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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From Alex Daugherty’s “‘A huge missed opportunity.’ Democrats fail to challenge Miami’s only House Republican” at mcclatchydc.com: “When South Florida Democrats couldn’t find a candidate to challenge Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a nine-term Cuban-American congressman from a prominent political family, they ensured that Miami’s only Republican will remain in Congress until 2023 — even though his district only went for President Donald Trump by a slim two-point margin…That could prove to be a costly mistake, Democrats and others now say. If Trump’s support continues to sag in swing states including Florida, Democrats would have been in a position to capitalize on a potential blue wave in November that could carry even little-known, down-ballot candidates — the kind they might have fielded against Diaz-Balart — to unexpected wins…“There’s a huge missed opportunity now because of what you’re seeing at the national level … depending on how this presidential election turns out,” said David Perez, a Democrat who unsuccessfully sought a state Senate seat in 2018 that overlaps with Diaz-Balart’s district.” After all the excuses have been made, a two-point margin ought to insure a well-funded Democratic challenger anywhere in the U.S.

Ruy Teixeira shares some good news from the mountain west, riffing on a poll cited in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle: “Montana is a Great State Even With One Democratic Senator; Imagine If They Had Two!..It could happen! I thought when Steve Bullock entered the race, he had a terrific shot at the Senate seat. The new Montana Statue University poll has him up 7 on incumbent Steve Daines (R). And as governor, he has a 70 percent approval rating on handling the coronavirus…Polling of course is thin in the state but this is a good sign. The more seats that are in play in November, the better for Democratic odds of picking up control of the Senate. Not a bad pick to send money to if you’re inclined to contribute to a reach Senate seat beyond the big four or AZ, CO, ME and NC.”

For a piercing critique of the major media’s coverage of coronavirus politics, read Eric Alterman’s “The Press Is Amplifying a Dangerous Know-Nothing Ideology: The anti-lockdown protests aren’t the first time the media has been swindled into cheerleading an extremist faux libertarianism” at The Nation. As Alterman obseerves, “Encouraged by near-saturation media coverage, the right-wing protests against commonsense social-distancing measures are getting out of hand. While the absolute numbers involved in the protests are tiny, their effect—when amplified by the credulous, cheerleading tone of the coverage—is massive and dangerous. On April 30 in Michigan, rifle-touting, Confederate-flag-waving, Trump-supporting militia types attempted to intimidate the legislature (to predictably sympathetic tweets from the president). These anti-lockdown rallies are popping up everywhere, often with nearly as many reporters covering them as there are protesters in attendancThe right to not only infect oneself with a potentially life-threatening disease but also to infect others and worsen the crisis that threatens the world’s public health and economy has become a symbol of the extremist libertarian right wing, whose members make up a significant segment of Trump’s political base. Governors—such as those in Georgia and Florida—who identify with Trump’s brand of faux libertarianism are embracing the right to infect, no matter the cost to their constituents, their country, and the world at large.”

Alterman cites several big media, including examples from The Times, Post, Politico and CNN. He concludes, “Chris Cillizza, a reporter at The Washington Post (later recruited by CNN), explained it thus: “My job is to assess not the rightness of each argument but to deal in the real world of campaign politics in which perception often (if not always) trumps reality. I deal in the world as voters believe it is, not as I (or anyone else) thinks it should be.”…One could hardly ask for a better an example of what New York University professor Jay Rosen’s diagnosed in 2011 as the “cult of the savvy,” which he defined as the quality “of being shrewd, practical, hyper-informed, perceptive, ironic, ‘with it,’ and unsentimental in all things political.” Rosen wrote, “Nothing is more characteristic of the savvy style than statements like ‘in politics, perception is reality.’” Of course, as Rosen notes, perception is not reality: “Reality is reality!”…So it’s no surprise that the miscreants demanding the right to infect themselves and others have no trouble receiving the loving attention of the uncritical mainstream media. It’s as if we’ve been in training for this death march for decades.”

Check out Greg Bluestein’s article, “Georgia’s Democratic U.S. Senate hopefuls make virus response top issue” at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a peek at some of the messaging Democratic U.S. Senate candidates are using to wrestle away not one, but two Republican-held seats in the state. Of course, GA’s two do-nothing Senators are catching hell for the GOP’s dangerous coronavirus strategy. But the issue of corruption is now front and center, since both GA Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have been accused on profiteering from the crisis. As Bluestein notes, “Each of the Democrats is also pressing to link Perdue with Loeffler, who is trying to tamp down an uproar over her stock transactions during the pandemic. At another recent virtual forum, the trio repeatedly mentioned Perdue and Loeffler in the same breath as they accused both of profiting from the disease…Loeffler has attracted most of the national attention for trades dating from Jan. 24, the day she and other senators attended a private briefing on the illness. She said financial advisers made those decisions without her input, and she announced she’ll no longer invest in individual stocks…Perdue’s opponents have highlighted a spate of trading from the month of March and purchases of stock from DuPont and other firms that are involved in the coronavirus response. Echoing her rivals, Amico accused Perdue of “blatantly profiting off of a pandemic.”

Brad Adgate discusses “The Impact COVID-19 Is Having On Political Ad Spending And Messaging” at Forbes and notes, “Expect political ads mentioning the pandemic to continue for the time being. Advertising Analytics says while it’s difficult to project messaging trends out too far, given how quickly the political landscape shifts, it seems that COVID-19 will be the largest topic of ads in 2020. Not   all of the ads will be on this topic, however. We’re already seeing the curve of ads mentioning COVID-19 smooth out at around 40-45% of political ads. However, this could easily increase or decrease depending on if there is a second wave or a vaccine or some other drastic event. For the week of March 10, in local broadcast, candidates spent $467,000 on ads that mentioned COVID-19. In the most recent available data (week of April 28), it had risen to $3.2 million.”

Adgate continues, “Looking ahead, Mark Lieberman, the President and CEO of Viamedia, believes the 2020 campaign with no rallies will be similar to the 19th century, when Presidential candidates relied on supporters acting as surrogates to reach voters. In 2020, these surrogates will be the media, especially television and digital. As Lieberman states, “Television with its sight, sound and motion remains the best medium to build awareness while digital media allows candidates to shake the virtual hands of voters. Bloomberg’s cross-platform media strategy of spending heavy on television combined with digital media with their superior targeting capabilities and memes, could be copied by Biden.”

Lest anyone get carried away with fantasies about a bipartisan response to the coronavirus pandemic, Charles P. Pierce writes that “Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Reminds Us That Without Fail, Republicans Gonna Republican” at Esquire: “Governor Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, was the recipient of a great deal of praise for leading his state’s response to the pandemic. He was the latest Republican cited as one of The Good Ones. But, as we all have come to realize, if you wait long enough, Republicans gonna Republican and, as the Great Reopening has begun, and as the national government has surrendered to the virus, DeWine is reverting to the mean…and we do mean mean…First, here’s the form with which Ohioans can nark on their friends who choose not to risk their lives by heading back to the widget plant in the middle of a pandemic when the governor and their bosses tell them to come in. If you don’t go back to your cubicle-shaped petri dish, and the guy from HR finks on you to the state, you lose your unemployment benefits. I was just saying the other day that what the American response to the pandemic was missing was just a little dab of East Germany…Second, DeWine announced on Tuesday that, in response to the economic impact of the pandemic, it’s time for another round of Austerity Follies in which Medicaid and public education get whacked and Ohio’s “rainy day” fund is left untouched, presumably for a rainier day than the one were soaking in now…”

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich chimes in with a similar warning regarding the Sunshine state’s Repubican rulers:

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    “Nothing is more characteristic of the savvy style than statements like ‘in politics, perception is reality.’” Of course, as Rosen notes, perception is not reality: “Reality is reality!”

    propaganda begs to differ!


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