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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Alex Thompson and Hans Nichols report that “Biden’s strategy to win back progressives could be working” at Axios: “His targeted appeals to the Democratic base reveal a campaign that’s currently more focused on energizing — or reclaiming — its core supporters than on making overtures to swing voters….Polls suggest the strategy may be working as some Democrats are beginning to return to the president….From blasting former President Trump on abortion rights to forgiving student loans to pressing for new climate goals, Biden has been trying boost his popularity among progressives, young people and people of color.”Support for Biden among those voters has been consistently lower than in 2020, according to polls….Many of Biden’s paid ads also target Hispanics and working-class Black men — key parts of the Democratic coalition that he appears to be struggling to keep in his corner….The campaign has also been running an ad focused on concerns among many voters — including many Democrats — about his age. Biden speaks directly into the camera in that one….The company Biden has been keeping recently is just as telling….In April, Biden had two events with progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)….And this week, Biden invited Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Air Force One to go to a climate change event….Biden announced this week that he’ll deliver the commencement address next month at Morehouse College, the historically Black institution in the swing state of Georgia….And the Biden team recently began airing an ad called “Sharp” with Joseph “JoJo” Burgess — a middle-aged Black man who is mayor of Washington, Pa. — attesting to the president’s mental acuity.” On a more cautionary note, “A February poll by the New York Times and Siena College found 23% of Democratic primary voters said they were enthusiastic about Biden, while 48% of Republican primary voters said they were enthusiastic about Trump….A recent Wall Street Journal poll in the key swing states also found that 30% of Black men said they will definitely or probably vote for Trump.” However, “The Biden administration has also made a flurry of left-leaning policy announcements that have high support among Democratic constituencies….He has repeatedly promised Pennsylvania steelworkers that U.S. Steel will remain an American company and has threatened to triple tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum….In March, his EPA issued an ambitious rule to ensure the majority of new vehicles sold in the United States are all-electric or hybrids by 2032….Then in mid-April, Biden announced he would cancel another $7.4 billion in student debt, bringing his total $153 billion in canceled loans for 4.3 million borrowers….There’s one major policy move that Biden is considering — a crackdown on the border with an executive order — that would indicate he’s willing to forsake his party’s base to let swing voters know he appreciates their concerns on immigration and crime….Trump is also pursuing a base-first strategy to reclaim the White House, revving up his most ardent supporters by pledging to “free” convicted Jan. 6 rioters, close the southern border and drill for more oil.”

At The Nation, Editorial Director and Publisher Katrina vanden Heuval’s “Here’s What a 21st-Century Rural New Deal Looks Like” describes a new “strategy for building a rural-urban working-class coalition.” As she outlines the vision, “Imagine networks of family-owned farms, powered by solar panels, plowed by workers earning a livable wage, all organized around iconic small-town courthouse squares. Imagine students at the local school taking vocational courses to pursue a trade—future carpenters, mechanics, and electricians getting free training that they can supplement with online research via universally available high-speed broadband. This is what life could look like after a Rural New Deal.” She adds that “The proposal has been put forward by an organization called the Rural Urban Bridge Initiative, or RUBI. Founded by progressives raised on hay farms and in coalfields, RUBI goes beyond the typical obvious prescriptions to “engage” rural voters. Instead, they offer a strategy for building a rural-urban working-class coalition that’s equal parts sensible and ambitious….Their efforts come at a fork in the poorly maintained road for the Democratic Party. As RUBI’s founders pointed out in a midterm postmortem forThe Nation, Democrats have been hemorrhaging support among rural voters, two-thirds of whom hold them in “low esteem.” And an NBC News poll from last September showed that barely a quarter of rural voters approve of the Biden administration. Those are startling numbers in an election year when the president needs electoral votes from Maine, New Hampshire, and Nevada, and crucial Senate seats are being defended in Montana and Ohio….But by heeding RUBI’s advice and championing bold solutions to the challenges faced by rural and urban workers alike, Democrats could inaugurate a progressive renaissance in places that have been misconstrued as irretrievably lost—and bolster enthusiasm among core voters…./The comprehensive strategy advocated by RUBI asks Democrats to “think, talk, and act different”—and the organization offers a clear vision for how that can get done via their Rural New Deal. It consists of 10 pillars of fearless but practical policy proposals, ranging from universal broadband access to support for small local banks to affordable housing and universal healthcare initiatives….RUBI also counsels progressives to engage rural Americans by learning to “talk like a neighbor.” Instead of relying on a single staffer in Brooklyn for rural outreach—as the Hillary Clinton campaign literally did in 2016—they call for sincere consideration of rural livelihoods and understanding the causes of their alienation.” Read on here for the rest of vanden Heuval’s article.

Good news from the Sunshine State: Jacob Ogles reports that “Florida Democrats field candidate in every congressional district in the state” at Florida Politics. As Ogles explains, “The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) has successfully fielded candidates in every congressional district in the state….That achieves a goal that the party announced less than two weeks from the qualification deadline. Now, FDP Chair Nikki Fried said it’s a clear sign that the blue team has momentum….“Florida Democrats just filed to compete for every congressional seat,” Fried said. “It does not matter if we’re running in Pensacola or Key West, every part of this state is worth fighting for and we are not going to let Florida Republicans walk into office without being held accountable. Florida Democrats are fired up and ready to compete everywhere.”….Of note, grassroots activists have sought out candidates even in long shot districts, and played a significant role in finding candidates in many of Florida’s seats….“Competing matters. Elections have consequences,” posted Fergie Reid, founder of 90 For 90. That’s a group started in Virginia that pushed for a full-field strategy there that ultimately led to Democrats retaking the Legislature. Now, the group and other grassroots activists want to try the same approach in Florida. They have tried to do so in past elections like 2020. But that year, the group met resistance from the state party, which wanted to focus on battleground districts….Movement leaders have admitted that Democrats will not win every district in Florida. Democrats haven’t controlled a majority of U.S. House seats in the Sunshine State since 1988….But Democrats believe that having candidates organizing and fighting for votes everywhere will help the party long-term, and hopefully mobilize voters to support President Joe Biden in this year’s Presidential Election and unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who is running for re-election.” It’s a good start. As Ogles points out, “Democrats have more ground to make up. In 2022, Republicans won 20 of Florida’s 28 congressional seats.” Hopefully Florida Democrats will benefit substantially from having both abortion rights and weed on the November ballot.

Annette Choi and Lauren Mascarenhas have an update, “These are the states where abortion rights will – or could – be on the ballot in November” at CNN Politics. As Choi and Mascarenhas write: “Three states, Florida, Maryland and New York, have already secured abortion measures on the 2024 ballot. All eyes are on Florida, which has served as a critical access point for people seeking services in a region of the country that is fast becoming an abortion care desert. A six-week abortion ban is set to replace the state’s already-restrictive 15-week ban on May 1….Organizers in other states across the country are working to secure funding, gather signatures and jump through the legal hoops necessary to secure abortion measures on the 2024 ballot….In most states, the process entails collecting a certain number of signatures by a designated deadline this summer, while others require the additional step of having the ballot language approved by a state court, according to campaign organizers. The abortion rights measures are largely backed by coalitions of reproductive health advocates, many of which are fundraising to secure the money to support the campaigns….Arizona, Nevada and Montana have all seen proposed measures protecting abortion access up to the point of viability, which doctors say is around 24 weeks into pregnancy. A potential measure in Arkansas would allow abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy or in cases of rape, incest or fatal fetal anomalies, while one in South Dakota would eliminate restrictions on abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy, with further restrictions in the second. It would also allow the state to “regulate or prohibit” abortion in the third trimester….A potential measure in Missouri seeks to broadly protect reproductive care, while a separate proposed measure would seek to enshrine the state’s near-total abortion ban into the constitution….Seven states have already seen a vote on abortion access since Roe v. Wade was overturned, and reproductive health advocates have been heartened by the overwhelming support for abortion access among voters. Every measure aimed at protecting abortion access has passed, while all measures to restrict it have failed….Proposed measures to restrict abortion access in Iowa and Pennsylvania both seek to establish that public funding can’t be used for the procedure, though both are unlikely to pass their state legislatures.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    Any “crackdown” on illegal immigration by Biden would be seen as a cynical election-year ploy to be hastily reversed as soon as his second term begins–because that is what it is.


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