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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Alan I. Abramowitz explains “How Donald Trump Turned Off Swing Voters in 2020” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “It is clear that there are far fewer swing voters today than only 20 or 30 years ago. However, swing voters have not disappeared, and they can still play a crucial role in elections. In 2016, for example, although there weren’t many swing voters, there were about three times as many Obama-Trump voters as Romney-Clinton voters. That was probably enough to swing Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania to Trump and hand him a victory in the Electoral College.[1]….In 2020, there were even fewer swing voters than in 2016. However, it appears that swing voters favored Joe Biden over Donald Trump by about a two-to-one margin. Moreover, exit poll data confirm that swing voters tilted toward Biden in several key swing states. In Georgia, 6% of 2016 Trump voters switched to Biden while only 3% of 2016 Clinton voters switched to Trump. In Pennsylvania, 7% of 2016 Trump voters switched to Biden while only 4% of 2016 Clinton voters switched to Trump. Finally, in both Michigan and Wisconsin, 6% of 2016 Trump voters switched to Biden while only 4% of 2016 Clinton voters switched to Trump.[2] These differences seem small, but given the closeness of the 2020 presidential election in all of these states, they might have been large enough to shift their electoral votes from Trump to Biden and that would have been enough to change the outcome of the election in the Electoral College….According to the ANES data, almost twice as many voters flipped from Trump to Biden as from Clinton to Trump — an estimate that is consistent with findings from the national exit poll….Trump was perceived as far more conservative in 2020 than in 2016. In 2016, Trump was viewed as the least conservative Republican presidential candidate since Gerald Ford in 1976. In 2020, however, he was viewed as the most conservative Republican candidate in the history of this question in the ANES survey going back to 1972. This shift was significant in that it placed Trump farther from the average voter than Joe Biden, while in 2016 Trump was considerably closer to the average voter than Hillary Clinton was….The dramatic shift to the right in voters’ perceptions of Trump almost certainly contributed to his losses among moderate swing voters in the 2020 presidential election — losses that could well have cost him enough electoral votes to hand the election to Joe Biden….A variety of factors undoubtedly contributed to Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020, including his gross mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the growing perception of Trump as a far-right president, along with the nomination of the relatively moderate Joe Biden by the Democrats, very likely cost him enough support among swing voters in key states such as Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona to shift those states and their crucial electoral votes into the Democratic column….More generally, the analyses presented in this essay show that while swing voters make up a much smaller share of the electorate today than during the 1970s and 1980s, they can still affect the outcomes of closely contested elections.”

In “The Bill That Could Truly, Actually Bring Back U.S. Manufacturing: And help the climate, too,” Robinson Meyer writes at The Atlantic: “The U.S. doesn’t have a high-end manufacturing sector because nobody will finance one. Small and medium-size American companies now struggle to borrow the billions of dollars necessary to finance a new factory, especially if those loans take 10 or 20 years to pay out….“The U.S. financial system isn’t very good at funding things that have very modest returns and take a long time for those returns to be realized,” Nahm said. You could be the most talented engineer of your generation and launch an advanced battery start-up out of MIT, he said, and you would still battle to obtain the $3 billion needed to finance a new production line. More established firms cannot access “patient capital” either, he said: Where they once would have borrowed from local banks, many of those institutions have since been absorbed into national chains….”For years, the solution to the manufacturing gap has been clear to experts like Nahm: The U.S. government needs to fix this market failure, just as it fixes others. Yet that possibility seemed off the table. But recently industrial policy has become more popular across parties—Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, has spoken favorably of it—and now a group of moderate Democratic senators, led by Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, has proposed chartering an Industrial Finance Corporation, a bank owned by the U.S. government that would fill the “manufacturing gap” and finance high-tech production nationwide….The IFC would have the ability to make long-term loans, buy equity, and make purchase guarantees for firms. It could do for climate-essential technologies—such as clean energy, semiconductors, batteries, and long-distance electricity transmission—what Operation Warp Speed did for COVID-19 vaccines. It could accelerate what I’ve called the “green vortex,” the mix of policy, finance, and technology that is actually driving American decarbonization.”

“As a fourth wave of the coronavirus surges, Americans by a wide margin say protecting the common good is more important than ensuring personal liberty when considering whether to require people to get a COVID-19 vaccination or wear a protective mask,” Susan Page and Nada Hassanein report at USA Today. “An overwhelming 72%-28% of those surveyed by USA TODAY and Ipsos called mask mandates “a matter of health and safety,” not an infringement on personal liberty. By 61%-39%, they endorsed requiring vaccinations except for those with a medical or religious exemption….By more than 2-1, 70%-30%, Americans agreed that people have the right to choose not to get the vaccine but that they then don’t have the right to be around the vaccinated. There was significant support for businesses, employers, colleges, restaurants, airlines and others to bar those who hadn’t gotten the shot….The poll found broad backing for tough steps against those who were eligible to get the vaccine but declined:

  • 66% supported state and local governments requiring masks.
  • 62% supported employers requiring workers to get the vaccination.
  • 68% supported businesses refusing service to the unvaccinated.
  • 65% supported a ban on the unvaccinated traveling by airplane or mass transit.
  • 65% supported sporting events and concerts barring the unvaccinated.
  • 71% said colleges had a right to require students to be vaccinated to return to campus.”

In her article, “Forget AOC—Pelosi Has a Problem With Raging Moderates Now,” Margaret Carlson writes at The Daily Beast: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a well-known problem with her left wing, often needing to talk, and press, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Squad off the wall and back into the fold….Now she’s dealing with a new problem with her fuselage. It’s her moderates that she can’t fly without. They’re not alright and are no longer quietly going along with the program. Nine of them formed a group and last weekend splashed their objections to the speaker holding traditional infrastructure hostage to the human kind across the op-ed page of The Washington Post, publicly telling her: Let’s take the win. Let’s do infrastructure first.…The system works best for Pelosi’s generation of Democrats when the left dreams and the moderates quietly pursue the middle ground. Moderates generally don’t form little groups to torment the speaker or announce their non-negotiable demands. They like a closed door. If they cause trouble, with rare exceptions, it’s the good kind John Lewis spoke of, not the kind that imperils party unity. These Democrats are pragmatists, stitching messy coalitions together even when the seams show. Many belong to the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that marks them as boring do-gooders of the kind that makes Biden’s eyes misty with nostalgia and cable bookers’ eyes glaze over….But going forward, Pelosi will have to work her magic on a new flank. Listen to Bill Galston, a co-founder of the Problem Solvers Caucus, after the deal: “The Nine have finally broken the complete stranglehold that congressional leadership, on both sides, have had over the legislative process for a decade or more. But while the Nine won an important battle, the war is still to come.”….That doesn’t sound like a truce is being called, yet never have Democrats been more in need of all getting along to hold on to their slim majority in 2022—a prospect that is hard historically and harder still after a summer that’s been anything but the return to normalcy we expected….Ensuring the visible infrastructure will pass, not freighted with the more difficult, as yet unfinished, human one, gets Democrats a much-needed win to take home to voters. Pelosi—I hope Biden’s called the White House florist or offered her recurring guest privileges at Camp David—pulled it out one more time but it’s just gotten harder going forward.”

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    The Nine won a battle but didn’t seem to have a goal. They seriously think they can win reelection in a midterm after Republican redistricting.

  2. Victor on

    The left does communications damage to the Democratic party on cultural issues, but the damage done by moderates on all sorts of policy issues is much worse overall.

  3. Martin Lawford on

    The proposed Industrial Finance Corporation is a perfect example of crony capitalism. Its operators will allocate its funds politically, not economically, and it certainly will not be funded by “a one-time appropriation from Congress.” When that “one-time appropriation” runs out, its beneficiaries will be back for more corporate welfare year after year.


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