washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In bis article, “Americans Usually Blame Republicans After Showdowns Over Federal Spending,” Nathaniel Rakich writes at FiveThirtyEight, “….Since 2010, there have been no fewer than five major fiscal standoffs between Republicans and Democrats akin to the one(s) we’ll probably brave later this year. These crises had tangible economic consequences, including the furloughing of 800,000 federal workers and the downgrading of the U.S.’s credit rating. But they also had political repercussions for the elected officials who caused them. And that track record could give us an idea of whom Americans would blame if brinksmanship in Washington, D.C., again upsets the economic apple cart….So I looked at what caused each of the five prior crises and what the polls said after they were resolved. The results bode poorly for Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his fellow Republicans: Since 2010 at least, the public has always blamed and soured on the GOP more than Democrats in the wake of these standoffs.’ Rakich reviews the previous stand-offs and notes the polling responses following each one. He concludes: “Here in 2023, House Republicans have already made it clear that they will demand spending cuts, as they did in 2011, before raising the debt ceiling. And if history is any indication, Americans will see that as a reason to blame them for any ensuing chaos….But Americans may not penalize the GOP at the ballot box for it. That’s because the political effects of these crises are short-lived; there’s always another news cycle that replaces it….events, dear reader, events will probably put the memory of 2023’s fiscal turbulence in the rearview mirror by the time of the 2024 election. But that doesn’t make public opinion surrounding the debate irrelevant — far from it. Impasses like 2013’s and 2019’s were likely broken because Republicans felt intense public pressure to give in. So while Republicans probably don’t need to worry about losing an election due to their hard line on spending, they still ought to fret about losing public support: It will make it harder for them to stand firm in the showdown to come.”

At Vox, Nicole Narea writes: “Democrats have just notched yet another win at the state level after a strong showing in the 2022 midterm, claiming control of the Pennsylvania House….Democrats followed statehouse takeovers in Minnesota and Michigan by winning all three special elections in the Pennsylvania state House Tuesday. Those victories gave them a one-seat majority and brought a close to the conflict for control of the chamber that has persisted since November. It was an upset: Redistricting had made the electoral map more competitive for Democrats, and the Pennsylvania House was rated “leans Republican” ahead of the November election by Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Democrats haven’t controlled the chamber since 2010….And it’s another moment of reckoning for Republicans in a critical swing state, which also sent two Democrats to the US Senate for the first time in more than 70 years and saw Democrat Josh Shapiro win the governorship by nearly 15 points over his Republican opponent, election denier Doug Mastriano….The result builds on Democrats’ success in state capitols in the midterms. The party previously struggled to compete with more than a decade of Republican dominance at the state level. It was the first time since 1934 that the party of the incumbent president didn’t lose a single state legislative chamber. In fact, they gained five. Democratic state legislatures now govern more people than those controlled by Republicans, even though the GOP still won marginally more seats in 2022 overall….Even so, Pennsylvania will have a divided government: Shapiro won the governor’s race, and Republicans maintained control of the state Senate. That could limit the realm of what’s possible from a policy standpoint, especially since even a single defection from party ranks in the House could doom any given Democratic agenda item….Pennsylvania Democrats are already managing expectations in that regard. They’re projecting that they won’t be able to codify Roe v. Wade after the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn it last year, but hope that on labor and the economy, they have a real opportunity to achieve reforms because those are areas of wide agreement in the caucus and where they might even be able to attract some Republican votes….“We’ll be able to dodge so many bullets just by going from defense to offense,” Lee told WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR News station. “We’ll get to move forward a workers’ rights agenda.”

The Nation’s Jeet Heer has some cogent observations about “The GOP’s Phony Class War,” including “the GOP shows little interest in economic populism. In the debt ceiling fight, the GOP has shown that austerity rather than economic populism still guides the party’s approach to social spending. Only six Republican senators, including Hawley and Rubio, voted to force railway companies to give union workers paid sick leave. In a recent committee assignment for chair of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, Speaker Kevin McCarthy picked Thomas Massie, a standard pro-corporate Republican, over Ken Buck (described by Emily Birnbaum of Bloomberg as “one of the most fervent tech critics in the House”). As Branko Marcetic of Jacobin notes, in 2022 only seven Republican senators voted “to cap the extortionate price of insulin for Americans on private insurance to $35, a potentially transformative policy at a time when four out of five Americans are going into debt to pay for the medicine.” Marcetic further observed that in 2021 not a single Republican senator supported a motion to raise the minimum wage (Hawley said he’d support such a measure if it had a carve-out for small business that would have left nearly half the work force uncovered)….the working class is divided on partisan lines, with a majority of white working-class voters supporting the GOP on racial and cultural grounds, while a majority of working-class people of color vote for the Democrats. Princeton political scientist Frances Lee told The New York Times that “the party system in the U.S. simply does not represent that ‘haves’ against the ‘have-nots.’ Both parties represent a mix of haves and have-nots in economic terms.”….Because both parties are broad cross-class alliances, economic populism is likely to be muted for the foreseeable future. For the Republicans, stoking the culture wars remains the easiest way to keep white working-class support without alienating the wealthy. It’s hardly a surprise that the two front-runners for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination are Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis: both masters of pouring fuel into the fire of transphobia, xenophobia, and racism….they represent the future of the GOP.”

Jarod Facundo shares interesting election and polling data in “Will the Education Culture War Backfire on Republicans?” at The American Prospect: “In last November’s midterm elections, conservative candidates for school board elections performed worse than they had hoped in most places across the country. The most visible issues in these matchups were culture war panics about so-called “woke” schools infected with critical race theory curricula, sports teams with transgender athletes, and lingering COVID-19 restrictions. The legitimate discontent parents had with wanting their children inside schools was tapped into by right-wing groups such as the 1776 Project PAC and Moms for Liberty, which supported candidates who would purge “cultural Marxism” and promise to bring a “culture of Liberty.”….Instead of overwhelming success that would prove the lasting power of a grassroots constituency of fed-up parents all across the country, those conservative groups overcalculated the saliency of the issues they ran on. Before the midterms, the 1776 Project posted a 70 percent success rate in elections it worked on. In November, the group won 20 races of the 50 endorsed, good for 40 percent. Moms for Liberty fared a bit better. They won 50 percent of endorsed races nationwide….The new culture war over the future of education is a stalking horse for the same old battle over school choice. The not-too-hidden goal of denigrating public schools is to weaken support for teachers and their unions, and to redirect funds into school vouchers and other programs that pummel public education even further….Polling conducted by the American Federation of Teachers in mid-December found that the culture-war framing was unpopular. Instead, voters and parents saw strong academic, critical reasoning, and practical life skills as most important, when compared to anti-wokeness. Furthermore, among the sample group, when given the option between improving public education and giving parents more school choices, 80 percent preferred improving public schools. Most revealing was that two-thirds of voters said that culture-war battles distracted public schools from their foremost role: educating students.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.