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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The Hill, Brent Budowsky writes: “While most commentators, myself included, believe there is an upper limit to what Biden and congressional Democrats can accomplish legislatively, it is wrong to suggest that nothing important can be accomplished, for two reasons….First, there are somewhere between 10 and 30 House Republicans who could be part of negotiating success on some important issues that they believe in and which are important to their districts. …Second, it is already increasingly apparent that the growing image of hard-core House Republican obstructionism, including the super-hostile attempts to humiliate Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), are beginning to brand House Republicans in the eyes of voters as the kind of anti-voter obstructionists that led the GOP to electoral disaster in 2018, 2020 and 2022….One can envision significant bipartisan agreements in the Senate that 10 or more GOP House members would accept, such as on a broad immigration bill that would strengthen border protection, improve border security, provide relief for the “Dreamers” and more. Remember when everyone believed bipartisan infrastructure was impossible to pass?….It could be similarly possible to reach agreement on lowering prescription drug costs for a far wider group of patients than could be achieved last year, or to pass some version of the widely popular child tax credit and other measures to support working women.”

Li Zhou explains why “McCarthy’s speaker chaos could make Democrats more powerful” at Vox: “Rep. Kevin McCarthy has become speaker of the House, but only did so by offering offered a series of concessions that effectively mean his speakership will consistently be under threat from his own caucus….McCarthy’s agreement to weaken the role of the speaker is likely to lead to extreme gridlock within the ranks of the GOP. But it could also present an opening for Democrats. If far-right lawmakers in the GOP follow through on their promises to hold up pivotal spending and debt ceiling legislation, Republicans may well have to rely on Democrats’ help to get any bills across the finish line — a dynamic Democrats could capitalize on….“The deal is, if they want to get stuff done, they’re going to have to work with us,” says Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee. “And we’re not going to be a cheap date.”….Ultimately, House Republicans will need to get a majority to pass bills including an increase to the debt ceiling, spending legislation, the farm bill — which authorizes many Agriculture Department programs — and a defense bill that lays out funding for the military. Were conservative members to withhold their support for such policies, the GOP wouldn’t be able to pass the bills on their own. If they aren’t able to, they risk scenarios like the country defaulting on the national debt and causing an economic crisis, as well as a potentially interminable government shutdown….The best case for Democrats is that they’re able to slip a few of their priorities into must-pass legislation. But, as Scanlon alluded to, there’s a worst-case scenario as well: utter gridlock.”

“Democrats’ political success comes down to a pretty simple equation,’ Amy Walter writes at The Cook Political Report. “When those millions of “new voters” show up, Democrats can win. When they don’t, Democrats fall short….Using Catalist modeling, Podhorzer calculated the percent of the vote Democrats could expect from “regular voters” and from the “new Midterm voters” in each battleground state. …In every state but Michigan, regular voters—those who voted in 2014—are more GOP leaning. For example, in Arizona, just 46 percent of “regular voters” would vote Democratic, while in Florida it’s 43 percent. But, in every state except Texas, new Midterm voters are majority Democratic. In Nevada, for example (where regular voters are just 45 percent Democratic voting), a whopping 57 percent of new voters are modeled Democratic voters…. In other words, if only those who voted in 2014 showed up to vote last year in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, Democrats would likely have fallen short of winning in those states. But, with the addition of these new voters, Democrats were victorious….However, this also illustrates the challenge for Democrats to win once critical battleground states like Florida and Ohio, as well as the still-uphill fight to turn Texas blue. Florida, Ohio and Texas have the most GOP-leaning “regular voter” pool of the battleground states. Plus, in Ohio and Texas, the new Midterm voters are divided evenly between Democratic and Republican leaning. So, to win statewide in those two states, Democrats will need to not only drive up their new voters, but will have to hope that the GOP base voters stay home as well.”

The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuval writes, “Even while giving Republicans a narrow margin in the House of Representatives, voters elected a historic cohort of insurgent progressive newcomers, adding at least 11 new members to the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The CPC, which just reelected Washington Representative Pramila Jayapal as its leader, had numbered 101 members, making it the largest ideological caucus in the last Congress. It will grow in the new one, even after losing members to retirement (like Eddie Bernice Jackson of Texas), election to other offices (Karen Bass as Los Angeles mayor, Peter Welch as senator to Vermont), or election reversals (including, regrettably, one of the true champions of working people in Congress, Michigan’s Andy Levin, brought down by reapportionment and a multimillion-dollar dark money assault in the Democratic primary waged largely by AIPAC and Emily’s List)….What’s behind this new wave? Slowly, insurgents are turning blue districts progressive. That isn’t easy: 2022 saw an unprecedented flood of dark money mobilized by corporate and conservative interests intent on defeating progressives in primary battles….Fortunately, citizen movements and community organizing gave Democrats the base to counter corporate money. They also put forth bold ideas to address an economy that doesn’t work for working or poor people. All are staunch advocates of progressive reforms—from the Green New Deal and Medicare for All to police and gun reforms, abortion rights, and more. They are also bolstered by a growing progressive electoral infrastructure: Our Revolution, the Working Families Party, MoveOn, Indivisible, People’s Action, the Progressive Congress Campaign Committee, and the CPC PAC, among others….With Democrats losing control of the House, the newly emboldened progressives will be forced to take on an even greater role. They will need to consolidate their inside/outside strategies with grassroots groups across the country—and to push hard for an aggressive executive-order strategy from the Biden White House. They will sharpen the reform agenda and contrast it with the chaos and venom that will mark the Republican caucus. And they’ll continue to build—challenging a corrupted Democratic establishment. “You can win or lose elections,” Representative-elect Casar said, “but you don’t ever lose a movement. Our work is on a much greater horizon than one election.”

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