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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “Democrats’ Effort to Push Biden Off Ticket Hits Uncertainty,” Lindsay Wise, Natalie Andrews and Katie Stech Ferek report at the Wall St. Journal: “An effort by some Democrats to seek an alternative to President Biden as the party’s nominee faced new uncertainty Tuesday, with frustrated lawmakers struggling to find a path forward after the president said he was dead set against stepping aside….Lawmakers aired their frustrations with their predicament, but a concerted push to install a new nominee didn’t emerge, even as a seventh House Democrat publicly called for Biden to make way for a new candidate. Private meetings ended without consensus, leaving the stare-down without a clear resolution less than four months until Election Day….“Like I said before, I’m with Joe,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) repeated several times in response to questions at his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon….Schumer’s terse comments followed a lengthy lunch meeting with Senate Democrats, most of whom refused to talk to reporters afterward. Some looked dejected. “The president said it’s in his hands,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.). Asked if Biden should remain on the ticket, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said, “That still remains to be seen.”….Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) told colleagues he didn’t think Biden would prevail this fall, and Sens. Jon Tester (MT) and Sherrod Brown (OH) have also expressed doubts. Later, speaking to CNN, he said he thinks Trump is on track to “maybe win it by a landslide, and take with him the Senate and the House.” He said the White House “has done nothing to really demonstrate that they have a plan to win.” But he declined to say Biden should step aside….One person familiar with the meeting said the party seemed evenly split on Biden. “One-third of the caucus wants him gone, one-third want him to stay, and one-third are resigned he is the nominee but think he is going to lose.”….“I think the conversation is important to have right now, because people do have concerns,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), head of the progressive caucus. “I just don’t think it should be in public. And I think at the end of the day, he is our nominee right now till he’s not our nominee.”

At Politico, Jonathan Martin outlines “Biden’s Survival Plan: Decry ‘Elite’ Critics, Appeal to His Base,” and writes: “As the president fights for his political life this week, and calls grow from party leaders that he withdraw his candidacy, he’s counting on the support of African American Democrats and his union allies as his last line of defense. It’s a playbook Biden has turned to in the past, portraying his detractors as mostly elite white liberals who are out of step with the more diverse and working-class grassroots of the party. That’s what propelled his nomination after a string of setbacks in 2020….If Biden can retain his allies in labor and the Black community, he will have a chance to reframe the boiling debate about his candidacy along the lines of race and class that have animated every Democratic nomination fight for 40 years. Those clashes, of course, played out in primaries and caucuses. This battle is taking place in a more chaotic and truncated fashion, in the media and on group texts, conference calls and Zooms….“The people Joe Biden fights for — middle-class labor union members, Blacks, Latinos — they know he fights for them and they’re going to stay in the fight for him,” Anita Dunn, Biden’s longtime adviser, told me Sunday….Much as he craves the affirmation of elites, Biden is in his comfort zone donning the armor of Scranton Joe. It recalls Bill Clinton, facing impeachment and the condemnation of censorious Democratic elites, turning to the party rank and file and especially Black Americans in his hour of crisis….This is the crux of Biden’s challenge. He knows his most loyal supporters will be those blue-collar Democrats and their representatives who’ve always had more of an affinity for him than the latte set. “We’ve been through some shit in our lives and we don’t turn when times are tough,” as Richmond put it about the Black community.”

Margaret Sullivan has some pointed comments in her article, “The media has been breathlessly attacking Biden. What about Trump?” at The Guardian. Among her observations: “That bigger story, of course, is the former president’s appalling unfitness for office, not only because he tried to overturn a legitimate election and is a felon, out on bail and awaiting sentencing, but because of things he has said and done in very recent weeks. As just one example, he claimed that he doesn’t know anything about Project 2025, the radical rightwing plan hatched by some of his closest allies to begin dismantling our democracy if he wins another term….Trump’s disavowal is a ridiculous lie, but I doubt most members of the public know anything about it, nor do they likely know much – if anything – about Project 2025….Meanwhile, what of Trump’s obvious cognitive decline, his endless lies, his shocking plans to imprison his political enemies and to deport millions of people he calls “animals”, his relationship with the late accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein?….There really is no comparison in the amount or intensity of coverage. One journalist, Jennifer Schulze, counted New York Times stories related to Biden’s age in the week following the debate; she counted a staggering 192 news and opinion pieces, compared to 92 stories on Trump – and that was in a week when the US supreme court had ruled he has immunity for official acts….On Monday, the Times sent out as “breaking news” a story whose headline announced that an expert in Parkinson’s disease had visited the White House eight times in a recent eight-month period; much further down in the story we learn that the same doctor also had made 10 visits to the White House in 2012, and that he has supported the White House medical team for more than a dozen years. But many people never get past the headline….Of course, the problem certainly is not just the New York Times, despite its agenda-setting influence. It’s also TV news, both network and cable. And, to a lesser extent, it’s other major US publications….Where does that leave us?….All of these disturbing elements – the Democrats’ dilemma, the media’s failures, and the cult-like, unquestioning support of Trump – could add up to one likelihood in November….A win for Trump, and a terrible loss for democracy.”

Christian Paz mulls over the polling data in “Do other Democrats actually poll better against Trump than Biden?” at Vox and writes: “If the goal of national Democrats is to keep Donald Trump out of the White House to protect democracy — and they’ve largely framed the 2024 election in just those existential terms — who is best equipped to do it? And after a dismal debate performance by President Joe Biden last week, is it possible that there is another Democrat better equipped to beat Trump than the sitting president?….Polling gives us one way to answer that question. But it’s not as simple as looking at the topline numbers and deciding that it’s time to dump Biden. The only timeline for which we know anything, solidly, is the one we’re living in: anything else is purely hypothetical, and requires some suspension of belief, some scrutiny in looking at numbers, and some skepticism in how we might expect the public to react….Still, it’s too soon to tell just what the American people are thinking about replacing Biden with an alternative….we are dealing in hypotheticals. Any talk about how a Biden alternative would fare against Trump is purely imaginary at this point: we don’t really know how well any of these candidates would do among specific kinds of voters or in different states or regions. How would Whitmer do in the Sun Belt? How would Newsom do in the Midwest? Those questions are crucial to winning the Electoral College, and the polls we have don’t come close to answering them….the polls show hypothetical Biden alternatives would do no better than Biden (generally what Biden defenders say). The second is that they are doing just as well as Biden without even running as actual presidential candidates — and could do better still (what Biden critics say)….Harris, post-debate, still has a better favorability score than Biden, and is doing better than the president with women, Latino voters, and young voters — groups that Biden has struggled with overall. Philip Bump at the Washington Post did some digging on this question last week as well, comparing Harris and Biden’s favorability ratings among subgroups before the debate, and found Harris seems to be viewed more favorably by younger voters, women, and non-white voters….In short, we don’t know much. These are all hypotheticals we’re trying to game out from a very limited set of data. And we’re likely to get a bunch more data as we move further from the debate. “

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Tom chumley on

    It seems like to me that the most out of touch people in the media are the New York Times, the elite pundit class in the beltway. Deep Blue state Democrats from New York & California who have never had to fight the Republicans on the ground, and leftist soreheads in urban areas that always hated Biden.

    Apparently, all the African Americans and Hispanics and working and middle-class people who nominated Biden with 14 out of 17 million Democrats nominated should be ignored. Should the Democratic Party just stop functioning and let the New York Times and WaPo let them pick our nominee.

    This site is not either Democratic, or democratic anymore.

  2. Victor on

    We won’t know the actual favorability of anyone until they, at least in some sort of internal primary.

    Hyper-Partisan Democrats have now completely extended the Fox News fallacy to the rest of media. Both parties are now completely in bubbles.

    It is not the infighting that is a turn off, but rather the complete lack of focus on actual voter concerns.

    The GOP has now come out with a very deceptive, yet concrete and populist platform.

    When the Democrats’ platform comes out it will probably be some encyclopedia size publication full of jargon, lacking in narrative and unexplainable to the masses.


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