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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “Georgia’s Runoff is the Opening Battle of the 2024 Senate Cycle” Kyle Kondik writes at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “In a 50-50 Senate, the parties have equal representation on committees, based on a power-sharing agreement that the 2 parties reached early in the current Congress. An extra seat for Democrats would render such an agreement unnecessary and would give Democrats the advantage on committees. It also would make it easier for Democrats to confirm judicial nominees if they had an actual majority, because there are logistical challenges the party must surmount in a 50-50 Senate that would not exist in a 51-49 Senate. A big part of modern Senate majorities is simply keeping the judicial confirmation conveyor belt running at full speed: An extra Democratic senator would improve efficiency in that regard….A 51-seat Senate majority would also allow Senate Democrats to occasionally bypass their few members who are not always team players, most notably Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). However, this is probably less important in the new Congress as opposed to the current one because the likely Republican takeover of the House means that the GOP will have a seat at the governing table — meaning that the kind of legislation Democrats would want to try to get through the Senate is not likely to pass the House anyway. There is also the filibuster, but eliminating it next year would not make any sense because Republicans control the House — even if Democrats had the votes to do so in a 51-49 Senate, which they likely would not….One other thing: A 50-50 Democratic Senate majority means that they are but one death or resignation away from losing the majority. A 51-49 edge gives the party a buffer on that as well….But the more important buffer, for Democrats, is electoral….In saving at least the tiniest of Senate majorities, Democrats completed the first step of a tricky 2-cycle challenge. It very well may not be enough to save them from eventually losing the Senate next cycle, but it does give them another 2 years of control and at least a fighting chance in 2024. But that fighting chance may be predicated on what happens on Dec. 6, when Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and former NFL star Herschel Walker (R) face off for a second time. This is a race we leaned to the Republicans prior to Election Day, but we are now characterizing it as a Toss-up.”

Kondik also provides a map that, gulp, shows which states have Democratic senate seats up in the 2024 election:

At The American Prospect, Harold Meyerson explains “Why Inflation Didn’t Wipe Out the Democrats.” As Meyerson writes, “It becomes clear when we examine two questions buried deep in the AP VoteCast exit poll. In the first, voters were asked how confident they were that they could find a good job if they needed to. In response, 65 percent answered they were very or somewhat confident, while just 35 percent said they were not too or not at all confident….Voters were also asked “how confident are you that you can keep up with your expenses?” To this, 67 percent said they were very or somewhat confident, while just 33 percent said not very or not at all confident….Inflation was clearly a problem, then, but for most voters, a manageable one. Even more important, these questions don’t reveal a level of economic anxiety that can turn an election when there are other pressing issues in play….But how is it that voters felt so confident about getting a good job and keeping up with their expenses? The answer, I suggest, is that the very same economic policies for which Biden has been raked over the coals for causing inflation also created a robust economic recovery in which jobs are plentiful and incomes are rising. The very same $1.9 trillion bill to offset the pandemic downturns—the bill on which every Republican on the Hill voted no; the bill that Larry Summers et al. predicted would have inflationary impacts—also created an economy in which jobs and incomes were, and still are, growing. And they still may, unless the Fed slams on the brakes so hard that growth turns negative….This isn’t to say that the bill wasn’t inflationary. It is to say that it also gave a boost to the economy—and to middle- and working-class Americans who were the intended beneficiaries of that boost—on a scale large enough to enable those Americans to feel confident about getting a good job and weathering the rising prices….Dare we say that the much-maligned Bidenomics actually worked? I think we dare.”

The blogosphere is not yet brimming with ideas for Democratic strategy in light of the Republicans taking over the speakership and House committees when congress reconvenes. But at FiveThirtyEight, Nathaniel Rakich shares some insights about the challenges facing Democrats: “So how should we assess the House results for Republicans? On the one hand, Republicans took control of the chamber and ended Democrats’ ability to pass legislation without GOP approval. That’s a big deal! On the other hand, though, Republicans have to be pretty disappointed with their showing. They will likely gain around eight seats, which is relatively low by historical standards. Since the end of World War II, the president’s party has lost an average of 26 House seats in midterm elections.2 Of course, Republicans had an unexpectedly good 2020 election in the House, so they were starting from a higher baseline (you can’t flip a seat that you already control). But even their raw seat total is underwhelming by the standards of recent midterms. Republicans controlled 242 seats after the 2010 midterms and 247 after 2014; Democrats held 233 after the 2006 midterms and 235 after 2018….More importantly, it will likely be a difficult feat for House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to muster up 218 votes to pass anything — or even be elected speaker. While a GOP House would mostly be playing defense (killing Democratic bills, conducting investigations into the Biden administration) rather than offense (passing its own bills), it would still need to pass bipartisan legislation like the budget. And conservative hardliners made it difficult for Republicans to govern even when they had wider majorities in 2015-2016 and 2017-2018. So we could be in for a chaotic two years in the south wing of the Capitol and look back at the 2022 elections as a Republican victory in name only.”


One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    Income is not growing, in any real sense. Income after inflation is falling, which is why credit card debt has increased faster than any time in the last fifteen years.


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