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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From “A windfall profits tax idea that could actually work: Some administration officials have an idea that deserves more attention” by Matthew Yglesias at slowboring.com: “Democrats’ private polling, from what I’ve heard, tells a pretty clear and consistent story: the only thing voters really care about right now is inflation Republican ads and paid messages are all focused on inflation, and there is no “message” from the incumbent party that works very well in the face of prices that are objectively rising faster than incomes….In other words, it’s much more a problem of substance than of message….And yet, if you’re in politics, you do need to say things. And of the various messages that Democrats could deliver, the ones that resonate most with the public are the ones that emphasize the huge profit-taking opportunities that inflation is presenting for many companies. Unfortunately for Democrats, one consequence of education polarization is that all the people who care what fussy highbrow journalists think are now on their side, so when they say things about economics that aren’t true and then Catherine Rampell complains, those complaints hurt them. And in being an annoying complainer, she has in fact strengthened the hand of the more rigor-inclined members of the administration who are now able to argue that even well-testing messages could backfire via media effects….I am less fussy, and I am a believer in the idea that you can’t take the politics out of politics. The current inflation really has created profit windfalls for certain companies, and it is fine to feel and express annoyance about this. My big concern with greedflation is that it’s important for policymakers not to get high on their own supply. Oil companies are currently enjoying huge profit margins, but if they cut prices to reduce margins it would generate shortages, and Biden would be even worse off in a universe with gas lines and rationing. So what Bharat Ramamurti says here is a fine observation about the cosmic injustice of life, but I’m not sure it’s a basis for policy….Optimistically, moving to directly subsidize domestic production along with reversing prior efforts to squelch domestic output would lead to meaningful economic changes. It’s true that these changes would take time to filter through.” So the gesture might help a smidge for the midterm elections, but any policy effects would likely be more beneficial for the 2024 election.

In “3 In 10 Americans Named Political Polarization As A Top Issue Facing The Country,” Geoffrey Skelley and Holly Fuong write at FiveThirtyEight: “Political division has been on the rise for years in the U.S. The gap between the two parties has only grown more sharply in Congress, while the share of Americans who interact with people from the other party has plummeted. Furthermore, many Americans only read news or get information from sources that align with their political beliefs, which exacerbates fundamental disagreements about the basic facts of many political problems….In other words, hatred — specifically, hatred of the other party — increasingly defines our politics….Polarization and extremism ranked third across a list of 20 issues that we asked about in the latest FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll, which was conducted from May 26 to June 6. Using Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel, we interviewed the same 2,000 or so Americans from our previous survey, and of the 1,691 adults who responded, 28 percent named “political extremism or polarization” as one of the most important issues facing the country,1 trailing only “inflation or increasing costs” and “crime or gun violence,” the latter of which surged in the aftermath of mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas….Almost 3 in 10 Americans said they were worried about extremism and polarization, which is essentially unchanged from our poll last month….most Americans (62 percent) still want the U.S. to actively reduce political polarization. Only 9 percent think that the U.S. should let things be.”

At The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter writes, “In many ways, Democrats have an easier path to driving up motivation among their base than Trump did in 2018. A roll-back of federal abortion rights; the events of January 6th; and Trump’s continued attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election are the kinds of things that should ensure solid Democratic turnout in November. But, thus far at least, we haven’t seen signs that these issues are either improving opinions of Biden, or increasing interest among Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections. Democratic in-fighting between progressives like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and moderates over the best way forward (leaning into a more expansive progressive agenda versus keeping a focus on kitchen table issues like the rising cost of living), doesn’t help to inspire Democratic interest or support in the upcoming election, either….In a briefing with reporters this week, Guy Cecil, head of the Democratic SuperPAC, Priorities USA, admitted that “too many Democrats are tuned out of politics,” and that his organization was committing significant resources to “increase and quicken their outreach” to these voters. Other progressive organizations are doing the same….Many Democratic strategists also contend that they can use these same issues to motivate and turnout voters who aren’t necessarily Democrats, but who were roused to vote in 2018 and/or 2020 by their opposition to Trump….“There’s no question that persuadable voters are worried about economic security,” Cecil said. “But, we do see issues of January 6th as example of extremist ideology and ongoing extreme behavior [that are] useful in raising the stakes of the election.”…Democrats, he said, need to convince these voters that not only can things “get better with Democrats in power, but things can get worse with Republicans in charge.”…Democrats still have five months to “raise the stakes” in this election by drawing sharp contrasts with their GOP opponents around issues like abortion rights, and attacks on our democratic institutions. But, for many of the voters Democrats are trying to turnout, the rising cost of food, gas and housing are  “high stakes” impacting their day to day lives most acutely.”

Dems who are looking for a good coalition issue that can unite Black and rural voters should check out Nassem S. Miller’s report “National study highlights rural-urban and racial disparities in cancer survivorship” at The Journalists Resource. As Miller observes, “A May 2022 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute examines the potential impact of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act on the two-year cancer survival among newly-diagnosed patients. It finds that Medicaid expansion is associated with improved cancer survival, particularly among Black patients and in rural areas. The association was also strong for lung, pancreas, liver and colorectal cancers, which can be detected by screening….The findings provide “further evidence for the importance of expanding Medicaid eligibility in all states, particularly considering the economic crisis and health-care disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors write. They add that the study highlights the role of Medicaid expansion in reducing health disparities….Medicaid is the United States’ public health insurance program for people with low income. It covers one in five Americans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health policy research group….The authors of the JAMA Network Open study also call for more funding through National Cancer Institute grants for cancer control and management in rural areas. The number of funded grants solely focused on rural populations rather than rural-urban differences are also low, and policy reform that targets rural cancer control remains minimal, they add.”

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