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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Despite all of the hand-ringing about President Biden’s sagging poll numbers, the smart money currently has a rematch of the 2020 presidential contest nearly locked-in for next year. Looking a bit further ahead, however, Democrats have reason to be optimistic about their stable of potential presidential nominees in 2028. in “Delicately dancing Democrats: Looking ahead to 2028 but with half an eye on 2024, presidential hopefuls are positioning themselves for a run” Lesley Russell shares some notes at Inside Story, including: “The line-up of Democrats eager for the presidential candidacy highlights both a recognition that any one of them could have the chance to step up ahead of 2028 — an incentive to strengthen their national profiles — and the fact that there’s a wealth of well-credentialled candidates. “So many people, it’s breathtaking,” says veteran Democratic strategist James Carville. “The level of talent in the Democratic Party in 2023 — and I say this with great confidence — is as high as any political party has ever had in my lifetime.”….Three people stand out: Shapiro, Beshear and Whitmer….Having only taken office this year, Shapiro is still in the honeymoon phase of his gubernatorial stint. It remains to be seen whether the fifty-year-old moderate has staying power….Beshear became a Democratic hero in November when he won a second term as governor of Kentucky, defying the usual political leaning of his red state. The forty-five-year-old, who was first elected as governor in 2019, has emulated his father, also a two-time Kentucky governor. In his first term Beshear was credited with having responded well to a series of natural disasters — the devastating tornadoes and horrific floods that ravaged parts of Eastern Kentucky — and the pandemic….” He is the emblematic Democratic politicians who has proved he can win votes from Republicans.

“Whitmer, fifty-two, has been governor of Michigan, an important swing state that voted Trump in 2016 and 2020, since 2019,” Russell continues. “She was re-elected in 2022, winning by nearly eleven points over her Republican opponent. Her signature causes are infrastructure, healthcare and abortion access. With Democrats in control of the governor’s office and both the state’s legislative chambers following last year’s election, Whitmer has pushed through tax cuts, gun control measures and protections for abortion and gay rights. She has served as one of the vice-chairs of the Democratic National Committee since January 2021….Whitmer was recently described in the Atlantic as having a “foul-mouthed irreverence, goofy humour, and ability to pound beers and disarm adversaries.” That may not play in Peoria or Washington, DC, but one thing is clear: she knows how to deal with Trump and his ilk. As a target of his nasty rhetoric, she has accused Trump of helping to incite, and later condoning, an October 2020 plot to abduct her. The planned kidnap by a group of men associated with the Wolverine Watchmen, a Michigan-based militia group furious over tough Covid-19 rules and perceived threats to gun ownership, was thwarted by the FBI and undercover agents — something for which Trump took credit, while simultaneously downplaying the threat to Whitmer….Whitmer might be the best of the three, but she faces one clear obstacle — she’s a woman. On that basis alone she would be ruled out of consideration as Harris’ vice-presidential nominee if one were needed.” Of course it would be a mistake to rule out Vice President Harris this soon, especially if the Biden-Harris ticket is re-elected. She could shine brightly in the next four years. And GA Sen. Raphael Warnock has unique political gifts, including an ability to reach out across party lines, that could make him a lock on the 2028 ticket in the veep slot, if not the top of the ticket. And there are others, including Newsom, Pritzker and Buttigieg, to name a few who have the skill-set to move up into front-runner status in 2028.

To paraphrase a recent social media one-liner, “Would you rather vote for a presidential candidate with 81 years behind him or 91 felony charges in front of him?” It’s a sharp dig because it makes a couple of good points in very few words. Trump is not going to be found innocent of all 91 felony charges, and the importance of Biden’s age shrinks in comparison to Trump’s mental health/moral laxity, which the meme flags. And lest we forget, Trump is no spring chicken at 77  (78 on the next election day). Trump supporters and undecided voters alike are being urged to ignore all of the charges against him and to believe that every single one of them is politicized, even though they come from different legal jurisdictions. Yes, many Trump supporters are quite prepared to do exactly that, and his hard-core personality cult followers don’t really care if he is guilty of criminal charges. But millions of Republicans who are sincerely concerned about crime in their communities and states are being told, in effect, to ignore Trump’s example, even as they are prioritizing ‘tough on crime’ policies for other candidates. That’s a very tough sell and a crapload of cognitive dissonance, which may prove too much for most thoughtful conservatives to swallow. It can only get worse as Trump’s legal problems mount and his reactions become increasingly unhinged. The gullibility required to ignore all of Trump’s coming convictions demands an awful lot of denial from self-respecting or democracy-valuing swing voters. Of course, all of this pro-Biden optimism assumes that a lot of people expressing preference for Trump in recent polls are blowing off steam and will vote differently in the sober light of 2024, when they realize they have to vote for or against democracy.

From “New Civiqs poll: Americans say inflation won’t be solved until prices drop” by Daniel Donner at Daily Kos: “Americans have a very different understanding from economists of what inflation is and how the economy works….The latest Daily Kos/Civiqs survey finds that pluralities of Americans—across party lines—think the problem of inflation won’t be solved until prices drop back down to where they were a few years ago; that in a good economy, prices will naturally drift downward; and that when inflation goes down, prices either go down or stay the same….The latest reading of inflation for groceries stands at 2.1% on an annual basis. That means that, on average, Americans paid $102 for groceries this October that would have cost them $100 a year ago. This is a small difference, and most people would be hard-pressed to notice this change….However, when asked what has happened to grocery prices in their area in the past year, almost everybody—88% of those surveyed—said prices had gone up. Only 5% said prices had “remained about the same.” Either nearly everybody is keeping very careful track of grocery prices, or people are inadvertently comparing current prices to what they were used to more than a year ago….A full 50% of Americans agree that “solving the inflation problem means that prices should go back to where they were a few years ago.”….If inflation continues to go down (economists call this “disinflation”), it could go down to the level we’ve been used to in recent decades—around 2% per year—where prices are still increasing but not as quickly…. 67% responded that they would expect prices to go down or stay the same if inflation goes down.” Prices rarely drop without increased competition, and even then it’s not a safe bet. What Democrats can do is help the public understand that current price hikes are connected to record corporate profits and are modest compared to what other countries are experiencing.

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