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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “Democratic group writes a poll-tested playbook to fight impeachment in Biden districts,” Sahil Kapur reports at nbcnews.com that “A Democratic-aligned group commissioned a rare poll across the 18 Republican-held districts won in 2020 by President Joe Biden about a potential House impeachment inquiry, seeking to fine-tune a strategy to impose maximum political pain on GOP lawmakers if they go down that path….The poll, conducted by the liberal firm Public Policy Polling on behalf of Congressional Integrity Project and first reported by NBC News, will be distributed to Democratic lawmakers as a playbook for how to battle an inquiry that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called a “natural step forward.”….Congressional Integrity Project’s executive director, Kyle Herrig, said impeachment would be “a political stunt designed to hurt President Biden and help Donald Trump.” He added: “We’re going to make sure the Biden 18 know that voting for an impeachment inquiry would be a costly political decision.”….The results showed two-thirds of respondents in those key GOP-held battleground districts said Republicans shouldn’t impeach Biden without “evidence” that he “received any bribes or changed government policies in relation to the activities of his son, Hunter Biden.” That includes an even greater share of independents, the firm said. Meanwhile, only one quarter of respondents said they should proceed either way….When given two options, more than half of those surveyed said impeachment would be more of a “political stunt,” while just over four in 10 said it was a “serious effort to investigate important problems.” Majorities of respondents also said it was more about “damaging President Biden politically” than “finding the truth,” when presented with those two options….Notably, the PPP poll found that Biden is not particularly popular in those key 18 districts.”

Some observations from a FiveThirtyEight chat on “What Are The Swing States Of The Future?”: “nrakich (Nathaniel Rakich, senior elections analyst): I think an underrated swing state is Florida. People have written it off after it swung unexpectedly to Republicans in 2020 and after Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Ron DeSantis won reelection by almost 20 percentage points in 2022. But people forget that former President Donald Trump won it in 2020 by only 3 points. If the 2024 election is shaping up to be a rematch between Trump and Biden, I think it’s reasonable to think Florida could be tight again. Do I think Biden will win it? No, probably not. But I think it’s still a better investment for Biden’s campaign dollars than, say, Texas….geoffrey.skelley (Geoffrey Skelley, senior elections analyst): I think a lot of this comes down to how you define a swing state. I tend to think about one larger group of battleground states that, under a set of realistic but more favorable conditions, couldflip to one party. Then you have a smaller group of core swing states that are actually most likely to decide the outcome of the election….We’ve mentioned a bunch of states from my larger list so far, so I’ll mention a place that’s in my core group of swing areas but isn’t a state: Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. Under the new congressional lines, Biden carried it by a little more than 6 percentage points in 2020, not far from his 4.5-point national win. But under a number of scenarios, that one little electoral vote from the Omaha-based seat could play a role in bringing about — or avoiding — a 269-269 tie in the Electoral College. To me, that makes it underrated…. gelliottmorris: Well … if I’m picking a sleeper swing state, I’m picking Alaska or Utah. Alaska is on the list because its use of ranked-choice voting has highlighted a potential ideological shift in the state, where moderate Democrats are increasingly favored. Mary Peltola, the representative for Alaska’s At-Large Congressional District, is sometimes called a “pro-guns, pro-fish” Democrat for her pro-gun and pro-conservation stances. And then I’d pick Utah because of severe aversion to Trump among the state’s Republican voter base. In 2016, independent candidate Evan McMullin was able to win 22 percent of the vote in the state. In 2018, Utah voters elected Trump-skeptic Mitt Romney to the Senate. And then McMullin won 43 percent of the vote against incumbent Sen. Mike Lee in 2022.”….geoffrey.skelley: We talked earlier about Democrats feeling too sure about a state like New Hampshire. I wonder if Virginia might fall into that category, too. It does seem to have moved just outside the truly up-for-grabs states, having trended about 6 points to the left of the country in 2020. However, Republican Glenn Youngkin carried the state in the 2021 gubernatorial election, so I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily out of reach for Republicans. To be clear, the trend has not been great for Republicans at the presidential level in the Old Dominion. But it’s still got some purple mixed in with its blue.”

From “Democrats question whether it’s the economy anymore, stupid” by Alex Gangitano at The Hill: “Bruce Mehlman, former assistant secretary at the Commerce Department under President George W. Bush, said the economy seems less of a factor today than it once did….“Over the past two decades, traditional economic metrics have increasingly detached from presidential approval numbers and right-track or wrong-track sentiment, with the 2022 midterms the ultimate example,” said Mehlman, a founding partner at Mehlman Consulting. “The data screamed ‘giant wave,’ but many anxious voters preferred known incumbents over frightening disruptors.”….Josh Bivens, research director at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said his “gut” tells him Biden may eventually benefit from the economy….He predicted that with 3 to 4 percent inflation or lower and consistent low unemployment for another year could lead to higher ratings for Biden. Unemployment currently sits at just 3.6 percent….“The ratchet-up of inflation in 2021 and early 2022 very much unsettled people, and they are only now really recognizing that the ratchet has started to reverse pretty decisively,” Bivens said….Polls show the public has doubts about Biden on the economy….Only 34 percent of Americans in a Monmouth University poll last month saidthey approve of his handling of inflation, and Biden received a split rating on his handling of jobs and unemployment, with 47 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving of it.”

Can Reverse Coattails Save the Democrats in 2024?,” Robert Kuttner asks at The American Prospect and writes: that “Biden and the Democrats can benefit from reverse coattails. The conventional wisdom is that the presidential candidate has the coattails, the ability to excite voters and help down-ballot candidates of the president’s party. Conversely, down-ticket candidates can’t affect turnout very much. Well, none of that is the case this time….Several senators up in 2024 are, to be blunt, more popular than Biden and are better politicians. Sherrod Brown will probably run well ahead of Biden in Ohio. Likewise Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. In Arizona, Ruben Gallego will pull lots of progressive voters to the polls. He’s a lot more exciting than Biden….Ohio is probably beyond Biden’s reach in 2024, but Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Arizona are prime swing states. Effective candidates for the Senate and House can mobilize voters and in turn help the national ticket. Yes, it’s possible to imagine voters splitting their tickets to vote for, say, Tammy Baldwin and Donald Trump, but precious few of them….The 2018 midterm election was the epic example of down-ticket races energizing voters to the Democrats’ advantage, and of course no presidential candidate was on the ballot. If Democrats and grassroots activists do their jobs well, 2024 could be like 2018….Running local candidates can boost national turnout for Democrats. Yoni Landau, a respected grassroots strategist who founded the group Contest Every Race, points out that there are hundreds of thousands of down-ballot elected posts at the county and town level that Democrats fail to contest. Simply fielding candidates raises national Democratic turnout….In 2021, the group Run For Something did a detailed statistical analysis comparing turnout in local legislative races where the Democrats fielded a candidate with those where the Republican ran unopposed. They found that even in deep-red states and districts where the Democrat lost, having a Democrat in the race helped the national ticket. In Georgia, the fact that more Democrats contested local elections may well have helped Biden eke out his 12,000-vote victory margin….According to the study, Biden did 0.3 percent to 1.5 percent better in conservative legislative districts where Democrats ran challengers than in districts where the Republican was unopposed. The analysis used precinct-level data in eight states—Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Texas, Kansas, and New York—to compare contested and uncontested races.”

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