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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his New York Times column, “‘There Are Two Americas Now: One With a B.A. and One Without’,” Thomas B. Edsall writes, “I asked [M.I.T. economist David] Autor for his thoughts on the implications of these developments for the Trump electorate. He replied by email:

Many among the majority of American workers who do not have a four-year college degree feel, justifiably, that the last three decades of rapid globalization and automation have made their jobs more precarious, scarcer, less prestigious, and lower paid. Neither party has been successful in restoring the economic security and standing of non-college workers (and yes, especially non-college white males). The roots of these economic grievances are authentic, so I don’t think these voters should be denigrated for seeking a change in policy direction. That said, I don’t think the Trump/MAGA brand has much in the way of substantive policy to address these issues, and I believe that Democrats do far more to protect and improve economic prospects for blue-collar workers.

There is some evidence that partisanship correlates with mortality rates….In their June 2022 paper, “The Association Between Covid-19 Mortality and the County-Level Partisan Divide in the United States,” Neil Jay Sehgal, Dahai Yue, Elle Pope, Ren Hao Wang and Dylan H. Roby, public health experts at the University of Maryland, found in their study of county-level Covid-19 mortality data from Jan. 1, 2020, to Oct. 31, 2021, that “majority Republican counties experienced 72.9 additional deaths per 100,000 people.”….The authors cites studies showing that “counties with a greater proportion of Trump voters were less likely to search for information about Covid-19 and engage in physical distancing despite state-level mandates. Differences in Covid-19 mortality grew during the pandemic to create substantial variation in death rates in counties with higher levels of Trump support.”….Sehgal and his colleagues conclude from their analysis that “voting behavior acts as a proxy for compliance with and support for public health measures, vaccine uptake, and the likelihood of engaging in riskier behaviors (for example, unmasked social events and in-person dining) that could affect disease spread and mortality.”

Edsall continues, “In addition, the authors write:

Local leaders may be hesitant to implement evidence-based policies to combat the pandemic because of pressure or oversight from state or local elected officials or constituents in more conservative areas. Even if they did institute protective policies, they may face challenges with compliance because of pressure from conservative constituents.

For the past two decades, white working-class Americans have faced a series of economic dislocations similar to those that had a devastating impact on Black neighborhoods starting in the 1960s, as the Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson described them in his 1987 book, “The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy.”….How easy would it be to apply Wilson’s description of “extraordinary rates of black joblessness,” disordered lives, family breakdown and substance abuse to the emergence of similar patterns of disorder in white exurban America? How easy to transpose Black with white or inner city and urban with rural and small town?….It is very likely, as Anne Case wrote in her email, that the United States is fast approaching a point where

Education divides everything, including connection to the labor market, marriage, connection to institutions (like organized religion), physical and mental health, and mortality. It does so for whites, Blacks and Hispanics. There has been a profound (not yet complete) convergence in life expectancy by education. There are two Americas now: one with a B.A. and one without.

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. addresses an important question, “Can blue-collar Pennsylvania help save the Democratic House?,” and writes: “Control of the House of Representatives might be determined this November not by the issues of abortion, democracy or inflation, but by cement and methane….Okay, I exaggerate a bit, but two of the most tightly contested House races in the country are a reminder that the 10,000-feet view of the 2022 election can easily miss what is happening on the ground — in places such as Allentown and Bethlehem, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, all venerable Pennsylvania factory towns….The first two are in Democratic Rep. Susan Wild’s district, the others part of Democratic Rep. Matthew Cartwright’s. Wild’s constituents just barely voted for Joe Biden in 2020, while Cartwright’s backed President Donald Trump by four percentage points….In a Republican wave election, Wild and Cartwright would likely be among the first casualties. But both of them now have a fighting chance. This gives Democrats a margin of hope in their uphill climb to hold the House — and brings us to cement and methane….“This is a manufacturing district to its core,” Wild told me. “It started with Bethlehem Steel and Mack Trucks. … We have just got amazing, cutting-edge manufacturers here in the district that provide not only great paying jobs, but they are producing products that are used all over the country and all over the world.”….One of those products, she said, makes the bipartisan infrastructure bill Congress enacted “huge” in her area, “home to one of the largest cement industries in the United States.”….Wild, in a rematch with Republican businesswoman Lisa Scheller, also touts the Chips and Science Act as “one of the best things that happened to my district” because of its growing semiconductor industry.” Dionne reports that Cartwright is running ads highlighting “a bill he supported in the House that would allow the Federal Trade Commission to “go after the big oil companies that are gouging people” and “his support for a new plant being built in his district by Texas-based Nacero Inc. that would “turn local shale gas into regular car gas.” Dionne explains, further, “The Wild and Cartwright races matter not only to the Democrats’ majority, but also as indicators of the party’s ability to hold on in White, working-class areas where Trump increased Republican support.”….For Democrats such as Wild and Cartwright in 50/50 districts, the challenge is to be just distant enough from their party (Wild’s ads tout her as “moderate and bipartisan”) while also warning of the danger of a Republican victory…..Cartwright’s solution is to separate Republican voters from their leaders. “There’s a big difference between local people down on their luck choosing to vote Republican in an election or two,” he said, “and the Republican politicians down inside the beltway. They have no good plans. They have no answers.”….If Cartwright and Wild hang on to their seats — and especially if the Democrats beat the odds and hang on to their House majority — that will a major reason.”

Nicole Narea reports on “The states where the midterms will directly decide the future of abortion access: Republicans are laying a path to gut abortion rights after Election Day” at Vox. As Narea writes, “Ballot initiatives in three states could determine abortion access for millions of women and what kind of reproductive health care is available to them. Abortion has also become a key issue in races for governor and state attorneys general, who have direct control over their states’ abortion laws and how they are enforced….Democratic candidates for governor want to gain or retain veto power over Republican-controlled state legislatures that want to curb abortion rights. Elsewhere, Republicans want to use governorships to chart a path to further curb access to the procedure. And Democratic attorney general candidates have vowed not to enforce their states’ anti-abortion laws and protect access, while their Republican opponents want to see maximum enforcement….Here, we take a look at the eight states where abortion rights are most imminently at risk. This includes both deep red states and states with split political control where Republican candidates have articulated a desire to further restrict abortion, in several cases without any exceptions….Depending on the outcome of November’s elections, the outlook for abortion access in these states could be grim, limiting residents’ options and further stressing the resources of neighboring states where abortion remains legal.” Narea then takes an in-depth look at each of the states with ballot initiatives and those “Where abortion is at stake up and down the ballot.”

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