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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch advises “‘Give ‘em hell, Joe!’ How Harry Truman showed Biden a way to win in 2024,” and observes that ” President Biden can benefit from taking a page Harry Truman’s reelection strategy: “Like Truman, Biden’s challenge in going into 2024 is not to reinvent the wheel — Democrats have won the popular presidential vote in seven of the last eight elections — but to boost enthusiasm and turnout among the coalition that produced those million-vote margins. Today, that includes white voters in cities and suburbs with college degrees, Black and brown voters, and young people of all stripes, among others. Truman outsmarted Dewey by designing campaign trips that intensely targeted the places he needed to win, and Biden must do the same….“We’re going to give ‘em hell,” Truman declared in boarding his whistle-stop express in mid-September. A campaign slogan — and a winning vibe — was born. The growing shouts of “Give ‘em hell, Harry!” from the swelling crowds meant more than any public-opinion poll….Biden — despite his lifelong struggles with stuttering, and now his advancing age — can be Truman-esque when he is truly unleashed on the campaign trail. “Is there ever anything America set its mind to as a nation that we’ve done together and we haven’t succeeded?” Biden asked union autoworkers celebrating a new contract in Illinois last week, before, uncharacteristically, lashing out at Trump by name. His energized audience booed and someone shouted “send him to jail!” Biden was giving ‘em hell, and his crowd was eating it up….Times change, but commonalities abound. Voters fret about the economy, but what brings them to the polls is a threat to their fundamental rights….Last Tuesday’s election shows that in the 2020s, nothing has motivated voters more than the threat to women’s reproductive rights since the GOP’s handpicked U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling in 2022, as well as the freedom of speech assaults by conservative groups like Moms for Liberty….Until now, Democrats haven’t fully figured out how to translate that anger into energy into Biden’s reelection, but it can be done. Plans to put abortion rights referenda on the ballot in key states like Nevada or Florida will help. Team Biden needs to spotlight Trump’s frequent boasts that he’s personally responsible for ending Roe v. Wade through his radical Supreme Court picks….Abortion rights can be a winning issue. So can voter revulsion at the poisonous GOP brand and growing legitimate fears of dictatorship, which should trump any qualms over Biden’s age. The history of how Biden wins in 2024 was written in 1948. Give ‘em hell, Joe!”

Harry Enten explains “How RFK Jr. could change the outcome of the 2024 election” at CNN Politics”: As Enten writes, “…It would be foolish to dismiss what the current polls are telling us: Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is polling higher than any independent or third-party candidate in a generation. He, along with other non-major-party candidates, has a real chance to affect the outcome of the 2024 election….,Take a look at a recent Quinnipiac University poll: Kennedy hit 22% among registered voters. That struck me as very high, so I went into the polling vault…The last independent presidential candidate to earn over 20% support in a poll within a year of the election was Ross Perot in 1992. He ended up getting 19% of the popular vote….Perot is a bit of an exception in that independent or third-party candidates usually fade as an election nears. John Anderson was polling above 20% during the 1980 campaign, before pulling in just 7% in November. In 1968, former Alabama Gov. George Wallace topped out at 21% in pre-election polling as a third-party candidate before picking up 14% when the votes were cast….Moreover, those three prior candidates ended up getting above 5% (if not 10%) in the final outcome….his numbers in the swing states should be turning heads. According to New York Times/Siena College surveys, Kennedy was in the high teens to upward of 25% in the six closest states that Biden won in 2020 over Trump: Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Michigan….If the final results matched those polls, Trump would win the election….Also on Thursday, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he would not run for reelection next year. He was entertaining the idea of running as a third-party candidate earlier this year. Manchin took 10% as a No Labels candidate in an PRRI poll during the summer….Now, none of these non-major-party candidates are likely to win. That, though, really isn’t the point when talking about them….The ultimate winner could come in with well less than a majority.”

However, “if former President Donald Trump is the GOP nominee, his return to the spotlight and potential felony convictions will ensure that Biden is compared to the alternative, not the almighty, as the president likes to say,” Jonathan Martin writes in “Here’s How Biden Can Turn It Around” at Politico. Further, “For Biden to win reelection, however, he must make changes. I spoke with dozens of Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans about what the president can do on personnel, presentation and strategy to improve his prospects. Their suggestions (pleadings?) are below….Biden is indeed in peril. The New York Times battleground survey was no outlier, as made clear by a new poll from Bloomberg-Morning Consult that reflected the same cold fact: the president begins his re-election as the underdog….With the increasingly likely possibility that this will be a multi-candidate election, and Biden at risk of being denied the nose-holding votes he needs from independents and pre-Trump Republicans, the president’s margin for error is nil….Last week’s entry of Jill Stein as a Green Party candidate and Sen. Joe Manchin’s new presidential tease should focus the mind. Biden can do little about Stein, but he must smother Manchin with kindness and keep him in the Democratic tent. While he’s at it, the president and his top aides should also woo Manchin’s Republican friend (and third-party temptress) Mitt Romney….Neither senator wants their legacy to be abetting Trump’s return. But that’s not enough: Biden must bring them into his corner. They must actively make the case that voting for Biden is the only way to block Trump….And on this score, why is Biden not doing more to secure the support of Liz Cheney? She has made clear she’s determined to stop Trump’s return to the Oval Office. Yet Cheney is still publicly keeping open a presidential bid of her own. Biden can let her publish her book next month, but then she should be brought into the fold. Whether it’s called Republicans Against Trump or Republicans for Biden, Cheney must be deployed and do all she can do to bring other prominent figures with her, including her father and former President George W. Bush.”

Martin continues, “No ambassador has seemed to remake the role as Biden’s envoy to Japan, Rahm Emanuel. Yet the best service Rahm-san can offer Biden isn’t using his post in Asia to forge Pacific alliances and taunt the Russians and Chinese. The president should call Emanuel back stateside and have him chair the reelection….Doing so would demonstrate a willingness by Biden to broaden his inner circle, create a manic urgency in the campaign that is Emanuel’s trademark and, by elevating one of the most ferocious operatives of our times, signal that when Trump goes low the Democrats will go fucking lower….The last president to lose reelection before Trump, George H.W. Bush, was tagged as a foreign policy-focused leader who waited too long to summon his old hand, James A. Baker III, back from diplomatic service to the campaign. Biden should not make that mistake….The White House must move to the political equivalent of a war footing. Biden should lure back former Chief of Staff Ron Klain in some capacity. Few modern chiefs could do as much simultaneously as Klain, and he could be particularly useful as the left grows restive over Biden’s Israel tilt….The governors, the senators, the cabinet secretaries and the infrastructure czar should be the faces of Biden’s campaign, along with the president and vice-president. The message: with Democrats remaining in power, it’s not just an 82-year-old at the helm but also this group — Team Normal when compared to Trump and his Star Wars bar term two….the president must enlist younger figures like Senators Raphael Warnock and Cory Booker, and Representatives Marc Veasey, Lauren Underwood and Joe Neguse in the way he did Maxwell Frost on guns….Which raises one of the most vital imperatives: Go on the offensive against the GOP. Where are the frontal attacks on Republicans? Especially with Biden at risk of defeat because of slippage among working-class voters of all races, it’s confounding that he doesn’t lash the opposition for siding with the wealthy….And when it comes to the best issue Democrats have on their side, Trump is single-handedly responsible for the end of legal abortion in America. It was his three Supreme Court justices who delivered the crucial votes to overturn Roe vs Wade. And now, recognizing the issue as a political loser and never being fully committed in the first place, Trump is running like a scalded dog away from his signature achievement. Yet he’s on tape boasting how he’s the architect of Roe’s demise….As one canny Democratic strategist all but begged: Talk about abortion every day….Lastly, to paraphrase a future Middle East envoy, voters care more about their future than your past. Tell them what you will do in a second term. Be forward-looking. And contrast your vision for the next four years with that of the candidate who’s, literally folks, running on retribution.”

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