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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At Mother Jones, Madison Pauly reports, “The Future of Abortion Is Up for Grabs in These States on Tuesday.” As Pauly writes, “California’s Proposition 1 and Vermont’s Proposal 5 would explicitly add abortion rights to their state constitutions—an additional safeguard where abortion access is already protected by law and insulated by left-leaning climates….Potentially more impactful is Ballot Proposal 3 in Michigan, where voters are considering a constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to “reproductive freedom.” The amendment would establish full abortion rights for all, at least until fetal viability, as well as the right to make and carry out one’s own decisions about contraception, sterilization, and miscarriage management. “More so than any other individual race or ballot referendum,” my colleague Abby Vesoulis reported, “the results of this measure in this particularly purple state will reveal the degree to which middle-America voters support strong abortion protections in practice rather than in the abstract.”….The amendment would stymie attempts to bring back a blocked 1931 abortion ban, and guard against future anti-abortion lawmaking by the Republican-controlled state legislature….Kentucky’s Amendment 2 would go in the other direction, clarifying there is no right to abortion anywhere in the state constitution. If passed, the amendment would help cement the state’s zero-week abortion ban, throwing a wrench into pro-choice activists’ plans to argue that their right to privacy in the state constitution implies the right to end a pregnancy….Two more states have initiatives that indirectly implicate reproductive rights. In Alaska, Ballot Measure 1 asks whether to call a state constitutional convention; if they do so, some lawmakers would see it as an opportunity to prohibit abortion, according to Alaska Public Media. Meanwhile, Montana’s Legislative Referendum 131 would impose strict criminal penalties on health care workers who don’t take “take medically appropriate and reasonable actions” to provide medical care to infants born alive at any stage of development. The measure reportedly resembles model legislation by the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life.” Pauly also notes Governor’s races in PA, KS, MI and WI and some state legislative elections that spotlight the threat to abortion rights. Here’s hoping abortion rights ballot measures have ‘coattails’ that benefit Democrats.

Some excerpts from an article Democrats ought to share with seniors. “If a Republican-controlled Congress comes for your Social Security benefits in the next few years, don’t say they didn’t warn you,” Brett Arends writes in “Yes, some Republican senators really are talking openly about Social Security cuts” at MarketWatch….”Sen. Mike Lee of Utah brings to a round dozen the number of sitting GOP senators who have said, quite openly, that they want to put Social Security on the chopping block one way or another….As Social Security benefits are looking at a 20% cut without new taxes, we may be talking about major changes to America’s retirement plan….Meanwhile, according to the latest numbers at Predictit.org, the online betting market, the Republicans are cruising toward control of the House after next week’s midterms and have a growing chance of also winning the Senate. Which means they would have the means and opportunity as well as the motive to start taking the pruning shears, or an ax, to America’s retirement plan….Lee this week refused to disavow or deny his past remarks that he wanted “to phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it.” He made those remarks in 2010, and an audio recording just resurfaced — and is appearing in a (video) attack ad in Utah, where Lee is up for re-election….Changes, he said, should include raising the age at which those who have paid into Social Security become eligible for benefits. That’s a cut in benefits for each future beneficiary, no matter what people call it….Lee is not alone in wanting changes to Social Security. Fellow Senate Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of his party’s ardent fans of anarcho-capitalist author Ayn Rand, is on record as wanting the program turned into “discretionary” federal spending….Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who as a privatesector businessman once oversaw the biggest fraud against Medicare in history, is on record as wanting to introduce an automatic five-year “sunset” on all federal programs, including Social Security and Medicare. “If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again,” Scott said….Meanwhile eight other GOP senators say they want to “rescue” America’s retirement program with unspecified, er, measures … to be decided upon behind closed doors….That proposal, put forward by Lee’s fellow Utah senator Mitt Romney, is also being championed by occasional Republican maverick Lindsey Graham, who earlier year spoke out for lower Social Security benefits for some to help “save” the program.”

Leave it to our most eloquent former President to put Fetterman’s stroke into a perspective that should resonate with PA voters. As President Obama explained in Pittsburgh on Saturday “John’s stroke did not change who he is, it didn’t change what he cares about, it didn’t change his values, his heart, his fight,” Obama said. “It doesn’t change who he will represent when he gets to the United States Senate. He’ll represent you,” Jared Gans reports at The Hill. “Obama said the choice facing Pennsylvanians in the Senate race should be simple,” Gans writes, “because they don’t want a leader “who is just looking out for himself,” but one who will “work hard for you.” He said Fetterman knows “what it’s like to get knocked down and then get back up….When you get knocked down, you know he’s going to be there to help you get back up.” Fetterman has done a few interviews since his debate, and by now most PA voters can see that he is lucid and getting better. “Obama said Fetterman has been fighting for people his entire life, having worked for AmeriCorps to teach GED classes for young parents and run for mayor of a small town to create jobs and reduce gun violence.” One day out, FiveThirtyEight calls the Fetterman-Oz race a “dead heat,” giving Fetterman 54 out of a hundred chances to win, compared to a 46 chances rating for Oz. At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik writes, “Honestly, we think a Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll released Tuesday showing the race deadlocked at 47% apiece is a pretty good approximation of where the race is now. The same pollster’s numbers from mid-September had Fetterman up 49%-44%.” The Real Clear Politics average has Oz up +0.1.

In “How Democrats Mishandled Crime,” Stanley B. Greenberg writes at The American Prospect: “In 2021, I created a multiracial and multigenerational team of pollsters funded by the American Federation of Teachers and the Center for Voter Information to look at how to raise Democratic support with all working-class voters. It included HIT Strategies and Equis Labs….They conducted the research in the African American, Hispanic, and Asian American communities. All of those communities pointed to the rising worry about crime. And they worried more about the rise in crime than the rise in police abuse. Yet Democrats throughout 2021 focused almost exclusively on the latter. Clearly, these communities wanted political leaders to address both….Despite Democrats’ seeming indifference to community safety, we found that Democrats in 2021 could make gains if they reassured voters on the police. Voters believed Democrats were for defunding the police, so messages that showed respect for the police and advocated for funding got heard. The message also included “urgent reforms, including better training and accountability to prevent excessive force and racial profiling.” And since the principal doubt was about the police, the message had to focus only on the police….This Democratic crime message was preferred to the Republicans’ by 8 points, and hearing it gave the Democrats another 2-point lift in their congressional vote margin….In a mid-October poll, I was able to test a crime message that got heard. It got heard because it dramatized more police, said Democrats heard our communities on violent crime, and also called out the small minority of Democrats who failed to address violent crime, and said, “Democrats in Congress are mainstream” and support our “first responders.”….To be honest, I didn’t want to open up this debate during the campaign when Democrats could do little to address it. That is why I am writing this article now, being published right before the election….Our effective crime message began with respect for police, but this time, the Democrat proposes to add 100,000 more police. That is a pretty dramatic offer that says, my crime plan begins with many more police. The message includes the same urgent reforms, but also adds, “those very communities want us to get behind law enforcement” and “fight violent crime as a top priority.”….This crime message defeats by 11 points a Republican crime message that hits Democrats for defunding the police, being with Biden who is soft on crime, and presiding over Democratic cities with record homicide rates. Democrats are in so much trouble on crime, yet this message wins dramatically in the base and competes with working-class targets….But the message gains even more support and shifts which party you trust better on crime when the Democrats call out the small minority in the House who supported defunding the police and voted against all efforts to fund law enforcement. This message had some of the strongest results in the survey, with the positive reaction outscoring the negative by 16 points….Whatever happens on Tuesday, Democrats should start by listening to the voters again and show that they know how to make communities safe, while raising the power and well-being of all working people.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Watcher on

    Since this site focuses so much on messaging, I have to say that Stanley Greensburg’s writing is vastly superior to anything that Ruy Teixeira was written in the past two years. I want to hear what the former has to say and I pretty much have shut out the latter.


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