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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Partisanship is the strongest predictor of coronavirus response: Among Americans, partisanship has been a stronger predictor than age, gender, geography, even personal experience, a study shows,” David Roberts reports at vox.com. Roberts adds, “A bit of research, published in March, from three leading political scientists shows pretty convincingly that, in the face of the pandemic, Republicans and Democrats are once again hearing different things, forming different understandings, and reacting in different ways.” Roberts quotes Shana Kushner Gadarian, Sara Wallace Goodman, and Thomas Pepinsky — political scientists at Syracuse University, UC Irvine, and Cornell respectively, who note, “Republicans are less likely than Democrats to report responding with CDC-recommended behavior, and are less concerned about the pandemic, yet are more likely to support policies that restrict trade and movement across borders as a response to it. Democrats, by contrast, have responded by changing their personal health behaviors, and supporting policies that socialize the costs of testing and treatment. Partisanship is a more consistent predictor of behaviors, attitudes, and preferences than anything else that we measure….What we find is that even when you account for the zip codes people live in, i.e., their actual level of exposure to the disease.”

Charlie Cook shares his insights concerning “Where Things Stand for the 2020 Elections” at The Cook Political Report: “Not long ago, GOP chances of maintaining their control of the Senate looked to be about two out of three, but Senate Editor Jessica Taylor’s reporting since March shows that Republican Senate majority is getting more precarious and now control appears to be a 50-50 proposition.  Now with popular Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock challenging GOP incumbent Steve Daines in Montana, newly-appointed Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler mired in a horrific political situation and the possibility that Republicans could draw an exceedingly weak candidate in what should be a safe seat in Kansas (filing deadline June 1), among other problems adding to previous woes with incumbents Martha McSally in Arizona, Susan Collins in Maine, Cory Gardner in Colorado and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis all in races that are, at best, toss ups.”

“Combine those two Congressional situations with a recession that has effectively eliminated any tailwind that President Trump had been enjoying from a strong economy,” Cook adds, “and it is hard to see his re-election prospects looking anything but more dire by the week. Today there is more than a one-in-three chance that Democrats will win a trifecta in November, the White House, the Senate and the House.  The policy and governing implications are enormous…Keep in mind that these outcomes are not independent of each other, a Trump victory would be more likely to be accompanied by retention of the Senate, a Trump defeat would raise the odds of Democrats taking over the Senate.  This isn’t ‘coattails,” (I don’t believe in coattails), but the turnout dynamics, the issue agenda and priorities and the political environment that would exist to re-elect, or defeat Trump would also be in place for a Senate that is already teetering on the edge.  Our system isn’t quite parliamentary but is getting increasingly more so, the linkage is greater, the ticket-splitting diminishing.”

Republicans are slapping high-fives over their Tuesday win in CA-25 special. But in her CNN Politics article, “Republicans win back California House seat they lost in 2018 after Democrat concedes,” Clare Foran explains why Dems just lost the seat: “The win came after Democrat Christy Smith conceded to Republican Mike Garcia on Wednesday in the special election for seat left vacant when Katie Hill, a Democrat, resigned amid controversy last year.” However, “there will be a rematch. That’s because Smith and Garcia are still running as candidates for a November general election to decide who holds the seat in the next session of Congress.” Dems hope, not without reason, that an anti-Trump landslide in November will give Smith enough leverage to take back the House seat.

So how progressive is former Vice President Biden” Here’s an excerpt from a New York Magazine article by Gabriel Debenedetti, flagged by Ruy Teixeira: “Long before the pandemic, [Biden] described a range of actions he’d take on day one, from rejoining the Paris climate agreement to signing executive orders on ethics, and he cited other matters, like passing the Equality Act for LGBTQ protections, as top priorities…To date, the federal government has spent more than $2 trillion on the coronavirus stimulus — nearly three times what it approved in 2009. Biden wants more spending. “A hell of a lot bigger,” he’s said, “whatever it takes.” He has argued that, even if you’re inclined to worry about the deficit, massive public investment is the only thing capable of growing the economy enough “so the deficit doesn’t eat you alive.” He has talked about funding immense green enterprises and larger backstop proposals from cities and states and sending more relief checks to families. He has urged immediate increases in virus and serology testing, proposing the implementation of a Pandemic Testing Board in the style of FDR’s War Production Board and has called for investments in an “Apollo-like moonshot” for a vaccine and treatment. And he floated both the creation of a 100,000-plus worker Public Health Jobs Corps and the doubling of the number of OSHA investigators to protect employees amid the pandemic. If he were president now, he said in March, he would demand paid emergency sick leave for anyone in need and mandate that no one would have to pay for coronavirus testing or treatment. As the crisis deepened, he said he would forgive federal student-loan debt — $10,000 per person, minimum — and add $200 a month to Social Security checks.”

‘Tis a pity that Sen. Richard Burr (NC) is not up for re-election in November, in light of the buzz around todays’ revelations that he, not only had his phone confiscated by the F.B.I. as part of an investigation into alleged trading of 33 stock sales after his coronavirus briefing; he just stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the wake of it. As Christina Wilkie reports at cnbc.com, “On Feb. 13, Burr sold stocks worth $630,000 to $1.7 million in a one-day sale involved 33 individual trades. One week later, markets began a steep slide as investors panicked over the potential economic damage from coronavirus.” No doubt, NC Dems are hoping the GOP stench will stick on Burr’s fellow Republican Senator Tom Tillis, who is up for re-election in November, but is not at this time implicated in insider stock deals. Insider trading allegations have also tainted Georgia’s two Republican Senators, both of whom are up in November.

Although the national focus is on Covid-19 health care concerns, health insecurity in general remains a central concern for growing numbers of Americans. As Erin Schumaker of ABC News reports that “Soaring unemployment numbers could translate into nearly 27 million people losing their health insurance, according to a new report…”Between March 1st and May 2nd, 2020, more than 31 million people had filed for unemployment insurance,” notes the Kaiser Family Foundation report, which was released Wednesday…Eight states including California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, Florida, Michigan and Ohio will account for roughly half of the people who lost health insurance they previously had through their job, the report estimated…Before the pandemic, 1 in 3 Americans said that they wouldn’t be able to pay a $400 medical bill without selling their belongings or borrowing money.”

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman explain why “Why 2020’s Third Party Share Should Be Lower Than 2016” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Despite — or perhaps because of — the relatively high share of the vote third party candidates received in 2016, we expect the two major parties to have a better showing in 2020…Voters generally feel better about their major party nominees this year than they did in 2016, leaving third party options with less of a raison d’etre…The field of third party candidates this year doesn’t seem especially strong, and even when prominent names have launched third party bids recently, they’ve struggled to gain traction — even in their home states…The public health crisis could make it harder for third party candidates to get on some state ballots.”

Also at the Crystal Ball, Kondik and Coleman note that incumbent Governors are also in a position to benefit politically from the Covid-19 pandemic, because “Many state governors have received high marks for their handling of coronavirus…Three of them on the ballot this November get a boost in our gubernatorial ratings this week…As of now, the open seat in Montana seems to be the seat likeliest to change hands on the relatively sparse presidential-year gubernatorial map.” Republicans now hold 26 governorships, compared to 24 for Democrats, with 11 governorships up for election in November. Kondik and Coleman write that “Democrats probably would be relieved to get out of 2020 holding as many governorships as they do now.”

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