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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“It’s the paradox of Bidenism,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in “How paradoxes of class will shape the 2024 election” at The Washington Post: “The president sees himself as the champion of the working class but can’t rely on its support to win reelection. To prevail, he’ll need a mountain of ballots from college-educated voters in metropolitan areas….The flip side is the paradox of the Republican Party, which now depends on White working-class votes, especially in small towns and the countryside. Yet its economic policies remain geared to the interests of high earners and investors, many of whom have fled the party….These twin paradoxes are central to the outcome of the 2024 campaign, though neither is new. Countless studies and polemics have examined the Democrats’ “working-class problem.” The Republicans’ problem has been growing quietly since the 1990s — and then Donald Trump turned a gradual trend into an acute predicament….President Biden seemed to be the ideal Democrat to restore his party’s standing with working-class voters of all races. In conversations over the decades, “Scranton Joe” invariably turned to his frustration with Democrats for failing to understand the “working middle class.”….As he’ll make clear in Thursday’s State of the Union speech, his economic policies have leaned their way, and not just on labor and trade issues. When he talks about his administration’s investments in infrastructure, technology and clean energy, he points out that the many jobs they’re creating — often by leveraging the private sector — are opening “a path to a good career” to all Americans “whether they go to college or not.”….These programs have pushed a lot of money into struggling communities that are at the heart of Trump’s electoral strength. In a study released last month, my colleagues at the Brookings Institution concluded that “economically distressed counties are receiving a larger-than-proportional share of that investment surge relative to their current share of the economy.”….Yet these efforts have yet to produce the working-class resurgence Democrats hoped for. A Quinnipiac poll released Feb. 21, which showed Biden leading Trump 49 percent to 45 percent, pointed to each candidate’s class challenges. Among White registered voters with college degrees, Biden led Trump 60 percent to 34 percent. Those without college degrees gave Trump 58 percent to Biden’s 37 percent….Meanwhile, the survey showed Trump doing better among Latino and Black voters than he did in 2016 or 2020, underscoring the argument made by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira in their recent book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?” The authors found that between 2012 and 2022, Democrats lost 25 points off their advantage among the non-White working class voters. Because Biden will need both large margins and high turnout from Black and Latino voters, this could be a big deal….what’s often cast as a class split may be even more a place divide. It’s described dramatically in a new book by Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman, “White Rural Rage.” Political scientist Daniel Schlozman, co-author with Sam Rosenfeld of the forthcoming book “The Hollow Parties,” said in an interview that one of the most important contributors to polarization is the gulf between urban/suburban America and small-town/rural America. Given the workings of the Senate and the electoral college, that gives the GOP outsize influence in elections and government….Biden and his party can’t give up on winning working-class voters for both practical and principled reasons. The president has made clear he intends to keep bending his policymaking in their direction — and that doing so is the only way to heal the nation’s deep divides for the long term….But, in the short run, his strategy for victory will require big margins among better-off voters who might not be turned on by Scranton Joe and his blue-collar loyalties but are horrified by the alternative.”

“The DLCC has so far diverted over $200,000 into the Pennsylvania House Caucus this cycle, a clear testament to the weight they place on holding the majority in the state legislature,” Maryann Pugh writes at mychesco.com. “This tactic forms part of the DLCC’s first wave of investments for the 2024 battleground state campaigns. The campaign purse currently stands at a staggering $750,000 total direct investment into their target states….Holding the Pennsylvania House reigns supreme on the DLCC’s strategic priority list. They aim to prevent the Speaker’s gavel from falling into MAGA Republican hands at any cost. Joanna McClinton, the current seat holder, has the DLCC’s full backing as they rally to ensure her position remains secure….DLCC President Heather Williams underscored the significance of these commitments, stating that 2024 is the year of the states. “2024 is the year of the states and the DLCC has invested over $200k into the Pennsylvania Democratic House Caucus to set the stage for our strategy in 2024. We know the stakes of winning these crucial battleground states are high, with abortion, voting rights, fundamental freedoms, and more on the line.”  said Williams….“Our Democratic candidates need early and strong support to build sustainable winning campaigns – early investments are often what make or break races. That’s why the DLCC is on the ground early, working hand and hand with our caucus and campaign committees across the country so we can win in November and beyond. The DLCC’s goal is to fundamentally shift the balance of power in the states and therefore, the country. These investments get us closer to that goal,” continued….This is the most important year in state legislative campaign history, and we are laser-focused on channeling our resources through November to defeat vulnerable Republicans and secure Democratic power in the states.”

Devon Hasano reports that “Vice President Kamala Harris Outlines Strategy To Protect Voting Rights Nationwide” at Democracy Docket: “Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated the White House’s continued support for voting rights on Tuesday when she hosted a roundtable discussion with leaders and organizers leading the fight on the issue. …In a speech before the closed-press meeting, Harris outlined the White House’s four-part strategy to protect voting rights, describing voting as “a fundamental freedom that unlocks all the other freedoms….The strategy includes:

  1. Instructing federal agencies to do all they can to inform Americans on how to vote and when they are eligible,
  1. Promoting voter participation for students by allowing students to get paid to register voters and be poll workers through federal work study,
  1. Protecting election workers by creating the Elections Threats Taskforce that has held more than 100 events to train officials on protecting election workers and
  1. Fighting voter suppression laws by challenging discriminatory laws in court via the U.S. Department of Justice.

Harris also called for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — bills that would drastically improve the voting rights landscape nationwide….The vice president closed by announcing “three national days of action” for voting to continue “work that is about uplifting communities, strengthening coalitions, strengthening communities around their power and ability to lead in their own communities.” The days include Juneteenth (June 19), the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (Aug. 6) and National Voter Registration Day (Sept. 17).”

In “The Downballot: Our big fat Super Tuesday primary preview (transcript), David Nir, political director of Daily Kos, notes, “We as an organization, Daily Kos, have advocated on behalf of legislation that Democrats have introduced in Congress repeatedly that would outlaw partisan gerrymandering. And no one doubts that Congress can do this, at least for congressional redistricting. The power to do so is right there in the Constitution, in the section known as the Elections Clause. The Elections Clause says, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” But hold on, here’s the important part: “[B]ut the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations,” and those regulations include how maps are drawn to elect members of Congress. But every last single Republican in Congress has voted against this bill, which is now called the Freedom to Vote Act. And thanks to the filibuster in the Senate, it remains dead, but it’s not just congressional Republicans….In 2019, the Supreme Court infamously said that federal courts were incapable of adjudicating disputes over partisan gerrymandering. And it was an astonishing statement to make because in the same ruling the Supreme Court said, state courts are able to adjudicate these claims. Are they really saying, is Justice John Roberts saying that state court judges, he’s not the equal of state Supreme Court justices? Really, I don’t believe that for a second. And there’s no doubt that, had Mitch McConnell not engaged in unprecedented obstruction and blocked Merrick Garland’s appointment for the better part of a year, that there would have been five votes to say that “Yes, the federal courts can police gerrymandering.” So here we are, Democrats have done everything they can to make gerrymandering illegal, and Republicans have done everything they can to keep it legal. And Republicans love gerrymandering because they know—they know—that the only way they can cling to power is by ensuring that they can still win elections even if they fail to win the most votes….that leaves Democrats with two choices, either accept the status quo and let Republicans continue to tilt the playing field as far to the right as they can, or fight fire with fire and try to tilt the playing field back toward fairness by using the tools at your disposal.”

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