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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The American Prospect, Robert Kuttner ponders a question of much current interest, “Could Democrats Really Elect a Moderate Republican Speaker?: It’s a long shot, but not out of the question.” As Kuttner writes, “Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy, who hopes to become Speaker, is in a real pickle. His majority in the House will be just four or five. The far-right members of his caucus are pushing him to a point where moderates won’t vote for him. But conversely, if he fails to meet MAGA demands, he will lose the voters of the hard right. It’s hard to see how he gets to 218 votes….Here is the choreography. On January 3, the Republican House caucus will meet and cast ballots for a Speaker-designate. If they agree, the full House will then vote for Speaker, and the Republican majority will prevail. But if they deadlock, Republican moderates could try to seek a deal with Democrats….Then it gets really complicated. Is this a deal just to elect a moderate Republican Speaker? Or is it a genuine bipartisan, anti-MAGA governing caucus?…What would Democrats demand? No far-right Republicans as committee chairs and no committee fishing expeditions? Some Democrats as committee chairs?…And how would the far-right Republicans, who make up a majority of the Republican caucus, react? They would likely be livid, and could well kick the faithless moderates out of their caucus, which would make an anti-MAGA House bipartisan governing majority a reality.”

Nathaniel Rakich notes at FiveThirtyEight that “One of the most important numbers in American politics this year is 140 million. That’s the number of Americans who live in a state where Democrats will have total control over state government after the 2022 midterm elections. By contrast, only 137 million live in a state where Republicans will control state government…Democrats did better in state-level elections across the board in 2022. They flipped three governors’ offices: Arizona, Maryland and Massachusetts. Republicans flipped only one: Nevada. Democrats also took control of four state-legislative chambers, and they will share power in the Alaska Senate, too, thanks to a coalition with some moderate Republicans. Meanwhile, Republicans didn’t flip a single state-legislative chamber….Overall, Democrats took full control of state government in three new states: Michigan, Minnesota and Vermont, where they won enough seats in the state legislature to override the Republican governor’s vetoes. That means Democrats will control all the levers of policymaking in 18 states — including big ones like California and New York. Meanwhile, Republicans will enjoy full control of government in 24 states — but they’re mostly on the smaller end population-wise….Democrats’ new strength on the state level could lead to a flurry of new liberal policies. Democrats in Michigan and Minnesota are already talking about repealing anti-union laws, legalizing marijuana and passing paid family leave….any big legislation passed in the next two years is probably going to come from the states.”

Nicole Narea explains “How Democrats mostly neutralized Republican attacks on crime in the midterms: Crime was expected to be a defining issue of the midterms. Here’s what actually happened” at Vox: “It’s difficult to disentangle just how much influence Republicans’ arguments on crime actually had in the midterms, and the effect wasn’t uniform across the US. Democrats in New York appear to have suffered acute repercussions. But in many competitive races from where Republicans flooded the airwaves with their crime messaging, like in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, it appears that the media was too hasty to believe that crime was a major deciding issue. In other contests, especially some of the country’s hardest-fought attorneys general races, Democrats were able to diffuse the issue — even, at times, turning it to their advantage….Polling suggested that a majority of Americans were worried about crime ahead of Election Day. And it’s true that the national murder rate remains up over pre-pandemic levels….The state of violent crime overall is less clear due to changes in how that data is reported starting in 2021….As the Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg has previously pointed out, it’s hard to parse issue polling. Voters may say that they care a lot about a whole range of issues, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that any one of them will impact their decision to vote for a particular candidate or party or to vote at all….The candidates who were successful in fending off Republican attacks were those who had an affirmative argument for why voters should trust Democrats on crime. That’s exactly what the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee advised their candidates to develop in a memo sent around in March. And it’s an approach that’s been poll-tested by Democratic consultancy groups Change Research and HIT Strategies, which found that voters responded best to messaging on the solutions rather than laying blame at the feet of police….Some Democrats have also pointed to the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol and Republicans’ lack of support for gun control measures as evidence of their hypocrisy when it comes to law enforcement.”

From the conclusion. of “The Challenges of Leading in a Historically Divided Congress” by Charlie Cook at The Cook Political Report: “With the country so narrowly divided, even slight changes in support can tip races for the House, the Senate, and the presidency in a way that’s rarely happened before….Unless House Republicans reach outside of the chamber to elect a speaker and go with someone who has already held the top post before, anyone besides McCarthy would be a complete rookie at that level. Let’s just say that for the next two years, the House is more likely to look like a train wreck than a well-oiled and highly functioning machine….Because Republican bills will likely hit a brick wall in the form of President Biden in the White House and a Chuck Schumer-led Democratic Senate, look for the House to use its oversight and subpoena powers to conduct opposition research on Biden, his family, and his administration. Harassment will be the order of the day, the better to make life as miserable for Biden and Senate Democrats as possible and maximize the GOP’s chances of having a better 2024 than they had in 2020 and 2022….On the Democratic side, expectations will remain low for incoming House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, not the worst circumstances for on-the-job training. For Schumer, though, this is the time when he has to not only step up and assume Democrats’ alpha-dog leadership role that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has occupied for the better part of 20 years, but also defend the majority with a 2024 map that is very ugly. Democrats must defend 23 seats to just 10 for Republicans. Seven Democratic seats are up in states that Donald Trump carried at least once (three that he won twice), while no Republicans are up in states that either Biden or Hillary Clinton carried. Pushing through as many Senate nominations as possible, along with must-pass legislation, will be all that most anyone can expect.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    “140 million. That’s the number of Americans who live in a state where Democrats will have total control over state government after the 2022 midterm elections.”

    Democrats achievements at the state level are so slow. The party needs to invest in legislative exchange like the right does.

    If Blue states moved more in lockstep then right wing attacks about loss of economic competitiveness could be dealt with more effectively.


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