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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At CNN Politics, Harry Enten explains “Why Trump’s enthusiasm edge over Biden could matter,” and notes: “Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in pretty much every single national poll. Yet the same polls find that Trump’s supporters are much more enthusiasticabout voting for their candidate than Biden’s supporters are voting for theirs…This split is potentially a good sign for Trump because the candidate who has led on enthusiasm (or a closely related question) has won every presidential election since 1988, though there are reasons to think Biden could break this streak…Importantly for Trump, the leader on enthusiasm has gone on to win in close elections as well as ones with wider margins…One of those close elections was four years ago. Trump had a consistent edge over Hillary Clinton in enthusiasm. His voters were 4 points more likely to say they were very enthusiastic in voting for him than Clinton’s were for her in the final ABC News/Washington Post poll, even as Clinton led overall. That enthusiasm advantage should have been one of the warning signals to the Clinton campaign…Trump’s current edge in enthusiasm over Biden is even larger. In a late March ABC News/Washington Post poll, 53% of Trump backers said they were very enthusiastic about voting for him. Just 24% of Biden backers said the same about their guy.”

Brian Schwartz reports that “Mike Bloomberg plots spending blitz to support Joe Biden’s run for president” at cnbc.com: “Though it’s unclear how much Bloomberg will eventually spend, some of the people familiar with the matter noted that they anticipate Bloomberg to end up spending in excess of $250 million to support Biden, the apparent Democratic nominee. Any major financial support from Bloomberg backing Biden does not include what he could put toward assisting congressional Democrats. After dropping out of the Democratic primary for president in March, Bloomberg endorsed Biden and later announced his campaign would transfer $18 million to the DNC…The coronavirus pandemic has forced all campaigns to go virtual and, although Biden kept up with Trump in fundraising in April, raising $60.5 million, he is still behind in cash. The president’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have a combined $255 million in reserve. The Biden campaign told reporters on Friday that it had $103 million on hand at the end of April when combined with the DNC. ..Bloomberg’s team has previously said that he spent $110 million on Democrats throughout the 2018 congressional campaign…The former New York mayor has previously said he would not rule out spending up to $1 billion against Trump, whether he was running for president or not. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has said they plan to spend at least $1 billion defending the president and getting him reelected.”

“Biden needs something more than ritualistic endorsements from Democrats who feel they have no other choice, a home-studio campaign strategy, and the hope that Americans will remember that Trump peddled bleach as an antidote to the coronavirus. He needs a political party that is prepared to turn this campaign into a movement…the policy task forces announced this week by the Biden and Sanders camps hold out the promise that the party could in this period of social and economic crisis become something that the vast majority of Americans can believe in…What Democrats require is a coherent agenda, and a campaign, that breaks sufficiently from the old politics to capture the imagination of the American electorate at a time when the coronavirus pandemic and an economic meltdown preclude a return to normal. The party has to propose a new direction. And these task forces on the economy, immigration, health care, criminal justice, education, and climate action could do just that…Task forces are supposed to come up with ideas—ideally, new and innovative ideas. If Biden and his campaign let these groups do their work, and if the presumptive nominee and the party use the agendas that are developed as cues to move in a sufficiently progressive direction, Democrats might again be what they were in the days when Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal Coalition won overwhelming victories: the dynamic force in our politics and our governance.” From “A Progressive Democratic Party is Possible—and Biden Needs It to Win: The Biden-Sanders task forces are charged with framing a bigger, bolder Democratic agenda—exactly what the party needs to win” by John Nichols at The Nation.

Could ‘rogue electors’ tilt the balance of the US election?“, asks Lawrence Douglas at The Guardian. Douglas writes, “May states penalize and replace electors who fail to vote in accord with their states’ popular vote outcomes, or do such actions violate the right of electors to vote free of legal control?…That was the question debated before the supreme court this week in an extraordinary oral argument. At issue were a pair of cases emerging from the 2016 election, which witnessed no fewer than 10 electors either voting, or trying to vote, in defiance of their pledge. In Colorado, a state Hillary Clinton handily won, three Democratic electors sought to vote for the Ohio governor John Kasich as part of a long-shot effort to find a consensus alternative to Donald Trump. The Colorado secretary of state ordered the three to cast their votes as state law required or face replacement. Two of the electors complied; the third, a 23-year-old graduate student named Michael Baca, refused, and found himself replaced by a Democratic elector, who then promptly cast his vote for Clinton…32 states and the District of Columbia now have laws that aim to make sure that electors do not vote “freely” as they were originally intended…It seems safe to expect that the court – in a ruling to be issued this summer – will uphold the states’ authority to constrain presidential electors… In the absence of a law in place before electors cast their votes, it isn’t clear that a state could replace a faithless elector. A handful of rogue electors could hypothetically trigger a crisis of succession with no clear exit…Of course, the entire problem of the rogue elector could be more elegantly solved by simply abolishing the electoral college, but that would require a constitutional amendment, and the process of amending the constitution is no less dysfunctional than the electoral college itself. So the electoral college will probably remain our constitutional appendix, a vestigial organ that has long since lost its animating function and now can only create potentially toxic problems for the body politic.”

At salon.com, Cody Fenwick explores an alternative possibility in “Biden is a direct threat to Trump’s electoral college advantage: Many just assume that Trump will continue to have an advantage in Electoral College. Is that really so?” As Fenwick explains, “So how do we know who has an Electoral College advantage? The key is to look at the swing states…Since the demographics of Biden’s support look different than Clinton’s, though, Trump’s advantage is not guaranteed. And in a recent piece for David Faris in The Week, he argued that current polls show Biden actually has a very slight edge in the Electoral College…How does he come to this conclusion? He looked at Biden’s polling averages from FiveThirtyEight both nationally and across the swing states. And in the key states Biden would need to win the Electoral College, he’s polling just slightly better than he is nationally…Now for the caveats. State polling is spotty and inconsistent, and in 2016, it had serious flaws. It’s not clear those flaws have been corrected. So we can’t rely too heavily on the findings of these polls…But I think Faris’s argument compels us to reconsider the assumption that the Electoral College favors Trump. It might, and Trump might win a second term in November even while being defeated once again in the popular vote. But it’s not guaranteed that he still has this advantage — it may have already slipped away…It’s also important to note that, even accepting all of Faris’s data on its face, Biden’s Electoral College advantage is extremely narrow. He would be much less likely, according to this analysis, to lose the popular vote but win the presidency than Trump was in 2016.”

E. J. Dionne, Jr. weighs in on  the Electoral Collge in his column, “Grading the electoral college: C for chaos.” Dionne writes, “So all the claims about the electoral college reflecting the “wisdom of the Founders” and what they had in mind are pure rubbish. The Founders’ design failed, which is why it was changed just 16 years after the Constitution was adopted. And the states’ shift to the popular vote for electors so fundamentally altered the original scheme that it amounted to creating a new system in the garb of the old one…The case before the Supreme Court makes plain the absurdity of how we choose our president. The entire presidential campaign is waged on the premise that the people decide. And victors inevitably claim to be “the people’s choice” — even if they lose the popular vote…And it’s easy to envision a scenario this year in which Trump loses the popular vote by 5 million to 6 million — or even more — yet ekes out a two-vote margin in the electoral college by hanging on to every electoral vote he won in 2016 except for those of Pennsylvania and Michigan.”

In her Cook Political Report article, “Georgia Senate’s Perdue Moves to Lean Republican,” Jessica Taylor writes, “The conventional wisdom has been that it’s the Loeffler seat that is more vulnerable, and thus more appealing to Democrats as a possible pick-up to attain (or even add to) a Senate majority. Given the weaknesses that Loeffler has shown as a candidate and questions about her and her husband’s stock transactions, she is facing pressure from both her right (from Rep. Doug Collins) and from several on the left (the DSCC has backed Rev. Raphael Warnock). The added uncertainty of a jungle primary on Election Day that isn’t likely to be decided until the runoff on January 5, 2021 is why we have this race in the Lean Republican column…A May 4-7 poll from Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies (conducted for a group supporting Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed Loeffler to her post) found that Perdue was leading Democrat Jon Ossoff by only two points, 43%-41%, with Libertarian Shane Hazel getting 7% and 8% undecided. The same GOP poll also found a statistical tie in the presidential race, with Trump at 46% and Biden at 47%…Those tightening numbers are in line with another survey from Republican firm Cygnal, conducted April 25-27 for the Georgia House GOP caucus, which gave Perdue a six-point lead over Ossoff, 45%-39%. Both Democrats and Republicans privately believe this is a single-digit race, though Perdue still maintains the advantage.”

Also at The Cook Political Report, Charlie Cook comments on the Georgia races in his article “Why We’re Not Ready to Call Georgia a Toss Up“: As Cook observes, “There’s little doubt that Georgia is becoming more competitive. While Mitt Romney carried the state in 2012 by 53 percent, both Trump and 2018 GOP nominee, Brian Kemp, took just over 50 percent of the vote. A lot of this movement can be traced to shifting voting patterns in and around Atlanta. For example, in 2012, Obama carried Fulton County (Atlanta) by 19 points. Just four years later, Clinton carried it by a whopping 44 points and Abrams expanded that gap to 46 points. Suburban Gwinnett and Cobb Counties, long known as traditional GOP strongholds, flipped to Clinton in 2016 and gave even more of their votes to Abrams in 2018…Even so, it will take more than just an improvement in the Atlanta and urban/suburban areas of the state to flip it Democratic. It also takes shaving points off the large share of the vote Republicans like Trump and Kemp can generate from small town, exurban and rural parts of the state. Biden supporters argue that the former VP is much better suited for this challenge than Clinton or Abrams. He’s not as polarizing and starts the race with higher positive ratings than Clinton…For Democrats, winning Georgia is like trying to lose those last 5-10 pounds. On paper, it doesn’t seem all that hard. But, once you spend two weeks desperately looking down at a scale that doesn’t budge, you realize it’s going to take a ton of effort to lose each and every pound. For now, Georgia stays in Lean Republican. ”

“As of today, 490 women have filed as candidates for U.S. House seats, a new record high,” according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. This surpasses even the record- breaking 2018 midterm election, in which 476 women filed to run for House seats. In 14 states, filing deadlines have yet to pass…295 Democratic women have filed as candidates in House races. They are on track to modestly improve on their own high for House candidacies, which was set in 2018 at 356.” At present, there are 26 women serving as U.S. Senators, including 19 Democats and 9 Republicans, the Center reports and 31 Democratic women are running for Senate in 2020. At present, 88 Democratic women currently hold House of Reps seats, while 6 Democratic women currently serve as Governors, with 3 Republican women.

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    If “enthusiasm” is what you call what Trump supporters have for voting for their candidate then its an encouraging sign for the United States of America that Biden has less of it.

  2. Martin Lawford on

    Like John Nichols, I hope the task forces Biden has appointed design policy proposals which will not only win the election but also serve the country. I cannot imagine, though, what “new and innovative ideas” they can propose which have not been proposed already. Single-payer medical care? Renewable energy subsidies? Amnesty for illegal aliens? Lighter sentences for felons? Higher taxes on the rich? Jobs programs? All of these have been proposed for many years and some of them have already been enacted. If our platform for 2020 consists of leftovers from previous elections, then all we will do is wrap up old ideas from previous platforms and write “New! Improved!” on the wrapper.

    • Victor on

      I hope both sides realize the need to improve the marketing of practically all these ideas. Finding practical middle points that can be communicated more clearly and that have ambition that doesn’t sound unachievable but also doesn’t sound like more of the same.


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