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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Will Texas become the next mega-state to tilt towards Democrats? “The brutal winter storm that turned Texas roads to ice, burst pipes across the state and left millions of residents shivering and without power has also damaged the reputations of three of the state’s leading Republicans,” Marc Caputo writes at Politico. “Sen. Ted Cruz was discovered to have slipped off to Mexico on Wednesday night, only to announce his return when he was caught in the act. Gov. Greg Abbott came under fire over his leadership and misleading claims about the causes of the power outages. And former Gov. Rick Perry suggested Texans preferred power failures to federal regulation, a callous note in a moment of widespread suffering. It’s more than just a public relations crisis for the three politicians. The storm has also battered the swaggering, Texas brand of free-market governance that’s central to the state’s political identity on the national stage.” Texas Republicans may prefer that Perry, in particular, STFU. As Caputo notes, “Unmentioned by Perry: He was governor in 2011, when experts recommended winterizing the power grid. Perry went on to run for president in 2012, then was reelected governor two years later, ran unsuccessfully for president again in 2016 and served as then-President Donald Trump’s secretary of Energy from 2017 to 2019….“Whether it’s Abbott’s failed response or Cruz’s abandoning of our state, we shouldn’t put people in charge of government who don’t believe in government. They fail us every time,” said former federal Housing Secretary Julián Castro, a Democrat who’s considering a bid against Abbott or Cruz.”

And yesterday, Tim Stelloh reported at nbcnews.com that “An estimated 10 million Texans were waking up without safe drinking water Monday as state officials sought to ramp up bottled water distribution and calm residents whose electricity bills have spiked after a severe winter storm battered the state….Sprawling lines could be seen at distribution sites in some parts of Texas. Vanessa Fuentes, an Austin City Council member, posted avideo showing dozens of cars outside a soccer complex south of downtown Austin….Nearly 700 cases were given out before the event even began at 11 a.m., she said, and at another site, vehicles began lining up five hours before distribution started….”The impact from this devastating crisis will be felt for days,” she tweeted….President Joe Biden has signed a major disaster declaration making federal funding available to counties hit hard by last week’s storm. More than 4 million customers lost power, and at least 22 people have died in connection with the winter weather.” Such are the fruits of the deregulation party.

Nathaniel Rakich has a comprehensive update indicating that “Polls On Reopening Schools Are All Over The Map” at FiveThirtyEight. Rakich reviews all available pol;ling data and observes, “With many schools physically closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, parents are now balancing their omnipresent concerns over their children’s education, development and emotional well-being with their own lives and careers. And the stress of that has bubbled over to the point where reopening schools is now a major political issue….But despite the increased volume of the debate, public opinion on reopening schools is complicated. The issue is not as black-and-white as many are depicting it, and the variations in wording that pollsters use to ask about it can produce different results….Another problem with the school-reopening debate is that polls about individual elements of the issue are all over the map — giving both those for and against remote learning a number of stats to use to their own advantage….although Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for wobbling on reopening schools (something Biden has promised to do for K-8 schools within his first 100 days), it does not appear to be a political vulnerability for him yet. Morning Consult/Politico found that 52 percent of registered voters trusted Biden to decide whether to reopen schools in the fall versus 40 percent who did not. Quinnipiac also gave Biden a positive net approval rating on his handling of school reopenings (42 percent to 38 percent), including among parents of school-age children (43 percent to 37 percent), although a significant share of respondents (20 percent) had no opinion, suggesting they might be adopting a wait-and-see approach. Lastly, at least one poll (albeit from a liberal sponsor) thinks Biden still has the upper hand on this issue over Republicans. Global Strategy Group and GBAO, polling on behalf of Navigator Research, found in a Jan. 27-Feb. 1 survey that registered voters trusted Biden and Democrats to handle school reopening more than the GOP, 45 percent to 35 percent.”

In his article, “Organizing Going Forward” Steve Rosenthal writes at The American Prospect: “Progressives constantly jury-rig systems to compensate for the lack of deeply rooted, well-funded groups on the ground. For the past several years, many individual and organizational donors have talked about only “investing in building permanent infrastructure.” Yet there is a severe lack of permanent infrastructure to point to in most states. Too many donors tend to be fickle and want immediate results. They move from supporting one organization to another, funding the shiniest new object. And most organizations in recent years have been heavy on staff and light on volunteers….And while the progressive community has now repeated the mantra that we cannot just talk to voters at election time and expect them to participate, talk is cheap. There are too few examples of these types of investments. One notable exception was the organizing work that led to victory in Georgia in 2020. In early January, The New York Times reported that an extraordinary group of mostly women, led by Stacey Abrams, had a ten-year plan to flip Georgia. They executed their program, and donors stood with them instead of bailing after Republicans stole the governor’s race from Abrams in 2018. But what happened in Georgia shouldn’t be the exception….Of course, progressives won’t get everything they want all of the time, and there will always be inequities we need to fight against in this country. Still, we have one of the most pro-worker, racially diverse, and science-believing administrations in our nation’s history. And we have an all-too-rare unified Democratic control of Congress. If we can’t articulate change to voters and keep them informed about how their vote made a difference, what reason will they have to vote for us in the future? Winning in organizing matters—let’s not just tell voters what we will do; let’s be sure to inform them of what we have done and how this is just the beginning.”

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