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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The New Republic’s “The Daily Blast,” Greg Sargent shares a podcast in “Shocker Poll: Trump Verdict Actually Does Matter to Voters—Big-Time” and writes: “This week, Politico released a new poll with some pretty big surprises: A larger than expected percentage of Americans say Donald Trump’s criminal conviction in Manhattan makes them less likely to vote for him. The finding is even more striking among independents. The poll also took the innovative step of trying to gauge how important Trump’s conviction is to voters. And the answer is: pretty important! We talked to Ankush Khardori, a senior writer for Politico Magazine who oversaw this poll, who walked us through its findings, what they mean, and whether Trump’s pressure on Republicans to protect him from the law will backfire on the GOP in November. Listen to this episode here.” At The Hill, Max Burns writes in “Polls prove: Even ‘Teflon Don’ can’t brush off ‘convicted felon’” that “A slew of new polls have come out in the two weeks since a New York jury declared Trump guilty of falsifying business documents, and none of them are good news for the MAGA faithful. From his cratering popularity with independent voters to weakness in key swing states, the Trump campaign is wrestling with the tough reality that normal people just aren’t interested in being represented by a convicted criminal. …With a tough debate in just nine days and the possibility of jail time looming next month, Trump is facing the first of several crucial moments in his 2024 campaign. As expected, he’s handling them all like a guy without a strategy. That’s a huge blessing for Joe Biden….Trumpworld is still reeling from brutal Morning Consult and Yahoo! Newspolls, both conducted in the days after Trump’s criminal conviction. Those polls are the first in weeks to show President Biden ahead among likely voters, and they also reveal a Trump campaign plummeting in popularity with the independent and Republican-leaning voters he’ll need to convince in order to walk back into the White House.” What Democrats must keep in mind, however, is there is no guarantee that Trump’s felony convictions will still motivate voters four and a half months from now.

Democrats should pay attention to Ewan Palmer’s disturbing report at Newsweek, in which he writes: “Veteran Republican political consultant Roger Stone has been widely criticized over an audio clip that’s emerged of him discussing potential measures the party could take to ensure Donald Trumpwins the next election….The clip, secretly recorded by progressive filmmaker Laura Windsor while posing as a fan, reveals that Stone and other Trump allies are prepared to use “lawyers, judges, technology” to challenge the results of November’s race if need be. During a “Catholics for Catholics” event held at Mar-a-Lago on March 19, Stone was heard saying that steps need to be taken to stop President Joe Biden beating Trump as the “election can be stolen again” from the Republican….It isn’t the first time Stone has been recorded discussing plans to help Trump win a presidential election. In August 2023, footage obtained by MSNBC showed Stone dictating to an associate a plan to install a group of fake electors who could “accurately reflect” that Trump had beaten Biden in 2020 in states where the results had been “illegally” denied to him “through fraud.”. Those who shrug the story off as an idle threat should consider, as Palmer writes, “Stone was also a key part of the so-called “Brooks Brothers Riot,” which shut down a recount of Florida’s 2000 election ballots. Republican George W. Bush was eventually declared the winner in Florida over Al Gore, thus clinching the presidential race overall, by a margin of just over 500 votes.” We don’t  hear a lot about what Democrats are doing to address GOP election deniers and fraudsters, but let’s hope it is substantial enough to challenge what appears to be an all-out Republican effort to discredit the duly certified results of the 2024 presidential election.

In “Reporting on violence and threats against US election workers: 6 things to know” Clark Merrefield writes at The Journalists Resource: “Threats against poll workers made national news following false claims from former President Donald Trump and supporters that Joe Biden had fraudulently won the 2020 presidential election….For example, in Georgia “two local election workers, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Moss were pressured to make false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election,” write the authors of a 2022 essay on local political violence, published in the State and Local Government Review. “After refusing to lie, a far-right media outlet spread conspiracies about the two women that resulted in a mob surrounding their house.”….In April 2024, a federal judge upheld a $148 million judgment for Freeman and Moss from a civil case against former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who admitted to making false claims about the poll workers….More than one-third of election officials — 38% — have experienced “threats, harassment, or abuse” specifically because of their job, finds a 2024 survey of 928 local election officials conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University….That’s up from 30% who reported the same the year prior. More than half of the officials surveyed in 2024 by the Brennan Center said they are worried about the safety of their staff in future elections and 92% have enacted measures to protect voters and poll workers since 2020….Some 28% indicated they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about harassment or threats aimed at their family or loved ones while 27% were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about being assaulted at home or work….The ongoing potential for threats to poll workers and election officials is real enough that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched a task force to address those threats….But some election officials don’t think the task force is doing enough. National Association of State Election Directors Executive Director Amy Cohen in June told reporter Zachary Roth with the nonprofit Oregon Capital Chronicle that it is “very clear that we are not seeing a deterrent effect.”

Merrefield provides a six-point “tipsheet” for journalists, exploring some ways they can report better about political violence and threats, including:

1. Understand the social forces that tend to lead to political violence.

2. Know that a small but notable segment of the U.S. population thinks political violence is sometimes justified.

3. Remind audiences of the long history of electoral violence in the U.S.

4. Interview poll workers about what motivates them.

5. Understand how election officials try to manage the emotional burden of intimidation, for themselves and their staff.

6. Note the difference between poll watchers and poll workers.

Regarding number 2, Merrefield writes, “To capture a snapshot of Americans’ views of political violence, nine scholars affiliated with the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, conducted a nationally representative survey with 8,620 participants during the summer of 2022. Results were published in September 2023 in the journal Injury Epidemiology….  Nearly 20% of those surveyed strongly or very strongly agreed that having a “strong leader for America is more important than having a democracy.”….When they asked participants to imagine a scenario in which they believed political violence was justified “to advance an important political objective,” nearly 22% responded that political violence is never justified. Democrats should read Merrefield’s article to get a clear sense of the challenges journalists and they will  face in order to insure clean, certified and peaceful elections actress the U.S.

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