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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

The ‘suspension’ of the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders has prompted wide-ranging political post-mortems, including Thomas B. Edsall’s New York Times opinion piece, which observes that “a decisive majority — 60 percent — of the Democratic electorate is made up of men and women loyal to the centrist party establishment, such as it is, and to organizations, from unions to party committees, that are aligned with it. And there is little or no evidence that the greater part of the American people have the desire, or the stomach, for political revolution…Earlier this month, Shom Mazumder, a political scientist at Harvard, published a study, “Why The Progressive Left Fits So Uncomfortably Within The Democratic Party,” that analyzed data from a 2019 survey of 2,900 likely Democratic primary voters. “I saw two clear poles emerge within the Democratic Party,” he writes: The “establishment” and the “progressive left.” A third group also emerged, and while it’s not as clearly defined as the other two, it has some overlap with the establishment and tends to be more fond of Wall Street, so I’m calling that “neoliberals.”...

“Establishment” voters, in this scheme, means center-left voters who make up just over 60 percent of the total. They stood out as favorably inclined to Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee — in other words, to the Democratic establishment.” Edsall continues, ““Progressive left” Democrats, at just under 20 percent, were most favorable to labor unions, Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo movement, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Democratic Socialists of America. These Democrats viewed business interests — as exemplified by Wall Street — negatively, and they weren’t happy about Joe Manchin, the centrist senator from West Virginia, either…The third group, “neoliberal” Democrats, at 20 percent, is as large as the progressive wing. These voters like what the progressives don’t like — Wall Street, Manchin — and dislike pretty much everything progressives favor, including Ocasio-Cortez and the Democratic Socialists of America.”

Further, Edsall writes that “Mazumder uses the label “establishment Democrats” idiosyncratically. His data shows that at 44 percent, minorities make up a much larger share of these voters than their share of either progressives, at 28 percent, or neoliberals at 32 percent. His establishment voters are roughly 60-40 female, while the other two categories are majority male…In contrast, Mazumder’s progressives stand out as the whitest group — 72 percent Anglo — of the three categories, the least diverse constituency of an increasingly multicultural and multiracial party.” Edsall cites a study concluding that many of these voters are internet “hobbyists,” who like to argue in support of progressive policies, but don’t really get engaged in political mobilization of Democratic voters.

At Reuters Anna Szymanski writes that Sen Sanders “changed what it means to be moderate. Biden’s policies are still a far cry from Sanders’ $13 trillion healthcare plan or $16 trillion so-called Green New Deal. But the presumptive nominee supports a $15 minimum wage, spending $1.7 trillion to fight climate change and another $800 billion on healthcare over 10 years. These proposals would have looked progressive not that long ago….Covid-19 is making Sanders’ spending plans seem less outlandish. The U.S. government has already passed stimulus bills representing more than $2 trillion, around 10% of GDP, including a significant boost to unemployment coverage and direct payments to individuals…The health crisis is also highlighting the potential virtues of a more comprehensive and connected approach to healthcare. The U.S. system’s fragmented fragility has been laid bare, as has the danger of viewing health as an individual matter. Universal coverage of some kind now seems far more likely – even if it’s not the senator’s so-called Medicare-for-all plan.” Perhaps the ‘hobbyists’ had some influence on policy.

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein spotlights “The Two States Where Trump’s COVID-19 Response Could Backfire in 2020: Voters in Michigan and Florida may be more likely than others to blame or credit him for how the outbreak unfolds,” and writes: “Trump faces mirror-image threats. Michigan voters could interpret Trump’s animosity toward Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer as punishing the state. By contrast, in Florida, Trump’s liability could be his close relationship with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, which is seen by many as one reason DeSantis was slow to impose a statewide stay-at-home order…In each place, voters may be even more likely than those in other states to blame or credit the president for how the outbreak unfolds there. And in both cases, Trump’s posture toward the states is now inextricably interwoven with the larger story of their struggle to contain the disease.”

Brownstein adds, “Michigan is where Trump’s behavior presents the clearer danger to him come November. The president has repeatedly disparaged Whitmer and suggested that the White House should not return her calls, even as the state is buckling under the nation’s third-largest coronavirus caseload and faces medical-equipment and staffing shortages…In Florida, conditions have not yet reached such a crisis point, though its caseload is growing steadily. But because DeSantis waited so long to act, he and Trump could be punished if the outbreak ultimately imposes a heavy cost on the state…Whitmer, a former state senator, was at the vanguard of governors who moved quickly to shut down social and economic activity. She closed educational facilities on March 16 and imposed a statewide stay-at-home order a week later. DeSantis, a former congressman who soared from relative obscurity to win the gubernatorial nomination after Trump’s endorsement, closed educational facilities a day after Whitmer. But he conspicuously left open the state’s crowded beaches through spring break, and he didn’t impose a statewide stay-at-home order until April 1, after every other major state.”

It’s only one poll, and it’s nation-wide instead of focusing on ‘battleground states.’ But look at these numbers, as reported by Grace Sparks at CNN Politics: “Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a wide lead over President Donald Trump in the national race for the White House, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS….Biden leads Trump 53% to 42% among registered voters, roughly steady from CNN’s poll in early March…Biden holds an edge over Trump as more trusted to handle several key issues, including the response to the coronavirus outbreak (52% to 43%), health care (57% to 39%) and helping the middle class (57% to 38%)…Biden is supported by 91% of Democrats, while Trump holds 96% of Republicans. Independent voters break for Biden, 52% behind the former vice president, 40% for Trump…Biden performs well among voters of color, 72% of whom support him, while white voters break toward Trump (52% for Trump, 44% for Biden).”

And Kos explains why “Trump looks terrible in national polling, but it’s these 7 states that will decide the election at Daily Kos: “Yesterday and today, six general election polls came out, every single one showing Joe Biden defeating impeached Donald Trump by between four and 11 points. Trump, currently paralyzed into ineffective inaction by the nation’s mass-death event, only reaches 44% in one of those polls, otherwise hovering between 37% and 42%. If we had a national election, Joe Biden would be in a great position to win this November, but he wouldn’t even be running because Hillary Clinton would be president. Instead, we have to deal with the bullcrap Electoral College. It’s the states that matter..Seven states will decide this election. And if I sound like a broken record, it’s because I want everyone to have these as well-memorized as I do: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin…The district-based electoral votes in Maine and Nebraska will also matter a huge deal. But it’s hard to say “seven states and two districts.” This system is stupid and confusing enough as it is.”

Kos shares a map which shows the outrageous inequities built into the Electoral College and notes, “Can you believe it? 116 counties have a greater population than the entire state of Wyoming, without getting three electoral college votes…So yes, this system sucks, but it’s the system we have to deal with. So how do Trump approvals look in the states that will decide the presidential election? Arizona (44-54), Florida (46-51), Georgia (47-50), Michigan (44-53), North Carolina (44-54), Pennsylvania (46-51), and Wisconsin (46-51)…Interestingly, Trump has net-negative approval ratings in one more 2016 red state: Iowa (47-50), but we haven’t seen evidence it’s competitive at the presidential level. Keep an eye on it. And if we’re playing in Nebraska (and we should!), it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to contest the rest of the state. It’s cheap.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    Biden has been given a gift with this new Great Depression.

    The only cogent argument he can make to the left is that keeping Trump in place could drag the depression in a way that would make progressive reforms impossible for at least a decade.

    But for this to happen he needs to drop the “how are we going to pay for it” mantra. His new Medicare and college plans talk about raising taxes.

    For now raising taxes is a pro-cyclical policy. Democrats need to focus on investment and creating jobs and less about the deficit.


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