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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At Axios, Alex Thompson has some tips re “Trump’s survive-the-unsurvivable plan,” which Dems may want to check out: “Trump has had a lot of practice surviving the unsurvivable. So his team has developed a playbook to repeat during bad news.

  • Pre-release: Trump will preempt any damaging announcement by releasing new information himself beforehand to try to blunt the impact of coming revelations.
  • Whataboutism: Trump will try to muddy the waters by pointing to any mistakes — real, exaggerated, or false — by his opponents.
  • Martyrdom: He will tell his supporters that any allegations against him are part of a larger conspiracy against his cause to fight the establishment.
  • Solidarity: Even before all the facts are known, Trump has his allies hit the airwaves to claim that he is innocent or his enemies are corrupt.
  • Shamelessness: Trump never hides or acts embarrassed, even in the face of damning information.
  • Flood the zone online: Trump’s team prepares large volumes of content ahead of time to pump out on social media.
  • Raise big money: Never waste a chance to raise money — especially if the Justice Department indicts him for obstruction and mishandling classified materials.
  • Go apocalyptic: “In the end, they’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you — and I’m just standing in their way,” Trump said Saturday at a rally in Columbus, Ga., in his first appearance since the Florida indictment. He also said: “This is the final battle.”

The big picture: Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. He’s the only former president to be indicted on federal charges. And he expects to be indicted at least once more — this time as part of his efforts to overturn his election loss in 2020….Zoom in: Former and current Trump aides often don’t defend Trump’s conduct — but believe that politics are on his side in part because of his ability to frame himself as a martyr for his voters’ larger cause.”

From Dan Brodey’s Daily Beast profile of Democratic Rep. Colin Allred, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Ted Cruz: “In an interview with The Daily Beast, Allred previewed all the themes his challenge will feature: Cruz’s objection to the 2020 election outcome after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, his opposition to legislation to prevent a default on the debt and to fund high-tech manufacturing, his coziness with far-right culture warriors, his zeal for the conservative media spotlight, and, yes, Cancun….The indelible image of Cruz returning to a storm-stricken Texas—where millions of his constituents were cold and without power in February 2021—from a family vacation in the Mexican resort city is, unsurprisingly, the apotheosis of Allred’s case against the incumbent. He calls it the “perfect encapsulation of how Ted Cruz sees himself as a public servant.”….Allred is also quick to mention he has won tough races before—he flipped a traditionally Republican seat in the Dallas suburbs in 2018….Allred, a Black man raised by a single mother who went from playing in the NFL to being a voting rights lawyer, is a polished communicator, said Rottinghaus, someone who “can deliver a really good message, is young and engaging, has a good story, and has bipartisan chops.”….In the 2024 election cycle, in which Democrats are defending their narrow Senate majority in daunting states like West Virginia, Texas actually represents the party’s best chance to flip a Republican-held seat, meaning the race will likely draw national attention…..In 2018, he defeated longtime incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) in a historically Republican suburban district by six points, one of the key data points of the Trump-era partisan political realignment. The people who voted for him that year, Allred said, “are no longer going to be voting for Ted Cruz.”….To underscore his broad appeal, the congressman is quick to note that he has been endorsed by both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and organized labor, traditionally two redoubts for the center-right and the center-left, respectively. “I’m not a generic Democrat,” Allred said. Brodey notes that Allred will likely have primary opposition. “Roland Gutierrez, a state senator who represents the gun violence-scarred community of Uvalde, is reportedly very likely to run against Cruz. Like O’Rourke, he has grabbed headlines for confronting Texas GOP leaders who have refused to pass gun reforms, and could capture enthusiasm among Democratic voters.”

In “The Rise of Independent Voters Is a Myth: A recent poll found that nearly half of Americans identify as independent. But they’re hiding the real truth about how they vote,” Alex Shepard writes at The New Republic: “America’s largest, fastest-growing political party isn’t led by Joe Biden or Donald Trump. It’s the Independent Party. At least, that was one of the biggest takeaways from a Gallup poll this spring. It found that 49 percent of Americans—roughly the same amount as the number of voters who identify as Democrats and Republicans combined—think of themselves as “independents.” (An identical poll a month later found slightly less eye-catching numbers.) That’s a huge jump from just 20 years ago, when less than a third of respondents identified that way….“The interesting thing about independents is that they do have affiliations to political parties,” said University of Michigan political scientist Yanna Krupnikov—who, with the University of Arizona’s Samara Klar, literally wrote the book on political independents, 2016’s Independent Politics: How American Disdain for Parties Leads to Political Inaction. “They typically have a preference, but it’s potentially different from the deep-seated attachment that a strong partisan might have. But a large portion of them do seem to prefer one party or the other.” Roughly three-quarters of independent voters are known as “leaners”—they typically turn out to vote for one party or the other. Most independents, in other words, aren’t so independent….Rather, “I think what this reflects is that most Americans have a pretty negative view of the party system in general and of what’s happening in our politics,” Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz told The New Republic. “There’s a reluctance to openly identify oneself as a partisan and to say, come right out and say, ‘I think of myself as a Republican or a Democrat.’”….more than 60 percent of independents who lean Republican or lean Democrat have “very” or “somewhat” cold opinions of the other party, according to a 2017 Pew Research poll….Regardless, the idea that these voters are a secret army of moderates waiting to be unlocked by a centrist party is likely a myth. Many do think the parties are too extreme; certainly most believe that they’re too disputatious. And yet they hardly represent a sizable “third party”: They’re not shopping around.”

On the other hand, Julia Manchester reports that “Democratic fears grow over third-party candidates” at The Hill, and writes: “The bipartisan group “No Labels” has been working toward building the foundation to launch a “unity ticket” to run as an option separate from Democrats or Republicans as polls show a rematch between Biden and former President Trump is likely. And Cornel West, a progressive activist, became the first relatively well-known third-party candidate to enter the race….The developments come as polling shows Americans souring on the prospect of a Biden-Trump rematch. A NewsNation/DDHQ poll released this week found 49 percent of respondents said it was somewhat or very likely they would consider voting for a third-party candidate in 2024 if Trump and Biden were the nominees….Meanwhile, an NBC News poll released last month found 70 percent of Americans said they did not want Biden to run for president next year, while 60 percent say they do not want Trump to run for president in 2024….“It’s almost universal,” said former Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who is involved with No Labels. “People are just saying ‘350 million Americans, can’t we have a different match?’”….While West’s chances of being elected president are slim, his candidacy, like past third-party bids, could impact the results of the election….Groups like Third Way and the Lincoln Project, a group critical of the state of the GOP under Trump, have come out strongly against the prospect of a third-party candidate. The groups have particularly taken aim at No Labels….“It is a guaranteed spoiler and the risk is all on the Democratic side,” said Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at Third Way. “It’s notable that Democrats are concerned about No Label’s third-party bid and no Republican is concerned, at least no Republican who is a Trump partisan or would support another Republican nominee. All of that concern is on the Democratic side.”….“Democrats rely far more on moderate and Independent voters than Republicans in national elections,” he added….No Labels has maintained a third-party bid is viable, citing polling that shows voters do not want a Trump vs. Biden rematch. The group says its polling shows 59 percent of voters say they would consider a moderate, independent ticket in 2024 if Trump and Biden are the nominees. The group is on the ballot in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado and Oregon.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    I’m tired of the independent voter canard. You should give it a rest. Let me tell you how it works for me.

    I consider myself an independent. I vote strictly Democratic. That’s because the first election I voted in was Ford/Carter and the Republican party has increasingly lost its mind ever since. There have been Republicans I like, but none since I came of voting age. I wish progressives would just shut up sometimes. I don’t consider myself a centrist. I consider myself very liberal. I’d happily vote for a non-crazy moderate Republican but they no longer exist. So while I think as an independent and make a separate judgment on every candidate, I inevitably veer toward the one party that isn’t crazy.

    And that isn’t the spin that the independent voter canard prefers. According to it, I’m really secretly a Democrat but I don’t like labels. That’s stupid. I HAVE a label – liberal. I have a point of view and it doesn’t entirely align with Democratic orthodoxy. I’m operationally a Democrat because there literally are no other acceptable choices. That’s the only reason.

  2. Victor on

    Many independents are actually ideological extremists of the kind that thinks there is no party that truly represents them.


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