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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his post, “Republican internal polling signals a Democratic rout” at CNN Politics, Harry Enten shares this insight: “Whenever I hear an operative complain about public polling, I have just one thing to say: Put up or shut up. Release your own numbers that show the race in a different place than the public polling, or let the public polling stand. This is especially true in House races, where public polling is limited and there’s a real chance to shape the conventional wisdom…Perhaps, it’s not surprising then that when one party puts out a lot more internal polls than normal, it is good for their side. Parties tend to release good polling when they have it. Since 2004, there has been a near perfect correlation (+0.96 on a scale from -1 to +1) between the share of partisan polls released by the Democrats and the November results…Democratic and liberal aligned groups have put out 17 House polls taken in April or later. Republican aligned groups have put out 0. That’s a very bad ratio for Republicans.”

Arlette Saenz and Sarah Mucha report “Biden campaign readying hundreds of lawyers in expansive vote protection effort” at CNN Politics. ” Joe Biden‘s campaign is assembling hundreds of lawyers nationwide to monitor potential voting issues as part of its extensive voter protection efforts heading into the general election…Speaking at a virtual fundraiser Wednesday, the presumptive Democratic nominee said his team has organized 600 lawyers and others across the country to “try to figure out why the chicanery is likely to take place.” He also said they have recruited 10,000 people as volunteers…”Too often the norm in a campaign is that voter protection staff come on the ground in September or even sometimes in October unfortunately, and they’re sort of on-hand to triage issues that come up, on Election Day or leading up to it,” said David Bergstein, the director of battleground state communications for the DNC. “That model is not the best one to be utilizing particularly this cycle.”

At Vox, Ian Millhiser explains why progressives shouldn’t entertain the delusion that Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are not so bad, after all. Commenting on two new high court rulings, Millhiser writes, “In recent weeks, the Court has handed down a handful of left-leaning decisions — including a narrow decision temporarily preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)  program and an even narrower decision striking down a Louisiana anti-abortion law…But on the most important question in a democracy — whether citizens are empowered to choose their own leaders — this Supreme Court remains unsympathetic to parties seeking to protect the right to vote, despite the greatest public health crisis in more than a century.” All evidence indicates that Justice Roberts has not changed much at all on voting rights since the days when he was the Reagan Administration’s point man for voter suppression. Nor can voting rights advocates expect any support from Gorsuch or Kavanaugh.

In Jake Braun’s “A Perfect Storm of Vulnerabilities Could Determine the 2020 Election,” in The Boston Review, he observes “As we have seen all year, beginning with the days-long debacle of tallying delegates for the Iowa Caucus, Georgia is not the exception but rather a particularly egregious instance of the rule for 2020 election catastrophes. It is imperative we take action now to protect the security and integrity of our elections. Over the last few years four key weaknesses have emerged in our election ecosystem: flawed infrastructure that invariably breaks, organically generated conspiracies and public outcry, vulnerability to low-cost, unattributable system hacks, and susceptibility to trolls and bots. Each of these weaknesses is problematic enough on its own, but taken together they compound the effect of one another to generate a seemingly insurmountable challenge. To ensure the integrity of our elections, we must understand the vulnerabilities as a whole rather than confront them in isolation…Enhancing the transparency of our election infrastructure and security measures with a publicly accessible database would dramatically enhance the security of our elections. Further, talking openly to the public about the broad threat landscape will harden their cognitive security. Both these transparency measures engender trust in our elections and give stakeholders the tools needed to enhance the security of our elections. While these measures would not fully mitigate the expanded threat landscape we face, it would dramatically enhance transparency of election administration—one positive step in what will surely be a decades-long struggle to secure our elections.”

“As for deliverables to the electorate,’ E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in “A vicious culture war is all Trump has left,” his Washington Post column, “Biden has it all over Trump. The former vice president’s website is chockablock with popular and specific proposals on matters ranging from access to health care and higher education to infrastructure, climate change and higher wages. What is Trump offering? When Fox News’s Sean Hannity recently askedTrump what he wanted to do in a second term, the president offered 138-words of rambling emptiness adding up to nothing. Lacking even a few ideas scribbled on a “sheet of notepaper,” he can only conjure terrorizing national nightmares…It’s true that Trump’s Independence weekend escapades mean we face months of being led by someone so desperate to avoid defeat that he will warp our history, shatter what little unity we have left, and leave it to others to clear the wreckage. But there is hope here, too: Trump is acting like a frightened man who realizes that if his opponents keep their heads and avoid rising to his bait, his days are numbered.”

Democratic campaigns looking for a succinct indictment of Trump/Republican health care policy should check out Harold Meyerson’s article, “Still Exceptional After All These Years” at The American Prospect. As Meyerson writes, “the share of our economy devoted to health care—to pharmaceutical companies, the insurance industry, hospital chains, and so on—far exceeds that of any other nation…When a nation this rich and powerful is also this vulnerable and weak, the causes of its dysfunctions must run very deep. The most proximate cause, of course, is a national government that, since Donald Trump took power, has arrayed its power against fictitious threats it has manufactured itself, like dangerous immigrants or fraudulent voters. This makes it all the easier for conservatives to stoke fear and anger within their political base. At the same time, the Trump administration has ignored the very real threats to its citizens posed by mutating diseases and a worsening climate—not just ignored them, but consistently downplayed them, and diminished our capacity to counter them by defunding public-health agencies and driving scientists from the government, lest their empiricism dispel the imagined enemies and fake cures that Republicans parade before us…while we tally just that 4 percent of earthlings, we constitute a mind-boggling 25 percent of the earthlings who’ve come down with COVID-19 and a further 25 percent of those who’ve died from it.”

At Mother Jones, Kara Voght notes that “The Coronavirus is Knocking Progressive Priorities Off the Ballot: Progressives have increasingly turned to ballot initiatives in red states. COVID-19 has screwed that all up,”  and observes, “Across the country, coronavirus and the efforts to contain it have made it impossible to meet the requirements for putting measures on the ballot. The pandemic will stymie a cycle’s worth of progressive policy that, in some instances, would have directly addressed the medical and financial hardships it has worsened…Twenty-seven US states and territories allow for ballot measures, and in order for a proposed measure to make it onto the ballot, organizers need to collect some minimum number of handwritten signatures…In addition to Idaho’s minimum wage campaign, activists in Arizona suspended their signature-gathering for a measure that would have stopped surprise medical billing and increased health care worker pay. In Oregon, a petition for safe gun storage has stopped, as well, as has a push to legalize marijuana in Missouri. Most of these efforts can reboot for the 2022 cycle, but some cannot: A Oklahoma campaign to establish an independent redistricting committee –an effort to combat gerrymandering—will have lost its window of opportunity by then.”

As reported by Steven Shepard, Politico’s Election Forecast, “based on continual interviews with strategists and operatives, polling and other data streams and the electoral and demographic trends driving the 2020 campaign,” finds that “President Donald Trump is now an underdog to win a second term, and Republicans’ Senate majority is in serious danger of being swept out with him, according to the latest edition of POLITICO’s Election Forecast…A series of crises over the past three months has seen the political environment deteriorate markedly for Trump and his party. The percentage of voters who think the country is headed in the wrong direction is hitting new highs — a record 75 percent in the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll — and Trump’s approval rating is settling near his all-time lows….Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s lead over Trump is swelling to roughly 10 points nationally — and for the first time, our forecast classifies Biden as the clear favorite in the race…But the race for Senate control is now close to a coin flip. Democrats now have discernible leads in Arizona and Colorado. Retired astronaut Mark Kelly has consistently outpolled appointed Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona’s special election.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    Re: Jake Braun

    Stop telling me is wrong and what should be done. Tell me how you propose to do any of it with this Senate.

    But of course, writing about any of that would be hard.


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