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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

The worst part about the McCarthy meltdown is that the Republican dissenters causing it are even worse than him. Many are wondering why the Democrats can’t hook up with a half-dozen or so Republican moderates to elect a more moderate Republican speaker. The answer is that it’s not so easy to find enough GOP moderates who have the gonads to to take such a stand. At The Week, Peter Weber notes, “Incoming House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who won a plurality of votes in all three rounds, said Republicans have not yet reached out to his caucus. And he didn’t sound overly eager to make a deal. “We are looking for a willing partner to solve problems for the American people, not save the Republicans from their dysfunction,” Jeffries said. “We need a partner in governance” and haven’t found one in McCarthy’s Republicans….Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) seemed a little more amenable. “Democrats are here, we’re not going anywhere, and if they want to play ball, we’re open to that,” she told MSNBC Tuesday night….”I do not believe that Kevin McCarthy has the votes, I believe that a lot of the opposition to him is very personal,” and if no Republican can get 218 votes, “McCarthy’s team may have to come to the Democratic Party,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And if that’s the case, then what would that even look like? It’s rather unprecedented. Could it result in a potential coalition government? Could we get Democratic chairs of committees as a result? We don’t know.” New York Times columnist Perry Bacon, Jr. argues that “Democrats should back a centrist Republican for speaker.” For most House Democrats, however, the prevailing attitude seems to be pass the popcorn and enjoy the demolition derby. No telling how it’s going to shake out.

Writing at The Hill, Mike Lillis also doubts that Democrats are going to get involved. “Democratic leaders said Wednesday that Republicans are on their own amid the conservative revolt that’s prevented Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — or anyone else — from becoming the next Speaker in the new Congress….“This is on them,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), the incoming chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said during a press briefing in the Capitol….Aguilar said he hasn’t been approached by any lawmakers about a search for a potential consensus candidate, nor have Democratic leaders presented that possibility to their rank-and-file members, who are united behind Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the incoming minority leader who got all 212 Democratic votes on Tuesday’s three ballots….With Republicans flailing in their effort to seat a new Speaker, outside centrist groups are agitating for lawmakers in both parties to unite behind a moderate figure — perhaps one outside of Congress — to fill the void. This week, former Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), a centrist who is popular on both sides of the aisle, said the idea that he might be that figure is “an intriguing suggestion that I have not rejected.”….Yet even those Democrats who have supported the idea of a consensus candidate don’t appear ready to jump on board. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who has been open to that strategy, is also downplaying that idea this week amid the Republicans’ struggles to seat a new Speaker….Yet even those Democrats who have supported the idea of a consensus candidate don’t appear ready to jump on board. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who has been open to that strategy, is also downplaying that idea this week amid the Republicans’ struggles to seat a new Speaker….“At the end of the day, this is a Republican mess,” he told CNN Tuesday night. “This is a failure of them to govern. This is their problem to fix.”

In “4 Things That Were Changed (Forever) By 2022” at Campaigns & Elections, Sean J. Miller writes, “There was a time when digital consultants felt it was, well, just a matter of time before they took their rightful place at the head of the campaign strategy table. Remember Brad Parscale’s appointment as campaign manager for President Trump’s reelect? Digital was going to be in charge. Since 2020, that inevitability has appeared far less certain. Sure, digital spending is still increasing — as platform companies’ stock prices are plummeting — but look at how much money went to broadcast in 2022: Pre-election projections had it hitting just under $5 billion , the biggest advertising category by far. And the reason for that is clear: it still works….“Broadcast television builds the most reach, quickly, and there’s nothing that comes close to it,” said Hadassa Gerber, chief research officer at TVB, a trade association representing America’s local broadcast television industry….Gerber’s group recently released a study  that had 41 percent of voters saying broadcast TV was motivating them to get out and vote. Cable TV was second at 27 percent, followed by social media at 24 percent….“People just write off that television can’t reach young adults (18-34 year olds), but 78 percent [of those voters] saw an ad on TV for a candidate or ballot issue,” Gerber told C&E. “They also trust it.”….She added: “Are they [campaigns] using the other platforms? Yeah they are. But nothing has the reach of television.”

I know. I too hate to see Mitch McConnell get credit for anything good. After all, the senate minority leader served as Trump’s most important enabler for years. He could have checked Trump’s worst proclivities numerous times. He could have been a force for moderation, or at least sane conservatism. He could have raised some hell about January 6. He betrayed long-standing bipartisan consensus on procedural traditions to pack the Supreme Court into a reactionary majority. His list of coulda shouldas and crimes against human decency is too long to document here. But all of that was then, and this is now. So when Mitch and Biden do a joint appearance to claim credit for an infrastructure upgrade, it’s sigh and smh time. As , and Biden and McConnell show off their bipartisan bonafides in KentuckyA rare scene unfolded Wednesday in Covington, Kentucky: President Joe Biden stood alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as the two men promoted a major bipartisan legislative accomplishment they achieved together….The president’s visit to McConnell’s home state to herald the implementation of the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that McConnell and 18 other Senate Republicans voted for, and that Biden signed into law in 2021, marked his first domestic trip of the new year. The trip was aimed at sending an unmistakable message as Biden kicks off the second half of his first term: Even in a newly divided Congress, the Biden White House still sees room for bipartisanship….Biden thanked McConnell for working across the aisle on the law….“It wouldn’t have happened without your hand. It just wouldn’t have gotten done and I want to thank you for that,” Biden said to McConnell during his remarks….He added that while he and McConnell don’t agree on a lot, the Kentucky Republican is someone you can trust….“He’s a man of his word. When he gives you his word, you can take it to the bank, you can count on it, and he’s willing to find common ground to get things done for the country. So thank you, Mitch. Thank you,” Biden said.” Wince. But Democrats have to be about the future, if they want to build an electoral coalition that actually gets things done. Sure, Biden could be playing Charlie Brown to Mitch’s Lucy holding the ball. But Democrats are stuck. If they want to be perceived as the grownups going forward, they have to give the leader of their party and the nation enough room to be viewed as a force for bipartisanship.

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