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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Caroline Vakil shares “Five takeaways from polls marking Jan. 6 anniversary” at The Hill,  including: “In an ABC News-Ipsos survey published on Sunday, 72 percent of Americans polled said those who participated in the riot were mostly threatening democracy. But about a quarter of respondents said the opposite — that those engaging in the Jan. 6 attack were mostly protecting democracy…About 58 percent of those polled also said Trump bore a good amount or great deal of responsibility for the Jan. 6 riot, while 41 percent said he bore no responsibility or just some….The poll showed a partisan divide among how those involved in the Jan. 6 riot were viewed: 52 percent of Republicans believed that those involved in the attack on the Capitol were protecting democracy, while 45 percent said they were threatening democracy….Comparatively, 96 percent of Democrats felt those who participated in the riot were threatening democracy….A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll published on Saturday found that one-third of Americans believe citizens engaging in violence against the government could sometimes be justified…Split along partisan lines, 40 percent of Republicans said violent actions could be justified, compared to 23 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of independents….Those who said that violent actions could be merited cited reasons such as the government violating or taking away people’s rights or freedoms, a potential military takeover, or the collapse of democracy….That percentage was an increase from those who answered similarly in a poll from October 2015, when 23 percent of those polled said the same. In April 2010 and January 2011, 16 percent of respondents said the same.”

Vakil continues, “A University of Massachusetts Amherst poll published last week showed a partisan divide in how Americans describe the participants of the Jan. 6 attack….While more than two-thirds of Democrats called those who participated in the riot “insurrectionists,” “white nationalists” and “rioters,” 62 percent of Republicans called them “protesters.”….A CBS News poll published on Sunday found that while 85 percent of Democrats polled called the Jan. 6 attack an attempt to overthrow the government and an insurrection, only 21 percent of Republicans called it an insurrection….Sixty-eight percent of Americans polled believe the Jan. 6 riot was not an isolated event and believe it is pointing toward more political violence. However, a portion of Americans — 33 percent — believe the Jan. 6 riot is an isolated circumstance….Pollsters found that an overwhelming majority of Democrats — 81 percent — said they strongly disapprove of the events at the Capitol, with 34 percent of Republicans in agreement….A Politico-Morning Consult poll released on Sunday painted a divided picture of how Republicans view the House select committee tasked with investigating the insurrection at the Capitol….It found that 44 percent of Republicans oppose the committee to some degree, while 40 percent somewhat or strongly support it. Comparatively, 82 percent of Democrats support the committee, and 61 percent of all registered voters polled approve of the House panel….But the poll also found that support for the panel dropped once it was noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nominated the committee’s members.”

“Democrats have been ineffective in selling their accomplishments, which include the soaring economy, their economic rescue plan and a historic infrastructure bill, partly because their achievements have been overshadowed by the protracted struggle over Build Back Better,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his latest Washington Post column. “The wrangling has made the whole party, including Biden, look ineffectual — and exhaustion with what seems like a forever pandemic hasn’t helped….Let’s stipulate: A media ecosystem divided between a mainstream that takes pride in nonpartisan toughness on incumbents and a powerful right-wing communications network makes life harder for Democrats. But there is little chance of changing the media narrative unless Democrats themselves shift the broader conversation….The upshot: Biden’s standing has eroded from a 56 percent Gallup approval rating in mid-June to 43 percent in December. This is problem enough, but what should worry Democrats more is that Biden’s opponents are filled with passionate intensity while his supporters are, well, meh….The Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted between Dec. 18 and Dec. 20, for example, found 43 percent of registered voters approving of Biden’s performance and 53 percent disapproving. But only 21 percent of those surveyed strongly approved of what Biden is doing, while 39 percent strongly disapproved….The disenchantment of their core supporters is the biggest problem Democrats have to deal with. Among 18- to 29-year-olds — who gave Biden a 24-point advantage over Donald Trump in 2020 — only 22 percent strongly approved of his performance in the Morning Consult survey. And while 47 percent of Democrats strongly approved of Biden’s performance, 74 percent of Republicans strongly disapproved.”

In addition, Dionne writes, “Attacking Trump is not enough. Biden and his party need to make democracy itself a central issue, starting now….This means, first, quick final passage of the democracy bills pending in the Senate. It also requires invoking the evidence from the House select committee’s Jan. 6 investigation to make clear that the threat to democracy comes not just from Trump but also from a Republican Party complicit in undermining democratic institutions, both overtly and through its silence….Biden can strengthen his own standing by championing democracy far more forcefully. This requires vigorous advocacy for the democracy bills, legal and executive action against the GOP assault on free elections, and proving democratic government’s day-to-day effectiveness….His allies in Congress should stop shilly-shallying and pass key elements of Build Back Better. With voting rights and achievements on behalf of the climate, heath care and the well-being of kids, Democrats might begin to break the fever of disillusionment….Democrats will face big losses unless they simultaneously win back middle-ground voters and mobilize their disheartened loyalists. Governing with urgency is a good place to start, but overcoming the midterm blues will require more. They must make the election about something that matters. If democracy isn’t worth fighting for, what is?”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    This polling fails to take into account the intensity of beliefs, specially on the Democratic side.

    Giving up on targeting the much broader Democratic working class with actual policy and instead focusing on wealthier moderates with platitudes about democracy will alienate people in the middle of Biden’s mishandling of inflation and the pandemic. This is simply a recipe for disaster.

  2. Martin Lawford on

    Dionne is right. Democrats should make democracy the central issue in this year’s campaigns. If the Democratic Party allows the Republicans to stuff the ballot box in 2022 and beyond, none of the rest matters.


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