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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From “Warnock And Ossoff Are Testing A New Strategy For Democrats In The South” by Perry Bacon, Jr. at FiveThirtyEight: “What makes Georgia electorally unlike most swing states is its large Black population. About 33 percent of Georgians are Black, a much higher share than the nation overall (13 percent) and higher than all but two other states (Mississippi and Louisiana)….To be more precise, what’s really different about Georgia’s electoral politics is that Democrats there are disproportionately Black….Neither Ossoff nor Warnock is saying anything particularly bold on racial issues to appeal to Black voters. That’s not surprising. Ossoff and Warnock can’t take a stand on any issue, racial or nonracial, that is likely to alienate a lot of white voters in Georgia. A Democratic campaign needs to win around 30 percent of white voters in Georgia to carry the state — and that’s often where they fall short….Ossoff and Warnock’s approach is similar to Abrams’s campaign in 2018, when she ran for governor: a lot of focus on showing connectedness to Georgia’s Black community, but not a ton of policy, particularly on more controversial issues specifically aimed at Black people….I doubt we have seen the last of Biden-Edwards-Jones-style candidates in the South. But what Abrams has dubbed the “Abrams playbook” for Democrats in Georgia in particular — trying to win a coalition of progressive white voters and people of color with candidates and strategies that connect with those two blocs — may eventually be the default Democratic Party playbook for the South.”

At The Cook Political Report, Charlie Cook notes, “A poll taken in the last two weeks for a super PAC found that out of 600 voters interviewed, there was only one respondent who split their ticket. In what today is surely the most evenly divided state in the country, I would not bet a dollar on either side to prevail; it is just that close. At the beginning, there was an assumption that because Republicans had fared better in past Georgia runoffs, they would again, but comparisons to 1992 and 2008, the previous two Senate runoffs in Georgia, are spurious. This is a completely different state than it was even 12 years ago….But heading into 2022, with a paper-thin Democratic majority in the House and a very nearly evenly split Senate, we’ll barely enjoy an intermission between election seasons. History suggests that Democrats, as the president’s party, are more likely to surrender seats in 2022. But Republicans will have 21 or 22 Senate seats up for reelection, compared to just 12 or 13 for Democrats. Historical patterns are important, but exposure levels are too….Having both chambers teetering on the edge like that is likely to infuse both sides with a great deal of caution.”

Also at FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley, Elena Mejía, Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Laura Bronner explain “Why The Suburbs Have Shifted Blue,” and write: “Suburban and exurban counties turned away from Trump and toward Democrat Joe Biden in states across the country, including in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and Georgia. In part, this may be because the suburbs are simply far more diverse than they used to be. But suburbs have also become increasingly well-educated — and that may actually better explain why so many suburbs and exurbs are turning blue than just increased diversity on its own….According to Ashley Jardina, a political science professor at Duke University who studies white identity politics, it’s not that racial diversity isn’t a factor. Among white people, at least, educational attainment is often a proxy for how open they are to growing racial diversity, with more highly educated white people likely to think increased racial diversity is a good thing. “Education is so important because it’s intertwined with racial attitudes among white people,” Jardina said….But the political swing among diversifying counties was much less uniform than it was in counties that became more educated….But a lot will depend on Democrats’ ability to mobilize the diverse groups that now are looking more and more like typical suburban voters….“The future of the Democratic Party is clearly with these younger, more diverse, more educated populations,” [Brookings Senior Fellow William] Frey said. “But they have to figure out how to keep them energized and voting.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. shares some salient insights in the wake of President-elect Biden’s recent trip to Georgia in support of Senate candidates Warnock and Ossoff, and notes that “by campaigning, Biden is also signaling that however strong his affection might be for an older, less polarized politics, he understands that it’s not the 1970s — or 2008 — anymore. The radicalization of the Republican Party is a fact he is coming to accept….Thus, he pulled no punches in his tough attack Monday on the efforts of President Trump and his GOP allies to discredit this year’s election outcome. He called it “an unprecedented assault on our democracy” that “refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law and refused to honor our Constitution.”….The GOP’s election denialism is terrible for the country and for democracy. But the early signs are that it could backfire on Republicans by turning Biden, bipartisanship’s best friend, into a tough realist about what he’s up against. And the longer Trump’s antics keep him in the forefront, the easier it will be for Biden to hold Democrats together. No wonder Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) finally told his party on Tuesday that it’s time to move on….In paying close attention to how Trump and McConnell approach politics, Biden seems to have learned something important: Hitting back is the only way to get the current Republican Party’s attention. Asking nicely won’t cut it in 2021.”

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