complicit in a cover-up…on Tuesday, it quickly become a refrain among House managers, Democratic senators, presidential candidates and the Democratic National Committee.”

Sean Collins’s’ “The latest impeachment polling reflects America’s deep polarization” at Vox notes that “Ahead of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, a new poll finds Americans remain split on whether the president ought to be removed from office — with a very slight majority, 51 percent, saying he should be removed…That national poll, conducted by SSRS for CNN and released Monday, found little change in opinion on the matter of impeachment and removal. In November, as the impeachment inquiry was in full swing, the same survey found 50 percent of Americans advocating for Trump’s impeachment and removal. That number dipped slightly in SSRS’s December survey, to 45 percent, before rebounding to where it currently stands…That number mirrors the 51 percent an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Tuesday found believed Trump encouraged election interference…A 538 meta-analysis of impeachment polling has found that, as of January 20, 84 percent of Democrats want Trump removed from office, but only 7.8 percent of Republicans feel the same. Americans who identify as independents reflect the split SSRS found of all Americans — 43 percent said they support removal…House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pointed to polling like SSRS’s most recent work in advocating for having new witnesses at the trial. Citing a Washington Post/ABC News poll on ABC’s This Week in mid-January, Pelosi said, “Over 70 percent of the American people think that the president should have those witnesses testify.”

Give it up for Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who not only made an impeccable factual case for convicting Trump in the Senate impeachment hearings, but also got rave reviews for his stirring call to senators to honor their oaths of office. Schiff eloquently blasted McConnell’s obstruction of witnesses and evidence and urged the senators to stand up for democracy and America’s security. At Alternet, Cody Fenwick provides “5 of the strongest moments from Adam Schiff’s opening statement of Trump’s impeachment trial.” Here’s a video clip of Schiff’s presentation fropm Time:

Syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains why “Why Democrats owe a debt to Mitch McConnell” in The Washington Post: “By working with Trump to rig the trial by admitting as little evidence as possible, McConnell robbed the proceeding of any legitimacy as a fair adjudication of Trump’s behavior. Instead of being able to claim that Trump was “cleared” by a searching and serious process, Republican senators will now be on the defensive for their complicity in the Trump coverup…It gets worse. Thanks to assertions by Trump’s lawyers that he did absolutely nothing wrong, an acquittal vote, as The Post editorialized, “would confirm to Mr. Trump that he is free to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election and to withhold congressionally appropriated aid to induce such interference.” Is that the position that Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Martha McSally (Ariz.), among others, want to embrace as they run for reelection this fall? Good luck with that.”

In his article, “The Democrats’ strategy conundrum: a ‘movement’ or a coalition?” at The Hill, Bill Schneider writes, “The division in the Democratic Party today isn’t so much about ideology. It’s more about strategy: Should the party be a coalition or a movement? What’s the difference? A coalition brings together voters with diverse interests who agree on one thing: President Donald Trump has to go. There’s just one test: “If you support the party’s candidate — for whatever reason — you’re one of us. No further questions.”…Supporters of a movement are expected to agree on everything. For the conservative movement, that means the entire conservative agenda, from taxes to abortion to immigration to climate change. Disagree on anything, and you can be declared a heretic and expelled from the movement…The Democratic coalition can include liberals who despise Trump’s policies. It can include ordinary voters who are offended by Trump’s behavior. It can include conservatives who believe Trump has betrayed the conservative cause. It can include voters of all persuasions who object to Trump’s governing by deliberately dividing the country.”

“Democrats are homing in on a strategy they hope will bring new rural voters into the fold through hyperlocal economic messaging and by venturing into parts of the country they ignored in the run-up to the 2016 election,” Jonathan Easley and Reid Wilson write in their article, “Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters” at The Hill….There’s a coordinated effort among the House Democratic campaign arm, presidential candidates and liberal outside groups to address the party’s rural blind spot by finding new ways to speak to white working-class voters and rural black voters in key battleground states and districts in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Illinois and New York…Democrats believe they’re making inroads with the white working-class voters in the Rust Belt who broke late for President Trump in 2016 through an ad campaign showcasing stories from disappointed voters who are local to the region.”

“Democrats see opportunities to replicate Bustos’s success,” Easley and Wilson continue, “in rural communities elsewhere through a three-pronged strategy: an effort to talk to rural voters to find out what issues are important to them instead of assuming the same national talking points will work, hyperlocal messaging focused on kitchen table issues  and a commitment from local leaders to spending time in the community — a combination of “high-tech, high-touch” campaigning…“Rural voters in 2016 didn’t vote for us for a reason. There wasn’t enough outreach or effort to engage, and so there was a drop-off,” said Antjuan Seawright, a DCCC adviser who lives in rural Richland County in South Carolina, which is 46 percent black…After the 2016 election, a group called Focus on Rural America held focus groups with voters in Iowa who went for Obama twice before casting a ballot for Trump. They found that the new Trump voters broke late, were frustrated by the status quo, didn’t feel Democrats gave them an adequate alternative to Trump, and didn’t like being called racists or misogynists for turning away from Democrats.”

“The liberal super PAC American Bridge is plowing millions of dollars into polling, research and campaign ads in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida to win back the rural working-class voters who went for Trump in 2016,” note Easley and Wilson. “The ads feature personal stories from rural individuals explaining how they had high hopes for Trump but have been let down by his policies. The goal is to create a “permission structure” for disappointed Trump voters to come back to the Democratic side…“We’re working to find potential defectors and going door to door collecting stories and looking to recruit folks to go on camera to tell their stories, to talk about the manufacturing layoffs or farm closures they’ve experienced,” said Jeb Fain, the communications director for American Bridge. “It’s all about authenticity and the credibility of the messenger. Voters are more likely to take the message if it’s from someone nearby than a Washington super PAC.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    on managing a coalition:

    “Typically, Democrats seek unity by blurring distinctions and disagreements between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic coalition, seeking instead a kind of lowest common denominator. But, as the outline above paradoxically suggests, the way to enhance unity between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party might be to sharpen the distinctions between the party’s two wings rather than obscuring them.

    Imagine what might happen if the Democratic Party abandoned its identity as an amorphous “big tent,” and instead became a more formal political coalition between two groups.



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