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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley writes, “Despite the importance of COVID-19 to voters, Biden’s overall job approval rating has never come close to his approval rating for dealing with the pandemic, which suggests that some segments of the public approve of his work on the coronavirus but not of his job performance in the aggregate….Biden’s topline rating sits at about 55 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s approval tracker,2 about 8 percentage points lower than his approval on handling the coronavirus. And that gap has mostly widened since February….Biden is getting some credit for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, and if those good marks last, that could help Democrats in the 2022 midterms. Partisanship notwithstanding, handling a big issue well in the eyes of most voters still helps. It helps in terms of overall popularity and electorally. But the effect is greatly muted — by partisanship and by other issues.” There we have it, Democrats. The message for the last month leading up to the 2022 midterm elections should be that Democrats under Biden’s leadership did a remarkable job of cleaning up the Republican Covid-19 mess. Hit it every day, and hit it hard. Put as a question to the electorate,” Do you really want to return leadership control of congress to the party that has proved its ineptitude by mismanaging the worst public health crisis in a hundred years, and gotten hundreds of thousands of Americans killed?” It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Democrats to commission a 1/2 hour film that drives home the point: It’s less about the individual candidates, than which party is best for your family in light of America’s experience with the pandemic tragedy.

That’s not to say all of the other issues should be ignored. For example, Democrats should also remind the voting public that Republicans showed their cowardice, lack of respect for law and police, and indeed, Democracy itself, in supporting the January 6th riot in the U.S. capitol. Work the hell out of  video footage of violent thugs in the red hats, Confederate and Nazi regalia. Make Sens. Hawley, Groveling Graham and Cancun Cruz poster boys for the G.O.P., even though none of them are up for re-election in 2022. Show video of Republican candidates who are running in swing districts squirming when asked about their views of the 2006 riot. Gladys Sicknick, mother of officer Brian Sicknick, who died because of the riot, recently put it in terms Dems should emulate. As Melanie Zanona and Nicholas Wu report at Politico,  “Not having a January 6 Commission to look into exactly what occurred is a slap in the faces of all the officers who did their jobs that day,” Gladys Sicknick said in a statement provided to POLITICO. “I suggest that all Congressmen and Senators who are against this Bill visit my son’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward….Putting politics aside, wouldn’t they want to know the truth of what happened on January 6? If not, they do not deserve to have the jobs they were elected to do,” she added.”

NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall probes the political ramifications of “wokeness” and shares a couple of salient observations, including this from TDS editor Ed Kilgore: “In a piece in New York magazine, “Is ‘Anti-Wokeness’ the New Ideology of the Republican Party?” Ed Kilgore makes the case that for Republicans Casting a really wide range of ideas and policies as too woke and anyone who is critical of them as being canceled by out-of-control liberals is becoming an important strategy and tool on the right — in fact, this cancel culture/woke discourse could become the organizing idea of the post-Trump-presidency Republican Party. This approach is particularly attractive to conservative politicians and strategists, Kilgore continued, because It allows them and their supporters to pose as innocent victims of persecution rather than as aggressive culture warriors seeking to defend their privileges and reverse social change.” Edsall also quotes NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt: “Wokeness is kryptonite for the Democrats. Most people hate it, other than the progressive activists. If you just look at Americans’ policy preferences, Dems should be winning big majorities. But we have strong negative partisanship, and when people are faced with a party that seems to want to defund the police and rename schools, rather than open them, all while crime is rising and kids’ welfare is falling, the left flank of the party is just so easy for Republicans to run against.”

Amid all of the hand-wringing about the tough political landscape Dems will face in the 2022 mideterms, Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman limn “a silver lining for Democrats” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Last week’s Crystal Ball, which featured hypothetical ratings of the House that did not take looming redistricting into account, painted a relatively bleak picture for Democrats. We rated 19 Democratic seats as Toss-ups if no district lines changed, and just two Republican ones. Republicans need to net just five additional seats to win the House next year….However, there is at least one reason to think Democrats could be able to limit their losses next year or even hold on to the majority: The Democrats are not that overextended into hostile, Republican territory….Part of the reason why Democrats are not very overextended is that they only won 222 House seats in 2020. Democrats won 257 in 2008, and Republicans won 241 in 2016. The bigger your majority, the likelier it is that you are cutting into unfavorable turf. As such, Democrats don’t hold a lot of Trump-won territory, which could insulate them from significant losses if the political environment cooperates to at least some degree.” However, Kondik continues, “There’s one major caveat here: These numbers will change because of redistricting. Some current Democrats in Biden-won seats may find themselves in Trump-won seats, or vice versa, next year. It may also be that some current crossover district members might find themselves no longer in crossover seats, as friendly map-drawers alter their districts in ways that help them win reelection.”

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