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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

President Obama’s endorsement of Joe Biden for President:

Washington Post E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes “Obama’s endorsement was important not just because of what he said about Biden and Trump, but also for what he revealed about Democrats. Obama went out of his way to declare that “if I were running today, I wouldn’t run the same race or have the same platform as I did in 2008. The world is different; there’s too much unfinished business for us to just look backwards.”…He praised Sanders and echoed Warren’s call for “real structural change” because “the vast inequalities created by the new economy are easier to see now.”…Perhaps I should confess to bias because I recently published a book making this point, but Obama’s speech underscored that Democrats are far less divided than their primary battle suggested. From health care to climate change to economic inequality, Democrats have moved across the board in a more progressive direction. Obama has done so himself because he sees openings for social reform now that he didn’t have when he was in office.”

Dionne observes further, “Any doubts that the 2020 playing field is very different from 2016’s were laid to rest by the unexpected — and unexpectedly comfortable — victory of liberal Jill Karofsky over conservative incumbent Daniel Kelly in a race for a state Supreme Court seat that was a party contest in all but name…So what will they say now about Karofsky’s inroads into conservative areas that allowed her to build a margin of more than 160,000 votes? Yes, Karofsky was helped by the presidential primary between Biden and Sanders that drew Democrats to the polls. But in going to court to force an election in the midst of a pandemic, Republicans figured they would win by holding down turnout in Democratic urban areas most affected by the virus. A shameful ploy was foiled because Democrats mobilized absentee ballots in unprecedented numbers. This speaks to where the energy in politics is right now. It’s not on Trump’s side…Thus, a wager: When Americans see Trump’s name on those stimulus checks, most won’t regard him as their benefactor. They will see a weak, desperate and selfish man who pretends that the money they pay in taxes is his own.”

Ronald Brownstein notes at The Atlantic that “In the states that will likely decide the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump has already lost his newly declared war against voting by mail…All six of the swing states that both sides see as the most probable tipping points allow their residents to vote by mail for any reason, and there’s virtually no chance that any of them will retrench their existing laws this year. That means that, however much Trump rages, the legal structure is in place for a mail-voting surge in those decisive states: Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona in the Sun Belt and Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the Rust Belt…Such an increase “is going to happen” in states across the country this year, says Wendy Weiser, the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “The president can’t prevent it from happening, his protestations notwithstanding. Voters are going to choose that option, and jurisdictions are going to need to make that option widely available in order to protect public health and administer their elections.”

However, Brownstein adds, “That doesn’t mean Trump’s new crusade will have no effect. It’s so far stiffening Republican opposition to plans for furthering expand mail-voting access in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Those proposals include calls from Democrats and election-law reformers to preemptively mail all eligible voters a ballot, as five states do now, or to require all states to allow their residents to vote absentee for any reason. In the 28 states that already allow this “no excuse” absentee balloting, partisan struggles are nevertheless looming over whether to make the voting process easier.” Yet, “But experts in voter turnout and mail voting anticipate that however these fights play out, the share of Americans who cast ballots by mail in November may roughly double from the previous presidential election, from just under one-quarter in 2016 to about one-half this year.”

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edall notes, “William B. McCartney, a professor of finance at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, points out that “a large share of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck and say they would not be able to come up with $1,000 for an unexpected expense.” Based on the findings in his 2017 paper, “Does Household Finance Affect Elections? Evidence from a Housing Crisis,” a study of voting in the wake of the 2007-9 financial meltdown, McCartney said by email that he was “deeply concerned that household-level financial distress will decrease turnout, in addition to low turnout caused by the health crisis.”…He bases his fear on the following: Voting is a costly activity and, when households’ financial situations have deteriorated, they cut back on everything optional. They, rationally, choose not to spend their scarce resources learning where their polling places are and then waiting in line, potentially for hours….McCartney’s fear of the effects of depressed voter turnout materialized in Wisconsin last week, but it did not prevent a key liberal victory.”

Robert Reich’s blog, via Alternet and Youtube, has a useful timeline of Trump’s disastrous mismanagement of the response to the coronavirus pandemic:

Former Vice President Joe Biden is currently vetting and evaluating potential Veep picks. Biden has said he will chose a woman. But, one of the most important considerations in his selection is what is the replacement cost of the selection. If he picks a senator, as is most often the case, it is important that a Democratic Governor can chose her replacement, since Democrats have a good chance of winning a Senate majority. Joel K. Goldstein writes at Sabato’s Crystal Ball that “Choosing a senator from a state with a Republican governor could cost the Democrats a Senate seat for at least some amount of time, which might make the difference between controlling the upper house or not. This consideration could cut against choosing Warren or New Hampshire’s senators Shaheen or Hassan.” The other women Senators said to be on Biden’s short list, including Kamala Harris, Tammy Duckworth, Catherine Cortez Masto, Tammy Baldwin, Amy Kobuchar would all be replaced by choices made by Democratic Governors. For a more thorough list of potential women Veep picks, check out Goldstein’s article, cited above.

“Media outlets have played a crucial role during the COVID-19 crisis to educate the public and provide needed emergency information. To ensure the legitimacy of this year’s elections, they should go a step further and offer regular, timely instructions about how to vote during this national emergency,” Adam Eichen and Joshua Douglas write at TPM Cafe. “And they should start right away, every day and in every publication, perhaps with a “democracy box” on their front page or home page with details about how to register and cast a ballot…But newspapers and other media outlets can bridge the gap. They can educate the public by dedicating ongoing print space to update readers on any legal changes and to explain how to request an absentee ballot in the weeks leading up to a primary or the general election in November. Newspapers could, for instance, include a “democracy box,” or “voting updates” section on the paper’s front page that lists the state’s voter registration deadline, absentee ballot request deadline and a website for more information…Now, more than ever, newspapers should copy the Ithaca Times and distribute voter registration forms within their publications. They should also provide regular reminders about the voter registration and absentee ballot request deadlines. “

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    The virus had an ocean to travel to reach the United States. And so with the protection of that distance, about two months after the first case was reported we became the epicenter of the pandemic.
    Testing and contact tracing wasn’t in place 3 months ago and it isn’t now, so why are there demands to reopen the country on May 1st? How are things not going to get much worse for life and the economy in the United States when this virus has only 6 ft + to travel rather than the “protection” of an ocean’s distance to reach us? Is Trump trying to kill us?

    Why is there pressure to reopen the country when not only thousands have died and are dying a horrible death in isolation, but we are just about as ready to stop the spread of this virus as we were when it first arrived? Do the Republicans think that the virus is taking a break? Like its resting somewhere so we must grab the opportunity to go back to serve Trump’s economy before the virus comes back and burns the remainder of our villages down?

    States with residents lucky enough to have governors value their lives above the economy issued a stay at home order. This is all we have without testing and contact tracing and so of course Trump is sending out his militias to protest the protection he cant stop.
    It could help if local messaging wasn’t just “stay at home and save lives”, which you see and hear everywhere. That sounds like an attempt to get people to accept a new way of life.
    *Its not acceptable but getting angry at the people who are trying to save your life rather than who is responsible for the size and delay of the problem and who also don’t care if you’re alive or dead is self destructive, in opposition to justice and so very dumb.
    Messaging should be something more like “until we have testing and contact tracing in place stay at home, save lives” and “Tired of staying at home? Ask the President why he doesn’t want us all to get tested” It repeatedly needs to be emphasized how contagious this virus is too. There are still people out there that think we should be in the clear now because we stayed inside for over two weeks and wonder “what’s going on” But also more could be said about successes with this virus anywhere, any related successes in the past. There should be reminders of what we don’t know as well. Because non-stop panic reporting while being isolated with increasing financial and then relationship problems is making people crazy. We still have things we do outside so we are living together.

    Trump thinks he can reset his failure with this virus by limiting testing and forcing us back into each others space and then blame the results on the governors of states with the highest population or his favorite, calling the increase in deaths “fake news” all the while keeping the medical supplies he’s hoarded from the states that need it. And as an added bonus he’ll continue to sic his militias on us to do the remainder of his dirty work.
    His governing is all about division and extortion so with the election coming up its not difficult to see where this is headed.

    Americans will not forget that our country was invaded and the president not only knew about months in advance, he also tried to stop our governors from helping us after it arrived and then cheered on anyone else who got in their way from assisting us.
    Americans will not forget that the Trump admin now wants us to surrender our lives, family and friends to his election campaign/virus to serve his economy.
    He thinks cruelty to anyone that needs you is a sign of strength, which is wrong.
    (And he should know that when people experience that especially in matters of survival, they never forget) You cannot be considered a strong leader when you try to separate yourself from that position and point to someone else when anyone needs you to be there. He’s voting against himself.
    Trump is a fairweather president that is also a self-serving, self perpetuating storm. A person who exists in constant state of contradiction and selfishness cannot lead and Trump reminds Americans of that every day now.


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