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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Domenico Montanaro reports in “2020 Electoral Map Ratings: Trump Slides, Biden Advantage Expands Over 270 Votes” at npr.org that “It’s hard to believe that the hole President Trump dug for himself could get deeper, but it has…A record and widening majority of Americans disapprove of the job he’s doing when it comes to handling the coronavirus pandemic; he gets poor scores on race relations; he’s seen a suburban erosion despite efforts to win over suburban voters with fear; and all that has led to a worsened outlook for Trump against Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential election…As a result, in the past month and a half, the latest NPR analysis of the Electoral College has several states shifting in Biden’s favor, and now has a 297-170 advantage over Trump with exactly three months to go until Election Day…Here are our changes:

Colorado from Lean D to Likely D
Florida from Toss Up to Lean D
New Hampshire from Toss Up to Lean D
from Toss Up to Lean D
Pennsylvania from Toss Up to Lean D
from Lean R to Toss up.”

At Newsweek, David H. Freedman warns that “The pandemic has in fact driven up voter interest in mail-ins on both sides—but it may be too late to make the adjustment. Setting up a mail-in ballot system efficient enough to handle a large percentage of a state’s voters takes years, says Kathleen Hale, an Auburn University political scientist and election expert who works with officials throughout the country to help ensure elections go smoothly. Nevertheless, in response to the pandemic, dozens of states, including New York, have tried to vastly expand their mail-in capabilities—from supplementary absentee ballots to universal access—virtually overnight. They could face serious problems with the distribution, collection and counting of those ballots, says Hale, author of “How We Vote: Innovation in American Elections.” “There’s substantial risk in trying to change the system on the fly,” she says.”

Freedman continues, “Twelve states passed legislation since March making it easier to vote by mail, but battleground states have drawn the most scrutiny. Small shifts in voting in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and North Carolina could swing 15 or more electoral votes one way or the other. The Texas governor and its Republican legislative majority have fought to block any expansion of mail-in voting. A pro-mail-in-vote group sued the state and won in a federal court, only to be overturned in a higher court when the state appealed…Pennsylvania gets a C from the Brookings Institute’s mail-in-voting accessibility scorecard. So does Georgia, which sent out mail-in ballots for its primary. Under pressure from the Republican state legislature, however, the state does not plan to follow suit in the general election. Michigan gets a B, but Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds if the state doesn’t back off its support for voting by mail. Trump has so far refrained from making similar threats against Florida over its embrace of mail-in voting, perhaps because it’s where he himself votes—by mail, at least in the case of this year’s primary. In states that succumb to Republican pressure to hang onto restrictions on mail-in ballots, most voters will have only one option, says Hale: to endure long lines at the polls.”

From “Want #NeverBiden Holdouts to Join #TeamJoe? Take it from this Bernie voter: Show them some respect” by Erica Etelson at medium.com: “When you try to convince someone to do or believe something, they get defensive and double-down in their opposition. This isn’t unique to so-called “Bernie bros”, it’s part of the human condition. If you want someone to consider the merits of what you’re saying, put aside your agenda and have a friendly conversation…Listen to their reasons for refusing to vote for Biden. Put yourself in their shoes –if you believed a certain candidate was the one and only person capable of plugging the hole in our ship only to see that candidate defeated by someone you believe drilled that hole, would you feel conflicted?..Respect their feelings, even if you don’t share them, and understand the following: Grief has five stages: Denial (“I can’t believe he dropped out”); anger (“The Democratic establishment screwed him over again”); bargaining (“Maybe Biden will drop out and Bernie can run”); depression (“Progressives will never win and our country is doomed”); and acceptance (“This totally blows but we have to make the best of a horrible situation”). Bernie supporters are at some stage of this grief process, and understanding their emotional state willl help you navigate the conversation.”

Etelson, author of “Beyond Contempt: How Liberals Can Communcicate Across the Great Divide,  goes on to suggest ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ questions and statements to generate a mutually-respectful conversation and suggests four principles for questions and statements to “avoid triggering defensiveness,: including: “1. They’re phrased subjectively, not as incontrovertible truth.; 2. They acknowledge the other person’s thoughts and feelings.; 3. They acknowledge Biden’s flaws.; 4. They refrain from scolding the other person’s political purity…This last point is key. Sometimes leftists come across as self-righteous and contemptuous of those who don’t share their beliefs. Clinton’s campaign consultant says that Clinton’s highly contemptuous “deplorables” gaffe cost her the election. No one is charmed by a finger wagging in their face — not Trump voters, not swing voters and not Bernie voters…This habit of scolding ideological advesaries is exacerbated with so much of our political discourse now taking place online. Facebook is chockablock with obnoxious memes that preemptively blame “Bernie bros” for throwing the election to Trump.”

In “‘Hating Joe Biden doesn’t juice up their base’: Key swing state slips away from Trump: Trump has trailed in every public poll in Pennsylvania since June,”  Holly Otterbeing writes at Politico: “Senior citizens and suburban voters are sinking President Donald Trump’s campaign across the country…But here in Pennsylvania — home to one of the largest populations of residents age 65 or older and where suburbanites comprise more than half of the electorate — their defection to Joe Biden is hurting Trump even more acutely…It’s a very big problem in a swing state that’s central to his Rust Belt path to victory. Four years ago, Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate since 1988 to carry Pennsylvania, in part by winning older and suburban voters, as well as blue-collar white workers in ancestrally Democratic areas. Now, with less than 100 days till Election Day, surveys show those voters are eyeing something different yet again.Joe Biden has an overall early lead in the state of 6 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics’ polling average, and has led Trump in all 12 public polls released since the beginning of June.”

Harry Enten writes in “Trump must win North Carolina. He’s losing there” at CNN Politics: “Absentee ballots start getting mailed to North Carolina voters in just 33 days, and a new CBS News/YouGov poll reveals ominous news for President Donald Trump in the Tar Heel state…Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a narrow 48% to 44% advantage among likely voters. It’s the latest CNN approved poll to find Biden ahead in North Carolina. Last week, a NBC News/Marist College poll gave Biden a 7-point lead…To be clear, there are pretty much no paths to Trump winning the presidency without a victory in North Carolina. Additionally a Biden win in the state could help aid Democrats in their bid for the Senate majority come next January…North Carolina is best described as a swing state that tilts toward the Republican Party. Trump won it by 4 points in 2016, so this new CBS News/YouGov poll is the inverse of that…If Biden’s current polling edge in North Carolina were to be the final result, it would be the best Democratic performance since southerner Jimmy Carter won the state by 11 points in 1976…No Republican has won the presidency without North Carolina since Dwight Eisenhower did it in 1956.”

In “The choice: A healer or a heel,” Glenn Altschuler explains at msn.com why the 2020 election is more about public health than anything else: “In the midst of a pandemic, in which the United States has suffered more fatalities per capita than all but a handful of other nations, Nov. 3, 2020, is almost certain to be a referendum on public health. Former Vice President Joe Biden has already defined the presidential election as, in essence, a contest between an empathetic and experienced healer and a callous and clueless heel…The strategy appears to be working. A poll completed in mid-July found that 54 percent of Americans trust Biden to address the Coronavirus crisis, while only 34 percent expressed confidence in President Trump. In another survey, Americans gave Biden a substantial edge over Trump on a range of personality traits: honesty, cares about the needs of ordinary people, a good role model, even-tempered…African Americans and Latinos, it is now clear, are about three times more likely to be infected with the Coronavirus as their white neighbors and nearly twice as likely to die from the disease. Many of them have front-line jobs, rely on public transportation, share living spaces with other people, including elderly relatives, have underlying medical conditions and less access to quality healthcare. They are collateral damage of Trump’s politicization of COVID-19.”

Altschuler adds, “Other casualties include Americans over the age of 65, who are more likely than younger people to support mask wearing and social distancing and who are apprehensive about a premature reopening of the economy. Many in this age cohort, which was responsible in no small measure for Trump’s victory in 2016, now find the president “self-absorbed” and “not serious” – and prefer Biden…In 2020, Democrats should also return to the public health agenda that resonated with so many voters in the mid-term elections. Despite Trump’s promises, they can point out, his administration did not even draft – let alone get a Congress controlled by Republicans to pass – a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Instead, they will no doubt remind voters, Trump’s Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to overturn Obamacare(which, according to a Fox News poll, is supported by 56 percent of Americans), a move that would eliminate coverage for as many as 23 million Americans (in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic that has significantly increased the number of people without health insurance)…the Democratic campaign can tout Biden’s healthcare plan, which features lowering the age to opt into Medicare to 60; offering a “public option” to anyone not satisfied with employer-sponsored coverage; reducing costs to people who buy insurance on the ACA exchanges; and repealing laws exempting corporations from negotiating with Medicare over drug prices. Unlike “Medicare for All,” which remains controversial, these significant but incremental reforms are likely to garner support from a substantial percentage of voters…Recently, Biden has contrasted his approach with that of the president, who, he says, “has quit on the country” because he is unwilling or unable to understand that “he can’t deal with our economic crisis without serving, saving, and solving the public health crisis.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    “Sometimes leftists come across as self-righteous and contemptuous of those who don’t share their beliefs. ”

    That’s certainly true, but to be fair, it is also true of the extreme right. Self-righteous, dogmatic contempt is an inevitable part of the mix of extreme views. It powered both the Bernie Bros and the Trump voters.

  2. Al on

    Trump is no longer the host of The Apprentice, accused by allegations of things in the murky past. He’s the President and his performance and behavior has played out in real time, magnified by his Twitter use and a broad media. There is no place to hide. At some point this has to sink in to his most rabid supporters and at least to those marginal voters in those states that pushed him over the top in the last election.


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