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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Polltical Strategy Notes

At The Guardian, Cas Mudde writes, “…New voters and non-voters are disproportionately non-white and non-suburban. Many of them are not even registered, or – thanks to Republican purges of voting rolls – no longer registered. This is particularly relevant to African Americans, who – contrary to popular perception – actually have rather high voter turnout, higher than other minorities, but are disproportionately affected by voter suppression (including incarceration)…Despite the efforts of some organizations, most notably Stacey Abrams’ new group Fair Fight, Democrats devote most of their time to reaching already registered voters, rather than registering new voters. Imagine how much the millions of dollars of Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer could have achieved had they spent that money on registering new voters rather than vanity campaigns…The 2020 elections will not be about changing minds about who to vote for but about whether to vote. The damage done to voter registration in the South alone, following the gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, could swing elections.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, however, sees a vein worth mining in disgruntled Trump voters, especially in New Hampshire. As Trent Spiner reports at Politico, she “recognizes that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are going to clean up here. But she sees a path to success by finding voters to whom they have little appeal — like those who are so independent-minded they voted for both Barack Obama and Donald Trump…It shows in every piece of her strategy, from the towns she visits to her stump speech. And in a state where the biggest voting bloc, 43 percent, is independents, it’s a game plan her campaign thinks will create an Election Day surprise…Klobuchar’s state director said they’re focused on places other candidates have avoided, especially the towns that went to Obama in 2008 and 2012, but then voted for Trump in 2016.” Spiner notes that Klobuchar is also socially and ideologically-close with the state’s two Democratic women senators, Maggie Hassan and Jean Shaheen.

Andrew O’Hehir has a jaunty rant at salon.com, “A New Year’s resolution for Democrats: To win in 2020, get the f**k over 2016 already: Democrats must escape the poisonous hangover of Bernie v. Hillary. I’ve got terms for a truce: You’ll hate it.” O’Hehir writes, “the amount of grudge and grievance and name-calling and recrimination and hive-mind clapback and paranoid mythology, nearly all of it rooted in the leftover bad feelings of the Hillary v. Bernie conflict of 2016, is astonishing. It’s damaging and dangerous and downright Trumpy, and yet more evidence that the virus that produced him has infected us all…we have been subjected to endless, pointless, airless debates about who is more “electable,” which all boil down to the Bernie-Hillary split in barely concealed form, and which all run aground on the great reef known as Nobody-Has-a-Solitary-Clue Land…Rescuing the Democratic Party from its current aimless drift — in the election year just ahead or in this new decade or just sometime in this century — is not a matter of embracing one side of that divide and rejecting the other. It’s about facing an altered political landscape with honesty and clarity, and leaving behind the realm of denial, delusion and fantasy that have rendered our politics so empty and so stupid for so long.”

In E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s Washington Post column, “Our political debate doesn’t have to be this stupid,” he brings the challenge of 2020 into focus: “I am not starry-eyed about bipartisanship and its supposed joys. On the contrary, the current Republican Party’s abject fealty to Trump and its shift far to the right of where it once was mean that promises of a glorious bipartisan future will, for some time, be false. I have little faith in Republican politicians, including many I once thought were serious about governing…there are stirrings on the right that it is long past time for its partisans to break with climate-change denialism. We should be arguing over what to do, not about whether something needs to be done…Yes, Trump’s defeat and a radical renewal inside the Republican Party are the necessary preconditions for progress. But I refuse to see my wishes for a more reasonable politics and a better form of conservatism as fantasies. Let’s become a nation of problem-solvers again.”

It’s just one poll, but the findings merit a mention. As Jonathan Easely writes in his article, “Black Democrats energized to vote Trump out” at The Hill: “Black Democratic voters are energized to vote President Trump out of office in 2020, as less than a quarter of African Americans say their financial situation has improved over the past two years, according to a new study…A national survey released by Third Way and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that of the 46 percent of black voters who identify as strong Democrats, 57 percent are more energized to vote in 2020 than they were in 2016…However, about a third of black voters said they only have weak ties to the Democratic Party, and of these, only 34 percent said they’re more energized to vote in 2016…Sixty-two percent of black voters said that Democrats understand their lives, while only 13 percent said the same of Trump and the Republicans.”

Easely adds, “And a strong majority of black voters say racial relations have deteriorated under Trump, with 80 percent saying that Trump’s election has made people with racist views more likely to speak out. Fifty-five percent said they face more racism in their daily lives than they used to…Third Way did not conduct a horse-race survey of the Democratic primary field, but found that black voters tend to be more moderate in their views…Of the 79 percent of black people who identify as Democrats, 34 percent lean conservative, 34 percent are mixed and 31 percent lean liberal…Overall, 31 percent of black Americans described themselves as moderate, followed by 24 percent liberal, 17 percent conservative and 11 percent progressive…About two-thirds of black Americans prefer a candidate they agree with over a candidate who shares their background and life experiences.”

At CNN Politics, Harry Enten explains why it’s wrong to blame “religious voters” for Trump’s presidency. Enten concedes that “Trump won white born-again evangelicals with more than 75% of the vote in 2016 and his approval rating with them remains at 75% in CNN/SSRS polling taken in the middle of last year.” However, “Trump’s standing with all religious voters — and, in particular, nonwhite religious voters — is considerably weaker than it is among white evangelicals…Heading into the 2020 general election, Trump can certainly count on the strong backing of white born-again evangelicals. If he loses, however, it’ll be in part because his approval rating is only in the low 40s among those who attend religious services at least once a week and are not white born-again evangelicals…Trump’s approval rating was measured at 46% with those who attend religious services at least once a week and are not born-again evangelicals. His disapproval rating was 49% among this group, which means his net approval (approval – disapproval) rating was -3 points. Keep in mind, the majority of this group (about 55%) is white, so this isn’t just about this group containing fewer whites than the born-again evangelical bloc.”

AJ Willingham reports at CNN that “The first day of 2020 marked a bevy of new legislation, including the statewide legalization of recreational weed in Illinois…the state’s lieutenant governor was one of the first in line. The day before the law went into effect, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions.” Also at CNN, Leah Asmelash and Melissa Alonso note that “Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton was among hundreds of early morning customers at Sunnyside Dispensary, a Chicago marijuana dispensary, on the first day of legal recreational sales in the state, according to a release from Cresco Labs, which owns the dispensary…Stratton bought a 100-milligram tin of Mindy’s Edibles Glazed Clementine Orange Gummies…Each gummy is 5 milligrams, a “very popular microdose for beginning edible consumers,” he said…Illinois is now the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana.” Democrats should remind younger voters throughout 2020 that they have fought for this reform against Republican opposition, across the U.S.

Don’t forget that the 2020 elections will also play an enormous role in federal and state redistricting, and for Democrats that means correcting entrenched pro-Republican bias, which helped elect Trump and facilitated the GOP domination of state legislatures. To get up to speed on redistricting concerns, check out the Princeton Election Consortium, where top redistricting expert Sam Wang is offering data-driven articles on the Princeton Gerrymandering Project – 2019, in Review, What North Carolina’s redistricting cases suggest for 2021 strateg and Lessons from 2016 and application to 2020, among others.

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