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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “Democrats seek campaign opportunity with ObamaCare court ruling,” Nathaniel Weixel writes at The Hill, “Democrats are seizing on a federal judge’s ruling against ObamaCare’s prevention coverage as an opportunity to campaign on preserving health care just two months before the midterm elections….The ruling on Wednesday by Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas escalates another battle over ObamaCare, and could jeopardize access to preventive care for millions of Americans, including screenings for colorectal and other cancer, depression and hypertension, among many other services….Running on saving the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has proven effective for Democrats in the past: The party used the GOP’s attempt to repeal the law in 2017 to mount a successful campaign in 2018 to take control of the House. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade gave Democrats another health issue with which to galvanize their base — and now it appears they’re looking to build on that strategy with O’Connor’s ruling….“With the GOP’s utter disdain for our health, safety and freedom, it is only a matter of time that another drug, treatment, vaccine or health service becomes the next target of their extremism,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement shortly after the ruling….Pelosi also indicated that Democrats will look to tie the ruling directly to the GOP’s “extreme MAGA” agenda and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade…..“As a thirty-five-year ovarian cancer survivor, I am outraged that this judge would take us back to the days before the ACA when individuals suffered pain and even death because coverage for routine cancer screenings were not guaranteed without cost-sharing,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said…..O’Connor has a history of ruling against ObamaCare, as well as other Democratic policies. In 2018, O’Connor sided with a coalition of GOP state attorneys general and struck down the entire health law as unconstitutional, a decision that was eventually overturned at the Supreme Court in 2020…..Health care has not been a winning campaign topic for Republicans in recent cycles. Since failing to repeal the health law in 2017, the GOP has been largely silent on the topic of ObamaCare…..Vulnerable GOP candidates have also lately softened their language on abortion and even tried to scrub references to past comments on the issue from their campaign websites.”

Forecasters now predict Democrats have the edge in the fight for Senate control,” Chris Cillizza writes at CNN Politics: “Two prominent election forecasting models now give Democrats a 70% or better chance of retaining their Senate majority in November, a major shift that suggests the fight for control may no longer be the toss-up that it has long been considered….The FiveThirtyEight election model finds that in 70 out of 100 election simulations, Democrats emerge from 2022 in the majority. The Economist’s model is even more optimistic for the party, finding that in 78 out of 100 simulations, Democrats retain their majority in November….Both models take into account polling, demographic, fundraising and historical data to produce a prediction of what will happen in two months’ time. It’s worth noting that these forecasts are built on probable outcomes and their predictive power depends on how good the underlying data are. So, in 30-ish percent of the scenarios each models runs, Republicans win the Senate majority. In interpreting those numbers, FiveThirtyEight characterizes that probability as Democrats being slightly favored to win the Senate. In short, be wary of taking these models as fact….In explaining why Democrats’ chances have improved of late, both FiveThirtyEight and The Economist note the disparity in candidate quality between the Democrats and Republicans as playing a significant role in the broader fight for the majority.” Cillizza discusses key Senate races in four states, and concludes, “But what’s clear as of today is this: Democrats are on the front foot in the race for the Senate majority, a major shift and surprise from even three months ago.”

Amelia Thomson-Deveaux and Zoha Qamar explain why “The Supreme Court Is More Unpopular Than Ever. That Could Help Democrats” at FiveThirtEight: “The Supreme Court’s conservative justices aren’t on the ballot this November. But for Democratic voters, the upcoming midterms are looking more and more like a referendum on the country’s high court….In late June, when the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion in a contentious and divided ruling, Republicans had a solid 2-percentage-point lead over Democrats in generic-ballot polling, which asks Americans whether they plan to support Republicans or Democrats in the upcoming congressional election. A little over two months later, though, and abortion is mostly or completely illegal in 14 states — and those generic-ballot polls look very different. According to FiveThirtyEight’s average, Democrats now have more than a 1-point lead over Republicans….A Pew Research Center poll conducted Aug. 1-14 found that more Americans have an unfavorable view of the Supreme Court than at any other point since Pew began asking the question just over 35 years ago. Only 28 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have a favorable view of the Supreme Court, down 18 points since January and nearly 40 points since August 2020. Republicans’ views of the court, meanwhile, have gotten a bit more positive since the beginning of the year, which has created a gaping 45-point partisan gap in the Supreme Court’s favorability rating….

Thomson-Deveaux and Qamar note, further that “the share of Democrats who say abortion is a very important issue for the midterm elections rose from 46 percent in March to 71 percent in August. Meanwhile, in a Gallup poll conducted July 5-26, 13 percent of Democrats said that abortion issues were the most important problem facing the country — driving record-high levels of concern among Americans overall. An additional 9 percent of Democrats said that the judicial system and the courts were the most important problem….According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted July 7-17, for instance, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of Democratic voters and 56 percent of independent voters say the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs has made them more motivated to consider a candidate’s position on abortion. However, 62 percent of Republicans said the decision hadn’t made a difference to them….A solid majority (64 percent) of Democrats say the Supreme Court has too much power, up from only 23 percent in August 2020. Increasingly, Democrats also say that the justices are not making politically neutral decisions. Just over half (51 percent) of Democrats say the justices are doing a poor job of keeping their own politics out of their decision-making, up from 26 percent in January.” If the Democrats pick up a couple of seats in the Senate in November and hold a house majority, Supreme Court expansion becomes a  possibility. Supreme Court membership has changed 7 times in U.S. history. The last time it was set at 9 members (1869), the population was about 38 million. Today it is 330+ million. That’s a good demographic argument that Supreme Court justices do indeed “have too much power,” as the Kaiser poll put it, and for increasing the size of the court by an act of congress.

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