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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“The number one issue to voters this year is the pandemic,” Bill Schneider writes in “There’s a Big Blue Wave Coming” at The Hill. “Democratic pollster Geoff Garin told the Washington Post, “Trump is increasingly defined in voters’ minds by his failing response to the coronavirus crisis, and virtually every action and position he’s taken have been wildly out of sync with where the public is at on what should be done.” The president has said he thinks the virus will “just disappear.” He has consistently downplayed the threat posed by the coronavirus and is urging Americans to learn to live with it. That means learning to live with more than 3 million Americans infected and over 134,000 dead — more than twice as many as the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam war…Biden’s response? “Make no mistake. We are still in a deep, deep jobs hole because Donald Trump has so badly bungled the response to the coronavirus and now has basically given up responding at all.”

Texas is a swing state in 2020, new polls reveal,” according to poll analyst Harry Enten, writing at CNN Politics: “New CBS News/YouGov polls show President Donald Trump is in trouble in three states he won in 2016. He’s tied with former Vice President Joe Biden in Arizona (46% to 46%), a state he won by four points in 2016. Trump’s down 48% to 42% in Florida, a state he took by a point in 2016…But it’s the third state, Texas, where the eye popping result comes from. It’s Trump 46% to Biden’s 45%, a result well within any margin of error…The 2020 campaign could be the first time Democrats captured the Lone Star State in a presidential election since 1976…The CBS News/YouGov poll is not an outlier over the last month. There have been eight polls released publicly since the beginning of June. The result is that Biden and Trump are basically tied, with Biden up by a mere 0.3 points in Texas…Importantly, and unlike in other states, the polls in Texas have not overestimated Democrats over the last few cycles. If anything Democrats actually slightly outperformed their final polls in the 2016 presidential race and 2018 Senate races.”

At The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter explains why Trump’s “cancel culture” branding strategy is unlikely to have much effect in the 2020 elections: “In 2016, with the economy stable and life in a relatively “normal” place, it was easy to distract and engage voters with this stuff. Today, however, when 87 percent of Americans (according to a recent Pew poll) say they are disappointed in the direction of the country, it’s hard to scare them into thinking that things will worsen if they vote for former Vice President Joe Biden in the fall. And, Biden isn’t making himself an easy target either. He was quick to denounce the ‘defund police’ movement. He also came out in defense of preserving and protecting national monuments dedicated to founding leaders like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.”

Perry Bacon, Jr. argues at FiveThirty Eight that “it isn’t easy or necessarily guaranteed that the Republicans will overwhelmingly win the white vote overall or the white non-college vote specifically — even in an election that’s centered on race. The 2017-2018 period was full of racialized political debate, most notably on immigration policy, but the exit polls suggest Democrats lost white voters without a college degree by 24 percentage points in 2018, compared to 37 points in 2016. So far in 2020, polls show Biden losing white voters without a degree by a margin closer to 20 points…Meanwhile, Biden might carry white voters with a college degree by a large margin, in part because those voters have been turned off by Trump’s approach to racial issues. Indeed, white voters with a college degree or postgraduate education have been trending Democratic for years, and the GOP approach to race and ethnicity is likely a factor.”

Writing at The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein shares some revealing observations about the changes that will charactrize the 2020 electorate, including, “From the 2016 GOP primaries forward, white voters without a college education have provided Trump’s largest group of loyalists. In the 1968 presidential election, that group comprised nearly 80 percent of all voters, according to post-election surveys by both the Census Bureau and the University of Michigan’s American National Election Studies. White Americans holding at least a four-year college degree represented about 15 percent of voters, with nonwhite Americans, almost all of them Black, comprising the remainder, at just under 10 percent. (The Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz analyzed the ANES data for me.)..That electorate is unrecognizable now. The nonpartisan States of Change project has forecast that non-college-educated white Americans will likely constitute 42 percent of voters in November, slightly more than half their share in 1968. States of Change anticipates that both college-educated white voters and voters of color will represent about 30 percent of voters in 2020. For the former group, that’s about twice their share in 1968; for the latter, that’s somewhere between a three- and fourfold increase.”

From Robert Reich’s share-worthy, blistering indictment, “Trump and McConnell are the twin tribunes of America’s ruin – vote them out: Under leaders as callous as these, the ravages of Covid-19, economic disaster and systemic racism can only get worse” by Robert Reich at The Guardian: “Donald Trump has not only refused to contain Covid-19 but is actively pushing Americans into harm’s way, demanding the nation “reopen” while cases and deaths continue to rise. Meanwhile, he’s siphoning federal money intended to dampen the economic crisis into the pockets of his cronies and family. And he is deliberately stoking racial tensions to energize his “base” for the upcoming election…As if this weren’t enough, Trump continues to attack the rule of law, on which a democracy depends in order to deal with these and all other challenges…But he could not accomplish these abhorrent feats alone. Senate Republicans are either cheering him on or maintaining a shameful silence. Trump’s biggest enabler is the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.”

Reich continues, “McConnell’s take on Trump’s multiple attacks on the rule of law, including Friday’s commutation of former Trump campaign aide Roger Stone’s prison sentence? Utter silence…But McConnell has been a vocal opponent of the Heroes Act – passed by the House in early May to help Americans survive the pandemic and fortify the upcoming election – calling it a “liberal wishlist”. In fact, it’s a necessary list…McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans don’t want to extend the bill’s extra-$600-a-week unemployment benefits, enacted in March but due to expire on 31 July. They argue the benefits are higher than what low-income workers are likely to earn on the job, so the money is a disincentive to work…Baloney. Few jobs are available to low-income workers, and most are in so-called “essential” work rife with Covid-19. Besides, the US economy can’t be revived unless people have extra money in their pockets to buy goods and services. Even before the pandemic, nearly 80% of Americans lived paycheck to paycheck. Now many are desperate, as revealed by lengthening food lines and growing delinquencies in rent payments.”

Reich, author of The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, notes further, “Yet McConnell and his ilk are happy to give away trillions of dollars in bailouts to Wall Street bankers and corporate executives, on the dubious premise that the rich will work harder if they receive more money while people of modest means work harder if they receive less. In reality, the rich contribute more to Republican campaigns when they get bailed out…McConnell and Senate Republicans quietly inserted into the last Covid relief bill a $170bn windfall to Jared Kushner and other real estate moguls. Another $454bn went to backing up a Federal Reserve program that benefits big business by buying up debt…And although that bill was also intended to help small businesses, lobbyists connected to Trump – including current donors and fundraisers for his re-election – helped their clients rake in more than $10bn, while an estimated 90% of small businesses owned by people of color and women got nothing…The inept and overwhelmingly corrupt reign of Trump and McConnell will come to an end next January if enough Americans vote this November.”

In his column on “The Democrats’ suburban evangelists,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “No one will ever accuse Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey, a freshman electedin the 2018 Democratic wave, of complacency. “The last time a Democrat has won reelection in my district,” he said cheerfully, “was before the Civil War.”…But a lot hangs on the ability of Democrats such as Kim to survive and prosper in places where voters would once have shuddered at the thought of sending anyone but a Republican to Washington…Kim spoke of H.R. 1, the political reform package that many Democrats will highlight this fall. “When it comes to campaign finance reform and fighting corruption in Washington and fighting corporate special interests in Washington,” Kim said, “the vast majority of people in my district, whether Republicans or Democrats or unaffiliated voters, that is a top priority for them.” It could prove to be a sleeper issue…Building a new majority requires converting voters who were once part of the old one. No one is more aware of this than the Democrats’ suburban evangelists.”

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