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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The Hill, Niall Stanage explains how “Bad economic news haunts Democrats ahead of midterms.” As Stanage writes, “President Biden and other Democrats are confronting a stark truth — they’re getting blamed for what’s bad in the economy and getting no credit for what’s good….On Thursday, fresh data showed new unemployment claims at their lowest level since modern records began in 1968. The president responded with a statement in which he noted that almost 8 million jobs had been created since he took office — “more jobs created on average per month than under any other president in history,” he said. Later the same day, in a speech to construction unions, Biden noted the sharp decline in the unemployment rate during his tenure — from 6.4 percent in January 2021 to 3.6 percent now — as well as the big recovery in U.S. gross domestic product last year. None of it is making much of a dent in public opinion….An NBC News survey late last month found a huge 63 percent of the population disapproving of Biden’s handling of the economy and just 33 percent approving….An Economist-YouGov poll this week asked people how they viewed the state of the economy.  Just 1 in 4 said it was either “excellent” or “good.” Twenty-seven percent rated the economy as only “fair,” and 42 percent said it was “poor.”…The clear culprit is inflation….The inflation rate hit 7.9 percent in the latest figures, which cover February, the highest level seen since 1982….But inflation is affecting virtually everything, including the price of food. Then there are knock-on effects, such as mortgage rates that have risen sharply, making it harder for people to buy homes. The visceral way in which inflation is felt is blocking out the other, more positive economic news….y contrast, Carrick noted, a strong job market is not felt so universally, being relevant mainly to people who are seeking a job or to employers. He suggested that when people do find a job, they are more likely to credit their own endeavors than the government — a stark difference to how they view inflation or gas prices….“It’s a complex equation, job creation — certainly more so than the cost of a six-pack or a loaf of bread or a frozen pizza,” he said. When people get a new job “it tends to be highly personalized — they did it on their own initiative, their sister-in-law told them there was a job someplace or whatever. They don’t see it so much as a macroeconomic issue.”….Voices across the Democratic spectrum, from centrists to progressives, worry that their problems are compounded by two other factors….One is general public irritability after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. The other is Democratic infighting that limited progress in other areas, most prominently the party’s prolonged, failed attempt to pass Biden’s expansive “Build Back Better” agenda….As if all that were not enough, the war in Ukraine is now commanding the lion’s share of public attention and exacerbating the very inflationary pressures that are causing Democrats such problems.”

Regarding Sunday’s election in France, Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes that “Macron’s relatively strong showing increased the likelihood that he will prevail when the two face off in the second round April 24.”…In a sign of the discontent Macron’s pro-business policies have unleashed in significant parts of the French electorate, the far-left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, was running close to Le Pen with 21.6 percent….Mélenchon’s strength puts Macron in a position of having to implore leftist voters who don’t much like the president to support him rather than abstain in the second round or cast protest votes for Le Pen. Mélenchon gave Macron some help in his concession speech, saying, “You should not vote for Madame Le Pen.”….Sunday’s outcome was a relief for Macron, an eloquent defender of liberal democratic values. A critic of a narrow and authoritarian nationalism, he drifted to the right on immigration in the face of the right-wing challenge.” It’s highly problematic to draw any applicable lessons from the French multiparty election for the U.S. midterms. However, the improved percentage for Marine Le Pen 2.0 as a toned-down xenophobe (She increased her percentage of the vote from 21.3 percent  in 2017 to 23.4  percent on Sunday) may provide an indication that white working-class voters now want tougher immigration policies and are concerned about inflation.  Geoffrey Skelley and Jean Yi noted at FiveThirtyEight just before the election, “Le Pen and her party, the National Rally2 (formerly the National Front), have traditionally run on an anti-immigrant and Euroskeptic platform, dating back to her father Jean-Marie Le Pen’s party leadership. But in this election, Le Pen has placed a greater emphasis on kitchen table issues, including calls to cut taxes on energy and raise base pensions, which may broaden her appeal considering that many in France are worried about inflation. To be sure, her party maintains a strong anti-immigrant platform that aims to weaken immigrants’ access to government benefits and shut out many asylum seekers, but Le Pen has welcomed Ukrainian refugees as she tries to distance herself from her past praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

In “Other Polling Bites,” Skelley and Yi also report that “Most Americans agree with the sentiment that Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot remain in power — but that doesn’t mean they approve of President Biden having said it in a March 26 speech in Warsaw, according to a March 31-April 4 poll from Yahoo News/YouGov. When the quote about Putin — “This man cannot remain in power” — was unattributed, 63 percent agreed with it. But when the pollster asked whether Biden was right or wrong to have said it,” just 48 percent of Americans said he was right. Both Democrats and Republicans were less likely to agree with this statement when it was attributed to Biden: 57 percent of Republicans agreed with the unattributed statement, whereas only 37 percent said the same when told Biden said it; meanwhile, 83 percent of Democrats agreed with the unattributed statement, while 70 percent said the same when told Biden said it.” At npr.org, Joel Rose reports that a new NPR/Ipsos poll found that “More than 6 in 10 Americans want the U.S. to give Ukraine some of the support it wants, while still trying to avoid a larger military conflict with Russia. Fewer than 2 in 10 say the U.S. should give Ukraine everything it wants, even if it risks a wider war.Those responses were remarkably consistent across the political spectrum with strong majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents all in agreement. But when Americans are asked to assess President Biden’s performance, that bipartisan consensus breaks down….”What he’s doing is fundamentally what the American people want,” Jackson said. “But even if Biden is doing everything that people want to do, he’s not going to get a lot of credit for it.”

Some salient observations from Amy Walter’s column, “January 6th, Roe v. Wade as the Known Unknowns for 2022” at The Cook Political Report: “The question isn’t just whether the nation’s highest court will overturn the 50-year old abortion rights law, or whether the commission will reveal new and explosive information about the events leading up to and culminating in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but whether these events will have a notable impact on the 2022 midterms. More precisely, will those two events have the effect of engaging a Democratic base that is clearly less energized about this election than the GOP….polling suggests that Democrats aren’t as invested in finding out more about the attack on the U.S. Capitol as Republicans are invested in moving on. A February Pew poll found that 65 percent of Republicans thought that “too much attention” had been paid to “the riot at the U.S. Capitol and its impacts,” compared to just 45 percent of Democrats who said “too little” attention had been paid. Twice as many Democrats (41 percent) as Republicans (21 percent) thought that the “right amount of attention” had been paid to the events of January 6th. In other words, Democrats aren’t currently clamoring for more attention to be paid to the attack….We don’t know exactly how the Supreme Court decision and the January 6th commission will turn out. But, they also aren’t happening in a vacuum. Right now, pocketbook concerns are the overwhelming worry for voters, making it hard for much else to break through.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. spatrick on

    Stanage basically writes the same story of Democrat doom pretty much every day at this point. Each story is variation with some unamed consultant providing a quote. Talk about cut and paste.


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