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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“Okay, it’s not like labor’s high tide in the 1940s or 1950s yet,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Labor Day column, “Unions are on a roll. And they unite a divided nation” at The Washington Post. “But unions are staging a remarkable comeback in the United States that few anticipated even a decade ago….Government policies are shifting in the direction of workers. Unions are winning workplace elections at a rapid clip. And just last week, Gallup reported that approval of unions hit its highest level in 57 years….Gallup found that approval of unions hit low points of 48 percent in 2009 and 52 percent in 2010. They have risen ever since — to 61 percent in 2017, 68 percent last year and 71 percent last week, a peak not reached since 1965….At a time when so many attitudes divide along racial lines, Gallup found that Whites and non-Whites were equally pro-labor. Approval spanned generations — at 72 percent for those under 54, and 70 percent among those 55 and over. Support for organized labor, close to unanimous among Democrats, is in fact bipartisan: 89 percent of Democrats approved of unions, as did 68 percent of independents and 56 percent of Republicans….A spurt of new organizing will not undo years of union decline. Efforts to change labor laws to make unionization easier have failed even in Congresses controlled by Democrats. The new shape of the economy — with fewer of the sorts of manufacturing jobs on which labor built its power between the 1930s and the 1960s — creates challenges that the movement still needs to master….But the new labor story, based on an embrace of the promise of triumph through shared struggle, runs crosswise to many of the trends in our politics, and usefully so. Unions have the capacity to bring Americans together across some very deep divides. Republicans have yet to alter their largely antilabor policy stances to accommodate a new constituency that includes large numbers of working-class voters. You’d never know from the party’s hostility to unions how sympathetic the GOP rank and file is to what they do.”

Gregory Krieg flags “Key Governors Races to watch This Fall” at CNN Politics and writes: “In November, 36 states will hold gubernatorial elections that, while often less expensive than Senate races, are likely to yield more immediate impacts on the political landscape and could provide a launching pad for candidates with even higher aspirations — like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis….Heading into the general election season, Republicans control 20 of the contested governor’s seats to Democrats’ 16. But many of the key battleground contests feature Democratic incumbents, elected during the 2018 “blue wave,” trying to win a second term. In Michigan and Wisconsin, Govs. Gretchen Whitmer and Tony Evers are likely Republicans’ only obstacle to governing trifectas. The same goes in Pennsylvania — another state President Joe Biden flipped in 2020 — where Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro would likely face a GOP-controlled legislature if he defeats Republican nominee Doug Mastriano, a Trump-allied election denier….The added attention and, to some extent, increasing attractiveness of governors’ races to big donors and outside spenders, could benefit Democrats if only because the party has in the past tended to look past state elections and zero in on federal and presidential ones….While Democrats try to fashion a broad argument that ties economic concerns to growing extremism in the Trump-dominated Republican ranks, the GOP has been keen to narrow the conversation to dissatisfaction with the economy — especially in states, such as Nevada, which was hit especially hard by Covid-19 and has been slow to recover.” Krieg has lots more to say about particular races.

From Nicole Narea’s “Is post-Roe voter registration benefitting Democrats? Preliminary data suggests that enthusiasm is up among women and young voters in the midterms” at Vox: “Democrats appeared to be heading into the 2022 midterms with a perceived voter enthusiasm deficit brought on by inflation and an unpopular incumbent president. But over the last few months, the party’s outlook for the midterms has significantly improved, and many political strategists attribute the shift at least in part to voters’ outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade….Many of these strategists — like Simon Rosenberg and James Carville — believe the threat of further restrictions on abortion access should the GOP take control of Congress, governor’s mansions, and statehouses will energize Democratic turnout in the fall. Several recent elections — including in New York’s 19th, where the Democratic winner centered his campaign on abortion access and the resounding rejection of a constitutional amendment that would have allowed state lawmakers to further restrict abortion access in Kansas — have been taken as early signs that Democrats are likely to fare better than expected in the fall. Narea interviews Tom Bonier, CEO of data firm Targetsmart, who adds, “In every state that I’ve looked at so far, when you look at the under-25 voters who have registered since Dobbs, and then compare them to the under-25 voters who registered this year prior to Dobbs, they’re even more Democratic. You see the same pattern with women who are registering post-Dobbs versus those who registered prior to Dobbs. They’re more likely to be registered as Democrats by a pretty wide margin….What’s interesting to me is, when you see surges in enthusiasm reflected in registration historically, it almost always is then mirrored in surges in enthusiasm and turnout among those groups overall. So it stands to reason that what we’re seeing isn’t just relevant because it means more women are eligible to vote, but it indicates that women in general are far more attuned to this election and therefore far more likely to vote.”

Some observations from Alex Shephard’s “The Media Is Not Ready to Defend Democracy” at The New Republic: “On Thursday, President Biden delivered a searing speech about the threat to democracy posed by Donald Trump—whose name he mentioned only twice—and the growing ranks of “MAGA Republicans.”….He characterized the upcoming midterm elections as nothing less than a “battle for the soul of the nation.”….With the midterm elections less than three months away, the Democratic message is—rather  unsurprisingly—equally uncomplicated and understandable: It’s focused on protecting democracy from a party that keeps promising political violence. Biden’s speech, delivered just before Labor Day, served as a kind of grace note to the midterm season. It was an existential speech in that the fate of American democracy does actually seem to be on the ballot. And, yes, it was a political speech in that the Democrats are pledging to preserve democracy while Republicans plot to overthrow the Founders’ ideals in favor of something in Viktor Orbán’s image….That Biden’s speech was political served as an excuse for lazy both-sides journalism, as reporters scrambled after the nearest bottle of weak sauce to draw equivalence between Biden’s commentary and a movement that’s currently calling in bomb threats to children’s hospitals. Biden was quoted laying out an argument—with evidence—that Republicans were bent on subverting democracy….The Beltway press has struggled to cope with the rise of a political party that is pursuing an existential threat to democracy. They hate the idea that they actually bear some responsibility for preventing autocracy; indeed that their own profession relies on this defense of our institutions. This neurosis drives them, endlessly, back into a blind spot they’ve built for themselves, in which everything is strictly politics as usual, and the question of whether America’s multiracial democracy should actually survive the decade is just an interesting debate that can be bemusedly enjoyed. There are plenty of normal political issues at stake in the midterms—inflation, crime, the war in Ukraine—to which they can apply their preferred rubric. The GOP’s threat to the republic isn’t one of them.”

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