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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Geoffrey Skelley explains “Why The Gender Gap May Have Shrunk In The 2020 Election” at FiveThirtyEight: “It’s harder to pinpoint exactly why the gender gap shrunk from 2016 to 2020, but Pew’s numbers point to a couple of possible explanations, particularly the influence that educational attainment has on vote choice. Consider Biden’s improvement among college-educated men. He won 58 percent of this group, a giant leap from Clinton’s 49 percent in 2016. And his performance among college-educated men marked a 10-point advantage over how he did among men overall. Conversely for Trump, his gains among women were largely concentrated among those without a four-year college degree. His support among that group grew from 43 percent in 2016 to 50 percent in 2020. Taken together, this reflects the recent trend of Americans with higher education levels shifting toward the Democrats, and less-well-educated Americans moving toward the GOP….This shift was especially notable among white voters,2 as educational attainment has tended to be a larger cleavage for them than for other racial or ethnic groups. Biden won 54 percent of white men with a college degree, up from Clinton’s 47 percent in 2016, while white women without a four-year degree moved in the other direction, as Trump’s support grew to 64 percent, up from 56 percent in 2016….Yet, educational attainment isn’t the whole story, as white men without a college degree also shifted significantly toward Biden in 2020. Although Trump still won that group by a huge margin, Biden won 31 percent of them compared with Clinton’s 23 percent — an improvement that may have been foreshadowed by Biden’s performance in the presidential primary, in which he did notably better than Clinton in many parts of the country with higher shares of white voters without a college degree.”

“Congressional Democrats confront an unusual problem in trying to pass large investments in the nation’s economy, its environment and its social well-being,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column. “Just about everything they want to do is popular, yet when you add everything up, it costs a politically eye-popping pot of money….Think of it as an especially challenging version of the Goldilocks problem: What’s not too small, not too big, but just right?….If the final bill is too small, popular priorities fall by the wayside. Do you cut climate spending or the duration of the child tax credit or health-care expansions? Or housing or home care for the aged, or early-childhood education? Trimming any of these would create legitimate howls of protest not only from progressives but also from more middle-of-the-road advocates of the programs involved..But doing everything that Democrats would like to do could mean doubling or tripling the overall spending number that more cautious Democrats might find comfortable. The range runs from the $2 trillion that Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has mentioned to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) proposed $5 trillion to $6 trillion, with President Biden weighing in initially around $4.5 trillion. (Yes, he does have a knack for finding his party’s center ground.)”

At The Hill, Amy Parnes and Abigail Goldberg-Zelizer report that “Biden’s midterm strategies start to come into focus” and note, “President Biden has visited a string of swing districts and states in the last month, underscoring his determination to help his party in next year’s midterm races….On Wednesday, Biden traveled to Crystal Lake, Ill., where he has sought to sell his infrastructure plan. The district, which supported former President Trump in 2020, is represented by Rep. Lauren Underwood (D), who has been at the center of attacks from the National Republican Congressional Committee….Biden in late June stopped in La Crosse, Wis., where Democratic congressman Ron Kind is also a perennial GOP target….Democrats say Biden wants to show he can be of service to vulnerable Democrats in the months leading up to the high-stakes midterm contests where they’re in jeopardy of losing their control of the House and Senate….And some strategists argue Biden can be a help just about wherever he goes…..“There is no place in America that he is not at least a net positive for Democrats,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who added that Biden’s “brand right now is to be a bridge to disaffected Republicans and independents….Biden’s travel schedule also often looks like it has been drawn up with his own possible reelection bid in mind for 2024. There have been plenty of trips to the swing statesof Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Georgia, a state Biden took from Republicans last year. Next week, the president will go to another swing states — Pennsylvania — where he will speak about voting rights.”

Adam Gopnik mulls over “Biden’s Invisible Ideology” and writes at The New Yorker: “Biden, by contrast, insisted that the way to win was not to play. In the face of the new politics of spectacle, he kept true to old-school coalition politics. He understood that the Black Church mattered more in Democratic primaries than any amount of Twitter snark, and, by keeping a low profile on social media, showed that social-media politics was a mirage. Throughout the dark, dystopian post-election months of Trump’s tantrum—which led to the insurrection on January 6th—many Democrats deplored Biden’s seeming passivity, his reluctance to call a coup a coup and a would-be dictator a would-be dictator. Instead, he and his team were remarkably (to many, it seemed, exasperatingly) focussed on counting the votes, trusting the process, and staffing the government….It looked at the time dangerously passive; it turned out to be patiently wise, for Biden and his team, widely attacked as pusillanimous centrists with no particular convictions, are in fact ideologues. Their ideology is largely invisible but no less ideological for refusing to present itself out in the open. It is the belief, animating Biden’s whole career, that there is a surprisingly large area of agreement in American life and that, by appealing to that area of agreement, electoral victory and progress can be found. (As a recent Populace survey stated, Biden and Trump voters hold “collective illusions” about each other, and “what is often mistaken for breadth of political disagreement is actually narrow — if extremely intense — disagreement on a limited number of partisan issues.”) Biden’s ideology is, in fact, the old ideology of pragmatic progressive pluralism—the ideology of F.D.R. and L.B.J. Beneath the strut and show and hysteria of politics, there is often a remarkably resilient consensus in the country. Outside the white Deep South, there was a broad consensus against segregation in 1964; outside the most paranoid registers of Wall Street, there was a similar consensus for social guarantees in 1934. Right now, post-pandemic, polls show a robust consensus for a public option to the Affordable Care Act, modernized infrastructure, even for tax hikes on the very rich and big corporations. The more you devote yourself to theatrical gestures and public spectacle, the less likely you are to succeed at making these improvements—and turning Trumpism around. Successful pluralist politicians reach out to the other side, not in a meek show of bipartisanship, but in order to steal their voters.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    “Why The Gender Gap May Have Shrunk In The 2020 Election…
    It’s harder to pinpoint exactly why the gender gap shrunk from 2016 to 2020, but Pew’s numbers point to a couple of possible explanations, particularly the influence that educational attainment has on vote choice.”

    Not that I’m interested in the gender gap issue but that wasnt an answer.

    About Biden:
    “As a white man in his late 70s, he may have simply come across as more moderate and may have also been less likely to elicit sexist reactions among male voters than Clinton did in 2016.”

    I’m sure that’s how those guys would’ve explained their vote for Biden.
    Why not ask them?

    If like most people, potential democratic candidate (and supporters) out there, you’re bothered by the divisions between the people in this country and notice that republican politician occupiers seem to gain power from that, wouldn’t it be a good idea to blur the lines or make some shapes and designs? You know remind us of what we have in common? Like if you have to talk race and education then you could add genealogy and what sort of life education they have to that mix. There’s also plenty of issues that Americans need to be told/reminded will affect all of us not just who is currently being targeted.

    As far as predicting elections or understanding previous results, it would be at least entertaining if there was an astrological edition or even interpretative dance or my particular favorite, hieroglyphics.
    I know none of this will be taken seriously of course. Its one for the universe. which you have to put out there from time to time.


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