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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Just a reminder, “Republicans Shouldn’t Get a Pass on Climate,” Mark Hertsgaard argues at The Nation: “….Despite mountains of scientific findings and heartbreaking real-world evidence, GOP leaders, including (but certainly not limited to) Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Scalise, have demonized the very idea that climate action is important. Above all, congressional Republicans have opposed every major piece of legislation intended to tackle the onrushing crisis….Which is why President Joe Biden found himself giving a speech on July 20 announcing executive actions to deal with what he called the “climate emergency”—even as he stopped short of declaring an official national emergency—including more wind power and helping low-income households pay for air-conditioning.” Hertsgaard heaps blame on Sen. Manchin, but adds, “it is bizarre that his Republican counterparts haven’t faced this intensity of criticism, even though they are at least as culpable. Search the news stories and public statements cited above, and countless others from the same time frame, and you’ll find that Republicans’ role in blocking Build Back Better is rarely even mentioned—and certainly not identified as the principal reason climate legislation routinely dies on Capitol Hill….today’s Republicans pay no political price for torching the planet. In a democracy, elected officials are free to vote for or against whatever they please, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable for their choices. But most political observers, journalists, and even political adversaries simply accept the GOP’s climate obstructionism as an immutable fact of life, not worth calling out or wasting energy on….Instead, Republicans get to please their climate-denying voter base as well as their fossil-fuel-industry donors—and never have to explain themselves to the broader electorate, which, as it happens, favors climate action. Manchin gets nearly all the blame….In the weeks ahead, Biden, Democratic candidates, and climate activists can help voters understand the stakes and learn which politicians do and don’t favor climate suicide.” Hertsgaard has a scold for the press as well as Republican leaders, concluding “But the days of giving any politician a pass on climate action versus climate suicide must be over, or suicide it will surely be.”

In Kyle Kondik’s latest post at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, he shares the bad news that “All told, we have 10 rating changes this week, all but 1 of which favors Republicans” and “We don’t see a huge impact, so far, from the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion opinion.” But Kondik also adds, “In a midterm environment such as this one, the opposition party has the clear advantage in terms of “nationalizing” races, running on national themes like dissatisfaction with President Biden (whose approval rating is languishing in the 30s) and issues such as inflation and gas prices. Republicans will in fact lean heavily on these themes, which are potent. But one wrinkle, thanks to Dobbs, is that Democrats have a nationalizing message of their own, on abortion rights. Hypothetically, the Dobbs decision could make it easier for Democrats to do what any party in power wants to do in a midterm but is often unable to do — make the election more of a choice than a referendum by focusing the electorate on the deficiencies of the out-of-power party and/or its candidates. Some combination of what Democrats argue is GOP extremism on abortion and other issues (perhaps related to the Jan. 6 insurrection investigation) could help Democrats in certain races make the election more of a “choice.” Democratic incumbents also have, in many instances, gigantic fundraising edges over their Republican challengers — the money spigot that Democrats turned on in 2018 remains on full blast. Money won’t shape the entire race for the House, and outside spending will be heavy on both sides, but if Republicans don’t end up doing quite as well in the House as they hope, perhaps money will be part of the reason (just as money helped explain why Democrats did so well in 2018).”

If you are looking for some good news, Manu Raju, Ella Nilsen and Tami Luhby report that “In a major boost to Democrats, Manchin and Schumer announce deal for energy and health care bill” at CNN Politics: “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin on Wednesday announced a deal on an energy and health care bill, representing a breakthrough after more than a year of negotiations that have collapsed time and again.”….The deal is a major reversal for Manchin, and the health and climate bill stands a serious chance of becoming law as soon as August — assuming Democrats can pass the bill in the House and that it passes muster with the Senate parliamentarian to allow it to be approved along straight party lines in the budget process…..While Manchin scuttled President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill, the final deal includes a number of provisions the moderate from West Virginia had privately scoffed at, representing a significant reversal from earlier this month. That includes provisions addressing the climate crisis….The agreement contains a number of Democrats’ goals. While many details have not been disclosed, the measure would invest $369 billion into energy and climate change programs, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40% by 2030, according to a one-page fact sheet. For the first time, Medicare would be empowered to negotiate the prices of certain medications, and it would cap out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 for those enrolled in Medicare drug plans. It would also extend expiring enhanced subsidies for Affordable Care Act coverage for three years.”

At The Hill, Jared Gans reports “Whitmer’s race moves from ‘toss-up’ to ‘lean Democrat.’” As Gans writes, “The nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report moved the Michigan governor’s race from “toss-up” to “lean Democrat” almost a week before the GOP chooses its nominee to take on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)….The Republican primary has been chaotic, with five candidates, including two of the front-runners, being removed from the ballot after the state Bureau of Elections found their petitions to get on the ballot included false signatures….Ryan Kelley, who then emerged as the leading candidate remaining in the race, was arrested for allegedly being present on the grounds of the Capitol during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. Kelley pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanor charges earlier this month, but his poll numbers have since fallen…. Jessica Taylor, Cook’s Senate and governors editor, said in her analysis of the move that the Republican primary has been a “three-ring circus” while Whitmer has accumulated impressive fundraising numbers and a high approval rating despite President Biden’s unpopularity….A Detroit News poll from earlier this month showed Whitmer ahead of multiple potential GOP competitors by double digits. The RealClearPolitics polling average shows former news anchor Tudor Dixon as leading the Republican primary.”

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