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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

How risky is the Biden campaign’s decision to skip campaign rallies? Not very, according to Alan I. Abramowitz, who writes in “Do Campaign Visits Pay Off? Evidence from the 2016 Presidential Election” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “In order to estimate the impact that campaign visits had on the election results, I conducted a regression analysis of the results in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. I used the Democratic vote margin as the dependent variable and the relative number of campaign visits to each state along with the Democratic vote margin in the 2012 presidential election as independent variables…the relative number of campaign trips to a state by Trump and Clinton had no effect on the results…With infection levels rising in many states and several Trump campaign staffers having tested positive for COVID-19, it is not clear how many more live rallies the Trump campaign will be able to conduct between now and Election Day. The Biden campaign currently has no plans to hold live campaign rallies. However, the findings reported in this article indicate that whether either campaign holds live rallies and whether one holds more rallies than the other will probably have little or no impact on the election results at the state level. Campaign events may have other benefits such as energizing supporters and stimulating donations, but in 2016 they did not appear to have any effect on how well candidates did in the states in which they were held.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains “Why progressives should welcome anti-Trump Republicans,” and observes “if you believe (as I certainly do) that defeating President Trump is the prerequisite for anything good happening again in American politics, you should welcome everyone willing to help get the job done. And in light of Trump’s threats to challenge the results if he loses, the health of our democracy may depend on Biden’s winning by a landslide that would leave not a smidgen of doubt about what the voters were saying. This is an all-hands-on-deck proposition…But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves: If the race tightens, the Republican converts could be essential to getting Biden over the line…Finally, for a progressive program to have any chance in Congress, the Democrats will have to take over the Senate. The bigger Biden’s margin, the better the chances of this happening…That Trump and Trumpism create a national emergency is reason enough to pitch a very big tent. But this election could also open the way for a durable shift in the nation’s dominant public philosophy toward social decency and greater equality. A transformation of that sort requires the witness of converts.”

In her Fox News opinion article, “To win presidency and majorities in Congress, Democrats should follow this battle plan,” Donna Brazile writes: “So, putting aside the purported current state of this election campaign, here is what Democrats need to do to win the White House, retake control of the Senate, and expand their majority in the House…The four most important letters in politics are GOTV — Get Out the Vote! I know that sounds obvious. But in the middle of a deadly pandemic, getting out the vote in November will be both incredibly challenging and more important than ever before…Democratic candidates need to make this election a referendum on Donald Trump’s lack of character, utter absence of empathy, unethical use of the presidency to boost his business earnings and attack his enemies, and total lack of qualifications to be our nation’s leader…In focusing on the issues that matter to Americans, Democrats must convince voters across the political spectrum that, unlike Trump, we can be trusted. We care about people over profits. And we can unify our country after four of the most divisive years in our country’s history…Democrats must highlight the extreme right-wing trajectory of the federal bench under Trump, and tell the American people how this will immediately change on the day Biden becomes president and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., becomes Senate majority leader…”

Brazile adds, “In distinguishing our candidates from Trump, Democrats must be laser-focused on the issues, and on character and unity. We cannot respond to every inane Trump tweet, every shameless attack, and every contrived dispute. Instead, we must seize specific opportunities to rebut Trump’s angry and divisive approach to politics, by putting forward Democrats’ positive and bipartisan approach to governing…Democratic candidates must also show how the Republican Party has been co-opted by Trump. We must tell the American people how we will focus on unifying our country and ending the chaos that Trump brought to Washington. And we must highlight how Republicans have been complicit in this chaos, when they prioritize loyalty to their party and to Trump over the American people…So with 100 days until Election Day 2020, this is my message — and my warning — to Democratic candidates and our potential supporters: Get out the vote!  And focus on character, unity, and the issues that are most important to the American people, and to the voters in your individual states and congressional districts.”

Writing in Newsweek, Martin Luther King III shared the following thoughts on Rep. John Lews’s legacy and challenge to progressives: “Lewis understood that the unobstructed right to vote for all citizens, regardless of their race, religion or gender, is the cornerstone of every great democracy. A recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Prize, Lewis worked tirelessly to end voter suppression practices that are still being deployed. The Voting Rights Alliance lists 61 forms of voter suppression. These include: reducing the number of polling places in communities of color, intimidating voters on Election Day, “caging” and purging of registration rolls in selected ZIP codes, discriminatory voter identification requirements, draconian felon disenfranchisement laws, faulty voting machines in minority precincts, manipulation of legal residency requirements for college students, shrinking the window for early voting in key states and excessive restrictions on voting by mail, to name just a few…The daunting challenges Americans face in 2020, including police violence and its cascading repercussions in many American communities, deepening polarization and the COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the enormous consequences of our elections and the leaders we chose to guide us through crises. My fervent hope that the celebration of Lewis’ life and legacy will energize millions of Americans to vote and elect leaders who will honor his memory by passing laws to make it easier, not harder, to vote…We cannot rest until exercising the right to vote is simple and easy for all Americans. Restoring the Voting Rights Act to its full strength is one of the best ways we can honor the life and legacy of Lewis.”

At abcnews.go.com, Alisa Wiersema reports that “available data seems to indicate that Democrats are leaning into mail voting in greater numbers than Republicans…In the key battleground of Florida and Ohio, Democrats outpaced Republicans in absentee ballot requests during primary contests. North Carolina, another state that is crucial for the presidential electoral count, is slated to be among the first to mail general election ballots this fall. There, Democrats’ requests for absentee ballots currently top Republicans by nearly five times…As of Wednesday, in Florida, 210,593 Democrats had already cast mail ballots for the state’s August primary election, compared to 175,458 Republicans according to data provided by the Florida Division of Elections. Last week, Florida Democrats announced more than one million Democrats had enrolled or renewed their vote by mail enrollment in the time since the March presidential preference primary. Currently, Sunshine State Democrats tout an enrollment advantage of more than 400,000 voters over Republicans.”

Wiersema notes further, “A similar scenario appears to be unfolding in the battleground state of North Carolina, where according to data provided by the state’s Board of Elections, as of Thursday, 44,555 Democrats so far had requested absentee ballots for the November general election. At the same time, just 8,623 Republicans had done the same…A week out from the contest, [Republican Secretary of State Frank] LaRose announced that 1,667,883 Ohioans had requested a vote-by-mail ballot. Of the data available at the time, 866,104 of them were Democrats and 705,478 were Republicans. At that point, Democrats had also cast 88,000 more ballots than Republicans.As of July 17, 534,610 Democrats in Kentucky — where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection — had requested absentee ballot applications, compared with 318,729 Republicans. In Maine, Sen. Susan Collins, the last New England Republican in either chamber of Congress, is facing her toughest reelection battle yet. There, McDonald’s data analysis indicated that 132,536 Democrats requested mail ballots for the June 14 primary, compared with 38,516 Republicans.”

Maeve Reston reports that “From Donald Trump to Ted Yoho, Republicans are losing with women voters” at CNN Politics: “The President was trailing Vice President Joe Biden by 25 points among women (35% to Biden’s 60%) in the recent Washington Post-ABC News poll and by 28 points in the mid-July Quinnipiac poll that showed Biden leading Trump among female voters 59% to 31%…Those numbers should be particularly alarming to the Trump campaign given that Democrats’ best result among women in a national presidential exit poll was 56% to 43% in 2008, the year that Barack Obama vanquished Arizona Sen. John McCain. Among White women in the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, 50% backed Biden, 46% Trump…CNN’s Director of Polling and Election Analytics Jennifer Agiesta notes that Democrats have never won a majority of White women according to exit polls dating back to 1972. (Former President Bill Clinton won White women by 48% to 43% in 1996, but the party has never gotten to the 50% threshold or above). In 2016, Trump carried White women 52% to 43% over Hillary Clinton, a Democrat. Only 4% of Black women voted for Trump, and only 25% of Latinas supported him…In a fresh round of CNN polling released Sunday, Biden’s advantage in the swing states of Michigan, Arizona, and Florida was largely driven by his edge among women, according to Agiesta.”

Also at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Thurgood Marshall, J. and Steven Okun warn “Given a recent survey finding that Joe Biden holds a 34-point advantage over Donald Trump with 18-29 year olds, if the 2020 presidential race is just as close in key states as the one in 2016, fewer students voting could keep the former vice president from winning a race he otherwise would have…In 2016, over 50 colleges had more students than the presidential margins in their states…Certainly, fewer college students voting could create the potential for dozens of down-ballot races to be influenced…Not enough resources are being allocated to find ways to ensure students are registered to vote, and then follow through on voting. There is a danger that we might not even reach the previous 48% threshold of college students who voted in 2016…When the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University asked youth if they could register to vote online in their state, one-third said they did not know, and one-quarter who said yes were incorrect. In addition, only 24% reported having voted by mail before.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    Trump got elected in 2016 because the voters distrusted us even more than they distrusted him. Donna Brazile sure did not help. She got caught leaking debate questions in advance to the Hillary Clinton campaign, remember? And what about the distance between what we promised the voters in 2008 and what we delivered? Our 2008 platform explicitly said “Families and individuals should have the option of keeping the coverage they have or choosing from a wide variety of health insurance plans.” That wasn’t what we delivered, was it? We promised that “we will automatically enroll every worker in a workplace pension plan.” We promised “we will eliminate all federal taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 a year.” With control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency, too, we decided to forget what we promised the voters but they remembered, didn’t they?

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