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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“As President Joe Biden casts the race for the White House as a fight to save democracy, state-level Democrats say that battle is already well underway in what they’re calling “the year of the states,” CNN Politics. “The party committee dedicated to state legislative races raised more than $21 million, a record-breaking sum ahead of the 2024 on-year, and is laying out a roadmap for the year ahead in battleground states as well as red states where it sees an opportunity to break Republican legislative supermajorities, according to a memo released Wednesday and shared first with CNN….Amid a high-stakes presidential election and a tight race for control of Congress, state-level races will be far down the 2024 ballot. But their relevance, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Heather Williams argues, is becoming more widely recognized – especially in the wake of the 2022 Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade that made abortion an issue decided by states….“We’re seeing in a post-Dobbs world, without question, we are seeing voters show up for these elections,” Williams said, noting that Democrats picked up legislative chambers in 2022 and 2023 and overperformed in special elections last year, even in some red territory. The DLCC’s grassroots fundraising is also a bright spot, despite what the memo calls “downward industry trends” – which Williams chalked up to their message about state-level politics having a direct impact on people’s lives. “If you care about access to abortion, it is state legislators who are the ones who can protect it,” she said….The group’s priorities for 2024 are protecting majorities in the Michigan House, the Minnesota House and the Pennsylvania House – the latter of which they had to defend in five special elections just in 2023 alone. They’re also trying to flip the Arizona House and Senate, the New Hampshire House and Senate, and the Pennsylvania Senate.”

A couple of takeaways from the Haley-DeSantis debate last night: “DeSantis was lobbed a softball question on the topic of Trump’s legal troubles — and whiffed. While there are plenty of complicated theories and laws at play, CNN’s moderators went easy on the two candidates Wednesday night, asking only whether they agreed with Team Trump’s latest presidential immunity argument….This should have been an easy answer, even for DeSantis. Of course an American president does not have carte blanche to assassinate a political opponent. This is not just common sense — many legal experts agree. Instead, the Floridian timidly demurred: “I’m not exactly sure what the outer limits are.” It was an uncomfortably cowardly — and cringeworthy — response.” (Bryan Tyler Cohen at MSNBC.com). Haley did an artful flip-flop on the topic of the 2020 election, stating that Trump lost in 2020, which makes her potential selection by Trump as his running mate a bit more problematic. Overall, I thought Haley did significantly better than DeSantis. But Iowa evangelicals dominate the state’s GOP rank and file, so the Monday outcome is still hard to predict. It pains me to admit that both Haley and DeSantis were alert and focused debaters. But DeSantis seemed to have more to hide, and looked like a deer caught in the headlights at several points. My big take-away is that the Biden campaign should be glad Trump is the GOP front-runner. Also, both Haley and DeSantis could be formidable contenders for their party’s presidential nomination in 2028.

Paul Starr writes in “The Life-and-Death Cost of Conservative Power” at The American Prospect: “In a 2020 paper, a team of researchers led by Jennifer Karas Montez assembled annual data from 1970 through 2014 on both life expectancy and state policies in 18 different policy domains, including health, labor, the environment, and taxation. In previous work, one of the collaborating scholars, Jacob M. Grumbach, had shown that state-level policies over that period had polarized on a liberal-to-conservative spectrum. According to the new Montez study, which controlled for differences in state populations, the polarized shifts in state policy were associated with changes in life expectancy. States that adopted liberal policies were more likely to experience larger gains in life expectancy (and in recent years to avoid an outright decline). Connecticut and Oklahoma were the two states whose policies shifted the most, Connecticut toward the liberal side and Oklahoma toward the conservative side. In 1959, life expectancy in both states was 71.1 years; by 2017, it had increased to 80.7 years in Connecticut but only to 75.8 years in Oklahoma….Couldn’t the explanation for such changes lie in changes in education, income, and other characteristics of the states? Montez and her co-authors estimated the association of life expectancy with state policy liberalism, net of other factors such as the composition of the state’s population. Taking those factors into account, their model indicated that if all states’ policies were the same as Connecticut’s in 2014, U.S. life expectancy would have been two years longer for women and 1.3 years longer for men—and if all states’ policies were like Oklahoma’s, Americans’ lives would have been shorter….In one of the rare studies that tracks long-term effects of policy, Andrew Goodman-Bacon used state-by-state variations in the original introduction of Medicaid coverage for children between 1966 and 1970 to estimate health and economic effects in adulthood. He found that early childhood eligibility for Medicaid reduced death and disability and increased employment up to 50 years later. In fact, it saved the government more than its original cost because the recipients later received less in public benefits and paid more in taxes.”

At Daily Kos, Kos explains why “Taylor Swift is conservatism’s greatest foe” and really, why Democrats should be glad about her enormous popularity. As Kos notes, “Following her second Time “person of the year” cover, the right erupted in hysterical outrage. Conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer ranted about Swift being in cahoots with liberal donor George Soros, claiming her efforts to register young voters were meant to “interfere” in the 2024 elections.” Kos notes that “she has a gap in her tour schedule between Aug. 20 and Oct. 18. The Democratic National Convention will run Aug. 19-22. Would be something to have her play and speak on the final day of the convention….The more right-wingers go after her, the more likely her fans are to heed her calls for voter registration and participation. The GOP’s war on democracy and personal liberties (and in particular, abortion and contraception) provides ample motivation to further motivate them….There’s plenty of time for her to amp up her political activism, registering millions of otherwise inactive voters and ensuring they turn out and vote. And Republicans, by hysterically attacking Swift’s very existence, could very well motivate her to do so….the ideal Republican voter is a white, married male with no college education. And their biggest nemesis? A single, college-educated young woman….And who does Swift speak to? Young, single women. And what does she preach? Personal empowerment and political participation….In one of her first forays into political activism, she went after Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn in 2018. She has publicly called Donald Trump an autocrat and advocated for his defeat in 2020. And a single Instagram post in September drove tens of thousands of her fans to a voter registration website. And on Election Day 2022, she publicly encouraged her fans to vote. It really does feel like she’s just getting started, and conservatives are terrified.” Hey, how about a tag-team ad, or series of ads, spotlighting Taylor Swift and Beyonce together urging American women to vote in the 2024 elections to defend their reproductive rights, protect children from gun violence and save democracy?

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