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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “Exclusive: Memo Reveals Democratic Plan to Flip More State Houses in 2024,” Mini Racker reports at Time: “After their big wins in Virginia last week, Democrats are signaling they will use the strategy adopted there as a model for down-ballot races in 2024….In a memo to top donors shared first with TIME, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which focuses on state legislative races, credits its early focus on abortion rights in Virginia as a critical factor in helping the party retain control of the State Senate and flip the State House, thwarting a high-profile effort by Gov. Glenn Youngkin to ban abortion in most cases after 15 weeks in the state. The memo signals that the committee plans to position state-level races next year as part of a national fight to preserve Americans’ freedoms….“Throughout the year, the DLCC sounded the alarm on the national stage about the stakes of the election and what a Republican trifecta would mean for Virginia,” Heather Williams, the DLCC’s interim president, writes in the memo. “Republican control of the General Assembly and an unchecked GOP trifecta would have led to an abortion ban and cut off the last point of access for the entire South.”….As the presidential race, and the unpopularity of each party’s frontrunner, sucks up much of the air in politics, the memo emphasizes the importance of state legislative seats. Wins at that level could provide a key bulwark for Democrats against right-wing legislation, especially if President Joe Biden fails to win reelection in what is expected to be a close race….“Regardless of what happens at the top of the ticket, 2024 will be the year of the states,” Williams writes….The DLCC also plans to invest in Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin next year. The status of abortion rights in several of those states is currently murky pending action from the courts…. “Democrats are recognizing that alongside important federal races, we must also compete and win power in the states,” Williams writes. “Republicans built an advantage in the last decade but now Democrats are fighting back and shifting the balance of power.”

Some insights from “Biden’s ‘Up-Ticket’ Ballot Strategy: Can Democrats reverse the typical dynamic in which the presidential nominee boosts candidates in down-ticket races and instead rely on them to help raise their leader to victory?” by Susan Milligan and Lauren Camera at US News: “President Joe Biden is having an awful time in the polls, with surveys showing even core Democratic supporters are unhappy with his job performance and – at best – less than excited about casting a vote for the incumbent president next fall….At the same time, Democrats are having a great year at the polls themselves, with Tuesday night’s near sweep of key elections capping a year when the party’s candidates have well overperformed in state and local races and won every state referendum on abortion rights….The political contradiction has the Democrats and Republicans in a quandary: Do the Democratic wins mean Biden is better-positioned than he appears for next year’s presidential election? Is the 80-year-old Biden (who turns 81 on Nov. 20) uniquely vulnerable because of his age and other issues? And can down-ticket Democrats reverse the typical dynamic – where the presidential nominee either boosts or deflates candidates in his party – and help raise their leader to victory next year?….Biden on Thursday dismissed questions about polling – actually, a sobering New York Times/Siena College poll released Sunday that showed the president trailing GOP front-runner Donald Trump in five of six battleground states. “Because you don’t read the polls. Ten polls: Eight of them, I’m beating him in those states – eight of them. You guys only do two, CNN and New York Times. Check it out. Check it out. We’ll get you copies of all those other polls,” Biden said as he prepared to leave for a speech before United Auto Workers in Illinois….”We told people to pay attention to what was happening in states like Virginia and Kentucky and ballot measures in Ohio because Republicans were using those as test cases for what they might be able to accomplish in 2024,” said A’shanti Gholar, president of Emerge, a political organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office.”….”Democrats, meanwhile, believe they can benefit not just from the abortion issue but discontent toward Trump, whose favorability numbers with the general electorate are on par with Biden’s. Trump’s legal woes – along with Republicans’ failure to “right the course” of their party after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, puts the threat of future extremism in the minds of voters as they head into the 2024 election season, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, told reporters in a conference call.”

Monica Potts of 538 reports at ABC News Pollapalooza that “Recent polling suggests that Americans are very worried about gun violence. A Quinnipiac University poll taken from Oct. 26 to 30, right after the Maine shooting, found that 46 percent of registered voters worried about becoming a victim of a mass shooting themselves. That matches a high set in July 2022 in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, shooting at Robb Elementary School, and is 9 points higher than a low of 37 percent in December 2017, the year the survey began asking the question….Americans also feel pessimistic that anything will change. Indeed, 68 percent don’t believe the federal government will do anything to reduce gun violence within the next year, per the Quinnipiac poll…A solid majority of Americans have supported stricter gun control laws during most of the years that Gallup has been tracking the issue, since 1990, with a dip in support during former President Barack Obama’s tenure. More than half have supported stricter gun control laws since 2015, and recent polls have shown public support hovering between 50 and 60 percent….In September, a Verasight poll that found 58 percent favored stronger gun laws. And in late October, Gallup found that 56 percent of Americans supported stricter gun control laws, an amount virtually unchanged from a year before….Support for tighter gun control measures tends to spike after a mass shooting event and then fall back down to the prior level after the event has faded from the news, a pattern that began after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. (Though it’s worth noting that the correlation is most direct for school shootings, as opposed to high-profile shootings at other locations.)….There’s not enough evidence yet to say whether public opinion following the Lewiston event will follow that pattern, but early surveys seem to show public opinion holding stable. The Quinnipiac poll found results in line with previous polls, with 57 percent of respondents supporting stricter gun laws. A YouGov/Economist survey has asked adults whether they think laws governing the sale of handguns should be more strict periodically over the past year.

Potts continues, “Support has varied between a low of 53 percent last November and a high of 58 percent in January. The latest survey, which ran from Oct. 28 to the 31, right after the Lewiston shooting, showed support for stricter laws at 55 percent, still within that range and 2 points lower than the most recent survey in May….Drilling down, even more registered voters show support for specific measures. The Quinnipiac poll found that 52 percent supported a nationwide ban on assault-style rifles, the kind of legislation Golden had previously voted against, compared with 44 percent who opposed it. An overwhelming majority, 92 percent, supported background checks on all gun buyers, 56 percent opposed the sale of high-capacity magazines, and 53 percent thought the United States would be less safe if more people carried guns. These numbers are consistent with other polls, and with Quinnipiac polling that on some questions goes back at least a decade; American voters have wanted stricter gun control laws for a long time….About 70 percent of Americans also favor red flag laws that allow law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others, according to an Associated Press/NORC poll from Aug. 10-14. There’s a lot of evidence that, particularly in the case of mass shootings, many shooters talk about their plans or raise alarms with family and friends, and interventions in those cases can be successful….In a September NPR/Ipsos poll on active shooter drills, 40 percent of respondents named gun violence as one of their top concerns for K-12 schools….The 68 percent of Americans who didn’t think the federal government will do anything about curbing gun violence within the next year is up from the 56 percent who said the same in June 2022, right before Biden signed the gun control law. Biden has said that law didn’t go far enough, but the partisan splitin support for some gun control measures may keep many Republican lawmakers from working on more serious reform. The AP/NORC poll found that Republican support dropped after Biden signed the law, from 49 percent last summer to 32 percent this summer.”

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