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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

If you have wished for more ads and stories about pro athletes and popular entertainers raising hell about voter suppression, check out Alex Reimer’s “LeBron James’ Voting Rights Push Could Be A Historically Significant Athlete-Led Political Campaign” at Forbes. Reimer notes, “James is forming a voting rights organization along with several other prominent Black athletes and entertainers. The group, called More Than a Vote, will go beyond traditional get-out-the-vote campaigns. It will combat voter suppression, with James using his gigantic presence on social media to shed light on attempts to restrict voting access for minorities…“Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James told the New York Times in an interview. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference…James’ efforts against voter suppression promise to be widely broadcast. But the truth is, James has enough reach on his own to make a tangible difference in public awareness. The three-time champion and four-time MVP boasts more than 136 million followers across his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds. To put that in perspective, 137 million people voted in the 2016 presidential election, the NYT points out.”

A good video to share with South Carolina voters who may want to elect a new senator with consistent principles — Sen. Lindsey Graham blasts Trump and lavishly praises Biden in 2016. from a new ad by Republican Voters Against Trump:

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall notes that, “in an unpublished working paper, “Sorting Apart: Partisan Polarization in the American Electorate, 1972-2016,” Stanley Feldman writes, “It’s clear that preferences have shifted significantly in a more conservative direction over this time period among Republican identifiers,” Feldman wrote, adding that contrary to those who argue that racial hostility among working class whites is the deciding factor in elections, he and his co-authors found that “It’s not the case that conservative racial issue preferences are concentrated among low-income whites. High-income Republicans are more conservative on racial issues than low-income Republicans.””

Edsall notes further, “Joe Biden’s lead over Trump has grown from 5.6 points to 8.1 points since Floyd was killed on May 25; Trump’s disapproval rating has risen and his approval level has fallen over the same period; and the Democratic advantage in the generic congressional vote has inched upward…While a leftward movement among voters, particularly on racial matters, is, at the moment, indisputable, these and other social and cultural issues remain volatile, and Republicans remain undeterred…Joe Trippi, a Democratic consultant, is thinking landslide too, but not Stephens’s landslide: ‘The more wound up we get on coronavirus and unemployment and race, the more chaos we see. If Trump is chaos and Biden is community, what will the country choose? I think a whole bunch of suburban G.O.P. women, younger G.O.P., business G.O.P. and college educated G.O.P. choose Biden and community. G.O.P. women are exhausted by the chaos.'”

In their article, “There’s A Huge Gap In How Republicans And Democrats See Discrimination” at FiveThirtyEight, Meredeith Conroy and Perry Bacon, Jr report on “findings about perceptions of discrimination and perceptions of various groups in American society, based on recent polling from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape project.” Conroy and Bacon report that “An overwhelming majority of Democrats thought black and Muslim Americans face “a great deal” or “a lot” of discrimination in America today, as opposed to “a moderate amount,” “little” or “none at all.” Perceptions of discrimination against black people have surged among all groups, including Republicans, in the wake of Floyd’s death. But the vast majority of Democrats thought that black people in America faced high levels of discrimination even before Floyd’s death.2 About half of Democrats also thought women face a lot of discrimination…In contrast, only about half of Republicans thought that black people and Muslims face high levels of discrimination, and only about a quarter thought that women do. The majority of Republicans thought those groups face “a moderate amount,” “little” or “no” discrimination at all.”

Conroy and Bacon note further that “Nearly half of Democrats expressed unfavorable views about police and evangelicals. Unfavorable views of the police have substantially increasedfrom polling before Floyd’s death,5 but Democrats’ unfavorable views of evangelicals were already very high and remain so. About a quarter of Democrats said they had unfavorable views of white Americans; a quarter said the same of undocumented immigrants,6 even though the Democratic Party is increasingly supportive of immigration and immigrants…In contrast, large shares of Republicans expressed unfavorable views of undocumented immigrants, LGBT Americans and Muslims. More than 20 percent of Republicans said that they had unfavorable views of black Americans and police, with the latter group having increased in unfavorability substantially since Floyd’s death.7

“There were also some notable differences among Democrats,” Bacon and Conroy note. “For example, Democrats under 45 were significantly more likely than those over 45 to say they had an unfavorable view of the police (54 percent compared to 38 percent). Black Democrats were more likely than white Democrats to have unfavorable views of the police (58 percent to 41 percent). Black and Hispanic Democrats were about twice as likely as white Democrats to view LGBT Americans unfavorably, and about 30 percent of both groups expressed unfavorable views of white Americans. And white Democrats, in particular, viewed evangelicals unfavorably (50 percent)…

Conroy and Bacon conclude, “When social identities are threatened (real or imagined threats, often made salient by group leaders), individuals retreat to the safety of their in-groups, and react defensively with more negative feelings toward outside groups. And given the effectiveness of in-group retreating for political outcomes, there is little chance of this changing anytime soon, at least from political leaders who stand to gain the most from these identity-based fights…The activation of social identities can have positive democratic outcomes, too. For instance, Trump’s anti-Latino rhetoric led to increased political activity from Latinos with a stronger racial identity. And as we wrote about last week, strong racial identity among black Americans leads to collective voting to defend group interests. Moreover, if a sense of shared identity can be triggered, partisans can come together to prioritize national interests…But so long as the parties remain largely distinct in terms of the group identities of their members — and how those members feel about other groups — ingroup and outgroup conflict is easily activated.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. has this encouraging observation about Biden and his campaign for Democrats: “He has offered policy-laden critiques of Trump’s handling of covid-19, the economy and the policing issue. Later this month, those familiar with his thinking say, he’ll offer a plan for big investments in job creation. They will focus on strengthening the nation’s domestic industrial base, clean energy and caregiving to children, the elderly and the disabled…In other words, Biden is not acting as if he thinks the election is already won, and he’s not averse to big proposals. As one Biden insider notes, the former vice president’s agenda — on health care, education, climate change and policing, for example — is “much more progressive” than the programs offered by Obama in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in 2016…This doesn’t mean he’s moved “too far left.” On the contrary, the ideas he has plucked from the progressive portfolio are vote-winners, not vote-losers. Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 is very popular with voters between the ages of 60 and 65. Free public college for students from families with incomes under $125,000 a year is popular, too.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    Republicans fear a never ending process of demands on race, gender identity and immigration.

    Democrats don’t offer clear ends to these processes of accommodation either.

    It is the duty of Democratic leadership to draw clear lines, such as an clear stance on open borders and levels of immigration, a more precise definition of what full acceptance of gender identity would mean and a path to economic equity for Blacks and Hispanics.

    Same also happens with gun regulation and abortion, but these issues get settled by the courts. Gay marriage was also settled by the courts. Only on drugs have legislatures/politicians been at the forefront of defining the contours of left wing positions.


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