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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

For an understanding of the effects of the current round of congressional redistricting, which is still underway, it would be hard to do better than the extensive analysis by Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman, who write in “Redistricting in America, Part Eight: A Quick Summation of a Long Series” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Dear Readers: This is the eighth part of our multi-part series on congressional redistricting. Part One provided a national overview, Part Two covered several small-to-medium-sized states in the Greater South, Part Three looked at four larger states in the South, Part Four considered the West Coast and the Southwest, Part Five swept through a sampling of Great Plains and Heartland states, Part Six surveyed the electorally-critical Great Lakes region, and Part Seven finishedthe national tour in the Northeast. This week, we’ll conclude with some broader thoughts, though with several states already releasing draft maps, look for more redistricting-related content in the coming months….There are six states — Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming — that have only one member of the House, and thus won’t need to redistrict. These states are all safe for the incumbent party for the foreseeable future, with the possible exception of Alaska, where Rep. Don Young (R, AK-AL), the Dean of the House, has had some close-ish races in recent years.” Kondik and Coleman provide capsule takes for the other 44 states, based on available data and conclude in “an overall, general assessment” that: “We’ve said before that the Republicans were favored to win the House majority next year, both because of redistricting and also because of the usual midterm trend that breaks against the party in the White House, among other factors. Following the completion of this redistricting preview, we have not changed our view on that….We did our own back-of-the-envelope projections of the House and anticipated some aggressive (but not maximally aggressive) gerrymandering by both Republicans and Democrats, where applicable. We also assumed a somewhat neutral political environment, which very well may not end up being the case – in all likelihood, Joe Biden’s currently net-negative approval rating needs to rebound for there to be even a neutral environment next year as opposed to a Republican-leaning one….Anyway, we got a GOP net gain of roughly a dozen seats, more than the five-seat improvement they need from the 2020 results to win the House majority. This is a deliberately modest outlook, and Republicans could easily blow past it next year, while there are also scenarios under which Democrats are able to minimize those GOP gains and perhaps even save their majority. But our default expectation has been, and remains, a Republican House takeover next year.”

From Amy Walter’s “Intensity of Opposition to Biden Rises, Solid Support Drops in August” at The Cook Political Report: “There’s been a lot of focus lately on President Biden’s sagging approval ratings. After a pretty steady (and positive) six months, Biden’s overall job approval ratings slid over the summer — especially August. At the beginning of May, Biden’s job approval rating in the FiveThirtyEight average was 54 percent to 41.1 percent disapproval (+12.9). By early July, his net job approval was down 4 points to +9.8. By early August, the net approval was down another 2 points to +8. Today, Biden is barely above water at 48.3 percent to 46.1 percent (+2.2)….But, what should be more worrisome for Biden (and Democrats overall), is that the intensity of opposition to the president is also on the rise, while strong approval has dropped. In fact, for the first time, recent polling shows net strong disapproval of Biden at a nearly equal level to that of former president Trump at this point in his tenure…..Why does this matter?….Elections, especially midterms, are driven by enthusiasm. And, the party out of power is almost always much more motivated to vote than the party in power. Most recently, we saw this mismatch in voter intensity in 2018 when Democrats turned out in force to send a message to a president they deeply disliked.”

Re those approval rate declines, check out Laura Clawson’s post, “Majority say Biden’s policies haven’t helped them. $1,400 stimulus checks are surprised to hear it at Daily Kos for some good Democratic talking points. As Clawson writes, “President Joe Biden’s declining approval ratings come despite the popularity of his signature policies, a new report from Civiqs shows. In fact, seven of 12 Biden policies surveyed by Civiqs have majority support and another three have plurality support from the public. But “Although item by item, Biden’s agenda is popular, most Americans (57%) do not feel that they have personally benefited from Biden’s policies. Indeed, many voters (45%) feel that they have been personally harmed by the Biden administration. Just 37% of Americans say that the Biden administration has done anything to help them personally.” Clawson shares some bullet points, including: “Around 159 million households got checks, most of them for $1,400, from the American Rescue Plan, which Biden ran on and pushed hard to get through Congress….The households of more than 65 million children got the American Rescue Plan’s expanded child tax credit, which sent $250 a month to children 6 and over and $300 a month to younger children. Millions of households also got expanded child care assistance….The American Rescue Plan increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits until September … and then, the Biden administration made changes to the overall program that will increase assistance for all 42 million beneficiaries on a continuing basis….Those are extremely direct benefits flowing to tens of millions of U.S. households. But let’s say you personally did not get a direct payment from a plan advanced by President Biden. What about you? (Is it all about you?) Well, it turns out there’s a damn good chance you, too, benefited from something he did.”

Clawson continues: “Schools received $122 billion in funding. Maybe that money is going to educating your kids. Maybe you don’t have kids in school. You know what? Even so, it’s helping protect your community from the pandemic by keeping kids and teachers safe in the schools. It’s helping your local economy by preventing job losses in education….The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provided $28.6 billion to 101,000 restaurants. Even if that didn’t save your job, it might have saved your favorite restaurant….The Biden administration invested tens of billions of dollars in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing and other mitigation strategies, helping to control the pandemic for all of us….Biden brought the U.S. back into the Paris climate agreement, the first step in fighting the climate change that will threaten millions of lives in the coming years….Biden withdrew U.S. troops from Afghanistan, doing the right thing and ending a massive ongoing expense for a nation in which politicians always claim that there’s no money to help people while always finding the money to pay for wars….Biden has cancelled $9.5 billion in student debt. There’s much, much more to be done, and he should be doing it. But what he has done affects hundreds of thousands of people….Oh, and then there was that little, small, minor vaccination effort. Maybe you’re not on SNAP. Maybe you weren’t unemployed at any point since March. Maybe your income is too high for you to have gotten a relief check or the expanded child tax credit, and maybe you don’t care that your local schools and economy and restaurants benefited. But hundreds of millions of people have been vaccinated, which is not only keeping those people safe from serious illness or death but also keeping hospitals from being even more overwhelmed than they already are….So, me? I don’t think Joe Biden is perfect. Far from it. But I know damn well that I’ve benefited from his presidency in direct, personal ways.” All of which leads to the conclusion that it’s great to have popular policies, but you really do have to remind voters.

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    So far the Biden administration is even more “do nothing” than Obama’s

    Stimulus checks…expired
    A temporary child tax credit…expiring soon
    Enhanced unemployment benefits…expiring soon
    Eviction moratorium…expired/annulled

    Climate change…pending

    Tax reform…pending

    Minimum wage increase…pending
    Unionizing protections…pending

    Medicare expansion…pending
    Public option…pending

    College reform…pending
    Debt cancellation…pending

    Voting rights…pending

    LGBT rights….pending
    Abortion rights…pending

    Immigration reform…pending

    Gun control…pending

    Afghanistan pullout…squandered


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