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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Democrats can be proud that their party includes one of the most inspiring and credible visionaries in congress, Rep. John Lewis, whose statement about the protests – and the rioting and looting – in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor provides a lodestar for other Democratic candidates: “To the rioters here in Atlanta and across the country: I see you, and I hear you,” he wrote. “I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has, indeed, been denied for far too long. Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way. Organize. Demonstrate. Sit-in. Stand-up. Vote. Be constructive, not destructive. History has proven time and again that non-violent, peaceful protest is the way to achieve the justice and equality that we all deserve.”  Tia Mitchell of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes further that Lewis said on MSNBC, “We must continue to teach the way of peace, the way of love, the philosophy and the discipline of non-violence…And never, ever give up on any of our brothers and sisters. We’re one people; we’re one family.”

Democratic candidates who like the idea of winning should also read Josh Kraushaar’s article, “Democrats risk backlash if they don’t condemn rioting” at The National Journal. Kraushaar notes that “It’s worth recalling this data in the wake of the riots and violence in Minneapolis this week, which occurred after a wrenching videotaped incident of police brutality against an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd. The episode brings to the political forefront a polarizing brew of issues surrounding civil rights and law enforcement…Polls already show most Americans support the arrest of the offending officer, who was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.” But Kraushaar believes more Democratic candidates should emulate the strong statement of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: “One of the few Democrats to loudly denounce the violence was Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who spoke with moral clarity as riots descended on her city Friday night. “What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos,” she said. The mayor, who is also on Biden’s list of potential running mates, was one of the few Democratic voices to speak unequivocally against the riots.” Ruy Teixeira added on his Facebook page, “I Hope the Biden Campaign Is Taking a Very, Very Close Look at Bottoms for Vice-President.”

Kraushaar explains that “Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, two senior fellows at the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, wrote one of the most trenchant political analyses in recent months. Using data from the in-depth Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape surveys designed to capture a nuanced portrait of the American electorate, the two scholars found that there’s a significant cohort of Donald Trump-Joe Biden voters emerging in this year’s election, a persuadable constituency large enough to tip the election…While the notion of swing voters may sound alien in these partisan times, the analysis showed that nearly one-tenth of Trump voters from the last election are poised to switch sides. They’re a demographically diverse mix: Just one-third make up the popular Trumpian stereotype of working-class white voters, while one-third are white college graduates, and the remainder are nonwhite…But the most important finding was the ideological makeup of these potential Trump defectors. They identified as economically progressive—supporting higher taxes for the wealthy, a higher minimum wage, and mandated paid family leave—but held markedly conservative positions on a wide array of social and cultural issues…A whopping 78 percent of these swing voters feel that government should promote family values in society. Nearly two-thirds oppose efforts to ban all guns. And by huge margins, they oppose racial reparations and believe there are only two genders. Put simply, this isn’t a politically correct bunch.”

Regarding “The Voters Who Don’t Like Trump Or Biden,” Geoffrey Skelley notes at FiveThirtyEight that “in 2020, Trump may have lost his edge among the “haters” — that is, the voters who hold an unfavorable view of both presidential candidates. Two recent national surveys found that former Vice President Joe Biden has a big lead over Trump among those who have unfavorable views of them both. An April survey from NBC News/Wall Street Journal put Biden ahead of Trump 60 percent to 10 percent, and an early May survey from Morning Consult gave Biden a lead of 46 percent to 14 percent…However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when talking about the “hater” vote. First, this voting bloc is probably not as big as it was in 2016. According to the RealClearPolitics average of favorability polls, the two nominees aren’t as disliked this time around…the net favorability (the favorable rating minus the unfavorable rating) for both Trump and Biden is around 10 points higher than the figures for Trump and Clinton in November 2016.”

Some notes from Chris Brennan’s “Another loss from coronavirus: The rituals of election day” at The Philadelphia Inquirer: “More than 77% of the usual polling places in Philadelphia have been closed. More voters in the city have requested mail ballots than did across the whole state for the primary in 2016. Almost two million Pennsylvanians have requested to vote by mail…And after several election cycles that saw an increase in political activism due to the national political scene, this primary really holds only one competitive statewide race, the Democratic battle for the relatively low-profile post of auditor general…Philadelphia elections officials expect more than half the votes to be cast by mail. But it’s hard to know how many of the 220,000 or so voters who have requested ballots will actually return them on time for the election-night deadline, instead of voting in person or not at all. In the past, about one out of five voters who requested an absentee ballot ended up not using it…Who ends up voting by mail, and how the pandemic might reshape the electorate, is also impossible to predict. Voters in low-income neighborhoods requested mail ballots at lower rates than even past turnout would suggest, and the voters requesting mail ballots are also older than the overall electorate. Voters over 60 years old have requested 36% of the city’s mail ballots while making up 27% of the active voters on the rolls. Voters under 30, meanwhile, make up about 16% of ballot requests but 21% of active voters.”

A very well-done pro-Biden ad:

Lauren Egan reports at nbcnews.com: “As health experts warn that the country could still be grappling with the coronavirus pandemic this fall, lawsuits aiming to expand access to mail-in ballots in key battleground states could help determine the outcome of the presidential race…Nonpartisan groups, such as the Campaign Legal Center, as well as a handful of Democratic organizations, including Priorities USA, are backing lawsuits in more than a dozen states in an effort to eliminate administrative hurdles that could make vote-by-mail difficult or even inaccessible to voters.“…A large percentage of people are going to vote by mail, maybe even a large majority,” said Paul Smith, vice president of litigation and strategy at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization that works to support access to voting and is currently litigating cases related to the coronavirus and vote-by-mail in Minnesota, Texas and New Jersey.”

Egan adds, “Most battleground states offer no-excuse absentee voting, meaning that any registered voter can vote by mail without needing a reason to do so. But all of these states have regulations — such as requiring a witness signature or requiring the ballot to be received by Election Day — that voting rights experts and activists say are onerous and could lead to mass disenfranchisement this fall…In North Carolina, for example, Democratic legal groups filed a lawsuit arguing that the state should provide prepaid postage for all ballots, eliminate the requirement for two witnesses to sign a mail-in ballot, extend the deadline for when a mail ballot must be received, and allow for voters to fix any signature discrepancies before the state can reject a ballot…In Florida, Democratic organizations filed a lawsuit seeking to suspend ballot-return deadlines and laws limiting who is allowed to collect vote by mail ballots and deliver them to local election offices…Similar lawsuits have been filed in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which will be critical in deciding the race between President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden…The North Carolina and Arizona suits could also affect tight Senate races in those states that could determine which party controls that body after Election Day.”

From a profile of Jessica Post, “the high energy leader of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which is fighting to flip statehouses in November” at scoopsquare24.com: “Post leads the Democratic party’s national strategy for electing far more Democrats into every state legislature across the country. As she points out- “The impact of state legislatures is enormous. State legislatures actually control and govern most of your day to day life- the quality of the schools that your kids might go to, the quality of roads, mass transit, the economic opportunities in your area, voting rights, the districts that you might vote in- all of those are determined by state legislatures…Today, she is optimistically enacting her DLCC strategy to flip eight to ten state legislative chambers from red to blue in the November 2020 election. Since 2016, the Democrats have flipped more than 430 legislative seats from red to blue, and were successful in reclaiming the majority in 10 legislative chambers. “We only have to win four seats to flip the state legislature from red to blue in Michigan and in Texas we realized we only need to flip nine seats for the Texas state house to go from red to blue,” she says excitedly.”

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Watcher on

    Democrats who want to win may wonder why Josh Kraushaar doesn’t bring up the issue of police accountability in his article once. Yes, condemning looting is good but so is condemning police brutality. If we are so concerned about losing votes, then we can test message statements that don’t piss off either the Un-PC swing voters referenced above OR the black vote you desperately need to turn out in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Detroit.

    Mayor Bottoms can get away with quoting MLK and chastising protesters but Biden can not do so without offering a real solution to the issue of bad policing. One start would be reinstating the police accountability measures that the Trump administration overturned.

  2. Martin Lawford on

    The producers of the Biden ad seem to have taken Andrew Levison’s advice in his report, “How to Beat Trump’s White Working Class Support” from a couple of years ago.


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