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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Charlie Cook asks “Why Couldn’t Democrats Ride the Blue Wave?” at The Cook Political Report and observes, “Did the label of “socialist” finally give enough swing voters cause for hesitation? What about charges that Democrats were going to push Medicare-for-all, or pack the Court? What about questions of exactly what would be in a Green New Deal and what would it do to jobs during a fragile economy? Was there a fear that Democrats would or could not keep law and order, given the “Defund the Police” movement?….This argument got some reinforcement when Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and Democracy Corps, a group he founded decades ago with James Carville, conducted a 2,000-person phone sample in 16 battleground states from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4. Greenberg’s argument, based on that study, was: “The big story is Donald Trump led an incendiary, race-laden working-class revolt against the elites, fueled by attacks on defunding the police, ads with Black urban violence and his demand for law and order that cost Democrats dearly in rural areas, with older voters and white working-class men, some GOP defectors, some suburban voters, and … an unprecedented rush of white working-class voters in the blue wall states. Trump pushed his white working-class men’s vote up 7 points at the end to match the support he got in 2016 and pushed up his rural vote 14 points to exceed it….Were there “shy Trump voters?” Although I was skeptical, it would appear that there were. In the POS Election Day survey, 19 percent of Trump voters indicated that they had hidden their support for him from most of their friends, while just 8 percent of Biden voters kept keep their support for him to themselves. The survey quoted one woman as saying, “I got called a white supremacist and a racist so I kept it to myself so I wouldn’t hear those words.”

At Brookings, William H. Frey explains why “Biden’s victory came from the suburbs.” Frey writes that “Trump’s loss to Joe Biden was due mostly to voters in large metropolitan suburbs, especially in important battleground states….That is the primary conclusion from this analysis of 2020 presidential votes using a Brookings Institution classification of U.S. counties by urban status. It shows that suburban counties and smaller metropolitan areas strongly contributed to Biden’s victories in the key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, as well as his competitive showing in Georgia.  Nonmetropolitan counties did not move far, if at all, from their strong 2016 support of Trump….large suburban areas in 2020 registered a net Democratic advantage for the first time since Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. This is significant because more voters reside there than in the other three categories. In terms of aggregate votes in these large suburban counties, there was a shift from a 1.2 million vote advantage for Trump in 2016 to (at last count) a 613,000 vote advantage for Biden—a nearly 2 million vote flip. In addition, Biden benefitted from more modest Republican margins in small metropolitan areas. These advantages for the President-elect were even greater in key battleground states….As the nation’s demography becomes more diverse in terms of race, age, and educational attainment, the growing Democratic-leaning voting blocs are likely to comprise even greater shares of the suburban electorate—cementing the importance of the suburbs in elections to come.”

It appears that Democrats have a lot of work to do in persuading more young, white voters to support their candidates, especially in Georgia. Keeping in mind that available exit polls are not as reliable as the better crafted retrospective polls that will appear in a couple of months, Rachel Janfaza notes in “Organizers look to build off momentum and turn out a new batch of young voters in Georgia’s runoffs” at CNN Politics: “According to CNN’s national exit polls, young voters of color broke hard for Biden in Georgia, while their White counterparts were more loyal to Trump. While Black voters in Georgia ages 18-29 supported Biden over Trump by 76% to 23% and Latino voters in Georgia ages 18-29 supported Biden over Trump by 74% to 25%, White voters in Georgia ages 18-29 supported Trump over Biden by 60% to 38%.” Janfaza reports that a number of youth voter activist groups are already working to register and mobilize a record turnout in Georgia’s Jan. 5 run-off election that will decide which party has majority control of the U.S. Senate.

Of course Democrats are already arguing about 2022 strategy. At Vox Ella Nilsen shares some observations: “To be clear, Democrats will have control of the US House of Representatives in the next Congress, albeit with a much slimmer majority than in the current session. So far, seven moderate Democratic members lost their seats, compared to Democrats flipping just one Republican-held seat (plus two open seats)….Moderate Democrats like Spanberger and Lamb were clear that they think Republican attack ads tying centrist members to the party’s most left-wing positions were particularly damaging to frontline members — and could be Democrats’ downfall in 2022…..Progressives have gotten a foothold in the party on issues such as climate and racial justice. But even if their goal is trying to move the Overton window on the party’s big-picture goals through activism and organizing, members like Spanberger think ideas like defunding police departments and a Green New Deal are politically toxic….Lamb echoed similar sentiments in an interview with Vox earlier this year, saying Democrats needed to eschew left-wing priorities and focus on commonsense issues such as lowering prescription drug prices, preserving Social Security and Medicare, and protecting jobs — even if those jobs are fracking for natural gas in places like western Pennsylvania…..“I think one of the things that is very important is to realize that very effective Republican attacks are going to happen every cycle,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a recent CNN interview. “Not a single member of Congress that I’m aware of campaigned on socialism or defunding the police in this general election. The question is how can we build a more effective Democratic operation that is stronger and more resilient to Republican attacks.”

6 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    Biden is off to a bad start with these announcements that half of his first batch of executive and regulatory actions are about making immigration easier.

  2. Victor on

    I’m a progressive. But the progressive case is built on flimsy correlation about candidates in purple districts being able to hold onto their seats while campaigning on progressive ideas.

    There is no causal analysis of why those seats were won in the first place in 2018. Or why people again voted against Republicans in those particular districts in 2020.

    Progressives had our chance to prove our theory of organizing in 2016 and 2020 and weren’t even able to convince Democrats in the primaries.

  3. Martin Lawford on

    Charlie Cook wrote, “It is difficult for me to fathom that so many polls, conducted by dozens of pollsters from both parties using different methodologies, could all be wrong, and in the same direction.”

    I am not a pollster nor do I talk to them, but if their results were all wrong and all in the same direction, it sounds as though they all made the same erroneous assumptions.

    • Victor on

      Can men care about different things than women and not be insulted?

      Are the jobs for men and women the same? Are they as high paying? As exposed to free trade and/or immigration?

      Do men think of crime and violence in the same ways?

      Do men attend college in the same proportion as women?

      Do men and women differ on foreign policy issues?

      If you want to win men back you need to stop the pathologizing.

      • Candace on

        This is a reply to what I posted? Its is just the name of the book about propaganda. Like the link about psychographics, I certainly didnt post it for the title. Its a information share.
        Like this one:
        “How Trump Sold Failure to 70 Million People
        The president convinced many voters that his response to the pandemic was not a disaster. The psychology of medical fraud is simple, timeless, and tragic.”

        Some excellent advice in that one.
        I suppose I should add something. Yes, they’re all good reads.
        What I would say about the focus of this thread and how it connects to the reasoning of why I’m sharing what I am, makes for a lecturing kind of response and I get tired of that.


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