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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Can Democrats knock Republicans off their two-faced midterm strategy?,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. asks in his Washington Post column. Dionne’s take: “Polls for congressional contests are closer than the conventional wisdom suggests about impending Democratic catastrophe. Some even give Democrats a slight lead in generic surveys for House races. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday found Democrats with 46 percent among registered voters, Republicans with 45. But the Republicans’ two-step, and enthusiasm in their base, give the GOP confidence about the fall….Democrats, being Democrats, are wringing their hands with apprehension. They often blame each other for the party’s troubles — the left goes after the center, the center assails the left, and the congressional and White House wings sometimes seem to be speaking different languages….But there are signs that Democrats, collectively, have begun to identify the first task in front of them: to call out the stark contradiction inherent in the GOP’s strategy and to force the Republican Party as a whole to own the meanness of its loudest voices….Even if they salvage some of the president’s climate and social spending this spring, Democrats realize they can’t prevail on accomplishments alone. They need to force voters to confront what a vote for Republicans could lead to….“I think we make a mistake if we don’t go straight at Republicans on their obsession with these very narrowcast, broadly unpopular cultural fights,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told me during an interview. “It’s just not true that it’s popular to pick on gay kids. That riles up a subsection of the Republican base.”….Murphy has been at the forefront in pushing Democrats toward a more aggressive strategy. His approach was on display in a widely shared tweet last weekend: “Republicans fight Disney to force them to discriminate against gay kids. Democrats fight drug companies to force them to lower insulin prices for sick kids. Run on that.”….The point, he told me, is to “call out their bigotry and their obsession with these wedge social issues and contrast it … with our decision to spend our time working on issues that matter to a much broader cross-section of Americans.”….Yes, 2022 will be a challenging year for Democrats. But playing offense is a better political bet than playing defense. And wagering that the basic decency of moderate voters will inspire a recoil from intolerance and culture-war obsessions is a fine place to start.”

Charlie Cook addresses the question, “Could Roe Change the Subject This November?” at The Cook Political Report, then responds:”Democrats need the subject of this election to change, to shift away from them and toward Republicans—a tall order indeed when the GOP is out of power and not held responsible for much that does or does not happen. Keeping in mind that election years are notoriously unproductive in terms of legislation, if something happens to shift the focus of this election, it is more likely to come from the opposite side of First Street than where the Senate and House chambers are situated: that is, the Supreme Court….A reversal of Roe would basically punt the entire abortion issue to the states to fight over, just as they did on partisan (though not racial) gerrymandering. But given how many states are already safely ensconced in the back pockets of one party or the other, a substantial share of the electorate lives in states where little change in state abortion law is likely. States that preponderantly favor abortion rights are unlikely to enact antiabortion legislation, and vice versa. Potential change is more likely in states on the bubble, where the partisan and state legislative balance is either evenly balanced or in transition….The states worth watching are pretty much the swing states that we see on the presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial levels. One could do a lot worse than focus on the six states that political sage Doug Sosnik identifies as critical for 2022 and, arguably, 2024 as well: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nevada….In terms of individual minds being changed, it is unlikely that a reversal or near reversal of Roe would have much more than a ripple. Those most likely to be outraged by a reversal are mostly either already in the Democratic camp or find themselves cross-pressured on many issues, thus hardly likely to be single-issue voters. Those who would greet such a decision in a jubilant fashion are already on the GOP side, making motivation the only game in town, not persuasion….If any issue or event on the radar screen could shift the focus of this election, it would be Roe, but the prospect of it changing which way the river is flowing is pretty unlikely.”

From Harry Enten’s “The 3 things that need to happen for Democrats to keep the Senate” at CNN Politics: “For Senate Democrats to have a good election night in November, some combination of at least three things needs to happen….1. Republicans nominate weak candidates. The 2022 Senate map is not that great for the GOP, with all Democrats up for reelection running in states Biden won in 2020 and Republicans defending two seats in Biden states. Most neutral observers have noted that the leading Republican candidates in high-profile Senate races in Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire are not the strongest candidates. That accounts for 21% of all GOP Senate challengers this year. (While three weak challengers in the 435-member House is unlikely to make a difference to the final outcome, it can make a huge difference in the 100-member Senate.)….2. The economy improves. Inflation is sky-high, disposable income has dropped and even the nation’s GDP has declined. When the economy is the top concern, it’s hard to win as the incumbent party.The good news for Democrats is that the election is still six months away. Although none of these metrics are likely to improve dramatically, all are forecast to get at least a little better by November…..3. Everyone who approves of Biden votes Democratic. Biden’s job approval rating is going to be key this fall, at a time when straight-ticket voting is very high….Historically, the magic mark for a president in midterm elections has been 60% approval. But that may not be the case anymore with more Americans voting for the party in the White House when they approve of the president and voting against it when they disapprove….So Biden’s approval rating may only need to be around 50% — if not a little lower should Democrats have an advantage in candidate quality.”

Monica Potts and Jean Yi explain why “Why Twitter Is Unlikely To Become The ‘Digital Town Square’ Elon Musk Envisions” at FiveThirtyEight: “Overall, though, Twitter might be more accurately described as a scrolling newspaper than a public square. Other social media sites, like Facebook, stretch farther into the information ecosystem and are likelier to reveal what most Americans are currently reading, sharing and saying….The Pew Research Center conducts regular surveys on social media use in the United States, and the most popular networks across demographics and political affiliation remain, by far, YouTube and Facebook. As of early 2021, 81 percent and 69 percent of American adults, respectively, reported using these two sites, and the majority of each site’s users visited frequently. This is particularly true of Facebook: 71 percent of users said they visited the site daily, and nearly half of all users visited multiple times a day….By comparison, just under a quarter of American adults reported being on Twitter. And according to a Pew study released in April 2019, only a tiny portion (10 percent) of its adult users in America made up 80 percent of all tweets from that same group. And according to another Pew survey from 2021, only a very small share of tweets from American adults (14 percent) were original content. In other words, these users are mostly retweeting, quote-tweeting or replying….Overall, though, 66 percent of Americans said that social media does more to hurt than help free speech and democracy. That reasoning, however, broke starkly along partisan lines: Republicans were likelier to say speaking freely online was important, while Democrats were likelier to think it was more important that people felt safe and welcome online.”

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