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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At FiveThirtyEight, Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux writes that “the GOP’s push to tighten abortion laws is generally at odds with public sentiment overall. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that in areas where abortion was prohibited in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, the share of people who think it should be easier to get an abortion rose from 31 percent in 2019 to 43 percent in 2023. There was a similar uptick in states where abortion was restricted or the law was being disputed in the courts. The poll also found that a majority of Americans (62 percent) think that states are making it too hard to get an abortion, including a substantial minority (39 percent) of Republicans. A majority (53 percent) of Republicans also think it should either be easier (20 percent) or about as difficult as it is now (33 percent) to get an abortion in their area, while less than half (44 percent) think it should be harder. And a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that Americans overall are much more likely to say that the Democratic Party represents their view on abortion (42 percent) compared to the Republican Party (26 percent)….None of this polling points to much of an appetite for more abortion restrictions, even among a solid chunk of Republicans. And it’s especially difficult for presidential candidates to find a position that both pleases anti-abortion advocates and isn’t broadly unpopular. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in April found that only 21 percent of Americans support a national ban on abortion without exceptions, and just over one-third (35 percent) are in favor of a national ban at six weeks’ gestation. The idea of banning abortion nationally — even at a later point in pregnancy, like 15 weeks — seems to be fairly politically toxic: A YouGov/Economist poll conducted last fall found that there was more support for establishing a national right to abortion (51 percent) than banning abortion at 15 weeks, while allowing states to enact stricter laws on their own (39 percent).”

In her article, “Moving Beyond the Good Ol’ Boys Club: Recent Trends in Women’s Representation in State Legislatures” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Carah Ong Whaley writes: “The percentage of women in state legislatures has increased in recent years. However, there is still a significant gender gap in most states as women have not reached parity in representation….The majority of women in state legislatures are Democrats. While more Republican women ran for office in 2022 than in previous years, that didn’t amount to closing the gender gap in representation….The percentage of women in state legislatures has increased more in Western and Northeastern states than in Midwestern and Southern states. This is likely due to a number of factors, including the political climate, the level of motivation and activism among women, and the availability of resources for women’s campaigns….Good politics and policy depend on diverse perspectives and lived experiences, but women remain underrepresented at all levels of government. As this analysis shows, the number of women in state legislatures is increasing, and this is a positive trend. However, as this analysis also demonstrates, progress is not a given and there are clearly states where more attention to closing the gender gap in representation is needed….For women to achieve parity in representation, there are structural challenges that states can address, including for example, by increasing salaries for legislators and providing stipends for childcare. There are also ways in which political parties and organizations can address the challenges women and other minoritized candidates face by expanding recruitment, encouragement, and training efforts, while increasing financial support for women to run for office. Openings and incumbency are also issues, and may require encouraging more women to challenge candidates from their own parties in primaries.”

In “As the Suburbs Go, So Goes America,” New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall writes, “Over the past half century, the percentage of Black Americans living in the nation’s suburbs has doubled, a shift that is changing the balance of political power in key regions of the country….“Since 1970, the share of Black individuals living in suburbs of large cities has risen from 16 to 36 percent,” Alexander W. Bartik and Evan Mast, economists at the University of Illinois and Notre Dame, write in their 2021 paper “Black Suburbanization: Causes and Consequences of a Transformation of American Cities.”…“This shift,” they point out, “is as large as the post-World War II wave of the Great Migration.”….In 1990, 33.9 percent of Black Americans in what are known as metropolitan statistical areas lived in the suburbs. By 2020, that grew to 51.2 percent, a 17.3-point shift over the same period; the share of Asian Americans in metropolitan statistical areas living in suburbs grew by 13.2 percentage points; and the share of Hispanics by 13.8 percentage points.” Commentators used to talk about “white flight” to describe the phenomenon of large numbers of white families moving from the cities to the suburbs and exurbs, usually implying out-migration driven by racism. But the Black exodus from the cities described by Edsall raises the possibility of something new. Call it “green flight” — families of all races simply wanting more of the natural world to enjoy, the forests, clean air and reduced traffic that you can still find in many rural communities.” There are political reverberations.

Edsall continues, “A study of the shifting politics of suburbia from the 1950s to the present, “Not Just White Soccer Moms: Voting in Suburbia in the 2016 and 2020 Elections,” by Ankit Rastogi and Michael Jones-Correa, both at the University of Pennsylvania, found that from the 1950s to the start of the 1990s,

Residing in racially homogeneous, middle-class enclaves, White suburban voters embraced a set of policy positions that perpetuated their racial and class position. Since the 1990s, however, the demographics of suburbs have been changing, with consequent political shifts.

As a result, by 2020, “suburban voters were more likely to back Biden, the Democratic candidate, than his Republican counterpart Trump.”…Why, the authors ask?

White suburban precincts showed greater support for Biden in 2020 than for Clinton in 2016. Our analysis indicates, however, that if all suburban voters had voted like white suburbanite precincts, Trump would have carried metropolitan suburbs in 2020.

So what saved the day for Biden? “Democrats carried metropolitan suburbs in 2020 because of suburban voters of color.” Edsall concludes, “America is undergoing a racial and ethnic upheaval that will profoundly shape election outcomes. On first glance, the trends would appear to favor Democrats, but there is no guarantee.”

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