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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At Politico, Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Korecki comment on Biden’s media and public appearance strategy: “…After laying out his own plan to slow the coronavirus, the presumptive Democratic nominee made what now amounts to news in this bizarre election: He opened the floor to questions from reporters, waving off aides when they tried to cut him off and marveling at how strange this has all become…The focus on his latest outing reflects the strange reality of a campaign in which he’s grown his support in polls by stepping aside….“They’ve allowed Trump to just implode,” said Pete Giangreco, a Democratic strategist. And by releasing a renewed coronavirus plan on Tuesday, Biden was able to keep the heat on Trump as the president struggles to contain a resurgence of the virus across the country, including in states key to his reelection hopes….“There’s the old adage, ‘when your opponent’s drowning, throw him an anvil,'”…Biden only recently began attending events outside of his Delaware home. His fundraisers and town hall-style events are held virtually. While Biden hadn’t held a press briefing in months, he has sat for national TV interviews. He’s also routinely taken part in one-on-one interviews with local news outlets in battleground states. Biden boasted on Tuesday that his efforts had reached 200 million people.” What I like about Biden’s strategy is that less wear and tear from travel and public events keeps him well-rested for the home stretch. Let Trump wear himself out on the trail at poorly-attended events.

It’s fun watching Republicans hem, haw and squirm about their earlier dismissive comments and inadequate policies with respect to the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. This week Dems are having a grand time witnessing the Great GOP Walk-back, especially by Trump, regarding their earlier coronavirus statements, and Dems have surely amassed a huge stockpile of video clips of Trump’s ridiculous comments about the virus back in March. One interesting question is, how much collateral damage will Trump’s comments do down-ballot — not that Republican Governors, paticularly in Florida, Georgia and Texas, don’t have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do about their own lame policies regarding the pandemic. The hope is that Democratic operatives in those states have their act enough together to produce ads that hold the GOP accountable.

As Stephen Collinson notes further in his article, “Trump’s anti-mask crusade is coming back to bite him” at CNN Politics, “Some Republicans have been trying to walk back earlier squeamishness about a step that runs counter to conservative talk show dogma by finding ways to make mask wearing more politically palatable. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican who’s a strong Trump ally, suggested that with Independence Day approaching, Americans should show their patriotism with red, white and blue face coverings. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, has been resplendent in a plaid mask that recalls the red and black shirt he wore when he hiked across his state and was elected governor decades ago.”…Trump’s apparent shift on mask wearing probably does not signal a corresponding change in his denial about the worsening crisis and refusal to provide strong presidential leadership…In the same Fox Business interview, he claimed that “we did it all right” on coronavirus, a pandemic that he initially ignored, then mismanaged and politicized, and finally went back to ignoring even with more than 127,000 Americans now dead…”We did a great job. We’re credited with doing a great job,” he said, before returning his typical fantasy-based predictions about the virus.”

In his New York Times column, “Trump Wants a Backlash. Can He Whip One Into Shape?,” Thomas B. Edsall writes, “Donald Trump is already running ads online and on TV attempting to capitalize on these trends. One spot shows looters and burning buildings while the words “Joe Biden fails to stand up to the radical left” appear on the screen. Another Trump ad that ran on Facebookwarned: “Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem…So far, Trump’s attempt to focus public attention on the looting, burning and sometimes indiscriminate toppling of statues has been outdone by the emergence of an ever longer list of African-American victims of police brutality, by new videos of police violence, much of it collected by T. Greg Doucette, a lawyer in North Carolina, and by the filing of murder charges on June 17 against an Atlanta police officer in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks…”

Edsall continues, “Traditionally, it has been the Democratic Party that was most vulnerable to fracture over race, racism, crime and family dysfunction. But this year, as my Times colleague Adam Nagourney pointed out on June 29 in “Trump’s Self-Inflicted Wound: Losing Swing Voters As He Plays to His Base,” the susceptibility to division is also a Republican problem: “Mr. Trump’s focus on his base at the expense of swing voters,” Nagourney wrote, “is almost certainly not enough to win him a second term.”…The key group, Nagourney continued, is the nine percent of the electorate identified in the Times/Siena poll as undecided, but these voters may be out of reach: They, like much of the country, hold unfavorable views of Mr. Trump’s job performance, and particularly his response to the pandemic and to the demonstrations that followed the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police...Across the country, significant support has emerged for broad efforts to combat police brutality and racism, but that support is not monolithic. The current tilt in favor of the demonstrators is likely to face concerted, ugly pushback from Trump and his minions — and there are four long months to go before the election.”

At CNN Politics, Chandelis Duster reports that “Ex-George W. Bush officials launch new group supporting Joe Biden,” and writes “A group of former George W. Bush administration and campaign officials has launched a new super PAC to mobilize disaffected Republican voters for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden…The group, launched Wednesday under the name “43 Alumni for Biden,” “seeks to unite and mobilize a community of historically Republican voters who are dismayed and disappointed by the damage done to our nation by Donald Trump‘s presidency,” according to a release. The formation of the group is the latest example of efforts being made by anti-Trump Republicans to defeat the President in November…Karen Kirksey, the director of the committee and who worked on the Bush 2000 election campaign and in the Labor and Agriculture Departments, said the endorsement of Biden is “not necessarily in full support of his political agenda but rather in full agreement with the urgent need to restore the soul of this nation.”

“The underappreciated story in Congress is that it’s Democrats who want to do the most to limit the economic damage caused by covid-19, while McConnell’s Republican Party slow-walks action,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column. “This reality should inform negotiations on the new round of relief that the country requires — and that those most battered by the economic downturn desperately need. The paradox is that if Democrats play hardball on behalf of a larger package and more assistance to the most vulnerable, as they must, they will be making Trump’s reelection a little bit easier…They should thus insist that the $3 trillion relief bill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has already pushed through set the terms of the discussion. McConnell can say he’ll ignore the House bill, but guess what? The man who most needs Congress to act is the Republican in the Oval Office. If McConnell wants to foil a genuinely bipartisan agreement, the failure will be on him, his party and his president…McConnell and his friends will no doubt cry hypocritical tears about deficits they never worry about when they’re handing tax breaks to the wealthy. But, yes, let’s think about the long term: If Congress doesn’t act boldly now, with an amount of money closer to the level the House has proposed, the resulting damage to the economy and to our most vulnerable citizens will linger for many years…We know the only thing Trump cares about is reelection. He may soon realize that his best interests lie in calling McConnell and telling him: If Pelosi and Schumer are willing to help me, give them what they want.”

Kyle Kondik reports at Sabato’s Crystal Ball that Democratic candidates are doing well in the battle for the burbs. “Joe Biden’s currently strong lead in the presidential race is being felt in the suburbs, which if it lasts could imperil Republicans in some of their formerly dark red turf…Texas merits special attention, where as many as 10 Republican-held House seats could become vulnerable if Trump were to lose the state…We have 11 House rating changes, 10 of which benefit Democrats…Overall, our ratings now show 227 House seats at least leaning to the Democrats, 194 at least leaning to the Republicans, and 14 Toss-ups. Splitting the Toss-ups down the middle would mean a 234-201 House, a one-seat GOP improvement on 2018…That said, as we scan the Leans Republican and Leans Democratic columns, there may be more GOP seats than Democratic ones that are closer to drifting into the Toss-up column. Second-quarter fundraising reports, which will be trickling out over the next couple of weeks, may provide some additional clues as to the state of these competitive races. All in all, the Democrats’ grip on the House majority remains strong.”

Also at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, in a graphic-rich post, Rhodes Cook shares some notes about the presidential race on the all-important, ‘keystone state,’ Pennsylvania: “The Philadelphia suburbs, once a Republican stronghold, now have a Democratic registration advantage in all four counties, with Chester County flipping to the Democrats in May. It is reportedly the first time there have been more Democrats than Republicans in the county since the Civil War…In 2016, Donald Trump inspired higher Republican turnout in Pennsylvania, while Hillary Clinton couldn’t offset her losses in the non-metro parts of the state…Voter registration trends in Pennsylvania are mirroring the 2016 picture — all of the counties in Philadelphia’s suburban collar are Democratic by registration while Republicans have flipped some working class counties…With the third party vote projected to be down from 2020, former Gov. Bill Weld’s (R-MA) relative strength as a Republican protest presidential candidate in this month’s Pennsylvania Republican primary may be a warning sign for Trump…Joe Biden, who frequently talks up his working class Scranton background, gives Democrats a good chance to move the state back into the blue column, but it’ll hardly be an automatic shift.”

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