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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall writes, “Jonathan Rodden, a political scientist at Stanford and the author of “Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide,” explained in an email how the geographic dispersion of Democratic voters may help slowly shift Republican and competitive districts in a leftward direction: Even before 2020, there was already a strong correlation between net county-level in-migration and increasing Democratic vote share. In 2020, this relationship was incredibly strong. All around the country, counties that experienced in-migration saw increases in Democratic vote share — in some cases very large increases — and places experiencing out-migration saw increases in the Republican vote share. These in-migration counties that trended Democratic were mostly suburban, and the out-migration counties that moved toward the Republicans were both urban core and rural counties….Democrats have been excessively concentrated in urban centers, which makes it difficult for them to transform their votes into commensurate legislative seats. But as cities lose population, most of the growing suburban counties are either red counties that are trending purple, or purple counties that are trending blue, and very few are overwhelmingly Democratic….Gerrymandering takes very little effort when your opponents are already geographically packed. As they spread out and mingle with your supporters, the job becomes more challenging…..Democratic suburban gains were already evident in the 2018 and 2020 elections in states like Georgia, Arizona, Texas and North Carolina….At the same time, the movement of Democratic voters from urban centers is very likely to moderate the agenda-setting strength of progressive urban voters. This process will lessen an ideological problem that plagued Democratic congressional candidates.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes that the chances of passing the For the People voting right legislation “hang largely on [Sen. Joe] Manchin’s willingness to acknowledge that there is no way that enough (or even any) Republicans will support comprehensive reform of our politics….This was made clear when the Senate Rules Committee deadlocked last week on reporting the bill: nine Democratic Yeses and nine Republican Nos. As a result, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) will have to bring the bill to the floor himself. He plans to because, as he told the Rules Committee, “we are witnessing an attempt at the greatest contraction of voting rights since the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of Jim Crow.”….We can lament that voting rights have become a partisan issue, but that’s the way things are. No amount of cajoling, compromising, begging, pleading or standing-on-your-head-and-holding-your-breath will change this. Polls showing that many rank-and-file Republicans support the S. 1 reform don’t make a difference, either….Which means that you can defend voting rights or you can defend the filibuster. You can’t do both. Manchin fears that passing a “partisan” bill on voting would further divide the country. Here’s what would divide the country even more: an election system that rolls back voting rights by endangering the ballot access of Black Americans, other minority groups and younger people.” Manchin, who knows the Republicans will not compromise on voting rights, could use his leverage to press the case for changes in the For the People Act that would make it less broad and more acceptable, at least, to him. Otherwise, Manchin will be chosing to empower Republicans and diminish his own future clout.

In his article, “Democrats Are Forgetting What’s Popular About Their Big Democracy Bill: Ditching the anti-corruption provisions of the For the People Act could turn a political winner into a partisan food fight” Kevin Robillard argues at HuffPo that “the most popular parts of the legislation have always been the provisions aimed at limiting the political influence of corporations and the ultra-wealthy. That issue has been a political winner for Democrats in each of the last two election cycles. Dozens of House candidates swore off corporate PAC money in 2018, helping the party win back control of the chamber. Then, Democrats hammered Georgia GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue with ads arguing they had used their positions to enrich themselves en route to winning Senate control in 2020….“Taking on corruption in Washington was an essential message for Democrats in taking back the House in 2018, and again in those Georgia Senate races in 2020,” said Meredith Kelly, a Democratic operative who was communications director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when the party flipped the House three years ago. “It created a trust that Democrats would be able to finally make progress on every other issue ― the rising costs of prescription drugs, climate change.” However, “When President Joe Biden called for the passage of HR 1 in his address to Congress last month, he mentioned the need to “protect the sacred right to vote,” but not the legislation’s anti-corruption components….Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, the lead sponsor of the House version of the legislation, noted the voting rights provisions were the “most animating on both sides” of the partisan divide. But the anti-corruption measures ― which include strengthening ethics requirements for executive appointees and judges, and forcing the disclosure of anonymous political spending ― test well across party lines….“Those parts of the bill are broadly supported, even by most Republicans out there in the country,” Sarbanes said. “When you lift those up, it puts McConnell and his allies on their back foot. They know that anti-corruption sentiment is very strong, even among their own constituents.”…Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas), who won her seat in 2018 thanks in part to anti-corruption messaging, said passing the legislation would boost her efforts to win reelection in what is likely to be a tough political cycle for Democrats.”

For a revealing look at unsavory political contributions, check out Isaac Arnsdorf’s “Trump Spawned a New Group of Mega-Donors Who Now Hold Sway Over the GOP’s Future,” which you can read at ProPublica and Talking Points Memo unveils a list of the former president’s most generous contributors, and notes “Over the last five years, it has become clear that former President Donald Trump has activated a new set of mega-donors who were not previously big spenders in national politics. Some of the donors appear to share the more extreme views of many Trump supporters, based on social media posts promoting falsehoods about election fraud or masks and vaccines. Whether they will deepen their involvement or step back, and whether their giving will extend to candidates beyond Trump, will have an outsized role in steering the future of the Republican Party and even American democracy….ProPublica identified 29 people and couples who increased their political contributions at least tenfold since 2015, based on an analysis of Federal Election Commission records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The donors in the table below gave at least $1 million to Trump and the GOP after previously having spent less than $1 million total. Most of the donations went to super PACs supporting Trump or to the Trump Victory joint fundraising vehicle that spread the money among his campaign and party committees….In the current system of porous campaign finance rules and lax enforcement, a handful of ultra-rich people can have dramatic influence on national campaigns.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Watcher on

    If a state legislature can over turn the will of the voters (and the elected Secretaries of State), that is a big problem that no amount of existential hand wringing will solve.

  2. MartinLawford on

    Senate Bill 1 represents the Democratic majority in Congress attempting to take power away from the state legislatures, where the Democrats suffer a 37-61 disadvantage, in matters such as voter ID laws and Congressional redistricting. But, it does nothing to address the real problem, which is that too few voters trust us. If the Democrats try to turn their currently thin majority into a stronger majority by nationalizing control of the voting process, what can the state legislatures do about it? They can call an Article V convention and enact Constitutional amendments which the Democrats really, really do not like. The Democratic Party does not need more power, it needs to earn the voters’ trust and the first step in doing so is to figure out how we lost it.


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