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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From “What we’re getting wrong about 2024’s “moderate” voters: The voters who could decide 2024 are a complicated bunch” Christian Paz at Vox: “They constitute one of the most valuable, overlooked, and misunderstood chunks of the American electorate: the nation’s mythical moderates….They’re a complicated bunch. They’re often described as swing voters, fickle ideological creatures who exist around the center of the political spectrum. They get conflated with “independent” and “undecided” voters but aren’t exactly the same. They tend to be less politically engaged than their fierce partisan compatriots to their left and right. They’re both accused of not really existing and credited with winning elections for the major parties. And recently, they’re both the reason the Republican Party has been doing so poorly in the Donald Trump era and the reason Democrats should be careful that their winning coalition doesn’t collapse….you should break down moderate Americans into three discrete blocs….You have true moderates, whose opinions consistently fall around the center of the ideological spectrum. Then there are the moderates who are largely disengaged from politics and hold inconsistent opinions — sometimes, a mix of extreme views from both sides that, when averaged, often give them the false appearance of centrism. And then you have a kind of unicorn, the person who is engaged in politics but similarly has a mix of policy opinions that don’t place them cleanly on the ideological spectrum or in either major US political party….According to surveys of Americans’ ideological beliefs, those who call themselves “moderates” have tended to be a plurality of the American population since at least 1992. In 2022, they were roughly the same size as the segment of Americans calling themselves “conservative” — 35 percent moderate to 36 percent conservative, according to Gallup polling. Self-described “liberals,” meanwhile, trail at 26 percent of American adults, though that number has been trending up over the last 30 years….And Trump’s own brand of conservatism also appears to be less appealing to moderate Republicans in the first two states that have held primary contests so far: In Iowa, he garnered the support of about 20 percent of moderate GOP voters, a drop from his 34 percent showing in 2016 (the last time there were competitive GOP primaries). And in New Hampshire, he won about 25 percent of these moderates, down from 32 percent in 2016….Democrats face a challenge of their own: Their winning coalition counts on a bigger chunk of various kinds of moderate voters turning out for them than for Republicans.”

Highlighting this short message from top Democratic strategist and pollster Stan Greenberg, founding partner of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQR) and Democracy Corps.

E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains “Why I changed my mind and think Trump should be thrown off the ballot” in his Washington Post column: “It is annoying when your political judgments come into conflict with what you decide is right. That’s what has happened to me on the question of whether Donald Trump should be barred from running for president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment….Though I agreed that Trump had, indeed, engaged in insurrection, I thought it would be best for the country to have him go down to defeat again in a free and fair election. Keeping him on the ballot so voters could decide was the path to long-term institutional stability and might finally force a reckoning in the Republican Party….But the more I read and listened, the clearer it became that Section 3 was directed against precisely the conduct Trump engaged in. Its purpose is to protect the republic from those who would shred the Constitution and destroy our system of self-government. What Trump did in advance of the attack on the Capitol and on Jan. 6, 2021, legally disqualifies him from the presidency….to argue that barring Trump from the ballot is “antidemocratic,” wrote professors Carol Anderson and Ian Farrell in another brief, is “ironic … as he bears by far the most responsibility for attempting to subvert democracy on Jan. 6.” An effort to overthrow constitutional procedures, wrote Ifill, should be distinguished from political protests, even those “accompanied by sporadic acts of violence.” Demonstrators are not the same as a mob trying to hijack the government….There are paradoxes galore on this matter. Believing Trump should be unable to run, for example, is the opposite of a partisan wish, since he is without question the weakest Republican whom President Biden could face….The biggest paradox of all: Throwing Trump off the ballot would seem, on its face, the opposite of democracy. Yet the whole point of Section 3 is to protect constitutional democracy from anyone who has already tried to destroy it. If its provisions don’t apply to Trump, they don’t apply to anyone.”

Your daily downer comes from Harry Enten’s “The union vote is becoming more Republican” at CNN Politics, in which he writes: “Take a look at recent New York Times/Siena College polling in the six closest swing states that Biden won in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Biden and Trump were tied at 47% among union members when asked who they’d vote for in 2024. When these swing state voters were asked how they voted in 2020, Biden won the group by an 8-point margin….The union vote is especially important in Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Somewhere between 14% and 15% of employees in these three states are represented by unions. (Between 12% and 13% of employees in these states are themselves union members.)….Biden won union workers – who reside primarily in blue states – by 22 points, according to the 2020 Cooperative Election Study survey by Harvard University. Compare that with Bill Clinton’s performance in 1992, when he won the national popular vote by a similar margin to Biden 28 years later. But Clinton won union members by 31 points, according to an American National Election Studies survey….We’re a far cry from 1948, when Democrat Harry Truman won union workers by 62 points over Republican Thomas Dewey. Truman almost certainly wouldn’t have won the election that year without them….When Truman defeated Dewey, union workers represented about 30% of wage and salary workers. Today, they’re about 10%….Trump won non-college graduate union members by 6 points in 2020. Biden’s victory among union members was entirely attributable to those who had graduated college, winning them by 46 points….union workers are far likelierto be in education, training and library occupations (32.7%). Additionally, public sector employees are much likelier to be part of a union (32.5%) than private sector employees (6.0%)….About two-thirds of Americans approve of labor unions, which ranks among the highest percentages recorded since 1967. Just 15 years ago, only 48% of Americans approved of unions….In other words, it pays to be seen as friendly to labor unions even among those voters who are not members.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    To pay half of American households $600 a month by raising taxes on big corporations you would have to raise the corporate income tax rate to 45%. That is not going to happen and would cause a depression if it did. So, Greenberg’s advice is to campaign on an unkeepable promise and hope the voters forget it.


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