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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Stategy Notes

From “Republicans prove they are their own worst enemy in 2022” by Chris Cillizza at CNN Politics: “And despite a rocky start to the health care program — the failure of the initial website to sign up for coverage being the most obvious example — the public has warmed to the law, which is colloquially known as Obamacare. In an October 2021 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, almost 6 in 10 (58%) of Americans said they had a favorable view of the law, while just 41% viewed it unfavorably….Taking the ACA away — or even talking about taking it away — then is politically unwise….Which may explain why [WI Republican Sen. Ron] Johnson, who faces re-election this year, released a statement Monday night, um, clarifying his position. “During a radio interview I used our failure to repeal and replace Obamacare as an example of how we need to be prepared to deliver on whatever agenda items we decide to run on,” said Johnson. “I was not suggesting repealing and replacing Obamacare should be one of those priorities. Even when we tried and failed, I consistently said our effort should focus on repairing the damage done by Obamacare and transitioning to a health system that works.”….Which, well, ok! But, the problem for Johnson — and for McConnell and other members of Republican leadership — is that Johnson initially said what he said, which sounded a whole lot like Republicans would work to repeal and replace Obamacare if they were in the Senate majority.” Cillizza also discusses deepening divisions within GOP leadership over Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) “policy agenda for America.” Here’s hoping Democrats will  emphasize such GOP divisions on the midterm campaign trail.

I like how Thomas B. Edsall put it in his column, “There Are Glimmers of Hope for Biden. Or Maybe Slivers” in The New York Times: “On the negative side for Republicans: Donald Trump’s admiration for and long courtship of Vladimir Putin has begun to backfire, causing conflict within Republican ranks; and these intraparty tensions have been compounded by Mike Pence’s growing willingness to challenge Trump, as well as by an internal strategy dispute between Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and Senator Rick Scott, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee….On the plus side for Democrats: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in February, employers added 678,000 new jobs and unemployment fell to 3.8 percent. Meanwhile, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection disclosed on March 3 that it has “has a good-faith basis for concluding that the president and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.” Edsall notes, however, that Democrats still face enormous obstacles in their struggle to hold their House of Reps majority in the midterm elections, inlcuding the weight of historical experience. But internal divisions in the GOP offer some hope that Dems can reduce the damage.

Edsall adds, “Steve Rosenthal, a former political director of the AFL-CIO who now heads The Organizing Group, a political consulting firm, contended in an email that the Biden administration has done a poor job promoting its successes:

We’ve been canvassing white working-class voters in Southwestern PA and in the Lehigh Valley. They have no idea what the president and the Democrats in Congress have already done that directly impacts the issues they raise. When they hear about Biden sending $7 billion to PA for their roads, bridges and schools, they’re moved by it. This isn’t rocket science.

….Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal-leaning think tank, made a similar case in his emailed response to my inquiries:

On the economic front, President Biden and the Democrats really need to up their game in pushing their record and their agenda. We have had record job growth since Biden took office, and somehow the economy is supposed to be a liability for the Democrats? If the shoe were on the other foot, the Republicans would be plastering the job numbers across the sky. This is the best labor market in more than half a century. Workers can leave jobs they don’t like for better ones, that is a really great story.

….“It’s a volatile environment,” Rosenthal adds: “Covid, war in Ukraine, inflation — and a lot can happen between now and November. But I definitely like the hand the Democrats are playing better this week than last. For now, let’s take it one week at a time.”

Among the ‘wild cards’ flagged by Edsall: “There are still major uncertainties to be resolved before Election Day on Nov. 8. These include the possibility that Trump will be further embroiled in criminal charges and the chance that Trump himself will become an albatross around the neck of the Republican Party….Trump’s legal status, in turn, will be determined by prosecutors in Georgia, New York and possibly the United States Justice Department…..The biggest unknown on the political horizon is the repercussions of the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies on Russia, which are certain to raise energy and food costs, exacerbating the administration’s continuing difficulties with rising prices….Finally, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a wild card, giving rise, among other things, to mounting speculation about Trump’s judgment and his fitness for office.” In addition to Trump praising Putin’s “genius,” Edsall notes, “On March 5, speaking at a meeting of top Republican donors in New Orleans, Trump wandered further afield, suggesting, however insincerely, that the United States should paste Chinese flags on F-22s and “bomb the sh*t out of Russia.” Edsall notes “another explosive unknown, the possibility of the largest land war in Europe since 1945 metastasizing into a global conflict.” How is that going to play with suburban swing voters, if Trump is still the ‘leader’ of his party in November?

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