washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak and Jeremy Diamond note a significant change in President Biden’s pandemic strategy: “When Republican governors began prematurely lifting coronavirus restrictions in their states earlier this spring, President Joe Biden and his team largely kept their heads down, ramping up vaccine distribution while steering clear of rhetorical battles with political adversaries.…But this week, as the Delta variant and low vaccination rates in several southern states sent cases soaring, Biden took a new approach: Castigating Republican governors who are standing in the way of mask and vaccine requirements — and calling out the governors of Texas and Florida in particular for enacting “bad health policy.”….”I say to these governors: Please help. But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way,” Biden said during remarks about the pandemic on Tuesday. “The people are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”….Over the course of the past week, Biden has demonstrated new willingness to cross lines he was previously reluctant to breach, frustrated by the behavior of certain Republicans and exasperated by Americans who refuse to get vaccinated….Biden has come to believe the time holding his tongue has passed. Taken together with the administration’s new openness to vaccine mandates and heightened criticism of vaccine disinformation, the direct calls on governors to alter their behavior reflect Biden’s impatience with forces he believes are prolonging the crisis.”

Charlie Cook addresses a question of consequence, “How Long Can Biden’s Approvals Remain Stable?” at The Cook Political Report, and responds: “The deeper into a president’s term we get, the more meaningful his job-approval rating becomes, and the greater its predictive value….As Gallup’s Frank Newport and Lydia Saad recently wrote in Public Opinion Quarterly, “The strong relationship between presidential approval and both presidential and midterm elections is fascinating and impressive given the simplicity of this question devised more than 70 years ago.”…The bottom line: Democratic hopes of retaining their slim majorities in Congress are almost entirely dependent upon President Biden not sinking them….Biden’s approval ratings in the Gallup poll have ranged from a low of 50 percent (in their most recent survey earlier this month) to a high of 57 percent (in their first poll of his presidency, taken over his first two weeks in office). Gallup’s average over seven polls is 55 percent, with 41 percent disapproving….Even a cursory look at presidential approval ratings in this period of ultra-partisanship underscores how monolithic each party is. Among Democrats, his approval has ranged from 90 to 98 percent; among Republicans, he’s been between 8 and 12 percent. There is little question how partisans on each side would vote; the only question is how many of them will show up….Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz makes the case for watching the generic congressional ballot test question instead. His point is well taken, but in my opinion the question is not asked often enough to allow really close scrutiny of the ups and downs….One smart Democratic analyst privately argues that midterms are less a referendum on the incumbent president’s party than a reflection of the fact that whichever party loses the presidential race is bound to go into the next election with much higher levels of enthusiasm. He urges caution in a party becoming overconfident about a state it just narrowly won….Midterm elections have a lot of moving parts. There is never just one thing to watch. But there’s no better baseline than Biden’s approvals.”

E. J. Dionne, Jr. makes the case that “Democrats want to fight Trump, not Biden” at The Washington Post: “It should not surprise anyone that grass-roots Democrats are united behind the president who defeated Donald Trump and wary of candidates who seem more interested in fighting Joe Biden than in advancing his agenda….This is why Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown defeated former Ohio state senator Nina Turner in Tuesday’s special Democratic primary election for a U.S. House seat centered on Cleveland….Brown’s success is being described as a victory of “the establishment” over insurgents and of a “moderate” over a “progressive.” Though partially true, the shorthand misses as much as it reveals….The divisiveness of Turner’s rhetoric aimed at others in her party goes far beyond where most progressive Democrats are. And with the Trump specter still lurking, the 11th Congressional District’s primary voters decided to reward the candidate focused on cooperating with a Democratic administration whose success is a precondition to routing Trumpism for good….It needs to be repeated until it really sinks in: If you look at primary results over the past five years, Democrats remain the party in which more moderate candidates can prevail. Republicans, even when they opt against a Trump-endorsed candidate here or there, are much further to the right than Democrats are to the left….But something else is true, too: Turner’s defeat does not mean that progressive Democrats are “crushed,” to use the sort of language popular on Wednesday. Progressives remain an important force in the Democratic Party but as part of a broader coalition. They succeed when they act as critics inside the tent. They fail when they are seen as bringing down the tent….What doesn’t work is wholesale opposition to Biden and rhetoric that denies the possibility of agreement across the Democratic Party’s factions. And the strategy will fall apart if more moderate Democrats representing tough swing districts lose in 2022…”

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall flags a trouble spot for Biden and Democrats: “…In the July 17-20 Economist/YouGov Poll, 38 percent of voters approved of his handling of crime, and 45 percent disapproved. In the Economist/YouGov poll taken a week later, Biden’s numbers on immigration were worse: 35 approving, 50 disapproving….The Biden administration has initiated a set of programs designed to “stem the flow of guns into the hands of those responsible for violence” — the centerpiece of its anti-crime program — but the Economist/YouGov poll found in its July 24-27 survey that 30 percent of voters approve of Biden’s handling of gun issues while 48 percent disapprove.” Edsall quotes Stanford political scientist Bruce Cain, who argues that “the best defense for the Democrats is to go on the offense in 2022 and remind voters about who Trump is and what the Republican Party has become. The resistance to supporting vaccination among Trumpist Republican officials could hurt the party’s national image substantially in 2022 if the unvaccinated are to blame for our inability to put this issue behind us.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.