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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Some polling data from “Just How Far Apart Are The Two Parties On Gun Control?” by Ryan Best, Mary Radcliffe and Kaleigh Rogers at FivdeThirtyEight: “What percentage of Republican and Democratic respondents do you think said they “strongly” or “somewhat” support requiring background checks for all gun purchasers? 77% of Republican and 91% of Democratic respondents said they “strongly” or “somewhat” support universal background checks, a difference of 14 percentage points. (Source: Morning Consult/Politico, March 6-8, 2021, among 1,990 registered voters)….What percentage of Republican and Democratic respondents do you think said they “strongly” or “somewhat” support allowing a family member to seek a court order to temporarily take away guns if they feel a gun owner may harm themselves or others? 70% of Republican and 85% of Democratic respondents said they “strongly” or “somewhat” support red-flag laws, a difference of 15 percentage points. (Source: APM Research Lab, July 16-21, 2019, among 1,009 U.S. adult residents) ….What percentage of Republican and Democratic respondents do you think said they “strongly” or “somewhat” favor banning assault-style weapons? 37% of Republican and 83% of Democratic respondents said they “strongly” or “somewhat” favor banning assault weapons, a difference of 46 percentage points. (Source: Pew Research Center, April 5-11, 2021, among 5,109 adults). What percentage of Republican and Democratic respondents do you think said they believe the right of people to own guns is more important than protecting people from gun violence? 9% of Democratic and 39% of Republican respondents said they believe the right to own guns is more important, a difference of 30 percentage points. (Source: YouGov/The Economist, April 16-19, 2022, 1,500 U.S. adult citizens). And anyone concerned about improving gun safety in America should read Nicholas Kristof’s “A Smarter Way to Reduce Gun Deaths” in the New York Times.

And at The Hill Olafimihan Oshin reports that “Americans’ dissatisfaction with gun laws at new high: Gallup poll,” and writes: “A majority of Americans surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with current gun laws in the U.S. amid a recent string of mass shootings affecting the country, according to a new Gallup poll….The poll, published Wednesday, found that 63 percent of respondents said they are dissatisfied with the nation’s laws and policies on firearms, while 34 percent of those surveyed said the opposite….The results marked the highest percentage of Americans that are dissatisfied with current gun laws in the last seven years, with a seven-point increase from last year, when 56 percent of respondents claimed they were unhappy….Satisfaction with gun policies in the country has also fallen since last year’s poll, tying the lowest on record, according to Gallup….Among political party lines, 54 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning Independent respondents said they are satisfied with the nation’s laws and policies on handguns, while 44 percent of those surveyed expressed their dissatisfaction with current law….On the other side, 84 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents expressed their dissatisfaction with the nation’s laws and policies, while 14 percent of those surveyed said they are satisfied with the nation’s current policies…Around 60 percent of Independent respondents express their dissatisfaction with the nation’s laws and firearm policies, while 36 percent of those surveyed said they are satisfied.”

Jason Linkins argues “The Case Against a Biden Run Is Obvious—and Weak” at The New Republic, and observes: “The political media are chaos junkies who treat conflict as catnip and would relish the crisis caused by Biden’s departure. Meanwhile, the lesson of the midterms is that voters are turned off by disarray. Biden’s own polling struggles reflect this: Nothing damaged his approval ratings more than the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. He is still struggling to recover from that one moment when it did not appear that the adults were in charge….But Afghanistan is instructive in a different way as well. The withdrawal may have hurt Biden’s numbers, but the fact that he was unwilling to keep paying the sunk costs of the Afghanistan scam was a real break from the status quo. Biden’s State of the Union address suggested that the president still has that yen for fresh thinking. As HuffPost’s Kevin Robillard noted: Clinton used his address “to declare the era of big government over, Obama used them to sell a grand bargain and a free trade deal.” Biden, by contrast, “used it to attack big pharma, rule out social security cuts, talk about antitrust policy, and declare the tax code unfair.”….This is a phenomenon that we’ve noted before: Many of Biden’s throwback instincts about the way America could be are incredibly well suited to the moment, and seem fresher than his predecessors’ ideas. Would-be Biden successors should take heed, because at the moment it’s Biden who sounds most like a bona fide party standard-bearer and a better tribune of the middle class than any of the GOP’s weird culture warriors, and more prepared to battle the larger universe of chiselers and cheats who have gotten away with nickel-and-diming ordinary Americans.”

So many of the internal arguments among Democrats boil down to how to spend money. At Campaigns & Elections, Swati Mylavarapu makes the case that “Democrats Need a Better Investment Strategy‘ and writes: “Currently, Democrats over-invest at the top of the ticket and prioritize federal races at the expense of state races. We fall in love with candidates and over-invest in individual campaigns at the expense of organizing infrastructure and pipeline building. And we invest late in an election cycle when resources can have limited impact….In practice, this means that for every campaign that’s raising millions in a given cycle, including long shots, we’re neglecting winnable state races and infrastructure investments that can help Democrats build lasting power for generations….First, we must invest early in the election cycle—and by early, I mean now. As Election Day approaches, campaigns become increasingly limited in how they can leverage resources, resulting in the majority of late money going to advertising….Reallocating a portion of that late money towards early investments would give Democrats the flexibility to prioritize tactics like voter registration and deep canvassing to message policy wins—efforts that can reduce election-year spend and build our base….Second, donors must distribute resources up and down the ballot. Last year’s historic state legislative gains came from a long-overdue recognition that state legislatures govern issues that have a profound impact on our lives. Prioritizing down-ballot investments can help us lock in those gains and flip other chambers — all while helping Democrats build a bench of talent and drive up vote tallies on top of the ticket races….Third, in addition to supporting candidates, we must invest in groups that strengthen Democratic infrastructure and help us build long-term power. We need permanent, year-round efforts to register voters, mobilize communities of color, expand the Democratic talent pipeline, and train campaign staff and volunteers. Investment in groups that do this work–like Arena, Run for Something, SwingLeft, and Sister District–pays both short and long-term dividends….Finally, rather than ceding ground, we should buy in the bear market with investments in states that are or are trending red, like Florida. Georgia is a perfect example of what Democrats can accomplish when we play the long game. Winning back power is a marathon, not a sprint — we can’t be short sighted and only focus on races that can be won immediately….Together, these shifts in tactics and strategy can help Democrats secure sustainable power for generations.”

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