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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Alan I. Abramowitz writes at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Over the past three decades, U.S. Senate elections have become increasingly nationalized. Presidential coattails have always been a factor in Senate elections, but the connection between presidential and Senate elections is much closer now than in the past. This trend reflects rising partisan polarization and straight-ticket voting. Thus, in 2016, for the first time in modern history, the candidate of the winning presidential candidate in the state won every Senate contest…There is every reason to expect that the 2020 Senate elections will continue this trend. The overwhelming majority of voters have strong opinions about President Trump, and Republican and Democratic Senate candidates are generally emphasizing their support or opposition to the president and his policies in their campaigns. We expect to find a very close connection between the 2020 presidential and Senate elections, and we expect this connection to become stronger over time. Therefore, it should be possible to use polling data on the presidential contest to predict the outcome of the U.S. Senate election even in states for which little or no polling data is available on the Senate contest…Senate elections have become increasingly tied to presidential voting results. This shows up in this year’s polling, as the margins for states’ presidential and Senate races are closely linked…An analysis of these polling data suggest that Democrats are likely to achieve a net gain of between one and eight seats with the most likely result a net gain of five seats, enough to give them a small Senate majority.”

In his Washington Post column, “How Joe Biden — yes, Joe Biden — could revolutionize American politics,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “Joe Biden may be running a safe and centrist campaign, but beneath the methodical calm is a genuinely innovative ideological appeal. The former vice president is updating and bringing back the long-dormant Democratic tradition of labor liberalism…He is doing so rhetorically and with union hall visits, but also through an agenda that seeks to spark economic growth through substantial public investments…Steve Rosenthal, a union strategist with access to labor polling, said Biden was “running a solid 10 points ahead of where Hillary Clinton was in union households nationally,” and even better in swing states…He would build infrastructure, fight climate change, raise wages, guarantee health insurance coverage and expand child-care and pre-K programs…And he is creating the sort of multiracial electoral coalition that has always been the only workable path to progressive governance…Understanding how the pieces of Biden’s strategy interact is the best way to square two seemingly contradictory facts: That Biden is running as a moderate, and that he has put forward the most progressive platform a Democrat has offered in years.”

Nathaniel Rakich explains why “Why Rejected Ballots Could Be A Big Problem In 2020” at FiveThirtyEight: “Mail-ballot rejections don’t disenfranchise all voters equally, though. Voters of color and young voters, who also tend to have less experience voting by mail, are more likely to have their votes go uncounted. In North Carolina, Black voters’ mail ballots are already being rejected at a higher rate than white voters’ ballots. A similar trend was identified in Florida and Georgia in the 2018 midterms. And in Florida in 2016 and 2018, voters age 21 and younger had a rejection rate more than eight times greater than voters over age 65…It’s possible, though, that the problem of rejected mail ballots is overstated. People often find themselves unable to vote in in-person elections as well — just in ways that are harder to measure. For example, some people may want to vote but lack the proper identification to do so; others may not be able to find their polling place on Election Day. And even among people who do make it to the polls, some may be deterred by long lines, and others may be turned away because of problems with their voter registration (e.g., it was out of date, or the voter was purged from the rolls). Stewart’s Survey of the Performance of American Elections estimates that about 955,000 votes were “lost” in one of these four ways in the 2016 general election.”

From “Should we restructure the Supreme Court?” by Russell Wheeler at Brookings: “Is anything sacrosanct about a nine-seat Supreme Court?”…The Constitution specifies no size for the Supreme Court, which has varied from five to 10 justices, depending on the number of judicial circuits…Blame rising partisan polarization for the broken process. But Republicans should bear extra responsibility for their unprecedented stonewalling of President Obama’s judicial nominees after Republicans took control of the Senate in 2015. GOP senators took hostage Justice Scalia’s vacated seat and have used verbal contortions to justify confirming a nominee for any 2020 vacancy that might occur…Pack-the-court proposals that would normally seem bizarre are understandable in today’s partisan climate. If the federal judiciary becomes a 21st-century version of the 1930s judiciary that thwarted a popular push for change, they may even become necessary.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    We don’t need to pack the Supreme Court. What we need is the permanent Democratic majority this website is intended to help us get. If we could win convincingly and regularly in the elected offices of government, we would automatically win the appointed branches of government.

    • Victor on

      For Democrats to win consistently the party has to deliver to its constituents.

      Leaving policy up to be annulled by the Court, as happened to Medicaid expansion, is a risk that can’t be taken in the current context.


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