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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Some key points from “Assessing the Impact of Absentee Voting on Turnout and Democratic Vote Margin in 2020” by Alan I. Abramowitz at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “While the 2020 presidential election saw a record volume of absentee votes cast, not all states made it equally accessible….Eased absentee voting rules contributed to higher voter participation rates….With higher turnout, President Joe Biden’s performance still tracked closely with Hillary Clinton’s state-by-state results in 2016 — he just performed slightly better across the board….All told, the sharp increase in absentee voting in 2020 wasn’t disproportionately beneficial to either presidential candidate.” Further, “The evidence presented in this study leads to two clear conclusions. First, the dramatic increase in absentee voting in 2020 contributed to increased voter turnout. Even after controlling for 2016 turnout and swing state status, the prevalence of absentee voting in a state was a significant predictor of turnout in 2020. Eased absentee voting rules were not the only reason for increased turnout in 2020, but they did make a difference. Second, increased absentee voting did not favor Joe Biden’s candidacy. After controlling for 2016 Democratic vote margin, the prevalence of absentee voting in a state had no effect at all on 2020 Democratic vote margin. These findings suggest that efforts by Republican legislators in a number of states to roll back eased absentee voting rules and make it more difficult for voters to take advantage of absentee voting in the future are unlikely to benefit GOP candidates. Not only is there no evidence that absentee voting leads to widespread fraud, there is also no evidence that it favors Democratic candidates.”

At The Washington Monthly, Bill Scher writes, “if Democrats continue to suggest they can take care of any minimum wage increase themselves—even at this point when they almost surely can not—then the inevitable failure rests solely on their own shoulders. Even worse, if Democrats bicker over controversial proposals during the pandemic relief bill legislative process, they risk taking the focus off the bill’s wildly popular elements—most prominently, the $1400 checks, which garnered 79 percent support in a recent YouGov poll. Turning a consensus bill into a controversial one would be political malpractice….A $15 minimum wage may not be quite as popular as government checks—it registered at 56 percent in the YouGov poll. But state ballot initiatives for minimum wage increases of varying degrees have proven very popular, even in deep red states including Alaska, Arkansas, Missouri and South Dakota. Just last November, Florida voters enacted a plan for a $15 minimum by 2026. So, by putting pandemic relief and minimum wage on separate legislative tracks, Democrats could force votes on each and really turn the screws on Republicans….Biden appeared to grasp the potential of separation by calmly preparing fellow Democrats for an unfavorable parliamentarian ruling, and assuring they could still win a wage increase after the relief bill passes. Biden is playing chess. Other Democrats are checkmating themselves.”

The Blue Tuesday Community reports that “There’s a new plan to turn Florida blue again inspired by Stacey Abrams, and it’s launching now” at Daily Kos, and notes that “State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando), “an energetic and forward-looking progressive who is one of the few rising stars that Democrats have in Florida” has a new plan to revive  the Democratic Party in Florida. “Last week, Eskamani announced that her political action committee, People Power for Florida, was now registered as a voter registration organization, a step required by the state’s democracy-averse laws.” In addition to voter suppression legislation on the books, the Florida Democratic Party may be the weakest of any of the swing states. “The FDP has a lot of trust to rebuild, even with its donors, Eskamani ADDS. “And meanwhile, you look on the ground and nothing is happening in the realm of voter registration….So our hope is that instead of just being one umbrella group that’s leading voter registration, we actually want to create 1000 new groups. We want to empower everyday people to do their own voter registration drives. They can use our banner, but our focus is creating new leaders, so we don’t want it to be about us. We want it to be about building collective power at a neighborhood level.”

Could legalizing weed be a good cause for Democrats at the state level? In “Virginia Becomes First Southern State to Pass Legislation to Legalize Marijuana” at slate.com, Daniel Politi writes, “Virginia lawmakers approved a bill on Saturday that will legalize recreational marijuana in 2024. The compromise bill that delays retail sales of the drug for three years turns Virginia into the first Southern state to vote to legalize marijuana for adults, joining 15 other states and the District of Columbia. The bill still has to be signed by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who has been vocal about his support for marijuana legalization….The House passed the legalization measure 48-43 while the Senate approved it 20-19. The bill was approved without a single Republican vote in either chamber. The bill, which would legalize possession of an ounce of marijuana or less by those 21 or older, calls for the creation of an independent agency to regulate the marijuana market.” However, “The bill was so contentious that seven Democrats in the House and one in the Senate didn’t support it.” Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff certainly wasn’t shy about expressing his views in his upset victory in Georgia’s U.S.  Senate run-off: “Cannabis should be legalized, regulated and taxed. “I’m not just for decriminalization,” he said. “I’m for full legalization of marijuana nationwide and the expungement of all records for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses.”

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