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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

So why is it good strategy for a Democratic campaign not to contest a House of Reps. election lost by just 6 votes, one of the closest federal elections in history? At FiveThirtyEight Geoffrey Skelley explains: “Democrats were reportedly worried at the prospect of having to vote on whether to unseat Miller-Meeks, especially considering how loudly they protested former President Trump and Republicans’ attempts to overturn the 2020 election earlier this year. Additionally, there were concerns it would undermine Democrats’ efforts to pass a massive voting rights and election reform bill. That, along with the Democrats’ narrow majority, suggested it was going to be very challenging for Democrats to reverse the outcome — even if they felt Hart had a valid case….Moreover, Republican messaging had put Democrats on the defensive. For instance, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed they were trying to “steal” the election, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pointedly asked major businesses and organizations that were critical of GOP objections to the Electoral College on Jan. 6 to hold Democrats to “the same standard” for contesting the Iowa result….In the end, the math wasn’t there for Democrats to reverse the outcome, and the potential fallout doesn’t seem to have been worth it, either.” Sounds like a good argument for a automatic recounts whenever elections are decided by less than one tenth of one percent of all votes cast.

Also at FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon, Jr. has a good article exploring Sen. Joe Mancin’s role as a Democratic Senator. Among Bacon’s observations: “However he is doing it, though, Manchin’s winning a very red state gives him incredible power. He is a lifelong Democrat and seems committed to the party. But he doesn’t really owe Biden, his fellow Senate Democrats or the formal Democratic Party much of anything — his political brand is really separate from theirs….So Democrats don’t have much, if any, leverage over the West Virginia senator. Prominent Democrats are surely aware that Manchin could switch parties and join the GOP and that that might help his political career, so they can’t really attack him too harshly when he takes more conservative stands. Also, there is virtually no chance that a Democrat to the left of Manchin could win a general election in West Virginia, so Democrats can’t really keep Manchin in line with the threat of a primary challenge, either….Manchin, as I noted earlier, seems deeply committed to the Democratic Party. But he might disagree with the dominant electoral thinking in the party. After all, emphasizing bipartisanship is Manchin’s strategy, and he’s the one winning in a super-Republican state.” I would add that, overall, Mancin is a big net plus for the Democratic Party, as its most vocal advocate of bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate, and there is no equivalent in the G.O.P. Even left Democrats who think strategically should agree that lends credibility to the Democratic brand with swing voters. In January, a Monmouth University poll noted that “The desire for bipartisan cooperation is higher than it was just after the November election (62%), and includes 41% of Republicans (up from 28% in November) as well as 70% of independents (68%) and 94% of Democrats (92%).”

President Biden also sees value in bipartisanship in the Democratic Brand. As E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column: “Biden’s big new infrastructure program involves far more than roads, bridges and mass transit, but he hopes to remind Republicans that once upon a time, in a Washington of long ago, the two parties were capable of coming together to build stuff….“Historically, infrastructure had been a bipartisan undertaking, many times led by Republicans,” Biden said in a speech in Pittsburgh outlining the plan. “There’s no reason why it can’t be bipartisan again. The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for the future.”….As a result, said Molly Murphy, a Democratic pollster, “Republicans will face a tough challenge in trying to make something like infrastructure into something radical.” Which is why, she added, the GOP will try to focus their attacks on other aspects of the plan. “Polling,” she said, “has consistently shown broad support for the idea that rebuilding infrastructure is the best way to create jobs and get the economy moving.”

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall notes, “At the moment, Democrats control the House by a slim 219-211 majority, with five seats vacant. The loss of just five seats in 2022 would flip control to the Republican Party, which would then be empowered to block President Biden’s agenda….In 2020, white men without college degrees voted 60-35 for Trump and similarly educated white women voted 54-40 for Trump, according to survey data from the Cooperative Election Study….Republican efforts to claim the mantle of “the party of the working class” may be at cross purposes with the drive to enact voter suppression laws that will fall heavily on the working class….The enactment of Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus bill has increased his popularity, but voters’ memories are short. At the same time that he retains high favorability ratings on his handling the economy and the pandemic, voters surveyed in a NPR/Marist March 22-25 Poll, registered unfavorable views of his handling of immigration (34 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove), and a March 20-23 Economist/YouGov survey found voters split on Biden’s handling of crime (39 approve, 40 disapprove)….Without approval of the kind of election reform the voting rights bill seeks, the odds will shift further against continued Democratic control of the House and Senate and possibly result in another Democratic president ground down by gridlock.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    Why would Democrats settle on this absurd strategy of devoting half a year to publicly airing their internal divisions on an issue that is “supposed” to be common sense (infrastructure)?

    It is better to be seen as a do nothing Congress than a Democrats in disarray one.

    The media has stuff to report and there will be nothing positive to come out of this for months.

    Isn’t the party supposed to have learned from the ACA fiasco?

    Congress is broken and nobody wants to watch congressional hearings full of bickering or follow an amendment process that is hyperpartisan.

    Democrats should negotiate first and foremost among themselves and only once they have a bill that can actually pass should they make things public and give Republicans a last chance.

    The stimulus was popular in part because procedurally it was rammed through.

    Voters don’t care too much about procedure, but media does.

    And tv still shapes most voters’ perception.


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