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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At CNN Politics, Harry Enten reports some results from CNN’s latest opinion poll: “Democrats hold a 1-point advantage among all registered voters on the generic congressional ballot, which is within the margin of error. Among those voters who say they’re extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in the midterms, Republicans hold a 4-point edge. Democrats, meanwhile, are up 6 points among those who are only somewhat or not enthusiastic about voting next year….Now look at those who say they’re going to vote Democratic and are enthusiastic vs. those who are not. Very liberals make up 20% of those who are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year, while only 11% of those aren’t. That is, the Democratic voters who are more enthusiastic about voting next year are more likely to be very liberal than those are lack enthusiasm….You can see this in party identification (instead of going by who they’re going to vote for) too. Very liberals make up 20% among those who identify as closer to the Democratic Party and are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year. They’re 11% of those who aren’t….Take a look at the post-election polling with a Democratic president in every midterm since 1978. In those five midterms, Republican voters were far more likely to show up than Democratic midterms. The median midterm of them saw Republicans making up 6 points more of voters who showed up in midterms than they made up of all registered voters….Democrats who didn’t cast a ballot in 2014 were 9 points less likely to say they were very liberal and 12 points less likely to say they were liberal (very or somewhat) than those who did vote.”

“Among the Democrats who were verified as voting in 2016 and 2018 by the Pew Research Center, 54% were liberal,” Enten adds. “Liberals were a minority (42%) of those who voted in 2016 but not 2018. They were a minority too (43%) of those who voted in 2020 but not 2018….A mere 37% of the Democrats who didn’t vote in either 2016, 2018 or 2020 said they were liberal….Of course, none of this should be terribly surprising. The voters who sit out elections are more moderate overall, regardless of their party affiliation, in the Pew dataset….Therein lies the potentially good news for Democrats. The people less likely to vote as well as those who are persuadable voters are more likely to be closer to the center of the aisle….A more similar message than one might expect could work to capture both of these groups. Biden and the Democrats may need a strong one ahead of 2022.”

Larry Schack and Mick McWilliams, co-founders of Project Home Fire, share results from a University of Virginia/Project Home Fire poll on immigration at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Among the poll findings, according to McWilliams and Schack, “For swing groups open to compromise on this issue, immigration does not set up as an “all or nothing” issue. These voters are concerned about immigration but are also more persuadable on this topic. They are looking for policies that balance their interests with those of immigrants, helping them feel more safe and secure….For example, relative to the Tax Conscious Seniors, Concerned Moms are significantly less fearful of the negative effects of immigration. Compared to the base group of voters for whom immigration is a non-issue, these Concerned Moms are worried about higher housing costs, taxes, and potential negative employment effects due to immigration. They need to feel that creating pathways and opportunities for immigrants won’t disadvantage them. They present as open to messaging and policies that balance continued progress on immigration with safeguarding and protecting the interests of themselves and their children….Tax Conscious Seniors prioritize economic concerns — specifically, higher taxes — above all else. They see too much immigration as running up welfare, health care, and education costs, driving up the amount of taxes they pay. They worry that if things continue on what they see as the current trajectory, America will become more socialist. They see rising housing costs as the next domino to fall. They are prone to be older and retired voters, for whom the compromise-reinforcing goal is to engage them in a discussion that moves them from uncertainty to stability, and then to security and reassurance that they will not slip backwards through no fault of their own because of immigration….For those who wish to foster compromise between Biden and Trump voters, focusing on these sorts of messages may be a way to start a conversation and reduce the heat surrounding the immigration issue.”

From E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s column, “Biden needs a reboot. Fighting for democracy is the key” at The Washington Post: “Biden needs to restore the sense he created early on that he knows where he’s going. This requires refining his original objectives in response to events….The tension between bipartisan Joe and Democratic Joe is now unsustainable. Biden needs to accept that Republicans will do him no favors between now and the 2022 elections and turn this to his advantage….The broader argument for Biden’s presidency comes in two parts. First, insist that everything he wants to do — vaccination mandates, child care, elder care, health care and the rest — is in the interest not only of his own supporters but also of most Americans who voted for Donald Trump….Harry Truman-style, Biden should press Republicans about what benefits they propose to deny to Americans who need them. Do they want less child care? Less health coverage? More expensive drugs? No tax breaks under the child tax credit? And do recalcitrant Republican governors want an unending pandemic? Biden’s tough speech in Chicago last Thursday on vaccinations was in keeping with his growing militancy on the subject….He also needs to be more vividly Reagan-esque in describing the stronger, fairer and more prosperous country he’s trying to build. Biden is not bowing to some “liberal wish list.” He’s attempting to bring to life a country less divided — socially, regionally and racially — by creating opportunity where it doesn’t exist now….Biden must insist that Republicans can’t have it both ways on Trump’s election subversion. They are either for it or against it. Those who quietly tell reporters they bemoan what Trump is doing should be called upon to say so out loud, forcefully, and act accordingly….By recognizing that rallying the nation behind the cause of democracy is now his most important task, Biden would do more than reboot his presidency and give his party a fighting chance in 2022. He’d be doing what he was elected to do.”

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