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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his New York Times column, “With or Without Trump, the MAGA Movement Is the Future of the Republican Party,” Thomas B. Edsall writes that “The fissures in the Democratic Party are on display for all to see, since it is the party in power, but the divisions in the Republican Party and the conservative movement are deeper, wider and far more threatening.” Democrats hope the the fissures are threatening to the GOP’s future success. Edsall points out that Trump won the Republican presidential nomination in part because of an unusually large GOP field in 2016. Trump skillfully rallied immigrant-fearing and liberal-hating voters. He awakened this dormant, but large bloc, created for them a sense of community and threaded the Electoral College needle to win a victory with a popular vote loss. Edsall sees the primary fissure in the GOP as the gap between Trump’s ardent supporters, who fear immigrants and despise ‘wokeness’ and the more genteel corporate elites, who indulge woke policies and who have been bringing low-wage immigrants into the U.S. for decades. Edsall is surely right that the MAGA ‘movement’ is going to be around for the forseeable future, even though Trump’s personal future is much in question. But it’s doubtful that Trump supporters actually blame corporate Republicans more than they blame Democratic liberals for immigration problems. Maybe Democrats could benefit by more energetically publicizing the fact that Republicans (corporate leaders) have done more to increase immigration for decades, in order to drive wages down and profits up.

E. J. Dionne, Jr. argues at The Washington Post that it is “Attorney General Merrick Garland’s obligation to decide sooner rather than later whether the Justice Department’s own investigation and the Jan. 6 committee’s work justify an indictment of Donald Trump. If the evidence is there (and public comments from committee members suggest that the panel has it), Garland’s department must prosecute him….Worry about what might or might not look “political” is itself a political consideration that should not impede equal justice under the law. If a president is not above the law, a defeated former president isn’t, either.” Further, Dionne, writes, “The committee deserves praise for its painstaking thoroughness. But its decision not to hold a major public hearing this year until it finished investigative work has allowed people’s attention to drift away from the ongoing threat to our democracy….With the Jan. 6 committee expected to hold hearings soon — in May or early June — it is urgent that its members deliver a clear and compelling account of what Trump did and why it matters….Garland cannot allow an understandable uneasiness over prosecuting the incumbent president’s leading political opponent to compromise his obligation to enforce the law and protect U.S. institutions from violent coup efforts….It was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who said, in reference to Trump, that “former presidents are not immune from being held accountable.” The Jan. 6 committee should make Trump’s law-breaking clear. Garland should act. And McConnell should stand by his words.”

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik reports on  “House Ratings Changes: 11 Moves All in Favor of Repubicans,” and writes that “The bulk of these changes either move marginally competitive Republican-held seats to the Safe Republican category or move Democratic districts from Likely Democratic to the more competitive Leans Democratic column….Republicans remain strong favorites to win the House majority….If we had to guess, today, what Republicans would net in the House, we’d probably pick a number in the 20s. So that means our ratings are probably at least a little bit friendlier to Democrats than perhaps they should be. However, we do have several more seats rated Leans Democratic (15) compared to Leans Republican (8), which is one way of indicating how the playing field could grow. On the other hand, our ratings also reflect the possibility of a Democratic comeback in which they limit Republican advances.Still, don’t be surprised to see more House updates from us later this year in which all or nearly all of the changes are in favor of Republicans. It’s just that kind of cycle, at least for the time being….Our full House ratings are available here.”

Christian Paz makes the case that “Crime will affect the midterms, but not in the way you think” at Vox: “As political issues, crime and public safety carry a heavier cost in local elections, where policy is made and the voters most affected by and worried about crime are concentrated. The progressive-moderate tension within the Democratic Party is also more pronounced on this issue because many debates on policing and public safety are happening in municipalities dominated by Democrats. With growing discontent with Democratic governance in general, crime might just be one of a laundry list of Republican attacks, and not the decisive issue for control of Congress that many doomsayers are claiming it will be….As inflation, gas prices, rising interest rates, and housing affordability all sour the national mood, “it makes me believe it’s even less likely now that crime is going to be featured centrally in a lot of campaigns, because of how effectively Republicans are going to be able to use the inflation issue against Biden and Democratic members of Congress,” Dan Cox, the director of the Survey Center on American Life and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told me….crime tends to be more of a motivator for conservative base voters. Swing voters don’t tend to live in cities and inner-ring suburbs where crime is a bigger problem. That geographic sorting leaves Democrats to fight among themselves — and face backlash from Democratic voters.”

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