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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “Biden said he’d put a Black woman on the Supreme Court. Here’s who he may pick to replace Breyer,” Ariane de Vogue notes some of the political considerations involved in replacing Justice Breyer at CNN Politics: “With Democrats holding the narrowest of majorities in the upper chamber, Biden will have to choose someone who can safely get 50 votes in the Senate (Vice President Kamala Harris could provide the tie-breaking vote if the Senate is split on the nomination). In addition to the vote count, Biden also has to keep an eye on the calendar. Senate Republicans are likely to retake the chamber in this year’s midterms and have already signaled they would block a Biden nominee to the Supreme Court. It typically takes two to three months for a President to see his nominee confirmed by the Senate once he or she is named. The most recent justice, however, was confirmed in just a month and a half, as Senate Republicans rushed to get Justice Amy Coney Barrett approved before the 2020 election….Given the disappointments that have been recently dealt to the progressives under the Biden administration — between the congressional demise of the President’s Build Back Better proposal and his failure to find a way forward on voting rights legislation — Biden’s choice for the Supreme Court gives him the opportunity to reinvigorate the democratic base. If she is confirmed, Biden will secure a much-needed victory for his administration. De Vogue provides capsule bios of some of the ‘short list’ contenders, and there is an accompanying video. For a longer list of potential nominees, check here.

At The Wall St. Journal, Sabrina Siddiqui adds, “Although Justice Breyer’s replacement won’t change the conservative majority of the high court, the looming confirmation process follows a series of high-profile clashes between Republicans and Democrats over recent Supreme Court nominees that underscored the importance of the judiciary in determining the direction of major issues such as abortion, voting rights and immigration….Democrats hold a 50-50 majority in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tiebreaking vote, and they only need a simple majority to fill the vacancy. Some progressives and Democratic lawmakers had publicly urged Justice Breyer to step aside and ensure his seat is filled while the party has control….House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.), a close Biden ally, said nominating a Black woman could motivate base voters and draw more attention to what the president has done to diversify the judiciary, including nominating eight Black women to serve on circuit courts, more than all of his predecessors….“If I could get the folks on my side of the aisle to stop talking about what has not been done and start talking about what has been done, his approval rating would go up,” Mr. Clyburn said.” Also at the WSJ, Ken Thomas, Eliza Collins and Natalie Andrews add, “While the White House hasn’t yet commented on any potential successors, the list of possible nominees would likely encompass several prominent Black jurists, including Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51 years old, a judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Leondra Kruger, age 45, a justice on the California Supreme Court; and Julianna Michelle Childs, 55, a federal judge in South Carolina who has been nominated by Mr. Biden to the D.C. Circuit appeals court.”

Nathaniel Rakich explains why “Why Joe Manchin And Kyrsten Sinema Will Probably Vote For Biden’s Supreme Court Pick” at FiveThirtyEight: “The next time a Democratic senator votes no on one of Biden’s judicial picks, it will be the first time. That means that even Manchin and Sinema have 100 percent track records of supporting Biden’s judicial nominees….Democratic senators have occasionally skipped confirmation votes, which could be a convenient way to avoid casting a “no” vote. (And both Manchin and Sinema have skipped an above-average number of votes: seven for Manchin, 12 for Sinema.) We also don’t know if there are any confirmation votes Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declined to hold because he knew the nominee didn’t have the votes….But at the very least, Manchin, Sinema and every other Senate Democrat have been reticent to publicly express opposition to one of Biden’s nominees — and with a position as important as the Supreme Court, the pressure to toe the party line will likely be even greater….If anything, the data shows it’s more likely that a Republican might break ranks to vote for Biden’s Supreme Court nominee than that a Democrat would vote against her….”

Jonathan Bernstein writes in his article, “The Good News About Biden’s Poor Approval Ratings: Public opinion was unusually static across the last two presidencies. It’s a good thing if that’s starting to change,” at Bloomberg Opinion “Although it’s hard to say exactly why Biden has become unpopular, and there are a lot of theories out there, his numbers over time are certainly consistent with the rise and fall of the coronavirus. His approval rating began declining soon after the delta wave began, flattened out or perhaps recovered a bit when that wave ebbed, and then dropped again when omicron took hold. That’s consistent with a comparative perspective, which might note that Biden is one of several world leaders who isn’t very popular right now. It also wouldn’t be surprising if the effects of the pandemic recession and recovery, including high inflation, contributed to Biden’s slump….I continue to take the correlation between the strength of the pandemic and Biden’s approval rating as good news after two presidencies in which approval ratings were unusually static. Biden’s 13 percentage-point approval range is already larger than Trump’s was over his entire four years. It’s not yet as large as Obama’s overall, but it is larger than Obama’s range from the beginning of his second year through well into his eighth year. I suspect Obama’s narrow range during most of his presidency was caused by the unusual condition of a slow but steady recovery from the recession he inherited: Events just never seemed to drive his approval strongly in either direction. As for Trump, my guess is that he really was an unusual case of a president who permanently alienated over half the nation in his initial campaign and never really attempted to win them back. That put a cap on his popularity even during what people perceived as good times. In other words, all those things he did and said — the things that pundits often said would’ve destroyed other politicians — really did have significant negative effects.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    Biden promises a demographic, not an ideology, like a moderate or a progressive. Democrats then ask themselves why other demographics won’t give the party the time of day.


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