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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At Maddowblog, Steve Benen writes “If the Senate race comes down to which candidate can deliver a more polished debate performance, then Oz and the GOP have reason to be optimistic….But as the dust settled on last night’s event, there was something entirely different that put a spring in Democrats’ step. As NBC News’ report noted, it was Oz’s line on abortion rights that “immediately raised eyebrows.”“I don’t want the federal government involved with that at all,” Oz said. “I want women, doctors, local political leaders letting the democracy that’s always allowed our nation to thrive to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves.”….If Oz had simply said the matter would be left to women and doctors, that would’ve been a perfectly fine response. But the Republican instead said that he wants “local political leaders” involved in reproductive decision-making — which was the break Democrats were hoping for….Our campaign will be putting money behind making sure as many women as possible hear Dr. Oz’s radical belief that ‘local political leaders’ should have as much say over a woman’s abortion decisions as women themselves and their doctors,” Fetterman spokesperson Joe Calvello said in a statement. “After months of trying to hide his extreme abortion position, Oz let it slip on the debate stage on Tuesday. Oz belongs nowhere near the U.S. Senate, and suburban voters across Pennsylvania will see just how out-of-touch Oz is on this issue….What’s more, as my MSNBC colleague Zeeshan Aleem noted, Oz also repeatedly dodged questions about whether he’d vote for Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposed 15-week abortion ban.”

Democratic campaigns looking for messaging tips should check out “The Red State Murder Problem” by Kylie Murdock and Jim Kessler at thirdway.org. Among their observations: “The US saw an alarming 30% increase in murder in 2020. While 2021 data is not yet complete, murder was on the rise again this past year.  Some “blue” cities, like Chicago, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, have seen real and persistent increases in homicides. These cities—along with others like Los Angeles, New York, and Minneapolis—are also in places with wall-to-wall media coverage and national media interest….But there is a large piece of the homicide story that is missing and calls into question the veracity of the right-wing obsession over homicides in Democratic cities: murder rates are far higher in Trump-voting red states than Biden-voting blue states. And sometimes, murder rates are highest in cities with Republican mayors….For example, Jacksonville, a city with a Republican mayor, had 128 more murders in 2020 than San Francisco, a city with a Democrat mayor, despite their comparable populations. In fact, the homicide rate in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco was half that of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s Bakersfield, a city with a Republican mayor that overwhelmingly voted for Trump. Yet there is barely a whisper, let alone an outcry, over the stunning levels of murders in these and other places….We found that murder rates are, on average, 40% higher in the 25 states Donald Trump won in the last presidential election compared to those that voted for Joe Biden. In addition, murder rates in many of these red states dwarf those in blue states like New York, California, and Massachusetts. And finally, many of the states with the worst murder rates—like Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas—are ones that few would describe as urban. Only 2 of America’s top 100 cities in population are located in these high murder rate states. And not a single one of the top 10 murder states registers in the top 15 for population density….Whether one does or does not blame Republican leaders for high murder rates, it seems that Republican officeholders do a better job of blaming Democrats for lethal crime than actually reducing lethal crime.” Read the entire article for even more useful data.

Nicole Narea argues at Vox that Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas Beto O’Rourke has yet to make the sale to his state’s suburban women in order to win the election: “Beto O’Rourke came closer to turning Texas blue during his 2018 run for Senate than any Democrat has in decades, losing by under 3 percentage points. To win his campaign for governor against incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this year, he’s looking to again drive up massive Democratic turnout, particularly among women in the state’s rapidly growing suburbs….“We’ve always known … that if the same people vote in this election as are voting in every other election, we’re likely to lose,” O’Rourke told reporters at a rally here Saturday, just after several highly rated polls found him in striking distance of Abbott…..Though the notion that suburban women are persuadable is nothing new in American politics, O’Rourke, a singularly popular figure among Texas Democrats since 2017, might be the first member of his party capable of competing for them in the state….And he has a carefully crafted pitch to suburban women that includes hammering Abbott for rising property taxes, for failing to fix the state’s power grid, and for not addressing gun violence in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting. He’s campaigning on expanding Medicaid, legalizing marijuana, and investing in public schools, while highlighting the threat to democracy and voting rights posed by Republicans. But if there’s any one issue he’s counting on, it’s outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Texas’s enactment of what he called the “most extreme abortion ban on the books in America….In the suburbs, as was the case in 2018 and remains true in other parts of the country, women are a key demographic: they typically vote for Democrats at higher rates than suburban men. Overall, women also backed O’Rourke by a 9-point margin in 2018….An October Marist poll suggested O’Rourke was having some success with them: Registered suburban voters preferred him over Abbott, 50 to 44 percent. It also showed him with a 2 percentage point advantage among women (and a bigger advantage among those under the age of 45.) Recent internal polling by the Abbott campaign also reportedly showed the governor down in critical suburban areas outside Dallas and Houston….Two October polls have O’Rourke within their margins of error.” Narea goes on to share her insights about dozens of interviews she conducted with Texas voters.

Kara Voght writes in Rolling Stone that today Senator Bernie Sanders “will hit the campaign trail to make his closing midterm pitch. He’ll go to states like Wisconsin, Nevada, and Pennsylvania — “to places where we think we could have the most impact,” he says. He’ll go to congressional districts where his party has given up, like South Texas. He’ll campaign on behalf of Senatecandidates who aren’t planning to appear alongside him….He’s going because, in the eyes of the 81-year-old progressive senator, his party is blowing its chance at midterms success. Democrats are letting Republicans win the messaging war on the economy — even though, as far as Sanders can tell, the GOP’s only plan is to cut popular social programs. “The Democrats have not been strong enough in making that point — and we’ve got to make it,” he says….So Sanders is taking it upon himself as he embarks on an eight-state tour on Thursday. He’ll make 17 stops in total, primarily in liberal strongholds, such as Madison, Wisconsin, and Austin, Texas, where his most loyal supporters live. He’ll also go where he outperformed President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential primary — particularly among working class voters in cities such as Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. Sanders will hold an event on behalf of Michelle Vallejo, a progressive House candidate locked in a dead heat in a southern Texas district. National Democrats have abandoned Vallejo’s campaign in its final weeks as their financial resources dwindled, but Sanders, who won in the district in the 2020 primary, thinks that’s a mistake: “Why would you turn your back on a solidly working-class group of people, the Latino community in South Texas?….“The theme that I am going to be bringing forth and making as strongly as I can, is that if you have concerns about creating an economy that works for all people, and not just billionaires, you cannot vote for Republicans,” Sanders tells me from his home in Burlington, Vermont, on Tuesday afternoon. “That it is insane.” For the time-challenged, USA TODAY has a graphics-rich update probing “Who will control Congress after the 2022 midterms?” featuring the latest Real Clear Politics poll results. The post spotlights the closest 8 senate races, 8 of the 35 House of Reps ‘toss-ups’ and 10 governor’s races.

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