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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Here’s an indication that, if Democrats don’t start focusing on linking reproductive freedom to the presidential race, the powerful issue may matter more down-ballot, according to Julianne McShane’s “Trump Killed Abortion Rights. But Voters Still Don’t Blame Him: He appointed three of the five Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe—but most voters don’t hold him responsible, a new poll found” at Mother Jones: “Despite Trump appointing three of the Supreme Court justices that were part of the majority that overturned the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade, most voters don’t hold him responsible for rising abortion restrictions nationwide, according to the results of a new poll releasedMonday….The poll, conducted in December by the progressive think tank and polling firm Data for Progress, found that less than a quarter of voters overall (only 36 percent of Democrats—and, oddly, only 11 percent of Republicans) see Trump as “responsible for new bans or restrictions on abortions in states across the U.S.” So who do voters hold more responsible? Republicans in state office (33 percent), Republicans in Congress (34 percent), and the Supreme Court (50 percent). That’s not necessarily surprising, given that it was the high court that ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe; that Republicans in Congress have already introduced several bills over the last few years aimed at essentially eliminating abortion rights; and that Republicans in statehouses across the country continue to say unhinged things as they seek to curtail abortion access….But, still, Data for Progress says the poll results—as well as another data point from that poll, showing that 52 percent of voters overall, and 67 percent of Democrats, believe the outcome of the next election will be significant for addressing abortion—show that “Biden’s focus on directing the blame to Trump” for the end of Roe “could help voters make more of a connection to the role Trump has played in curtailing abortion rights.”….Biden has also continued to attract criticism from some reproductive rights and justice activists who say he’s too tepid in his support for abortion rights, given that polling shows a majority of Americans not only disapprove of Dobbs, but also believe that abortion should be legal in all or most instances.”

“Twelve years ago,’ E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his syndicated Washington Post column, “political scientists Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein shook up Washington with their argument that the U.S. government wasn’t working because of what had happened to the Republican Party….They made their case in a book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” and in a powerful Post op-ed titled “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.”….“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics,” they wrote. “It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.”….Power in the GOP has moved away from elected officials and toward those right-wing “commentators” on television, radio, podcasts and online. The creation of ideological media bubbles enhances their power. Republicans in large numbers rely on partisan outlets that lied freely about what Lankford’s compromise did and didn’t do, rather than on straight news reports….But the way things are going, Republicans in each chamber are just as likely to ignore the other’s better instincts. “Worsest” is not a word, but Mann and Ornstein might need it if they publish a new edition.”

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik reports: “Following last week’s release of 2023’s fourth quarter campaign fundraising reports, we thought this was a good time to go through our House ratings and make a few revisions….The changes don’t alter the overall House rating math all that much: currently, we have 212 districts rated as Safe, Likely, or Leans Republican, 203 as Safe/Likely/Leans Democratic, and 20 Toss-ups. Splitting the Toss-ups down the middle would lead to… a 222-213 Republican House, or exactly zero net change from what happened in 2022. So Republicans are a little bit ahead in the ratings, but we’d classify the overall battle for the House as a Toss-up….The relatively scant House generic ballot polling generally shows a small Republican lead—the FiveThirtyEight average pegs it as half a point and the RealClearPolitics average has it as 2 points. This makes the overall environment seem like we’re still stuck in 2022, an observation we ran by several sources on both sides of the aisle without much pushback….In yesterday’s part one of our House analysis, we discussed the correlation between House and presidential results and what we saw in 2016 and 2020. Two of the relatively few “crossover” district members are Reps. Jared Golden (D, ME-2) and Don Bacon (R, NE-2). The pair are linked not only by being crossover members, but also because of the Electoral College quirk that is unique to their two states: Both Maine and Nebraska award electoral votes by congressional district. This allowed Donald Trump, by carrying Golden’s sprawling ME-2 in 2016 and 2020, to pad his electoral vote tally by one, and Joe Biden was able to do the same in 2020 by carrying Bacon’s Omaha-based NE-2….That both districts are likelier than not to award their electoral votes to the party opposite of their current House incumbent is the main reason we’re moving both districts from Leans to Toss-up, although they both are poised to have potentially strong opposition.”

In “Can America’s “sleeping giant” shake up the election? Let’s hope so.” Bob Hennelley writes at Salon: “It’s ironic that in 2024  the very fate of our republic rests entirely in the hands of the nation’s 85 million low wage potential voters, roughly a third of the American electorate that society and the corporate news media regularly ignore.  It’s the common Beltway wisdom that these folks at the base of the pyramid are marginal to the political conversation as compared to the vaunted middle class upon which both major parties have for so long fixated on….Columbia University researcher Robert Paul Hartley found that only 46 percent of voters with household income less than twice the federal poverty rate cast a ballot in 2016, as compared to a 68 percent turnout rate for voters who had a household income more than twice the poverty line. “They’re saying that they’re not voting because people are not speaking to their issues and that they’re just not interested in those candidates,” Hartley, told the New York Times  “But it’s not that they couldn’t be.”….In 2016, Trump carried Michigan by just 10,000 votes. 980,000 low-wage voters did not turn out. If. 1.1 percent of those voters had bothered the results would have been different. Michigan was no exception. In North Carolina, Trump’s margin of victory was 170,000 votes while 920,000 poor and low-wealth voters sat it out. If just 18.9 percent of those disengaged voters had been motivated to go to the polls history would have bent another way….n 2020, in Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin the Biden-Trump faceoff was really tight, close to just 3 percent. In Texas, a Republican bastion for decades, the margin was just over 5 percent….In 2016, in a ‘proof of concept’, the Poor People’s Campaign targeted specific low wealth and low wage voters in several states including in Georgia where they identified and mobilized 36,000 previously unengaged voters that helped produce the margin of victory in the pivotal U.S. Senate races won by Rev. Raphael Warner (D-GA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA).”

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