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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The New Republic, Jason Linkins argues “Rather than follow the Beltway’s cynical damage-control playbook, the president should put on a master class in how to take responsibility for a mistake,’ and writes “There are early indications that Biden’s mishandling of classified documentsis rooted in error rather than corruption or egomania. Unlike Trump, Biden did not spend a lengthy period of time intransigently blowing off authorities, forcing them to carry out a search and seizure of his property; his team immediately fessed up and handed over the documents to the National Archives….That the White House prefers a low-key approach is understandable—unlike Trump, most presidents don’t try to inject themselves into the news cycle every hour of the day. But I think it’s an error. What Biden is facing is a test of mettle, not a pitfall to dodge. Rather than play this matter down, Biden should—within the limitations that are wisely enforced during an ongoing investigation—endeavor to play it up, instead. He should own whatever mistakes led to these classified documents ending up where they shouldn’t have. This is an opportunity to make government ethics great again, and it’s long overdue….Biden should sail over the low bar set by his predecessor by detailing the errors that led to the misplacement of these classified materials and making clear what’s being done to ensure the mistake won’t be repeated….Moments inevitably arise in any presidency when having the trust of the public and the institutions that safeguard the civic interest is critical. Moreover, there is vital capital to be earned by owning our mistakes, and there’s an important distinction that Biden can draw with his political opponents. The president would do well to follow the old adage: Tell the truth—and shame the devil.”

Rick C. Wade explains how “The Democrats’ South Carolina strategy empowers all Black voters” at The Hill: “The Democratic National Committee’s recent decision to restructure the 2024 presidential nominating calendar and put South Carolina — and Black voters — at the beginning of the process is a bold and important step….Black voters in South Carolina account for more than 60 percent of the state’s Democratic turnout and nationally have been the backbone of the Democratic Party, yet they’ve had to wait too long to have a say in the primary process. As President Biden said ahead of the South Carolina primary, “99.9 percent of Black voters” had not had the chance to vote at that point. This calendar puts the national spotlight on South Carolina, which translates to everything from strengthening party infrastructure to stimulating the state economy and ensuring that the concerns of Black voters across South Carolina and America are heard and top of the national agenda….Being first defines how presidential candidates run their campaigns, the promises they make, the voters they talk to, and the issues they focus on….The bottom line is the first test candidates will face under this proposed calendar is that of Black voters. The extent to which the candidate passes the test can fundamentally reshape the priorities of future presidents, the American political system and our country in general.” I doubt making South Carolina the first Democratic primary would leave a lasting negative impression on white working-class voters. Lots of them live in SC also. In fact, it might even help juice the Democratic brand a bit in the south.

From “How the White House plans to target 18 House Republicans from districts Biden won” by Edward-Isaac Dovere at CNN Politics: “In parts of the West Wing and Capitol Hill, they’re known as “The 18” – the 18 House Republicans elected in districts where voters supported President Joe Biden over Donald Trump. His aides are putting together plans to squeeze and shame them in the hopes of peeling off a few key votes over the next two years….To the president and House Democratic leaders, they are the path back to the majority in 2024, and maybe even to some actual governing in between. Democrats are already making plans to pressure these Republicans to break with their party – and let their Biden-supporting voters back home know about it if and when they don’t….The big test will be a showdown over the debt ceiling, which will play out over the spring. But White House congressional liaisons beginning to fan out on Capitol Hill believe they might be able to get beyond the basics and possibly get bills through on Biden’s cancer moonshot, veteran care, the opioid epidemic and mental health – among other items that are being considered as part of an outreach and unity agenda, which may be included in Biden’s State of the Union address next week….White House aides are eying carrots like Oval Office sit-downs, invitations to the president’s box at the Kennedy Center, spots in official delegations overseas. Others are already sharpening sticks, like political ads that are planned to start running back home earlier than ever before with the aim of shaming Republicans who vote with their party rather than peeling off toward Biden….Then there are the Air Force One trips. It’s early still, but White House aides are already teasing the idea of Biden flying on Air Force One into districts where he’s popular – maybe to say thanks for working with him, or maybe to bemoan those who couldn’t join him on common ground….

Dovere continues, “For each bill, Democrats would only need five defections to join them – 218 votes are needed to pass the House bills – and the party is heavily favored to win a race for an open seat in Virginia scheduled for late February, which would add one more vote to their current total of 212 seats. And they don’t think new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, with his own narrow margins and his loose hold on the speakership, will be able to do much to stop them or punish them – provided they can find ways to force votes on the floor that he may not want….“Given the very Democratic nature of some of these districts, they’re going to have to weigh their political futures against party loyalty on a relatively consistent basis,” said a bemused senior Biden adviser already drawing up plans to pressure The 18. “Given what appears to be a hardening position from the House Republican leadership on how they plan to conduct business, that leadership will be putting their own members between a rock and a hard place.”….The swing voters in these districts, Democrats believe, went with Biden because they’re moderates who don’t like chaos, while the concessions McCarthy made to win his gavel proved that the MAGA wing is empowered in the House Republican majority….“Many Republicans in swing districts talked a good game during their campaigns but folded to the House Republicans’ MAGA agenda as soon as they arrived in DC,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, who’s coming in as the new chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm….White House aides are particularly eying the six Biden districts in New York and five in California currently represented by Republicans. There are enough seats in each of two of the very blue states to give Democrats the majority. Base turnout is always higher with a presidential race on the ballot, but they’re also counting on Biden – if he runs, as most around him currently expect him to – to do well with swing voters, with coattails that can carry them along….But some Democratic operatives are eying an even wider list of Republicans that they can pull the same squeeze-and-shame maneuver on, including South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher and Iowa Rep. Zach Nunn. Though Biden didn’t win in their districts, he did well there, and they are all members who often look to stress their independence to voters. The Democratic thinking suggests they can be pushed into choosing between joining with them and threats of primaries from their right flank.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    Nor did Biden use folders marked classified and confidential materials in a souvenir display at a hotel bar.

    BTW, Democrats may need only 5 Republican defections to vote with them, but I’m going to go out on a limb right now and say that they will not even come close to getting 5 defections total for the next 2 years.

    Passing bills and other actions of governing are just not what the modern GOP does.

  2. Victor on

    So much DC noise, while the fundamentals are a mess

    Even 40% of partisan Democrats think the country is in recession


    Republicans will be pushing Biden in a direction to further increase the notion that Democrats and Republicans are not that different on the economy. Democrats basically have only a tepid technocratic response about some relatively minor investments in a few sectors of the economy.


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