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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

If Democratic GOTV pros need another reason to pour it on during the next couple of weeks, Jennifer Agiesta has some data at CNN Politics which might help energize voter mobilization. As Agiesta writes, “Americans are closely divided over which party’s candidate they would support in their congressional districts, with preferences in competitive districts tilting toward Republicans, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS….Among likely voters nationwide, the race is a tight split, with 50% backing the Democratic candidate and 47% behind the Republican. But in competitive congressional districts, Democratic support among likely voters dips and preferences tilt toward the Republicans: 48% of likely voters in that group prefer the Republican candidate, 43% the Democrat….Voters are narrowly more likely to say that Republican candidates near them have a clear plan for solving the country’s problems (32%) than they are to say the same about Democratic candidates (28%). In a notable party divide…Asked which party’s candidates running for Congress in the area where they live have the right priorities, registered voters are again split (40% Republicans, 39% Democrats), even as they narrowly give Democratic candidates an advantage as more likely to agree with them on the most important issues (43% to 39%)….Republican registered voters nationwide and in competitive congressional districts are a bit more likely to say they are deeply motivated to vote than are Democratic registered voters (52% extremely motivated among Republicans nationally, 46% among Democrats; in competitive districts, it’s 55% among Republicans vs. 45% among Democrats) ….Democratic candidates do hold some advantages, though. Registered voters nationwide are more likely to see local Democratic candidates than their Republican rivals as caring about people like them (40% to 34%), working to protect democracy (43% to 36%), and uniting the country rather than dividing it (37% to 31%). And voters are more likely to see Republican candidates as too extreme (40%) than Democratic ones (36%)….In competitive congressional districts, the economy and inflation take on added importance. While 59% of registered voters nationally call the economy extremely important to their vote, that rises to 67% in those districts, and the share calling inflation that important rises from 56% to 64%.”

Apparently, it has never occurred to Republican leaders that their party is quite vulnerable when trying to stereotype Democrats as “soft on crime. ” At salon.com, however, Amanda Marcotte has messaging points Democratic candidates and campaigns might be able to use when GOP candidates try to exploit the issue. As Marcotte writes, “For decades, Republican messaging on crime has not really been about crime; rather, it’s been used as a convenient cover for tickling racial anxieties in white voters. That’s why candidates campaign on “crime” even when crime rates are low or dropping, as they have been in the past year as the U.S. emerges from the pandemic, and why the single best policy move that could affect the murder rate — expanding gun restrictions — gets ignored because those laws would affect white gun owners too. It’s why GOP advertising paints violent crime as a problem in blue states, even though it’s actually worse in red states. It’s why Republican concerns over “crime” don’t appear to extend to prosecuting the January 6 insurrectionists. And it’s why many Republicans continue to support Donald Trump, who is gearing up to be the 2024 nominee despite his wide-ranging legal problems, which include allegations of tax fraudelection interferenceand stealing classified documents.” There is also the disgraceful GOP policy of refusing to accept election certification laws, even when validated by Republican-appointed judges. Democratic campaigns should hit back fast and hard, when Republicans roll out the “soft-on-crime” smear. Don’t defend; Attack. Dems have plenty of ammunition to use in debates and soundbites.

In “How Bruce Springsteen’s musical legacy can guide Democratic campaign strategy,” John Kapcar writes at The Michigan Daily: “Springsteen gained notoriety because so many working-class Americans identified with the messages in his music. To be successful in the midterms, Democrats will need to do the same on the campaign trail….Fetterman leads Oz by more than three and a half points, largely because Fetterman uses every messaging mistake Oz makes as a chance to showcase his own authenticity. Fetterman has done this by taking advantage of Oz’s phoniness. His campaign pounced when Oz claimed to own only two houses (he has ten) and responded swiftly when the Oz campaign made fun of Fetterman for having a stroke, using the opportunity to talk about the health care struggles many other Americans face….Fetterman has used Oz’s gaffes to enhance his own credibility with voters, while speaking on the issues that Pennsylvania voters are passionate about. Just as Springsteen did in “Streets of Philadelphia,” Fetterman proves it’s possible to take controversial opinions without alienating moderate bases if the candidate is authentic in their beliefs….This isn’t to say that every Democrat needs to sport Fetterman’s fashionably-questionable cargo shorts to win elections. Democrats can also be successful by following Springsteen’s second lesson: focusing on jobs and manufacturing. …In his song “Youngstown,” Springsteen chronicles the bleak, industrial history of the eponymous Ohio rust belt city. From Youngstown’s origins of building cannonballs for Union armies to its near collapse amid the loss of blue-collar jobs, Springsteen describes the despair many of the town’s inhabitants have fallen into. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, is following that songbook by focusing on the loss of manufacturing jobs in the same area….The upcoming elections are critically important to the nation’s future, and the outcome will have rippling effects in the years to come. But motivating voters to turn out will only work if Democrats have optimism and hope.”

“Sometimes, the quiet voices end up ringing the loudest,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column. “Cheri Beasley, the first Black woman to serve as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, has gone about the business of running for U.S. Senate without clamor….While news media and party committees obsess over Senate races in, say, Georgia (for obvious reasons) and Pennsylvania, the 56-year old Democrat has turned the battle here into one of the closest in the country….So in November, the nation might find control of the Senate hangs on whether Beasley’s, well, judicious but systematic campaign pushed her past Rep. Ted Budd, the former president Donald Trump favorite nominated by the Republicans. A poll released this month by WRAL News in Raleigh, N.C., found Beasley just one point behind Budd….The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade has further moved expectations in favor of both Beasley and Democratic state legislative candidates. State Rep. Rachel Hunt, a Democrat who is seeking a North Carolina Senate seat, said that while Democrats feared earlier this year that they might lose seats, they were now “cautiously optimistic.” The abortion issue was arousing participation, she said, particularly among younger voters “who never thought their constitutional rights would be taken away.”…Budd clearly knows he is vulnerable on the question. He struggled during last week’s debate to insist that while he had “always been pro-life,” he had also “always been about protecting the life of the mother,” something that’s not clear from his past statements. Beasley hit back hard. “The bottom line is Congressman Budd wants to be in between a woman and her doctor,” she said. “There is no place in the exam room for Congressman Budd….When I asked Beasley how her background as a judge might affect her work as a senator, she was quick to draw another contrast. “Respect for the rule of law really ought to matter as policymakers are making decisions about people’s everyday lives,” she said.” Beaseley’s campaign could use more financial support to be competitive in the closing weeks. Here is her ActBlue page for those who want to help.

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