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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley takes a look at the two marquee races in Georgia, and writes: “After a history-making 2020 and 2021, Georgia is once again on our minds with two high-profile statewide races on the ballot this November: the U.S. Senate race, a highly competitive contest between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, as well as the gubernatorial contest, a high-octane rematch between Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams….But interestingly, these races have pretty different outlooks in FiveThirtyEight’s 2022 midterm forecast. The Senate race is currently rated as a toss-up, while in the governor’s race Kemp is a clear favorite to win….For starters, the gap between the two races varies depending on pollster, but on average, polls have found a 7-point difference between the margins in the Senate and gubernatorial contests. This pretty much matches what our more rigorous polling averages found, too, with Warnock up around 2 points and Kemp leading by about 5 points1 — or a 7-point gap….The forecast currently3 has Kemp with a 6-point lead and Warnock with about a 1-point lead, which would amount to a 7-point gap between the two races….Finally, there’s one other wrinkle with Georgia: If no candidate wins an outright majority of the vote, a runoff between the top-two finishers will take place on Dec. 6, 2022.4 And considering each contest has a Libertarian candidate, which is notable because Libertarians have averaged a little over 2 percent in statewide races dating back to 2002, it’s entirely possible that if the Senate race is especially tight, a Libertarian candidate who gains 1 or 2 percent of the vote could trigger a Warnock-Walker runoff in December. Currently,5 the FiveThirtyEight forecast gives the Senate race about a 1-in-5 chance of going to a runoff, while the governor’s race has about a 1-in-10 chance.” If Georgia’s swing voters focus more on candidate quality, Warnock’s lead will likely widen. Abrams’s chances may depend on her campaign’s ability to mobilize Black voters, which was impressive in her 2018 run for the governorship, and/or the uprising of women voters against Republicans in response to the Dobbs decision. Georgia Republicans are nervous and are already flooding the state with hard-hitting attack ads.

In “Democrats Winning Over the “Meh” Voter,” Amy Walter writes at The Cook Political Report: “This year, however, Democratic Senate candidates have been consistently outpolling Biden’s job approval ratings in their states. And, when it comes to the House, the share of voters who say they would vote for a Democrat for Congress is anywhere from 1 to 8 points higher than the percentage of voters who say they approve of the job Biden is doing. For example, the most recent Quinnipiac survey showed Biden’s job approval rating at 40 percent, yet 47 percent of voters said they were supporting a Democrat for Congress in November….In other words, many voters who are unhappy with Biden are nonetheless committed to supporting a Democratic candidate in November….In the Pew survey, 37 percent of voters said they either strongly or somewhat approved of the job Biden was doing in office. Not surprisingly 93 percent of those who strongly approve and 86 percent who somewhat approve say they are voting Democratic this fall. Among the 43 percent of voters who give Biden “very unfavorable” marks, 82 percent of those voters say they are supporting a Republican for Congress….But, among the 17 percent of voters who say they “somewhat disapprove” of Biden, 43 percent say they are planning to vote Democratic this fall, compared to 29 percent who say they’ll vote Republican….In other words, those who are “meh” about Biden are voting for Democrats. This is not something that we’ve seen before….Keeping those voters on their side for the next two months is a bigger – an unprecedented – challenge.”

Nathaniel Frank and Evan Wolfson write at The Daily Beast that “the Republican Party is currently so extreme that not only is it incapable of advocating for a vision of what government should do (the GOP didn’t even adopt a platform in 2020), it has abandoned a commitment to American democracy itself. Indeed, elected Republicans now pose the clearest and most present danger to democracy in our lifetime….Thus, preserving, let alone reinvigorating, our nation’s liberal democracy now entirely hinges on the Democrats’ ability to eke out a governing majority in the approaching election. That, in turn, requires delivering on—and touting—effective government action that improves people’s lives, just as President Biden said….More than ever, bold government action and the fate of democratic governance itself now depend on one another….The first bite at the apple, then, is that heading into November, Democrats can campaign with a message of what they have done in the face of Republican obstruction, and, even more important, what they will do if Americans keep them in power or expand their thin majorities….“Give us two more seats in the Senate and a stronger margin in the House,” the Democrats can pledge, “and then hold us accountable if we do not pass what we’ve promised.”…Selling the Democratic brand this way has not always been straightforward because while majorities of Americans agree with Democratic policy goals significant groups of voters, often for cultural reasons, lack trust in the party. Campaigning on recent accomplishments (particularly in contrast to Republicans’ dangerous enabling of Trumpian nihilism and sedition) could go far toward showing Americans that the Democratic Party truly is focused on making government work for them, and has begun to deliver on that promise.” Democrats must also “convince more Americans, of any or no party, that for now and the foreseeable future, Democrats are the only ones who will try to salvage democratic governance from the jaws of rising domestic authoritarianism and oligarchic greed.”

Joan McCarter reports that “Biden’s approval ratings keep ticking up. Getting stuff done turns out to be popular at Daily Kos, and observes, “The recent run of getting stuff done is working for Democrats with the American public, if you can believe public polling. That means unticking approvals for President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. The latest message polling from Navigator Research shows that majorities believe Biden’s accomplishments will “result in positive outcomes for the country.” That includes passing the PACT Act to provide benefits for veterans harmed by burn pits, job growth, infrastructure investment, declining gas prices—it’s all combining to hold his approval rating steady as the midterm elections loom….The big surprise from this survey, though, is how popular his student debt plan is with pretty much everyone. That includes 86% approval from people with student debt, but also 56% of people who’ve paid off their loans, and 52% who never had student loan debt. That gives it an overall 60% approval….Biden’s approval is holding at 42% in the Navigator survey, but he gets 50% approval for handling the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the stuff that he and Democrats have accomplished, though, that’s popular when messaged correctly. “After messaging about Biden and Democrats’ accomplishments, the share of independents who say the Democratic Party is focused on the right things increases by net 28 points (from -35 to -7) and the share of Black Americans increases by net 23 points (from +53 to +76),” Navigator finds….The Inflation Reduction Act is popular, too, with 67% support, including 64% support from Independents who are particularly supportive of the drug price caps and health care costs in the legislation. That’s the part that is most persuasive to voters, and that has given Democrats the edge on handling health care and lowering health care costs….It’s also not just Navigator. Civiqs has been tracking a steep uptick in Biden’s approval rating since an all-time low in early July. Since July 8, he’s gained 9 points in approval with registered voters….That’s all very good stuff for Democrats, the best you could hope for in the post-Labor Day push to the election. It also doesn’t hurt that Republicans own the hugely unpopular abortion bans sweeping red America after the U.S. Supreme Court ended federal protections. In fact, in the Navigator survey, “abortion” and “Trump” dominate, and 59% associate them negatively with congressional Republicans.”

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