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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Gregory Krieg, Eric. Bradner, and Dan Merica share “Seven takeaways from the 2022 primary season” at CNN Politics, including their perspectives on: candidate quality; GOP infighting; Trump’s influence; increased election deniers on ballots; the abortion ruling; the economy and outside spending in Democratic primaries. As regards the inflation and abortion issues, the authors write: “Republicans like Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, have attempted to define this election as “a grocery and gas election,” using inflation as an albatross to hang around every Democratic candidate’s neck….Abortion has complicated that message – putting Republicans in districts on defense – but with eight weeks to go before Election Day, whether the economy or abortion is the most motivating issue for voters will determine who is better positioned to hold or win the majority….Democrats across the country have now adopted similar messaging. Their candidates could also benefit from added turnout in states like Michigan, which, like Kansas, is holding an abortion rights referendum….Republicans have largely sought to downplay the issue, insisting in many cases that abortion is not, as Democrats say, “on the ballot.” But new federal legislation to ban abortion after 15 weeks nationwide, introduced by GOP South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham this week, could undercut their argument.”

At The Conversation, Gina Woodall explains why “Arizona’s Latino voters and political independents could spell midterm defeats for MAGA candidates.” As Woodall writes,The victories of extremist GOP candidates and open support of baseless conspiracy theories have added a volatile ingredient to the politics of Arizona, where a historically conservative electorate is undergoing dramatic political shifts due to changing demographics….Over the past 10 years, residents who identify solely as white saw their numbers shrink from 73% in 2010 to 60% in 2020. At the same time, the number of residents who identified as more than one race grew from 3.4% in 2010 to nearly 14% in 2020….In all, Arizona has close to 7.5 million residents, and over 30% of them identify as Latino. Over the past decade, the state’s Latino population grew from 1.9 million to 2.2 million. By some estimates, Latinos could make up as much as 50% of the state’s population by 2050….If national statistics are any indication, Latino voters tend to support Democrats. In a March 2022 poll, about 48% of Latinos nationwide considered themselves Democrats, and only 23% identified as Republican….In Arizona, the numbers are similar….According to a 2022 study, Latinos are more likely to be Democrats than non-Latinos are, with 45% of Latinos affiliating with the Democratic Party, compared with 28% of non-Latinos. Less than 15% of Latinos are registered as Republicans, the report found, and 40% are registered as “other” and are not affiliated with either major party….The growth of Latino voters in Arizona contributed to Joe Biden’s win in 2020 – and also the elections of Democrats Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema to the U.S. Senate….Among registered voters, the GOP has about 1.5 million residents, or 35%. Nearly 1.3 million voters are registered as Democrats, while about 1.4 million, or about 34%, registered as other or independent….With such an equal split among political parties, election outcomes rely more on voter turnout. In the past two presidential elections, the number of registered voters who cast ballots jumped from about 2.6 million, or 74%, in 2016 to 3.4 million, or nearly 80%, in 2020.”

Thom Hartmann warns in  a “Scam Alert! Beware the GOP’s Other Midterm Effort to Halt Democracy. Purging Democratic voters from the rolls has now gone nationwide, at least in states where voting is controlled by Republicans” at Common Dreams. Hartman provides a description of how “caging” is used to remove likely Democratic voters from the voter rolls, and notes “This is called caging, a term that comes out of the junk-mail business where address-unknown mail returned by the Post Office was put in a separate physical “cage” in the mailing warehouse so those names could be removed from the mailing lists to avoid paying postage to them in the future….Applied to voting, it simply involves purging or removing people from the voting rolls when they fail to return the above-mentioned letters or postcards or they’re returned as undeliverable….Karl Rove and his protégé, Timothy Griffin, were apparently heavily involved in caging efforts in Ohio in 2004, although when Congress tried to look into it President Bush invoked Executive Privilege and shut down the investigation, as noted by the William Mitchell Law Review in 2008….Because of all the noise around the 2004 election and Rove’s alleged caging efforts, Husted reinvented it in a new and highly selective fashion that he thought would gain approval from the 5 Republicans on the Supreme Court: Start with the addresses of those voters who’d failed to vote in previous (typically midterm) elections, and send the caging letters only to them, using the excuse that Ohio was “just trying to verify that they hadn’t moved.”….Using this strategy and others, as the Brennan Center for Justice noted, Republicans purged over 17 million Americans from voting rolls nationwide just between 2016 and 2018….The last time Brian Kemp faced Stacey Abrams for governor of Georgia, for example, he purged 107,000 people off the voting rolls just prior to the election, all of them registered voters who failed to return a caging card….He “won” by 50,000 votes…” Democrats will have their hands full in the midterms, trying to stop Republican election deniers from stealing votes in the counting process. But ‘caging’ is clearly still a major Republican tactic for suppressing black votes. Democratic attorneys will be spread thin during the election week. Lawyers who want to help monitor and challenge GOP caging should check in with state and district Democratic parties.

“Republicans across the country have recently turned hard to public safety as they begin to shape their general election message,” David Siders writes at Politico. “On Tuesday, the final primary day of the year, Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chair, laid out the GOP’s view of the midterm as an election “about the economy and crime.”….Violent crime is up in many parts of the country. The issue polls well for the GOP. And in addition to motivating base Republicans — crime is the kind of red-meat issue that pairs well with border security for hard-liners — it’s something that may resonate with moderates in the suburbs, too….For those voters, it isn’t that Republicans expect crime to matter more than inflation or the economy in November. It likely won’t. But where crime could help the GOP is in countering another cultural issue that is hurting the party right now — the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade….Those suburbanites Republicans are losing on abortion? Put crime on their minds and you have something political professionals call “permission” to vote the other way — elevating an issue other than abortion policy to be afraid of, with a different conclusion about which party to support….Still, as CCTV footage of crimes in progress and video of fearful children and their parents start hitting TV sets in shadowy ads this fall, there are likely limits to how effective the onslaught will be….Donald Trump employed tough-on-crime rhetoric in his own campaign in 2020. But even amid protests following the police murder of George Floyd, crime and safety ranked as the top issue for just 11 percent of the electorate, according to exit polls….“I don’t know if it’s going to have a huge, national wave of folks voting Republican because of their stance on crime,” said Douglas Wilson, a longtime Democratic strategist in North Carolina. “But I think district by district, they may be able to peel off some voters.”….Democrats may also be less vulnerable on crime than in 2020, as many in the party have distanced themselves from the unpopularity of the “Defund the Police” movement….President Joe Biden, among other Democrats, has called explicitly for the government to “fund the police.” Outside groups are spending to prop up incumbent House members’ credentials on crime. And Democrats have a record to point to on police funding, including in last year’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package.”

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