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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At Slow Boring, Matthew Yglesias reviews the history of factional disputes in the Democratic party over the last couple of decades and offers some tips for rectifying current internal conflicts, including: “…there’s no cheat code that lets you do politics in a way that is detached from the contours of public opinion, including the reality that self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals by a large margin, so to win, Democrats need to secure large margins among self-identified moderates….The implications of that for positioning on specific issues vary, but it makes a big difference in terms of the overall approach. Running around and promising “sweeping,” “bold,” “structural” change is probably a bad idea compared to “common-sense reforms.”….reflecting how Martin Luther King, Bayard Rustin, and other Civil Rights Movement leaders thought about the questions facing America after the successes of the early 1960s….involves exhorting people to find unity in common economic uplift rather than emphasizing elite-level diversity or the need to center the racial angle in every controversy.”….Americans in Iowa and Ohio and Florida were ready to vote twice for Barack Obama based on a message of unity. And while I think his administration had serious failings, I think these were mostly failures of technical policy analysis (especially about the deficit/stimulus balance) rather than basic political judgment.”

To get and share some simple clarity to the debate about the threat to Roe v. Wade, read “Do Republicans want to throw doctors who break abortion laws in jail? Their plans say yes” by Jon Greenberg at Politifact. As Greenberg writes, “Over a dozen Republican-controlled states have passed abortion laws that permit jail sentences for doctors….45 Republicans in the U.S. Senate sponsored or co-sponsered the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, that would impose a prison sentence of up to five years.” Greenberg notes further, “The day after the leak of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade, the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent lawmakers and candidates suggested talking points on abortion….The May 3 guidance advised Republicans to show compassion for pregnant women, criticize Democratic positions, and emphasize “the facts” about Republican policies….One of those facts was: “Republicans DO NOT want to throw doctors and women in jail. Mothers should be held harmless under the law.” Say it plain, Dems. This is pure horeshite. “In Florida,” Greenberg notes, “Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on April 14 that, with some exceptions, bans abortions after 15 weeks. Doctors that violate the law are guilty of a third degree felony. That carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.” In OK, a physician can get 10 years. In TX, it’s 5 to life, 10 to 99 in AL. The NRSC memo shows Republicans fear these facts, and Dems would be guilty of malpractice not to share them loudly and often.

Kyle Kondik, Larry Schack and Mick McWilliams explain “How Abortion Might Motivate or Persuade Voters in the Midterms” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “In a forthcoming analysis of voters based on their 2022 voting intentions, we found that “Preventing women from losing access to safe and legal abortion services” emerges as one of the stronger issues for motivating Democratic base and swing voters to get to the polls in 2022 and potentially persuading Republican-leaning voters near the Democratic vs. Republican dividing line to shift their voting intentions to the other side from their present leanings. However, the data also suggest that abortion is more powerful in motivating Democrats than persuading Republican swing voters. Still, these voters present as open to maintaining a woman’s right to choose on abortion and the idea that America should be doing more to ensure this, not less. There are also other salient issues/messages for these voters besides abortion, which we’ll explore more in-depth in that forthcoming piece….Looking forward, it’s very much unclear what will happen with abortion in the 2022 election. For starters, we do not even know if the U.S. Supreme Court’s eventual opinion in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will be the same as the one that Politico reported on earlier this week. We also know that, abortion aside, this looks like a Republican-leaning political environment, both based on history and the president’s weak approval ratings….But our analysis does suggest that 1. The public, broadly speaking, is more supportive of abortion rights and more concerned about women’s access to abortion services than not and 2. There are voters who may be animated by Roe vs. Wade being overturned, which could give Democrats a desperately-needed shot in the arm this November given their many other political problems this year. Whether abortion would trump the concerns that persuadable voters have on other issues — such as inflation and broader economic concerns, where the Democrats appear very vulnerable — remains to be seen, but we may find out if and when the Supreme Court releases their potentially explosive actual opinion on abortion.”

At FivThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley takres a look at “The 10 Governorships Most Likely To Flip Parties In 2022,” and writes: “As it turns out, the two most likely seats to flip may be Maryland and Massachusetts, where popular Republican governors are leaving office, and the GOP could end up nominating candidates who struggle to appeal in those deep-blue states. Meanwhile, primary battles in Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin could also hurt GOP efforts to capture Democratic-held governorships. After all, while gubernatorial races have become more nationalized, voters still show a greater tendency to break from their baseline partisan preferences in these races than in contests for Congress, meaning a poor nominee can still cause the seemingly favored party to stumble….That said, even though Republicans have two of the toughest seats to defend this cycle, they also have their own juicy target in Kansas, the reddest state Democrats control. Moreover, Democrats hold more highly competitive seats, which could easily flip. Based on early race ratings data from Inside Elections, Sabato’s Crystal Ball and The Cook Political Report, we’ve identified 10 states that are especially competitive, six of which Democrats currently control. This list could certainly change, but at this point, the GOP is playing on friendlier turf….”

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. -Tanya Gray on

    For the past week, I have watched the news, read every article and opinion piece imaginable on the leaked Supreme Court draft undoing Roe v. Wade. I’ve felt as if someone close to me died – unable to watch television for enjoyment, worried that I’d turn on the news and hear them *not* talking about Roe v. Wade – essentially unable to believe that life goes on despite the shocking news of last week.
    But all of the opinion on the left is based on the continued themes of controlling women, bodily autonomy, leaving the choice to women and their doctors. These arguments have never swayed the other side and never will. The extreme right is never going to be convinced of that argument as long as they believe that a life is being taken. But what about that supposed “majority” of Americans who do believe that abortion should be an available choice? Many are Republicans; many are moderate. The question is whether they are willing to make abortion the “only” issue as the November elections approach. With inflation and crime at the top of mind for so many Americans, and Biden seemingly taking the blame, the answer is likely “no”.
    What if the pro-choice argument were positioned in a way that impacts all Americans – not just women – their wallet? With all of the reading that I’ve done, I have yet to see anyone put forth an argument on how this ruling will impact all taxpayers.
    The states with “trigger bans”, as well as those states likely to pass bans, are overwhelmingly poorer states and many receive more from the federal government than they contribute, such as Kentucky and Mississippi. It is an undeniable fact that countries with abortion bans similar to those passed in these states are poor countries. There is a distinct correlation between a country’s economic health and its abortion laws.
    Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi spoke about all of the programs that his state would need to implement to support women in a post-Roe environment. It sounded like a Democrat’s platform. Notwithstanding the fact that a state like Mississippi should have been doing these things all along, are the conservative voters of Mississippi going to want to pay for more programs when they are already the poorest state in the nation, with inflation at a forty-year high? Every voter in these states that are about to ban abortion needs to ask themselves how their state is going to pay for the increased poverty levels they are about to see. An anti-choice vote is a vote for increased programs, increased taxes and increased poverty (middle- and upper-class women will always have a choice of course).
    Democrats in all of these states need to frame the pro-choice argument in terms of the COST TO TAXPAYERS of abortion bans. Again, this will never convince the extremists but should cause moderates and independents to listen. The argument needs to be against an increase in poverty. Higher poverty levels in both urban and rural communities lead to increased violence, crime, addiction, and poorer educational outcomes – all of which put pressure on taxpayers. With inflation and crime at the top of everyone’s minds this year, the abortion issue must be tied into those issues. Every Republican candidate this year should be shamed into advocating for more poverty and crime. Republicans are going to attack on these two issues, but the pro-choice argument if structured properly can be used to undermine Republicans’ own arguments.
    In states where abortion is protected, voters also need to be reminded that what happens in anti-abortion states can impact them too. Again, many of these states are “takers” – taking more from the federal government than they contribute. As a Massachusetts resident, why would I want my federal tax dollars going toward supporting increased poverty and crime through an abortion ban in a state like Mississippi? It’s one thing for economically productive states to support the poorer states such as they are – but to have to support them through their willingness to INCREASE their poverty levels is outrageous.
    I am not in disagreement with the “my body my choice” argument but it is not a viable strategy on this issue. It is too subjective and fraught with emotion, and my fear is that many voters will tune it out, and that it won’t be convincing enough to make voters put this issue at the top of their priority list in November. But if voters can be made to understand the impact of abortion bans on their wallets, it may be more convincing.

  2. Victor on

    Democrats need to go on offensive regarding contraception and abortion pills given the right is already bringing up these issues in state legislatures. The left never gets that offense is the best defense.

    We also need a coherent strategy regarding conscience clauses.


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