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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

So, what did the density divide look like this year?,” Amy Walter asks at The Cook Political Report. Walter notes, “An excellent first draft analysis of the (still incomplete) county data by Bloomberg/City Lab found the tipping point to be 700 people per square mile. “Most of the red counties have densities of fewer than 500 people per square mile. Most of the purple counties are clustered at densities of between 400 and 1,500 people per square mile. And the blue counties are those above 1,500 people per square mile. While there are notable exceptions to this pattern, the basic trend suggests the dominant role suburban density plays in American political life.”….To me, the most interesting takeaway from this analysis was the designation of ‘purple counties’ — those counties that are more exurban than suburban. In fast-growing swing states like Texas, North Carolina and Georgia, how these areas vote will determine which party wins those states in the future…. This Democratic headway into fast-growing exurbs represents a serious threat to the GOP grip on these sunbelt states. As Dante Chinni, a political analyst for the Wall Street Journal and NBC and expert on the geographic distribution of the vote, argued in his recent analysis of the 2020 election: “Republican candidates need big margins out of those exurb counties to help offset the Democrats big wins in the urban suburbs and big cities.” And, as we’ve seen in states like Virginia, once these exurbs start to turn blue, they don’t turn back. Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County flipped red to blue in 2008, with Obama carrying this county by 8 points. In 2020, Biden carried the once rural county by 25 points.”

In his article, “Changing the Narrative in Georgia’s Runoff Elections,” Dylan Hu writes at The Harvard Political Review: “Were Democrats to win both runoffs, they still only hold a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. Rushing through unpopular legislation would be a surefire way to lose that majority in 2022, and Democrats are well-aware of their congressional weaknesses with progressive messaging. Democratic senators with conservative electorates, such as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), may not join their liberal colleagues in such legislation either….Rather, the narrative around Georgia’s runoffs should be that McConnell’s possible retention of the Senate majority would ensure four years of political gridlock — not just of progressive legislation, but of basic governmental functions. Consider McConnell’s Senate under the Obama administration after the GOP swung nine Senate seats to take the majority in the 2014 midterms. Not only did GOP senators block Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination for months, they also obstructed the confirmation of tens of federal judges, leaving vacancies open for Trump to fill. Legislatively, McConnell has also weaponized the filibuster to subvert any and all Senate bills that deviate from his conservative agenda, delaying critical pieces of legislation, such as the Dodd-Frank Act and the DREAM Act….In reality, the relevant dichotomy around Georgia’s runoff elections is not even between the “radical left” and moderate compromise, as Loeffler and Perdue would like to argue. As Georgia residents prepare for a second round of voting on January 5, voters should consider whether they want more years of a dysfunctional Senate — a Senate chained by a majority leader who prefers legislative paralysis over popularly-supported Democratic bills.”

“It won’t be easy to persuade a swath of President Donald Trump’s loyal base to embrace a practice that he’s denigrated for years, claiming without evidence that millions of illegal mail-in votes have resulted in a “rigged” election,” Greg Bluestein writes in The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Republican “Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official and a frequent target of Trump’s criticism, said the president essentially orchestrated his own defeat in Georgia by undermining confidence in mail-in ballots….In interviews, Raffensperger notes that roughly 24,000 Republicans who voted in the state’s June primary didn’t cast ballots in the general election. That’s about twice the margin of Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia, which made him the first Democratic presidential candidate to capture the state since 1992….Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, meanwhile, hope to expand on a mail-in edge that helped Biden beat Trump in Georgia. The president-elect tallied roughly 300,000 more mail-in ballots than Trump, helping him offset the Republican’s Election Day advantage….Spurred on by the pandemic, absentee voting has never been more popular in Georgia. Nearly 1 million mail-in ballots have been requested for the runoffs, according to state elections officials, including roughly 600,000 people who were eligible to receive the ballots automatically….The campaigns and their allies are bombarding Democratic-leaning voters with urgent pleas to request absentee ballots — followed by reminders to fill them out and turn them in once they receive them….After a coronavirus-related hiatus, Democrats have resumed door-to-door canvassing with safety precautions and are staging events to encourage supporters to cast their vote early…..“Democrats won Georgia by empowering voters across the state to exercise their right to vote early and safely — we fully intend to follow and expand on that playbook to win in January,” said Maggie Chambers, a spokeswoman for the party’s coordinated campaign.”

E. J. Dionne, Jr. lays bare “The Destructive Myth About Divided Government” at The Washington Post: “The Senate runoffs in Georgia should not be allowed to become a festival of lies about whether socialism, radicalism or defunding the police are on the ballot. They’re not. What is at stake: whether President-elect Joe Biden will have a chance to end the scourge of the covid-19 pandemic, get the economy moving again, and enact some bread-and-butter programs to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and shore up our health-care system…And voters must understand that as long as Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the Senate majority leader and the base of the Republican Party is dominated by the far right — including “Stop the Steal” Trumpists — a divided government is not a recipe for compromise. Instead, it’s a ticket to obstruction and the very sort of partisan brawling that moderate voters can’t stand….The belief that divided government guarantees moderate outcomes might once have been true when there was a solid moderate bloc in the Republican Party. But it should now be clear that it’s a destructive myth…..Since Barack Obama’s presidency, the GOP’s leadership has been committed to preventing a Democratic president from governing successfully — even when that president is willing and eager to compromise….Biden will keep talking about bringing the country together. That’s good. But he’ll have a better chance of success with a Senate that doesn’t define its purpose as throwing “sand in the gears” of good governance.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Al on

    So, the consensus is that you can tell which way an area is going to vote based on its population density. What the articles don’t discuss is why. What is it about sparsely populated areas that lead them to vote Republican and not Democrat? What would it take to cut into that difference?


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