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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

On New Year’s Day I noted a post from USA Today that spotlighted five counties across the U.S. that may be pivotal in in the 2024 elections. , and The seven counties that will help explain the 2024 election” at nbcnews.com,” and note:

Maricopa County, Arizona: Home to Phoenix, it’s the biggest and swingiest county in battleground Arizona. Former President Donald Trump won it in 2016, 48% to 45%, while Joe Biden won it in 2020, 50% to 48%.

Miami-Dade County, Florida: With Latinos making up a majority of its residents, this county was once reliably Democratic — with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton winning it by more than 20 percentage points in 2012 and 2016. But Biden won it by just 7 points in 2020, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won it by 11 points in his 2022 gubernatorial re-election.

Gwinnett County, Georgia: This diverse county (30% Black, 20% Latino, 14% Asian) is where the Democratic Party has had one of its biggest increases in its vote share from 2008 to 2020. In 2016, Clinton won the county by 6 points; in 2020, Biden won it by 18 — a significant reason how he was able to flip the state in that election.

Kent County, Michigan: Home to Grand Rapids, this once-reliable Republican county started breaking the Democrats’ way in the Trump era. Mitt Romney won it 53% to 45% in 2012; Trump won it by 3 points in 2016, 48% to 45%; but Biden carried it by 6 points in 2020, 52% to 46%.

Washoe County, Nevada: Representing Reno, it’s the swingiest county in Nevada, and it’s where Republicans have to win if they want to flip this battleground in 2024. Clinton carried it by 1 point in 2016, while Biden won it by 5 in 2020.

Erie County, Pennsylvania: As close to Buffalo and Cleveland as it is to Pittsburgh, this is the ultimate blue-collar swing county, NBC’s Steve Kornacki said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. Obama won it by 16 points in 2012; Trump carried it by 2 points in 2016; and Biden won it by 1 point in 2020.

Dane County, Wisconsin: Home to Madison and the University of Wisconsin, this county is all about the Democratic intensity in highly educated college towns. Biden netted 181,327 votes over Trump here in 2020 — up from Clinton’s 146,422 in 2016. And that Dem gain helped the party flip battleground Wisconsin in ‘20, given that Biden won the state by just 20,000 votes.

Anybody have some other swing counties that Dems should focus on?

In “Which 2024 elections are flying under the radar?,” Cooper Burton reports at abcnews.com, via 538, that “This year could see a record-breaking number of states vote on referendums to implement or repeal ranked-choice voting, a system that lets voters rank their candidate choices rather than choosing just one. While 21 states currently use ranked-choice voting in limited or local instances, only two presently use the process as a major part of statewide and/or federal elections — Alaska and Maine. In 2024, that number could double … or decline, depending on the fate of three ballot measures likely to go before voters this year….Nevada and Oregon could pass ranked-choice voting this year….Over in Nevada, voters will head to the polls for the second time to vote on implementing a ranked-choice system in the state. Voters already approvedsuch a ballot measure in 2022, but the state constitution requires citizen-initiated amendments to pass twice before they are enacted, which means the measure will be up again in 2024….The Nevada referendum has an interesting coalition of opponents from across the political spectrum, ranging from both of the state’s Democratic U.S. Senators and the influential state culinary union,…Oregonians will also weigh in on a ballot measure this year that would enact ranked-choice voting in statewide and federal elections. This measure differs from the ones in Alaska and Nevada in that it was put on the ballot by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, rather than through a citizen initiative. That could signal stronger support for the amendment among the state’s Democratic Party establishment — although almost all Republicans opposed the measure in the legislature. Additionally, some cities and counties in Oregon already use ranked-choice voting, meaning that some voters in the state are already familiar with the process and might be less intimidated by it. That may boost the measure’s prospects in a year where the future of ranked-choice voting in other states faces a more challenging outlook.”

Some  thoughts from “How death threats get Republicans to fall in line behind Trump: The insidious way violence is changing American politics — and shaping the 2024 election” by Zack Beauchamp at Vox: “Across the board and around the country, data reveals that threats against public officials have risen to unprecedented numbers — to the point where 83 percent of Americans are now concerned about risks of political violence in their country. The threats are coming from across the political spectrum, but the most important ones in this regard emanate from the MAGA faithful….Trump’s most fanatical followers have created a situation where challenging him carries not only political risks but also personal ones. Elected officials who dare defy the former president face serious threats to their well-being and to that of their families — raising the cost of taking an already difficult stand….As a result, the threat of violence is now a part of the American political system, to the point where Republican officials are — by their own admissions — changing the way they behave because they fear it….“Violence and threats against elected leaders are suppressing the emergence of a pro-democracy faction of the GOP,” writes Rachel Kleinfeld, an expert on political violence at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Absent threats, Kleinfeld argues, a move to Trump from inside the party — perhaps a more serious challenge in the presidential primary — might have had a better chance of getting off the ground….In 2016, the Capitol Police recorded fewer than 900 threats against members of Congress. In 2017, that figure more than quadrupled, per data provided by the Capitol Police….The numbers continued to increase in every year of the Trump presidency, peaking at 9,700 in 2021. In 2022, the first full year of Biden’s term, the numbers went down to a still-high 7,500. The 2023 data has not yet been released, but a spike in threats against legislators during the House Republican speaker fight and Israel-Hamas conflict suggests an increase over the 2022 numbers is plausible….“It’s not even accurate to say [threatening election workers] was rare prior to 2020. It was so rare as to be virtually nonexistent,” David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, told me in 2021. “This is beyond anything that we’ve ever seen.”….Beauchamp provides examples of recent violence and threats and cites “something that’s raising the temperature of American politics, making people feel more angry, afraid, and feeling like they need to take political matters into their own hands….That “something” is Donald Trump.”

Democrats certainly have enough to work on for this year’s presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections. But looking ahead just a bit further, David Wildstein reports at the New Jersey Globe on U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s GOTV tour of six swing counties in New Jersey, in which she is said to be exploring a possible run for Governor in 2025. The former Navy pilot and Georgetown Law grad is frequently cited as a young ‘up and coming’ progressive centrist on the Democratic political spectrum, who would brighten up the top of the ticket in future presidential elections. As Wildstein notes; “In a bid to raise her statewide profile for a possible gubernatorial bid in 2025, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) spent the weekend crisscrossing the state with appearances in six counties on Saturday and Sunday….Sherrill was in Bergen, Morris, Mercer, Hunterdon, Union, and Somerset, headlining GOTV events….“This weekend, I rallied with local Democratic parties in support of our great candidates up and down the line,” said Sherrill.  “Republicans have made it clear that abortion is on the ballot in the upcoming election, and it’s crucial that New Jersey Democrats turn out to protect the gains we’ve made in our state….Her stop in Bergen County was in the political base of a congressional colleague, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), who is also mulling a run for governor.  She led a canvass launch for Jodi Murphy, a former Westwood councilwoman who is challenging State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) in the 39th district….Last week, Gottheimer was in Sherill’s district to headline a fundraiser for Morris County Democrats and to attend an Essex County Democratic fundraising event….“New Jersey is a strong, progressive leader on issues from reproductive rights, to gun safety, to growing the middle class because we have a strong Democratic Party – not despite that,” said Sherrill. “

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Tom chumley on

    Green’s county posts were excellent.

    I would add one more county to the mix.
    Mecklenburg County NC, (Charlotte). In 2020 Joe Biden scored the highest percentage of the vote for any Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin Roosevelt in 1944.
    In 2022 US Senate candidate Cheri Beasley scored 65.17% of the Mecklenburg vote. That was the highest % for any Democrat for the Senate since Sam Ervin in 1958.

    If Biden can tack on another 90,000 votes in Mecklenburg, North Carolina goes blue!


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