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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“What Biden hasn’t done is seize the bully pulpit as only a president can,” Harold Meyerson observes at The American Prospect. “Last week, my colleague David Dayen, in writing about how corporations are hiking their profit margins under the cover of inflation and supply-chain gridlock, noted that JFK, when confronted with an inflationary price hike from U.S. Steel, secured national prime-time all-network coverage of an address he delivered from the Oval Office attacking the company for raising the cost of living despite its pledge not to….a prime-time Oval Office address would at least command the attention of anyone watching the legacy networks and the news networks. It still provides presidents with the biggest megaphone available to them. And Biden has yet to use it….It’s time he did, to spell out what’s actually in both the infrastructure bill and Build Back Better. It will soon be time he went the prime-time route to make the case for the voting rights legislation that will come before the Senate early next year, in which he will have to talk about why voting rights are more fundamental to maintaining a democracy than the Senate’s filibuster rule….He can make those cases in his State of the Union address early next year, but that in itself won’t suffice. His ongoing avoidance of a prime-time Oval Office talk with the nation, which has helped enable his intraparty adversaries to block his agenda, has been an abdication of presidential power and responsibility that has played a major role in bringing down both his standing and his party’s.”

Although studies indicate that many self-described “independent” voters actually lean toward voting Democratic or Republican on election day, the choice of the “independent” label does indicate a reluctance to publicly identify with either party, a branding problem for both of them. At The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter takes a look at President Biden’s trendline with Independents.  Walter explains, “According to Gallup polling….Biden’s overall job approval rating has dropped from 57 percent in February to 42 percent today, a slide of 15-points. That drop-off has been driven almost entirely by independent voters. Since February, Biden has lost 6 points of approval among Democrats (96 percent to 90 percent), a similar 6 points among Republicans (from 12 percent to 6 percent), but he has lost 16 points among independents (dropping from 53 percent in February to 37 percent in November)….The most recent polls from Marist, Quinnipiac, Washington Post/ABC, Fox and Monmouth, show Biden’s job approval ratings among independents in a similar place; from 29 percent to 44 percent approval. More ominously for Biden, the strong disapproval ratings among independent voters have also increased over these past few months. For example, back in April, 27 percent of independent voters in the Quinnipiac poll said they strongly approved of the job Biden was doing, compared to 38 percent who strongly disapproved. In the November polling, just 12 percent of independents strongly approved to 46 percent who strongly disapproved; a swing of 23 points more strongly negative.”

Walter adds that “Independent voters are like the “check engine” light in American politics: when that light goes on, you are in trouble. Right now, that light is blinking red. That’s a terrible sign not just for Biden but for Democrats writ large.” But the latest trend for Biden regarding Independant voters offers hope that the President and the Democrats may be on the cusp of a turnaround with  Independents. As Walter writes, “This month provided some good news for Biden. The most recent polls from Gallup, Fox, Marist and Quinnipiac find Biden recovering some ground — or at least stabilizing — with independent voters. For example, Marist polling found Biden underwater with independent voters in August by 19 points (36 percent approve to 55 percent). Their November poll showed that gap down to 5 points (44 percent approve to 49 percent disapprove). The October FOX poll found Biden losing support among independents by 26 points (36 percent to 62 percent); that gap was 16 points (39 percent to 55 percent) in their November poll….Of course, there’s no telling if this is simply a blip, an outlier or the start of an upward trend.”

At The Hill, Karl Evers-Hillstrom writes, “Paid leave’s popularity is central to advocates’ lobbying push. Eighty percent of voters in Manchin’s home state support ensuring paid leave for workers suffering from a serious illness, and 72 percent support universal paid leave for workers caring for a new child, according to a new poll from Democratic firm Global Strategy Group, commissioned by Paid Leave for All….That makes paid leave one of the most popular measures in Democrats’ reconciliation bill, and far more popular among West Virginia voters than other proposals such as universal pre-K and the enhanced child tax credit, which were backed by 58 percent and 54 percent of those surveyed, respectively….Those same trends extend to battleground state polling, where paid leave is even more popular. Advocates say the measure would help Democrats reverse GOP gains among parents and suburban women that powered Republicans’ huge election night in Virginia last month and increase turnout among likely Democratic voters such as young women and women of color….“Whether you’re talking about the strategy of persuasion or you’re talking about the strategy of turnout, this is one of the few issues that is at the top of both of those agendas,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who is urging the party to prioritize passing the paid leave program.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    Amy Walter notes President Biden’s declining popularity with independent voters while Harold Myerson observes that President Biden has neglected to use the “bully pulpit” which the Presidency affords. Hence, a more prominent, active role by President Biden in support of popular policies could solve both problems at once. Myerson is correct that “a prime-time Oval Office address would at least command the attention of anyone watching the legacy networks and the news networks” and Biden should follow his suggestion.


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