washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In their article, “Support For Gun Control Will Likely Rise After Uvalde. But History Suggests It Will Fade” at FiveThirty Eight, Geoffrey Skelley, Nathaniel Rakish and Elena Mejia write that “stricter gun laws have been Americans’ preference for most of the last 30 years. Back in 1990, when Gallup first asked this question, a whopping 78 percent of Americans wanted stricter gun-control laws. That number gradually fell to 43 percent by 2011, putting it in an approximate tie with the share of Americans who were satisfied with U.S. gun regulations. But the next year, in the immediate aftermath of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, support for more gun-sales restrictions increased to 58 percent, and it has remained around that high ever since — with some temporary spikes in response to major shootings like Parkland….The trend in public opinion over the last decade offers both good and bad signs for supporters of gun control. On the one hand, Sandy Hook — which is sometimes considered a tipping point that normalized debating gun policy in response to mass shootings — appears to have had a lasting impact on American public opinion on guns. While pro-gun-control sentiment did fade in the months following Sandy Hook, it did not fall all the way back to its 2011 low — instead, the shooting seems to have fundamentally shifted the debate toward more Americans wanting stricter gun laws. On the other hand, though, support for gun control has markedly decreased since the 2019 spike associated with the shootings that summer in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, to a point even lower than the pre-Parkland (2018), pre-Las Vegas (2017), pre-Orlando (2016) baseline. (Civiqs has also picked up on this trend.)…It’s possible that we’re about to see another large spike in support after what happened in Uvalde, but if history is any guide, it won’t last for long.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. tells it straight: “We don’t act because the Republican Party, with precious few dissenters, has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby and because the U.S. Senate, with a filibuster rule that gives veto power to the minority, vastly overrepresents rural states….The upshot? Majority rule is foiled on such broadly popular measures as universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And the Supreme Court, shaped in recent years by presidents who lost the popular vote, seems poised to make the task of legislating even harder….Tellingly, the data on gun laws and death rates overlap. The two states with the lowest rates of gun deaths, Hawaii and Massachusetts, are among those with the toughest gun measures. The two with the highest gun death rates, Mississippi and Louisiana, were ranked among those with the weakest firearms legislation….Those who now call themselves “originalists” and claim to be the true arbiters of what the Founders intended — on guns and everything else — willfully ignore the political brawls throughout our history over the meaning and spirit of the words put on paper in 1787….It is maddening and heartbreaking that our country is so deeply mired in the past that we are incapable of regulating weapons whose ferocity our Founders couldn’t have imagined. The fight for sane gun laws is, first, about the innocent lives extinguished by the failure of our politics. But it is also about moving, at last, into a more humane future.”

Voters Have Come To Accept, or Even Demand, the Unorthodox,” Charlie Cook explains at The Cook Political Report. V Cook adds, “Look no further than last week’s Democratic and Republican Senate primaries in Pennsylvania. Just six years ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beat the significantly more progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders handily in the state’s Democratic presidential primary by a dozen percentage points, a margin of just over 200,000 votes. But that was then, and this is now. Last week, progressive Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Sanders endorser in that 2016 race, not only trounced the more centrist Rep. Conor Lamb by 32 points, a margin of over 400,000 votes, but carried every one of the Keystone State’s counties. As former CBS anchor Dan Rather said about another candidate years ago, Lamb was “beaten like a rented mule.”…A Marine Corps officer for four years and later an assistant U.S. attorney, Lamb could have been dreamed up by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s recruiting office. The 6’8” Fetterman, on the other hand, made baggy basketball pants and a hooded sweatshirt his calling card on the campaign trail….So, what is going on? Like many other things in life, politics has many moving parts and often no single explanation will suffice. On one level, voters have grown so tired of and cynical about politics that they seem attracted to highly unconventional candidates, while those with more traditional résumés and profiles are eschewed as just more of the same….Then there is the actual makeup of the parties. With the ideological sorting that began in the 1980s and 1990s, liberals or left-tilting Republicans have almost all died off or abandoned their party, as did right-tilting Democrats. More aggressive gerrymandering also pulled each party’s primary electorate to the extremes. Cable television, talk radio, ideological websites, and social media have all contributed to group polarization, so that like-minded people discussing an issue will become even more extreme in their thinking, preexisting positions reinforced and amplified….The end result is two parties that have moved so far away from the center that they can’t even see the middle, or imagine who might be there or how they may see things. Increasingly exotic ideas and arguments flourish, getting little if any pushback within the parties. Swing voters listen to their proposals with bewilderment, ending up deciding their vote based on which party they seem to be most mad at, at the moment.”

If you’ve been wondering if Beto O’Rourke got any traction as a result of his crashing Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s press conference, Darragh Roche shares some observations about “Beto O’Rourke’s Odds of Winning Texas Governor’s Race After Uvalde Shooting” at Newsweek. Roche explains, “in deep red Texas, Abbott still enjoys a major advantage and bookmakers told Newsweek that the incumbent governor’s odds were still better than his Democratic challenger’s….Betfair, which operates the world’s largest online betting market, gave Republicansodds of 1/7 to win the 2022 governor’s race, while Democrats‘ odds stood at 9/2 and the bookmaker was offering 33/1 odds on any other candidate.,,,Irish bookmakers Paddy Power gave O’Rourke odds of 4/1 to win the race and Abbott’s odds stood at 1/7 in what may be seen as a good sign for the governor who’s seeking a third term…..”We haven’t seen any major changes in the last week, given opinions in Texas along party lines are pretty fixed at this stage,” a Paddy Power spokesperson told Newsweek….Recent polling also appears to show a difficult path to victory for the Democrat. A poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler published on May 15 found that Abbott had 46 percent support and O’Rourke had 39 percent….It remains to be seen if the tragic shooting will have a major impact on the gubernatorial race but Abbott has faced criticism in the wake of the killings. The governor caused controversy by briefly attending a fundraiser on Tuesday after being informed of the shootings, and he decided to cancel an in-person appearance at a National Rifle Association (NRA) event in Houston on Friday amid criticism from O’Rourke and others….O’Rourke narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in a 2018 U.S. Senate election in Texas.” For more details about polls in the O’Rourke-Abott race, check out “Polling For Beto More Hopeful Than It Looks” at reformaustin.org. No data yet, but I have a hunch O’Rourke may have gotten a nice bump in contributions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.