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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “Who is Marilyn Lands? Dem running on abortion platform wins Alabama house seat by 25 points,” Karissa Waddick and Kinsey Crowley report at USA Today, “A Democrat won a contentious special election Tuesday for a state house seat in Alabama, in win that could signal the dominant role of abortion and in-vitro fertilization in elections across the country in 2024….Marilyn Lands beat Republican Teddy Powell in a race for the seat that was left vacant after former Republican Rep. David Cole who pleaded guilty to voter fraud….Alabama has been in the reproductive rights spotlight after the state Supreme Court ruled that embryos created during IVF should be legally treated as children. The decision halted IVF treatments at many clinics in the state, until the state legislature passed measures to protect the treatment….Lands made abortion and IVF access a central point of her campaign. Her win could be a testament to the salience of those issues for voters in 2024….Marilyn Lands is a licensed professional counselor who previously worked in banking and aerospace, according to her website….Abortion was one of her top issues as a candidate, along with economic development and education….In a TV ad, Lands shared her experience getting an abortion for a “nonviable” pregnancy years ago. She appeared with an Alabama woman who faced a similar situation but had to travel out of state to receive the procedure because of the state’s abortion ban after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision….Lands also argued that a law passed in response to the state Supreme Court’s IVF ruling, which aimed to protect IVF providers and patients from prosecution, fell short and did not address the root concerns with the court’s decision….According to unofficial results on the Alabama Secretary of State website, Lands won 62.31% of the vote, with 100% of votes counted. Powell, a local city council member, lost earning only 37.5% of the vote. Just 1.85% of voters turned out….Lands ran against her predecessor in 2022, and lost by seven points.”

At Politico, Alice Miranda Ollstein reports that “Democrats are counting on abortion rights to carry them to victory this fall in races across the country. But nowhere more so than in Arizona….Abortion-rights activists are gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to put a measure on the ballot enshrining protections in the state’s constitution. Doing so, Democrats believe, will juice turnout on the left, giving them a chance to break the GOP’s narrow majority in the state legislature, win a pivotal Senate seat and deliver the state — and possibly the election — to President Joe Biden….Some Arizona conservatives acknowledge that a referendum on abortion rights could dim their electoral chances, and are working to keep the issue off the November ballot. Others are backpedaling on previous hardline anti-abortion stances as they court independents and moderates….The parties’ scramble in the battleground state eight months ahead of the election is a model for how the issue is shaping competitive races nationwide. And while Democrats are nervous about progressive rage over the war in Gaza and slipping support among communities of color, they remain confident after a string of victories over the last two years that championing abortion rights will help them clinch key contests in November….“Even though this is a purple state, this is not a swing issue for us,” said Senate hopeful Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), sitting inside Lola, a dimly lit coffee shop on Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row. “It is solidly a pro-abortion-rights state….While Gallego pitches himself as a champion for abortion access — helping collect signatures to put the measure on the ballot, holding events with abortion-rights groups and pledging to abolish the Senate filibuster to help pass national protections if elected — his likely GOP opponent is backing away from the issue….Republican Kari Lake, the front-runner in the GOP Senate primary, said during her failed bid for governor in 2022 that she would enforce Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban if elected, calling it a “great law.” She has also expressed support for a state ban on abortion pills and the forced closure of abortion clinics. But the MAGA firebrand has of late tried to sidestep questions about her plans on abortion, telling POLITICO “it’s ultimately going to be up to the voters of Arizona to decide” before changing the subject….Both sides are bracing for a nailbiter. Biden won Arizona by just over 10,000 votes in 2020, and the state’s Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes won her 2022 race by just a couple hundred votes — a victory she attributes almost entirely to voter outrage over the fall of Roe v. Wade and the rise of state abortion bans.”

“While still negative, Americans’ view of the U.S. economy remains improved in 2024 from last year,” Mary Clare Evans reports at Gallup. “Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is at -20 in March, similar to the -22 found in February but sharply higher than the readings near -50 measured last fall. The index is currently at its highest point since a -12 reading in August 2021….Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index summarizes Americans’ evaluations of current economic conditions (as excellent, good, only fair or poor) and their outlook for the economy (whether they believe it is getting better or worse)….The index has a theoretical range of +100 (if all Americans rate current conditions as excellent or good and say the economy is getting better) to -100 (if all Americans rate the economy as poor and say it is getting worse). In Gallup’s trend of these measures since 1992, the highest ECI score has been +56, in January 2000, and the lowest has been -72, in October 2008….The latest results are from a March 1-20, 2024, Gallup poll. This month, President Joe Biden has touted indicators of strong economic performance in his State of the Union address and on the campaign trail. These include record stock values, easing inflation, job creation and low unemployment. Yet, Americans still feel the cumulative effects of rising prices from the past two years….Thirty percent of U.S. adults now say economic conditions are excellent or good, while 30% call them only fair and 39% poor. This results in a -9 score on the current conditions component of the index, which is improved from -15 in March and -31 in November. The last time the current conditions score was better than now was in October 2021 (-8)….The percentage of Americans rating economic conditions as excellent or good increased by four percentage points in March, pushing the figure to 30%. This is the highest proportion giving positive evaluations of the economy since June 2021….When asked about the economy’s direction, 33% of Americans say conditions are getting better, while 63% say they’re getting worse. Although economic optimism is about the same as last month’s 32%, it has been slowly expanding since October, when 21% said the economy was getting better….Democrats’ current economic attitudes result in an Economic Confidence Index score of +35, while independents stand at -28 and Republicans at -62. All three partisan groups, but particularly Democrats, have shown improved confidence since October. Since then, Democrats’ ECI score has increased by 35 points, from 0 to +35, while independents’ score has risen by 15 points (from -43 to -28) and Republicans’ by 10 points (from -72 to -62).”

Evans continues, “The economy is a major issue in presidential elections, particularly when an incumbent is seeking reelection. In the five elections since 1992 involving a sitting president in which Gallup has measured economic confidence, economic confidence has conformed with the election outcome in two elections when confidence was relatively high or low.

  • George H.W. Bush lost reelection in 1992 at a time when the ECI was at -37.
  • Bill Clinton won a second term in 1996 when the ECI was at +23.

However, when economic attitudes have been mixed, with the index near the zero midpoint of its range, election outcomes have varied.

  • In 2004 and 2012, the index was at +1 and -1, respectively — and both incumbents (George W. Bush and Barack Obama) won.
  • On the other hand, in 2020, Donald Trump was defeated at a time when the ECI was at -4, perhaps because the coronavirus pandemic overshadowed the economy.

Evans adds, “While the current ECI score is not promising for Biden, Gallup trends show it has the capacity to change in the span of a few months.

    • In 2020, confidence plummeted from a 20-year high in February to a deeply negative -32 at the start of the pandemic, before climbing back to neutral territory (-4) by the time of the election.
    • In 2012, the index score rose by a total of 13 points between March and October, likely aiding Obama’s reelection.
    • In contrast, during the global financial crisis in 2008, the index experienced a decline of 21 points over the same period and remained low for months.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on


    “Their paper—”The Emergence of a Uniform Business Cycle in the United States: Evidence from New Claims-Based Unemployment Data”—documents two important trends highlighted by the new datatset:

    First, a more uniform, and slower, pace of recovery has emerged since the 1960s.

    Unemployment nationally has recovered more gradually in recent decades while state unemployment rates have converged.

    Second, interstate migration, with unemployed workers moving to states with more plentiful jobs, has not significantly spurred recoveries since the mid-1980s.

    The authors attribute the slowing and convergence of recovery rates to several factors, including a shift from manufacturing to less-volatile services in the economy, the industrial composition of states growing more similar, and the increased integration of the national economy.

    As a result, workers have much less incentive to move when they lose a job.”


    “In addition, about two-thirds of respondents, including higher-income respondents, believe that the wages of higher-income people rise more quickly than theirs.”


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