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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his Washington Post column, “Bipartisanship for infrastructure is great. Don’t expect it for much else,” E. J. Dionne writes : “The bipartisan infrastructure bill the Senate passed Tuesday is a big deal, but let’s say it upfront: Not everything that’s bipartisan is good, and not everything that’s good is bipartisan. Bipartisanship should be a method, not a fetish….Nor should the bill’s remarkable margin — 69 to 30, with 19 Republicans joining all the Democrats in voting yes — be hailed as a sign that all is well. If the Senate’s much-abused filibuster remains unchanged, Republicans are certain to block political reform (as they showed in the early hours of Wednesday when they prevented consideration of a voting rights bill) and millions of Americans will have their right to vote impeded….These caveats should serve as a check on Washington’s habit of leaping to unwarranted self-congratulation. But they do not diminish the significance of Tuesday’s achievement for President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.)….At a philosophical level, it is a sign of a new day that Republicans broke with their anti-government austerity habit — it’s especially pronounced when a Democrat is president — to support $1.2 trillion in long-term investments….True, there is nothing radical about roads, bridges, public transit and broadband. And to get GOP votes, Biden agreed to knock out a lot of spending for schools, housing and climate….But remember that President Donald Trump talked nonstop about infrastructure and got nothing. This is not a snide talking point about his announcing one “infrastructure week” after another, to no effect. It’s a reflection of how low infrastructure ranked among congressional Republicans’ priorities during the Trump years — far behind tax cuts and judges.”

Max Burns explains why “AOC Is Winning—Unless Progressives Overplay Their Hand” at The Daily Beast: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez set off a wave of centrist pearl-clutching when she warned Senate Democrats last month that progressive lawmakers were willing to “tank” Joe Biden’s signature infrastructure bill if it arrived in the House without a companion bill packed with trillions more in critical climate and social infrastructure spending….“We will not support bipartisan legislation without a reconciliation bill, and one that takes bold action on climate, drawing down carbon emissions,” AOC told lefty broadcaster Democracy Now! on July 12. “We’ve drawn a strong line… and we intend to act on that if a reconciliation bill does not come to the floor of the House.”….The left has been instrumental in defending and strengthening the reconciliation bill’s loftier goals. They’d be nuts to oppose it now….Fortunately for the left, AOC’s bold threat to kill Biden’s signature legislation unless the Senate included progressive priorities paid off. Centrist Senator Joe Manchin spent weeks posturing as a budget hawk on cable news shows as he fought to strip out huge chunks of Democrats’ party-line reconciliation package. But it’s clear Manchin took AOC’s threat seriously: He recently echoed AOC’s messaging, telling reporters he now supports including ‘soft infrastructure’ priorities like funding a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants….On Aug. 7, the House Progressive Caucus specifically mentioned five policy areas as non-negotiable: affordable housing, the care economy, Medicare expansion, climate action and citizenship. “We’re not backing down,” the Caucus tweeted. “If the bill doesn’t fund these sufficiently, it’s not getting our votes.”….Now the Progressive Caucus can claim significant credit for a reconciliation framework that includes Universal Pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, creates an entirely new federal health program for Americans stuck in the “Medicaid gap,” and pumps nearly $200 billion into a host of climate change remediation programs Schumer called “the most significant investment in tackling the climate crisis in U.S. history.”….The left can also crow that their fingerprints are all over Biden’s signature legislation, disproving the oft-repeated centrist criticism that progressives are better at communication than legislation. That’s especially true for the newest members of Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive A-Team, who can now tell voters they’ve turned progressive ideals into policy faster than any other lefties since Lyndon Johnson’s tenure in the 1960s. Progressives can’t let their pursuit of a perfect bill block a massive federal investment in their climate and care infrastructure agenda….The influence on display in the left’s successful reconciliation gambit was hard-won through careful strategizing, effective messaging and issue solidarity. All that hard work can be squandered in a moment if House progressives overplay their considerable hand. AOC and the House Progressive Caucus have proven to be able dealmakers in a closely-divided Washington. Knowing when to take a win will be their biggest test yet.”

The redistricting news from the deep south is all bad, Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman report at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Even if we assume only modest gerrymandering by Republicans — and that is not a safe assumption, but let’s make it here just for the sake of argument — it’s easy to see how Republicans could squeeze a half-dozen more net seats out of these four big states….Republicans in Texas could, for instance, go from 23-13 to 25-13 just through making sure the state’s two new seats go to them, or some other combination of changes that gives Democrats a new seat but compensates for that by making an existing Democratic seat more Republican. Georgia Republicans could add a seat by altering one of the Democratic-held GA-6 or GA-7, making one markedly bluer and the other markedly redder. North Carolina Republicans could ensure that the state’s new seat is a Republican seat, and Florida Republicans could do the same while altering one other current Democratic seat, either FL-13 in the Tampa Bay area or FL-7 in the Orlando area, in such a way that a Republican wins it next year. So that would be six seats right there. And Republicans in these states probably will go further than this, with some of the possibilities outlined above, although doing so may carry more risk, particularly if Republicans stretch themselves too thin in big metro areas where their strength has eroded in recent years, most notably Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Austin, Raleigh, and Charlotte. That we did not mention any Florida cities in that list — Republicans generally have held up better in that state’s big urban areas — is an indication that perhaps Florida represents the GOP’s best gerrymandering opportunity of this group, despite the state’s seeming restrictions on such activity.” Scant comfort that Democrats will do a little better in other regions.

FiveThirtyEight is running a useful update feature for redistricting followers, “What Redistricting Looks Like In Every State: An updating tracker of proposed congressional maps — and whether they might benefit Democrats or Republicans in the 2022 midterms and beyond” with lots of graphics reflecting partisan lean in old and new maps and hover notation data released each state. From the intro: “Arguably the most important factor in the 2022 midterm elections will be congressional redistricting. Where will each party gain power? Lose power? And will the new districts even be drawn in time for next year’s primaries? Right now, though, the redistricting process is behind schedule due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Census Bureau says that it will now release the block-level data necessary for redistricting on Aug. 12, which will likely set off a redistricting scramble. Many states face early constitutional or statutory deadlines to finalize their new maps — including some that are impossibly early, inspiring certain states to seek legal extensions in court. One state, Colorado, has even gone ahead and drawn a draft of a congressional map using population estimates from 2019. (The lines will have to be adjusted with 2020 data before becoming official.) Several other state legislatures, meanwhile, will reconvene later this year to belatedly redraw their districts. We at FiveThirtyEight will be tracking the whole redistricting process, from proposed maps to final maps, so watch this space for updates!” Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Vermont each have only one congressional seat, so no redistricting process.

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