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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Icymi, here are some choice nuggets from E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s gem of a column at The Washington Post: “We’re letting Trump distract us from his corrupt, anti-climate agenda.” Dionne writes: “Donald Trump sat down with oil executives and told them that if he wins, he’ll scrap a slew of President Biden’s clean energy and other environmental regulations they don’t like — as long as they raise $1 billion for him. The response? Crickets. Trump’s pay-for-play move was frequently described as “transactional.” The right word is “corrupt….Last weekend, at a rally in Wildwood, N.J., he pledged to halt offshore wind farms. All of them. Right away. “We are going to make sure that that ends on day one,” Trump said. “I’m going to write it out in an executive order.” It was consistent with a remarkable statement he was reported to have made to the energy execs: “I hate wind.”….There could hardly be a clearer contrast between Trump and Biden, or their parties. You might think that the environment, and climate in particular, would be playing a large role in the 2024 debate. Yet for all the good work reporters are doing on these issues, there is a strange, substantive vacuum in this campaign….Citizens are getting plenty of information concerning Trump’s latest polling numbers and, yes, lots of news on his hush money trial. About what he’d do if he wins again: not so much.” Dionne also provides the most believable reason yet written to explain why Trump get away with so much BS: “By violating so many norms simultaneously while throwing out so much chaff in any given week, he dodges accountability. He is the only public figure in memory who dodges one scandal by getting enmeshed in a new one. Before the first scandal sinks in, the second sucks up all the oxygen, and then along comes a third. His $1 billion ask of super-rich oil guys was barely a blip.”

Further, Dionne notes: “Trump’s party has been complicit in helping him obliterate ethical standards. Republicans, from House Speaker Mike Johnson on down, raced to New York to create a carnival of deflection. These advocates of “law and order,” “traditional values” and local control ignored the charges against Trump — rooted in sordid personal conduct joined with public corruption — by attacking the idea that a prosecutor might dare try to bring a former president to justice….The routinization of lying has a dulling effect of its own. It no longer matters that responsible journalists of every political stripe report that Trump lost the election he falsely continues to claim he won. Here again, Republican elites play his game by either hedging on what happened in 2020 (“Well, there really were problems, you know …”) or supporting his lie outright. [Why on earth the relatively few sane Republicans remaining don’t start a new conservative Party remains a mystery. The Whigs had their day, and then it was over. Every political party has a shelf life.] Dionne continues, “The politics of spectacle that Trump excels at is the enemy of a politics of substance. Take that New Jersey rally where he pledged to block offshore wind farms (he also promised to go after electric cars). This didn’t get much attention because of Trump’s praise for “Hollywood’s most famous cannibal,” as a Post headline writer succinctly put it. “The late, great Hannibal Lecter is a wonderful man,” Trump declared. Try arguing that climate change should have been the lead of the story that day….The overwhelming scientific consensus is that global warming is real and poses a grave danger to humanity. Those trying to evade tough measures to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels dismiss technical expertise and invent hidden motives. The climate movement, they say, wants to enhance the power of big government. It hates cars, doesn’t care about people working the oil fields and despises the “American way of life.” Case closed….Trump is thus both a cause and a symptom of the distemper in our national life. On the climate and so many other questions, the nation has about five months to realize that very big things are at stake in November’s choice. If we fail, Hannibal Lecter would be a fitting symbol for what happened to our democracy.”

Shame on you for ignoring the Supreme Court elections that are being held in 33 states this year. Ok, shame on me too. Louis Jacobson explains why they are important at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “As it happens, 2024 is a very big year for such elections. They will be held in 33 states, and in several, ideological control of the court could shift depending on the results. While I am generally looking ahead to November here, one notable state supreme court election is actually coming up next week in Georgia, as former Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow is seeking to unseat a justice appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R), Andrew Pinson….In 2024, some of the most hotly contested supreme court contests will be held in a pair of big Midwestern states, Michigan and Ohio, where partisan control of the court is at least mathematically at stake. In both states, abortion has been a big issue, with voters approving pro-abortion-rights ballot measures in the past two years….Several other states that have experienced battles over abortion will be home to notable supreme court races this fall, including Arizona, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Kentucky, although it remains to be seen how much of an energizing factor abortion will be for Democrats, either overall or for judicial races specifically….According to Ballotpedia’s indispensable index of state supreme court races, 2024 has 83 state supreme court races on tap (plus 222 races for lower appeals courts, which I will not cover in this article)….Five states (Michigan, Ohio, Montana, North Carolina and Kentucky) have competitive supreme court elections this year with results that could shift the court’s ideological balance, at least to a degree.” Jacobson goes on to provide inside skinny for each off these states and “other contested states.” Yes, there is only so much time in the day and there is too much political stuff out there already to read even more about down-ballot contests. But if you are tired of the insanity of the “big” races, you may find some of these state Supreme Court races refreshing in their quaint focus on issues that actually affect our lives.

If Democrats have any realistic hopes for prevailing in the 2024 elections, we have to take the downer data and analysis seriously and, yknow, maybe try and correct some loser notions and behavior. Somebody has to bring the reality check, and Ruy Teixeira does it well in his Washington Post column, “Young voters aren’t as liberal as you think.” Some excerpts: “The romance between President Biden and young voters, never particularly torrid, remains no better than lukewarm as his administration whipsaws between its support for Israel, its desire to placate young demonstrators and the need to keep a lid on social unrest in an election year….The ongoing demonstrations on campuses are really only the latest complicating factor in an already blurry picture of young voter support for Biden and the Democrats. Young voter discontent has been gathering throughout Biden’s term and might no longer give Democrats the margins they need to hold the White House and the Senate….According to Gallup, 18-to-29-year-olds today (most of whom are considered Gen Z) are plurality, but not majority, Democratic….That plus-8 advantage is the narrowest Democratic tilt among this age group since 2005 and continues a downward trend since 2019, when the Democratic advantage among this age group was 23 points….The next age group for which Gallup makes data available is 30-to-49-year-olds. This age range is larger than desirable but does include the entirety of the millennial generation — except for those 28 and 29 years old. In 2018, when this age group had fewer millennials in it than it does today, Democrats had a 12-point advantage. Now, Republicans are ahead by two percentage points among voters between 30 and 49 years old.” Double Yikes. Teixeira continues, “….Another venerable polling outfit, Pew Research Center, has released data suggesting the Democratic advantage in party ID among 18-to-29-year-olds is much larger, possibly because Pew restricted the sample to registered voters and pushed respondents quite hard on whether they are really “independent.” This further clouds the picture of young voters’ political leanings….The most recent data indicates that only about one-third of those ages 18 to 29 identify as liberal. That liberal share is indeed higher among this age group than other age groups, but obviously it is not the dominant ideology even for this cohort….Among Gallup’s 30-to-49-year-olds — again, this age group now includes the overwhelming majority of millennials — there is even less evidence of liberal domination. They are just 25 percent liberal, 40 percent moderate and 33 percent conservative….On immigration, 48 percent of under-30 voters consider Biden more liberal than they are on the issue, compared with 29 percent who think he’s more conservative than they are. Similarly, 46 percent consider Biden more liberal on the border and 44 percent think he’s more liberal on asylum seekers than they are compared to 30 percent and 25 percent, respectively, who think he’s more conservative….On transgender issues, 48 percent of these under-30 voters (remember, these are essentially Gen Z voters we’re talking about!) consider Biden more liberal than they are on these issues, compared with 28 percent who think the president is more conservative. And by 10 points, voters under age 30 oppose the idea that transgender individuals should be allowed to play on sports teams that do not match their birth gender….On crime, 40 percent of 18-to-29-year-old voters think Biden is more liberal than they are on the issue, compared with 30 percent who think he’s more conservative. By 12 points, they think criminals are not punished harshly enough in this country rather than too harshly.” And perhaps more importantly, “Gallup data finds 62 percent of those under 35 (Gen Z and the younger millennials) describe themselves as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-life” (32 percent). And a staggering 81 percent say abortion should be generally legal during the first three months of pregnancy. But when queried about the second three months of pregnancy, just under half (48 percent) think abortion should be legal in this period. And for the last three months of pregnancy, only one-third support legal abortions.” Now for the kickers: “Big data firm Catalist estimated the Democratic margin among these voters at a stable 22 or 23 points in the last three presidential contests. But polls this year have repeatedly shown Biden only narrowly ahead of former president Donald Trump among this age group — and sometimes losing….For example, the data analytics site Split Ticket maintains an average of demographic cross tabs from public polls. Thus, for 18-to-29-year-olds, Split Ticket found that Biden led Trump by an average of just 12 points in April polls. Interestingly, they also collected data on cross tabs among 18-to-34-year-olds (different polls use different age breaks) and this slightly older age group — which contains more millennials — only averaged a two-point advantage for Biden that month….Similarly, the latest New York Times-Siena poll — ranked No. 1 among all U.S. pollsters by the website FiveThirtyEight — has Biden ahead by just one point among 18-to-29-year-olds and behind by one point among 30-to-44-year-olds. Among likely voters, a smaller subset, Biden is ahead by two points among 18-to-29-year-olds and by an identical margin among 30-to-44-year-olds. But no matter how you screen, this a sharp falloff for Biden from 2020.”

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