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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his New York Times opinion article, “Trump Was a Gift That Might Not Keep Giving,” Thomas B. Edsall writes, “The 2022 midterm election revealed dangerous cracks in the Democratic coalition, despite the fact that the party held the Senate and kept House losses to a minimum….Turnout fell in a number of key Democratic cities. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the city’s “vote count dropped 33 percent from 2020, more than any other county and the statewide average of 22 percent. It’s not just a 2020 comparison: This year saw a stark divergence between Philly turnout and the rest of the state compared to every federal election since at least 2000.”…The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners reported that turnout of registered voters in 2022 was 46.1 percent, down from 60.67 percent in the previous 2018 midterm….According to the Board of Elections in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, turnout fell from 54.5 percent in 2018 to 46.1 percent in 2022….The Gotham Gazette reported that from 2018 to 2022, turnout fell from 41 to 33 percent in New York City.”

Edsall continues, “Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist, made a similar case by email. “Swing voters in swing states and districts didn’t marry the Democrats; they just dumped the Republicans,” he wrote. “In the post-Dobbs environment, extremism is not a theoretical concern anymore. The two most valuable players of this cycle for the Democrats are Sam Alito and Donald Trump. Democrats should send them each a fruit basket.”….“I cannot think of a worse way for the House G.O.P. to introduce themselves as a governing party than braying about investigations into Hunter Biden and Anthony Fauci,” Begala argued. “Their candidates won by promising action on inflation, crime and borders.”….To counter the House Republican agenda, Begala wrote,Biden needs to say, “They’re obsessed with my family’s past; I’m obsessed with your family’s future.” At every hearing in which the Republicans are tormenting Hunter Biden or Dr. Fauci, I would have Democratic members ask, “How will this hearing lower the price of gas at the pump? How will it reduce crime? How will it secure the border?”

Edsall adds, “Should Democrats repeat a tactic used successfully this year to lift the chances that Republicans nominate their weakest general election candidate?…Both Begala and Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, stood firmly opposed. “We should leave this to Republicans to nominate their own Trump,” Lake said by email….Begala gave three reasons for his opposition. First, “it undermines President Biden’s powerful message that Trump leads a mega-MAGA fanatical fringe that is a clear and present danger to our democracy.” Second, “Trump is still a massive, major force in American politics — especially in the Republican Party. I don’t want Trump anywhere near the White House.” Third, “while I respect the political success of governors like DeSantis, Youngkin, Hogan and Christie, if the Democrats can’t beat them, we don’t deserve the White House.” Begala’s first point resonates — Dems can’t hang the fanatic label solely on Republicans if Dems are enabling it. In addition, unorthodox tactics work well with the element of surprise, which you can’t count on repeatedly. And, as the post below indicates, Dems don’t have a lot of extra cash laying around to squander in Republican primaries.

Puzzling questions persist in the wake of the 2022 midterm elections, including, “Why are Democrats so weak in Florida, and why is it getting worse?” As Ryan Best , Humera Lodhi and Geoffrey Skelley  observe at FiveThirty Eight, “In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won reelection by 19 points, while GOP Sen. Marco Rubio won by 16 points. Their performance in South Florida may have also helped Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Gimenez achieve the largest overperformances of any candidates in the House races we examined (although Diaz-Balart has long been a dynamo when it comes to easily winning elections).” Max Greenwood notes further at The Hill, “The scale of the Democratic wipeout in Florida is hard to understate. Tuesday’s elections saw Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R) win landslide victories and Republicans clinch supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature. For the first time since Reconstruction, no Democrat will hold statewide office in Florida….In 2008, when former President Obama carried Florida for the first time, there were about 700,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans. As of Sept. 30, 2022, there were roughly 300,000 more registered Republican voters than Democratic voters.” Florida State Democratic Party Chairman Mann Diaz “released a memo on Tuesday in which he called out national Democratic groups for spending so little in Florida this year — about $1.35 million in 2022 compared to nearly $59 million in 2018…DeSantis, a star among conservatives nationally and prospective Republican presidential candidate, drastically outraised Crist throughout the campaign, pulling in more than $200 million for his reelection bid. Crist, on the other hand, raised about $31 million.” In “How to Fix the Pathetic Florida Democratic Party,”  Hamilton Nolan writes at In These Times,, “Georgia has two Democratic senators. Do you think Georgia is naturally more liberal than Florida? It ain’t. The party needs to get its act together….Only 5.2% of Florida workers were union members in 2021. That has to change….Labor and the environment: that is the coalition that the Florida Democratic Party should represent…No wonder potential Democratic voters in the state aren’t energized. For what? Give them a genuine vision…It means representing the people working at the gas station and the grocery store and the cafe. They need help, and Republicans aren’t helping them! “

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