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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

A warning for Dems from Ronald Brownstein’s article, “The GOP Cheat Code to Winning Back the House: The stakes for Democrats’ election-reform plan couldn’t be higher” in The Atlantic: “Democrats face a daunting future of severe Republican gerrymandering that could flip control of the House in 2022 and suppress diverse younger generations’ political influence for years to come, according to a new study released today. Those findings underscore the stakes in Democrats’ efforts to pass national legislation combatting such electoral manipulation….The four big states to watch are Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, where the GOP enjoys complete control over the redistricting process, says Michael Li, a senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice and the author of the new report on how congressional redistricting could unfold following the 2020 census. “Those four states, which are seat-rich and where Republicans control the process, could decide who controls the next Congress,” he told me….The magnitude and speed of the GOP’s efforts since its 2020 losses to impose new state-level voter-suppression laws, even as it gears up for aggressive gerrymanders, have exceeded even the most alarmist predictions from Democrats and voting-rights advocates. If nothing else, the sudden and sweeping Republican efforts to tilt the rules of the game should leave Democrats with no illusions about the fate they can expect if they allow the filibuster to block new federal standards for redistricting, election reform, and voting rights. H.R. 1 and a new VRA represent the Democrats’ best, and perhaps only, chance to preempt the multipronged offensive Republicans are mounting to tilt the balance of national power back in their direction—and potentially keep it there for years.”

Reasonable Democrats disagree about the wisdom of the second Trump impeachment. But even among those who supported the 2nd impeachment, there is a lot of grumbling about the managers’ decision not to call witnesses. As Cameron Peters writes at Vox: “The move was widely criticized as an “an unbelievable cave by Democrats,” ” a “retreat,” and “a non-serious move.” Sunday, however, Democrats argued that they didn’t back down….“We could have had a thousand witnesses, but that could not have overcome the kinds of silly arguments that people like McConnell and Capito were hanging their hats on,” Raskin told NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday on Meet the Press….Plaskett took a similar line with Tapper. “We didn’t need more witnesses, we needed more senators with spines,” she said Sunday….Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), one of the impeachment managers, also told Margaret Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday that “witnesses that were not friendly to the prosecution were not going to comply voluntarily, which meant that we were going to be litigating subpoenas for months and potentially years.”….As Neguse said Sunday: “I think it’s pretty clear, and lead manager Raskin touched on this, whether it was five more witnesses or 5,000 witnesses … it would not have made a difference to those senators.”

Another article by Brownstein, this one at CNN Politics, addresses a scary question, “Is the GOP’s extremist wing now too big to fail?” Brownstein observes, “Through their inactions on Trump and Greene, Republicans “are normalizing, they are mainstreaming, what counterterrorism experts would say is violent extremism: that it is acceptable to use inflammatory rhetoric and encourage violence to achieve your ends and … it is acceptable to engage in public life through conspiracy theories,” says Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary for threat prevention in the Department of Homeland Security for Trump who resigned and opposed his reelection….The exact share of the GOP coalition responsive to extremist White nationalist beliefs or the use of violence to advance political goals is impossible to measure precisely. But polling and other research suggests that the best way to think about it may be through concentric circles radiating out from hard-core believers willing to commit violence themselves to a much broader range of GOP voters who might not become violent personally but express sympathy or understanding for those who do….One-sixth to nearly one-fifth of Republicans have praised the January 6 attack in polling from PBS NewsHour/Marist and Quinnipiac. That’s a far higher percentage than among the public overall (just 8% in the Marist survey and 10% in Quinnipiac.) In the American Enterprise Institute poll, about 3-in-10 Republicans said they believed the QAnon conspiracy theory….The share of Republican voters who express support for the use of force to advance their political goals in general is considerably larger. In the American Enterprise Institute survey, 55% of Republicans agreed that “we may have to use force to save” the “American way of life.” Roughly 4-in-10 agreed with an even more harshly worded proposition: “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves even if it requires taking violent actions….The share of Republicans who “strongly agree” with that sentiment — about 1 in 8 — is smaller and may be another measure of the share of the party coalition willing to personally consider violence. But even so, Republican opinion on these questions dramatically stands out from other Americans. Big majorities of Democrats and independents rejected both propositions….The institute’s results almost exactly mirrored the findings of a national 2020 survey by Vanderbilt University political scientist Larry Bartels. Bartels found 51% of Republicans agreed with the statement that “we may have to use force” to save “the traditional American way of life.” In his study, just over 4-in-10 backed an idea similar to the second American Enterprise Institute question: the belief that “A time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands.”

Jeffrey M. Jones reports that “GOP Image Slides Giving Democrats Strong Advantage” at Gallup: “Americans’ opinions of the Republican Party have worsened in recent months, with 37% now saying they have a favorable view of the party, down from 43% in November. This decline, along with a slight increase in the Democratic Party’s positive ratings, to 48%, gives the Democrats a rare double-digit advantage in favorability….The Jan. 21-Feb. 2 poll was conducted in the weeks after the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by people seeking to disrupt the counting of the 2020 presidential election electoral votes….Since November, the GOP’s image has suffered the most among Republican Party identifiers, from 90% favorable to 78%. Independents’ and Democrats’ opinions are essentially unchanged….Meanwhile, the slight increase in positive ratings of the Democratic Party is being driven by independents, who show a seven-percentage-point jump in favorability since November, 41% to 48%. Ninety-four percent of Democrats (compared with 92% in November) and 4% of Republicans (compared with 5% in November) rate the Democratic Party favorably….The tumultuous end to the Trump presidency appears to have harmed the image of the Republican Party. The GOP now faces a double-digit deficit in favorable ratings compared with the Democratic Party.”

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    What the House managers seem unable to comprehend is that nothing they did was aimed at convincing any significant number of Republicans. If we follow their argument, they shouldn’t have bothered in the first place.

    The audience is and always was the public, and passing up an opportunity to have an eyewitness, in front of the camera, describe Trump’s gleeful reaction would have had a major impact on that audience, if not immediately then over time. Instead, they buried it in a written statement in the record that no one but historians will ever see.

    Democrats have an annoying habit of taking their eyes off the ball.

  2. Maria Ferrera on

    Isn’t gerrymandering going to more complicated this time? From a pure math perspective? The GOP has replied on drawing urban districts and lumping all the Democrats into a few districts. But with the suburbs trending towards the Democrats in Georgia and Texas, etc.., doesn’t this complicate the mapping process. The 2020 elections upended some standard assumptions. The GOP better get some top notch data scientists to run optimization models. Or they could really screw themselves by using out dated assumptions.

  3. Victor on

    Democrats are wasting time while support for third parties rises.


    Schumer and Biden should pay more attention to what centrist senators are proposing on issues like the minimum wage, climate change and immigration. The party and the administration are not currently occupying the vital center of American politics.

    Impeachment was an almost absolute waste of time. Democrats should have offered Trump cancelling the impeachment proceedings in exchange for his public testimony. Probably offer him immunity from federal criminal conviction too, given Biden won’t do anything anyway. Democrats have completely wasted the chance to educate the public about what incitement to riot means.

    The twin challenges of poor communication and lack of internal unity over policy are already showing way too much.


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