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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Among Amy Walter’s “Lessons on Latino Voters” at The Cook Political Report: “So, why have Democrats been bleeding support from Latino voters? Some, like [Ruy] Teixeira, argue that “Democrats have seriously erred by lumping Hispanics in with ‘people of color’ and assuming they embraced the activism around racial issues that dominated so much of the political scene in 2020, particularly in the summer.” Others think high-profile political figures like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have served to brand the Democrats as the party of “socialism.” Others argue that Trump was better trusted on the economy, especially among Latino men. Groups like The Third Way point to the education gap, similar to that among white voters….Ultimately, Equis concludes, “Latinos do not fit neatly into this country’s typical frameworks for race or partisanship.” As such, there’s no easy answer for why Latinos have become less consistent Democratic supporters.” Given the demographic breakdowns within the “Latino” community, could the term “Latino” now be nearly as politically-useless as “people of color”? Could the Democrats’ failure to win support from self-employed and small business entrepreneurs be part of the problem?

From “Americans Like What’s In The Build Back Better Act. They’re Lukewarm On The Bill Itself” by Mackenzie Wilkes and Nathaniel Rakich at FiveThirtyEight:”There are certain parts of the bill that are very appealing to Americans, though — namely, expanded health care access. In fact, when Morning Consult/Politico asked respondents to select the five most important provisions in the bill, four of the five top issues were health care-related.1For instance, the House version of the bill adds $150 billion over 10 years in funding for Medicaid home care for seniors and people with disabilities — the largest increase in funding for this program since its creation. According to Morning Consult/Politico, more registered voters said this funding was an important component of the bill than any other — and a whopping 76 percent of registered voters supported it….The second biggest priority in the bill per Morning Consult was allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, which 71 percent of registered voters supported. In addition, 65 percent supported more funding for affordable housing, and 75 percent supported the expansion of Medicaid to cover hearing services.” Without a healthy working majority, are  ‘big package’ reforms just fat, slow-moving targets that no longer make strategic sense for Democrats? Would it serve the Democratic ‘brand’ better to break omnibus bills down and pass the popular elements as separate bills, and rack up a string of smaller victories?

At CNN Politics, Simone Pathe identifies “The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022.” They are located in the following states: AZ; FL; GA; MO; NH; NC; NV; OH; PA; and WI. Democrats hold four of the seats at present, Republicans have six. Four of the Republican-held seats are being vacated by retirements. It would be hard to single out a “marquee” race because the Senate is so evenly divided that all the races are important. Pathe provides updates on the senate races in each of the ten states, and it appears that a net pick-up of one or two senate seats for Dems is at least possible, even amid all of the gloom and doom scenarios being bandied about. Democrats have some strong challengers contending for the GOP-held seats, and Trump is dividing Republicans in several states. Much depends on whether Democratic GOTV can overcome voter suppression legislation in these states.

In Amy Walter’s article above, she notes that “socialist”-bashing still has traction with Latino voters. It’s probably more the case with Cuban-American voters in Florida than with Mexican-American, or Puerto-Rican voters in other states. For an update on opinion data regarding the ‘socialist’ label, read “Deconstructing Americans’ Views of Socialism, Capitalism” by Frank Newport at gallup.com. As Newport writes, “My colleague Jeff Jones recently reviewed updated Gallup research on the American public’s reactio.ns to the words “socialism” and “capitalism.” The new data show little change in these attitudes compared with previous surveys, with 60% of Americans holding a favorable view of capitalism (38% unfavorable), and 38% holding a favorable image of socialism (59% unfavorable)….Gallup’s historical tracking of the American public’s views of socialism, which includes this year, is timely because the word has a continuing presence in American cultural and political discourse. In doing research for this and several previous articles on the concept of socialism, I find consistent instances in which the word “socialism” crops up in news stories and political dialogue, usually in the context of critical references to federal government spending programs.” Never mind that there is not a lot of agreement among voters, or even commentators, about what ‘socialism’ actually means; the term still has toxic branding power in some congressional districts, as we saw in south Florida in 2020. Timid denials didn’t work for Dems, who were caught by surprise in several campaigns. Democrats who are targeted by ‘socialist’ branding campaigns against them can tweak this bolder response.

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    “the word “socialism” crops up in news stories and political dialogue, usually in the context of critical references to federal government spending programs.” Never mind that there is not a lot of agreement among voters, or even commentators, about what ‘socialism’ actually means; the term still has toxic branding power…”

    Anyone manipulated by the republicans and their dino allies efforts to brand a functioning government as toxic aren’t interested in the actual meaning of words; the draw is to context and delivery, how it all makes them feel.
    The delivery their addicted to is about being a horrible person and proud of it, blaming the existence of progressives and the democratic party for anything they can create. Perhaps its worked because that’s the only kind of show being offered in politics and so its allowed to continue and dominate.

    And the context of how socialism is talked about has been pretty consistent and so unchallenged. One way to neutralize the effect of that word would be to alter that, you know imply a variety of meanings. The confusion or potential ridiculousness of it may create an interest in the actual meaning or as an attack it won’t be as effective.

  2. Martin Lawford on

    In “What’s The Matter With Kansas”, Thomas Frank argued that the Republicans succeeded in getting working-class people in Kansas to vote against their own best interest by running on social policy issues like abortion and gun control to the detriment of their economic well-being. Aren’t the Republicans doing the same thing to Latinx voters by labeling any and every progressive policy “socialist”? We need to show the Latinx community how Republican propaganda about “socialism” is fooling them into voting against their own best interest.


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