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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his article, “One path for Biden to lure blue-collar voters – find the economic villains: ‘You have to pick fights’,” Steven Greenhouse writes at The Guardian: “To the dismay of Democrats, blue-collar voters have lined up increasingly behind Donald Trump, but political experts say Joe Biden can still turn things around with that large and pivotal group by campaigning hard on “kitchen table” economic issues….With just six months to go until the election, recent polls show that Trump has stronger support among blue-collar Americans than he did in 2020. But several political analysts told the Guardian that Biden can bring back enough of those voters to win if he hammers home the message that he is helping Americans on pocketbook issues – for instance, by canceling student debt and cutting insulin prices….According to Celinda Lake, a pollster for the Democratic National Committee, Biden needs to talk more often and more effectively about how his policies mean “real benefits” for working families and how he’s battling on their behalf against “villains” like greedy pharmaceutical companies….“We need to have a dramatic framing that we’re going to take on villains to make the economy work for you and your family,” said Lake, who did polling for Biden’s 2020 campaign. “The villains can be a lot of things – corporations that don’t pay any taxes or drug companies that make record profits while they gouge you on prices.”….Republicans have won over many voters by attacking Democrats on cultural issues, but Lake said Democrats can overcome that. “We need to recognize that the economic message beats the cultural war message,” she said, adding that the economic message should focus on specific examples of how Biden’s policies have helped workers and their families….Several Democrats voiced concern about the party’s current messaging, arguing that the White House and the Biden campaign are too insular and in ways locked into an outdated vision – that if a president delivers good things to voters, like good-paying construction jobs created by the $1.2tn infrastructure package, and runs campaign ads about those things, that will win over many voters….In the 2020 election, 48% of voters without a college degree voted for Biden, while 50% supported Trump, according to exit polls, White voters without a college degree backed Trump over Biden 67% to 32%, while voters of color without a college degree supported Biden, 72% to 26%. All told, 59% of 2020 voters didn’t have a college degree. Biden won the overall election because his comfortable 55% to 43% margin among college graduates more than offset his narrow loss among non-college graduates….Taking a position that has angered many progressives, Teixeira said the Democrats’ stance on “crime, race, gender and climate is a whole can of worms” that has turned off many blue-collar voters. He said the Democrats are obsessed with climate change in a way that alienates many blue-collar voters, who, he said, fear that the push for renewable energy will mean higher energy prices. Teixeira also said that Democratic concerns about transgender rights – a culture war focus of the Republicans – has turned off many blue-collar voters….“

Greenhouse continues, “The Democrats have to orient themselves away from the median liberal, college- educated voter who they get a Soviet-style majority from and orient themselves toward the median working-class voter, not just white, but non-white voters,” Teixeira said. “It’s not easy to do. They have to turn the battleship around.”….Another reason blue-collar voters have turned away from Democrats is the decline in union membership – from 35% of all workers in the 1950s to 10% today. Rosenthal remembers going to a steelworkers’ union hall in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, several decades ago – it had 15 bowling lanes and a bar. “Around 30% of workers were in unions,” Rosenthal said. “Another 10% or 15% were in union households, and a lot of other workers drank at the bar or bowled there.” The steelworkers’ hall served as a community center where people received information from the union and there was robust support for Democrats. The new book Rust Belt Union Blues describes a transformed landscape where many union halls have closed and gun clubs have often replaced them as gathering places for the working class – and there, the ambience is pro-Trump….Another factor contributing to the Democrats’ woes is that over half the nation’s local news stations are in the hands of Sinclair and other rightwing owners, said Lux. That often makes it harder for Biden and other Democrats to get their message across….As a result, Lux said, Democrats have to work extra hard to get their message out – for instance, through community Facebook pages that explain that the new bridge in town is being built thanks to Biden or that the Biden administration has helped blue-collar Americans by extending overtime coverage to 4 million more workers and banning non-competes that cover 30 million workers….“The Democrats have to lean into issues that mean a lot to working people,” Lux said. “We have to keep showing up in Ottumwa [a working-class town in Iowa] and keep showing up in Youngstown [a blue-collar Ohio town].”….“In a war between good policies and good stories that speak to people’s identities and emotions, good stories are going to win,” said Deepak Bhargava, president of the JPB Foundation and former head of the Center for Community Change….[Center for American Progress President Patrick] Gaspard said that in his economic messaging, Biden needed to “recognize the insecurities that working folks – white, Black and brown – are feeling” whether about the cost of living or other matters. “Biden needs to call out General Mills and Kimberly-Clark for raising the price of cereal and diapers,” Gaspard said. “People like it when you’re fighting for them.”

From “Nothing Passes in the House If Hakeem Jeffries Doesn’t Want It to Pass” by Charles Pierce at Esquire: “You may have missed it on Tuesday, but Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) became the de facto speaker of the House of Representatives. He did it by shrewdly announcing that he and his leadership group will encourage their caucus to block any attempt by the Angry Children’s Caucus to eighty-six the nominal speaker, Mike Johnson, Republican of Louisiana…..Admittedly, I’m usually of the toss-them-an-anchor school of partisan politics. I think there are several reasons to be suspicious of Johnson’s good faith on anything. And I’m not inclined to give him as many points as some people have for passing a vital and popular foreign-aid package against the opposition of the flying monkeys. But the fact remains that without Democratic support, Johnson would be accounted to be a do-nothing speaker as well as vulnerable at all times to motions to vacate his chair….Dozens of Democrats have indicated for weeks they might be willing to step in to save Johnson if he brought the foreign aid package to the House floor—many were just waiting for an official signal from their party leaders….MTG has always looked fairly capable of repeatedly running her head into the wall. She sure as hell isn’t interested in legislating. What I am sure of is that nothing passes in this House unless Hakeem Jeffries wants it to pass. He’s Mike Johnson’s new landlord.” It’s not quite the same thing as Jeffries, who is one of the smartest strategists in congress, actually holding the Speaker’s gavel. He would be the first to say that Democrats must win a comfortable working majority to pass legislation that moves America forward. But Pierce is undoubtedly correct that Jeffries now has what amounts to veto power, thanks to the GOP’s disarray, abandonment of all bipartisan pretense, and free reign of its looney fringe.

Editor-in-Chief Josh Marshall makes it plain at Talking Points memo in his article “Trump Attacks the Jews As Biden Puts His Foot Down,” opening with a quote from Trump: “”If any Jewish person voted for Joe Biden, they should be ashamed of themselves.” That’s ex-President Trump this morning as he headed into the courtroom in New York City. This is worth everyone taking a close look at. When Trump feels cornered and scared one of his go-tos is to lash out at American Jews. The overwhelming percentage of American Jews voted for President Biden in 2020. And there’s no pollster or political prognosticator who doesn’t think the same will happen this year. So this isn’t some hypothetical — if that happened they should be ashamed. It did happen and will again. While the precise percentage of American Jews voting for each party can shift a bit cycle to cycle, Jews are, along with African-Americans, the most consistent Democratic voting block in the country and have been so for the last century. And for this they should be ashamed of themselves, according to the Republican nominee.” Marshall adds in another article, “What was first communicated by reports of a slowdown in weapons transfers and then confirmed in leaks has now been brought into the open: Joe Biden is saying he will cut off the supply of heavy munitions (big bombs from the sky) if Israel goes ahead with a major ground incursion into Rafah, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip, which is both the last refuge of Hamas’ intact battalions and hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians who have fled other parts of the strip over the last six months. This is in addition to the city’s normal civilian population….I have seen some commentators who have absolutely no love for Netanyahu saying this undercuts whatever leverage Israel has in the hostage negotiations by depriving them of the threat to go into Rafah in force. There’s likely something to that. But it is basically a certainty that this move was absolutely the final straw for the U.S. It had been insisting and insisting and insisting not to do this without a plan to evacuate the city, and the Israeli government is saying too bad. We’re doing it. Biden had the choice to make his words meaningless or put down his foot. When you’re supplying the weapons, your foot comes down very hard.”

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