washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “How Biden Can Win the Debate,” Brian Goldsmith writes at The Atlantic: “This is a gamble for Biden—but absolutely the right choice. He must try to redefine the race and encourage voters to take a second look. His age isn’t changing, but he can change some of the arguments he makes. And to influence voters who are still persuadable, he will have no better platform….Biden is now the incumbent who’s behind. And to turn things around onstage, he has to address the economy as voters experience it. Barely more than one-fifth of those surveyed in a recent New York Times poll rated the economy as excellent or good; a majority said it is poor. In a Guardian/Harris poll, more than half (56 percent) believed we are in a recession, and nearly three in five (58 percent) said Biden is responsible. The economic data may show that they’re mistaken—but good luck winning votes by telling Americans that they’re wrong….Biden’s first move at the debate podium should be to deliver his economic message with empathy—and a frank admission that inflation is still too high and prices on everyday goods are hurting millions of Americans. He should talk about his own family’s past hard times. That would give him more credibility to offer a narrative about the economic mess he inherited from Trump, the millions of good jobs he’s helped create, and the programs he’s put in place—such as the CHIPS Act and the bipartisan infrastructure law—to create an even better economy in the years ahead….He needs to talk about the future more than the past. As Gore has said, elections are “not an award for past performance.” This campaign has to be about the next four years. Currently, only one of dozens of Biden campaign ads outlines a second-term agenda. The platform it laid out is popular and compelling—making child care and elder care affordable, protecting Social Security and Medicare, passing a “minimum tax for billionaires,” establishing Roe v. Wade as the law of the land, banning assault weapons, and preserving the right to vote—but that ad is more than a year old, and I haven’t seen anything comparable since….Much of the president’s first-term accomplishments, and second-term agenda, should be framed as a fight to lower costs against Republicans who oppose both what he’s done and what he hopes to do….he third piece of Biden’s message that must change is his attack on Trump. Sounding the alarm against authoritarian threats to be a “dictator on day one,”cancel the Constitution, and take revenge on his “deep state” enemies is a vital, valid mission. Those hits are one reason Biden’s support among college-educated white voters is still about where it was four years ago. But the democracy agenda is either insufficient or ineffective to stanch Biden’s bleeding among working-class voters, including Latinos and Blacks….To win working-class Americans back to his coalition, Biden cannot simply tout his administration’s achievements in reducing crime and bringing down prices. That will just make him seem out of touch, as the longtime Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg has argued. The metaphorical sign behind Biden should say a good beginning, not mission accomplished. He should explicitly acknowledge that he isn’t satisfied and has more work to do—but then Biden should go on the offensive against Trump….In attack mode, Biden will look more vigorous. And he can win arguments about the way Trump’s budgets defund the police as well as environmental protection; how Trump’s policies undo gun-safety laws, caps on insulin prices, and protections for preexisting conditions; and why a Trump presidency would reward big companies and billionaires at the expense of working families….Biden should remind the debate audience that the only major legislation Trump passed was a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy—a measure that remains highly unpopular. And Biden can warn viewers that Trump is proposing more of those benefits for his buddies—tax cuts that will raise prices still higher. The threat isn’t just Trump’s vindictive personality or his antidemocratic instincts; it is his actual policies….Biden should use this extraordinary platform to make new arguments to voters: that he gets what they’re going through, that his plans will produce a better future, and that Trump isn’t just a risk for American institutions—he’s a threat to American families.”

At The New Yorker, John Cassidy writes that “it’s tricky for a politician to persuade voters that things are better than they think they are. Even as many people tell pollsters that they are satisfied with their own economic circumstances, they also say that the economy as a whole is still in poor shape. But, if Biden would be wise to frame his comments carefully in this area, he shouldn’t hesitate to ballyhoo, once again, the steps his Administration has taken to address some of the exploitative and monopolistic practices that big corporations have long subjected ordinary American customers and workers to….Many of these actions haven’t received the attention that they deserve, and they contrast sharply with the record, between 2017 and 2020, of Donald Trump, whose populist rhetoric from the campaign trail quickly yielded, once he was in office, to appointing former corporate lobbyists to regulatory agencies and showering corporations and the one per cent with huge tax cuts. Biden is promising to reverse those giveaways, and he has proposed new taxes on the very wealthy. Moreover, his Administration’s measures to eliminate hidden fees and reduce prescription-drug prices are part of a larger effort to boost competition and rein in corporate power, the likes of which arguably hasn’t been seen in the United States since the days of Teddy Roosevelt and Standard Oil….A longtime moderate Democrat, he has repeatedly referred to himself as a capitalist, and since he became President there have been times when he could have been tougher on major corporations. During the pandemic, for example, some major governments, including a center-right one in Britain, imposed a windfall tax on energy companies that were making out like bandits after a global surge in oil prices. Biden restricted himself to moral suasion. Taken as a whole, however, his Administration’s record belies the trope, common on the left and the right, that both major parties are in the pockets of big business, and it doesn’t matter who wins elections. If that were the case, why would there be so much pushback against Biden’s competition policies? Right now, lawyers for Big Pharma are suing to block the new prescription-drug rules. Big banks are suing to overturn an edict from the C.F.P.B. that capped credit-card late fees at eight dollars. And a number of plaintiffs, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and individual firms, are suing to block the F.T.C.’s ban on noncompete agreements….it’s up to Biden to make the contrast visible, and to point out that he, rather than the bluster merchant standing across from him, is the real economic populist. The record is clear: Biden will never get a better chance to explain it to voters.”

Not many of those who have been watching American politics for a few election cycles would be surprised by reports that “Trump’s massive fundraising haul” is catching up with the Biden campaign’s earlier lead in election fund-raising. Republicans rarely hurt for economic resources in the closing months of a national campaign – all the rarer in a time of record corporate profits. But Adam Wren reports at Politico that “new polling from Fox News shows an 11-point swing in President Joe Biden’s favorability among independents: They prefer Biden by 9 points, a reversal from May, when they favored Trump by 2 points. For the first time this year, the poll has Biden leading Trump by two points, 50-48, within the margin of error.” Wren also cites “a special election in Ohio’s 6th Congressional District this month, “in which “massively outspent Democrat Michael Kripchak erased 19 points from Trump’s 2020 margin of victory — still losing, but becoming the first Democratic candidate to carry the blue-collar Mahoning County since Trump painted it red in 2020….Incumbent Democratic senators in battleground states like Wisconsin, Nevada and Pennsylvania are polling ahead of their Republican challengers. In Arizona’s open Senate race, Republican Kari Lake, a star of the MAGA movement, is underperforming in the polls….after Republicans over the weekend nominated a far-right candidate for lieutenant governor in Indiana, a top national GOP lawyer predicted a “serious” threat to the top of the ticket even in the heart of MAGA country.” Also, “Trump may be raking in donations. But across the country, the mood of Republicans has dimmed, according to nearly a dozen Republican operatives, county chairs and current and former GOP officials. It comes amid ongoing concerns about the effect of abortion on Republican candidates….A Gallup poll released this month found record levels of voters saying that, in major races, they would only vote for candidates who share their views on abortion — with the intensity surrounding the issue likely to benefit abortion rights candidates more….And it follows defections from Trump in the primaries and, most recently, polling that has found Trump’s conviction in his New York hush-money trial hurting him with independents….Financially, the conviction was a boon to Trump’s small-dollar donor operation. But electorally, the reality of Trump’s conviction has begun to set in, they said.” In addition, three Trump-endorsed candidates lost their primary bids on Tuesday. But there is no guarantee that disgust with Trump’s convictions will have enough shelf life to last through Election Day.

“Abortion rights initiatives are already on the ballot in four states—Colorado, South Dakota, Maryland, and Florida—and pending signature approval in seven more,” Joan McCartyer writes in her article, “Anti-choicers in 11 states should be worried about November” at Daily Kos. “That includes more red states—Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Missouri. In addition, advocates in the battleground states of Nevada and Arizona are still gathering signatures and likely to succeed. That puts the issue front and center in states key to President Joe Biden’s reelection and the Democrats’ hold on the Senate….Showing just how salient the issue is for voters, Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights announced last Friday that it had the most successful petition drive ever in the state for its constitutional amendment initiative guaranteeing that abortion access remain free in the state. It has gathered 117,000 signatures, nearly twice as many needed to get on the ballot—and from every county and all 100 House districts….The anti-abortion side has reason to panic. Voters have spoken in the past two years, from Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio to all putting the issue on ballots in these states. They’re telling pollsters how important it is, too….The most recent Gallup poll showed a record number saying they’ll vote on this issue alone—32% of them. That breaks down to 23% of pro-choice voters and just 8% of anti-abortion voters….Civiqs polling highlights just how strong the pro-choice sentiment is in the electorate, with a plurality of 31% saying that abortion should be legal in all cases and another 30% saying it should be legal in most cases….This is a pro-choice country. Biden and Democrats get this, and it’s why they are centering the issue ahead of this election—they just need to make sure they tap into the citizens’ groundswell in every race, but particularly in the Senate and presidential campaigns.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.