washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

Every Republican U.S. Senator voted to block the The “Freedom to Vote Act,” from being considered. As Sam Levine explains at The Guardian, the Act “would require every state to automatically register voters at motor vehicle agencies, offer 15 consecutive days of early voting and allow anyone to request a mail-in ballot. It would also set new standards to ensure voters are not wrongfully removed from the voter rolls, protect election officials against partisan interference, and set out clear alternatives people who lack ID to vote can use at the polls.” Levine continues, “While most Democrats in the Senate favor getting rid of the filibuster, at least for voting rights legislation, the blockade will put immense pressure on two of the most significant remaining Democratic holdouts, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. There will be particular scrutiny on Manchin, who personally helped write the revised bill and has been seeking GOP support for it. It’s not yet clear if a lack of Republican support for any kind of compromise could force Manchin to finally support some kind of change to the filibuster but activists have been heartened by a letter he issued earlier this year in which he said “inaction is not an option” around voting rights.”

At The Daily Beast, Sam Brodey shares some perspectives on how to persuade Sen. Joe Manchin to support Democratic legislative reforms: “At this point, those who are pleading with Manchin not to buck his party’s agenda are at a loss. That’s particularly the case for some of the senator’s own constituents, who have sought to make the case directly to him that the party’s sweeping proposal would provide much-needed investments in their home state, one of the nation’s poorest….“It’s become insanity to us,” said Angi Kerns, one of the West Virginia activists who confronted Manchin from a kayak on the Potomac River outside his houseboat….“We’ve done everything we can do in West Virginia—collected stories, amplified voices, thousands of people are calling a day,” she told The Daily Beast. “He doesn’t care. The only option we have at this point is to make ourselves be heard.”…Liberal advocates in West Virginia have an unusual relationship with the senator they’re often cajoling. He may resist their pleas, but because he is so attuned to his reputation back home, he tries to avoid stiffing his constituents. That means some advocates have had multiple meetings with him over the years—which are not always groundbreaking but can be productive….Kerns said before showing up at Manchin’s houseboat, she had met with him or his staff directly five times so far this year. In those discussions, she said, it was tough to dislodge the senator from his talking points—until she started speaking his language….“It’s not what you say, but how you lay it out for him,” Kerns said. “To get his attention, it has to be structured in terms of an investment, a return on investment… then, as a businessman who cares a lot about dollars and cents, he at least takes pause, and he doesn’t have a pre-set narrative.”…Getting as far away from an ideological discussion as possible is crucial with Manchin, said DiStefano. “The over the top rhetoric only reinforces the national media narrative, which has not been the best,” he said. “The key to success is presenting an argument to the senator, begin with data, lead with your values, and your values should be delivered by people who are living this.”

In “Why Democrats are trying to fit every wish into a shrinking bill: Democrats are banking on the popularity of these policies to keep them around,” Li Zhou reports at Vox: “Democrats, it seems, are looking to pare down their budget bill by going the route favored by progressives. While they’re weighing some big cuts to the $3.5 trillion package, the general approach — which isn’t yet finalized — skews toward funding more programs for a shorter period of time, rather than fewer programs for longer….Pushback from moderates over the size of the package has meant tough decisions about what to cut and what to keep. Progressives argued for preserving as many of the proposal’s policies as possible, while saving money by having them expire sooner than initially planned. Some moderates, meanwhile, advocated for the opposite: funding fewer programs for more time….President Joe Biden backed the former strategy as well, and that appears to be the course Democrats will pursue. Biden and the progressives hope the policies will be so popular — even if they’re only implemented for a short period — that it will be difficult for future lawmakers to let them lapse, regardless of who controls Congress….Obviously, some of these programs are shorter than ideal. But the president believes, and I agree with him, that once we have these programs established, it becomes hard to take them away,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a member of Progressive Caucus leadership, told reporters on Tuesday….Opponents of this thinking emphasize that this approach could mean that many of these programs simply expire after funding runs out.”

Noah Rothman explains why “Popularity is just not enough to make activist desiderata manifest — not in the United States” at at MSNBC News: “That word — popular — has become something of an obsession among anxious center-left Democrats. It’s contributing to a mania overtaking the liberal media ecosystem. And the unlikely figure around whom apprehensive Democrats find themselves rallying, 30-year-old political strategist David Shor, has the answer: Just talk about popular stuff….Doing things” via legislation is difficult by design. Popularity without exigency is not enough. What’s more, initiatives that are undeniably popular can become unpopular (see the latitude once afforded labor unions in law and jurisprudential precedent) and vice versa (see the Affordable Care Act). The public’s attitudes shift, sometimes as a reaction to complex societal phenomena but often in response to stimuli policy wonks would dismiss as superficial. To predicate your political strategy on popularity is to build a foundation on sand….What Shor has right, and what his progressive opponents are deliberately refusing to comprehend, is that Democrats are better off without needlessly antagonizing the public. Wild-eyed theories that would replace police with social workers and functionally end the enforcement of U.S. immigration law in workplaces offend on an essential level. Reducing financial pressures on families by doling out largess from the public treasury sounds great, but not to the point that the public welcomes disincentives to work indefinitely. There’s a difference between being popular and principled. Voters can tell the difference, even if the Democratic intelligentsia cannot.”

Political Strategy Notes

From “Carville: Democrats “Think It’s Beneath Them” To Go Out And Sell Biden’s Plan, Quit Hounding Manchin and Sinema” at RealClear Politics: “Democratic strategist and former Clinton adviser James Carville admonished Democrats on Wednesday on MSNBC for believing it is “beneath them” to campaign for President Biden’s agenda and for an “idiotic strategy” to protest and hound moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)…..”The issue right now is Democrats in Congress are asked to do very popular things,” Carville said. “It doesn’t take much courage to negotiate prescription drug prices. It doesn’t take much courage to raise taxes on the wealthy. It doesn’t take much courage to expand health care. Somebody has to get into the room and say, ‘Okay, we want to do ten things, we can do five. Let’s do these five and then take the other five and run them in 2022….They have got to understand the reality is they’re just running around like they are people in a locker room banging their helmets against the lockers,” Carville said. “That’s not going to do you any good. You are not going move any further than Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema. So quit this idiotic protesting and hounding them and tell President Biden get them in the room, get the Speaker in there, get the Majority Leader, let’s hammer something out, and what we don’t get let’s go for it in 2022….”Is that a failure of Democratic messaging?” the host asked. “Of course it is,” Carville answered. “They didn’t get out in the country enough, they didn’t sell it enough.” Watch the video at this link for tips on hw to close a political sale.

E. J. Dionne, Jr. largely agrees in his latest Washington Post column, and observes “Democrats are a maddening bunch, especially to their supporters….A party that should be celebrating its efforts to expand health coverage, help families with children, build roads and fight climate change is instead engaged in a messy and increasingly angry confrontation over how much it can and should accomplish….Democrats are effectively running what would be a coalition government in countries with multiparty systems — but without the disciplines that formal coalition agreements typically impose in advance on an alliance’s various components. Democrats are making their deals on the fly, and it shows….I sat down last week with the political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, co-authors of the justly celebrated 2018 book “How Democracies Die.” Both speak with deep worry about the anti-majoritarian nature of the American system with a Senate and electoral college that vastly underrepresent rban and suburban voters as well as racial and ethnic minorities….None of this gets Democrats off the hook. As the late Donald H. Rumsfeld might advise them, you have to work with the system you have, not the system you wish you had. It is no excuse for making a mess of what should be a moment of achievement.”

If you were wondering “How Close Is Virginia’s Governors Race?,” Geoffrey Skelley and Mackenzie Wilkes have a good update at FiveThirtyEight: “Election Day 2021 is only about two weeks away, and the big race to watch is undoubtedly Virginia’s gubernatorial contest. A still-somewhat purple state with a Democratic lean in recent presidential elections, Virginia will be viewed by many as a bellwether for the 2022 midterms, and the race is already proving to be a testing ground for some of the big national issues  that could very well influence elections next year, including COVID-19 policies, what should be in taught in schools and the economy.” Noting a slight edge for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in recent polls, but with worrsome upticks for his opponent,  Skelley and Wilkes write, “Still, the polls could be overselling the GOP’s chances, like they did in 2017 when Republican Ed Gillespie trailed Democrat Ralph Northam by about 3 points going into the election — similar to where Youngkin is now — but ended up losing by 9 points. That’s impossible to say with any certainty, as the direction of polling error is inconsistent from one cycle to the next. But polls that model higher turnout, such as the CBS News/YouGov survey, which found that McAuliffe led Youngkin by 8 points instead of 3 points in a high-turnout situation, suggest Democrats could perform better than expected if pollsters are underestimating turnout….Historically, Virginia hasn’t been an especially good barometer of the overall national environment“….one election should never be used as a benchmark on its own, but the spotlight will shine brightly on Virginia’s result nevertheless.”

Will supermarket shortages hurt Dems in the 2022 midterms? Are they already doing so? I got to  wondering yesterday by a customer next to me at the meat bin in a rural Food Lion, who grumbled “I don’t know how people can afford to eat any more,” then walked away empty-handed. I noticed some empty shelf space throughout the market, though not as bad as the early days of the pandemic. But it’s still a bad look. Talking heads debate whether the high meat prices and some product scarcity are caused by labor shortages or “shipping bottlenecks” or”pipeline issues.” Nathaniel Meyerson reports that “Grocery store shelves aren’t going back to normal this year” at CNN Business, and notes, “These latest limits mean that stores won’t have all things for all customers heading into the holidays….” Grimly, I remember the way-back Saturday Night Live skit with Akroyd’s Jimmy Carter punchline “Inflation is our friend.” Low unemployment is a good thing for Dems. But, politically, I’m less worried about a Pringles shortage than high meat prices still hanging around a year from now.

Dems Must Sell Accomplishments to Key Blocs

Can Democrats Get Surge Voters To Show Up in 2022?,” Amy Walter asks at The Cook Political Report, and shares her response:

Among independent voters, Gallup polling shows Biden has lost a lot of ground. Back in April, 58 percent of independent voters approved of the job Biden was doing as president. That number has been steadily dropping ever since. Biden’s approval rating with independent voters now sits at a dismal 37 percent.

There’s also been empirical and anecdotal evidence of a decided drop in enthusiasm among younger voters and voters of color. A recent Pew Research survey found that while Biden’s overall job approval had slipped, some of the biggest drops in support came from young voters (-14) and Black voters (-18).

Terrance Woodbury, founding partner and chief executive officer of HIT Strategies, a firm focused on people of color and millennials, isn’t particularly surprised by the lack of enthusiasm among Black voters, especially younger Black voters.

Walter argues that “Black voters propelled Biden to victory in places like Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, three states that will be pivotal again in 2022. So, getting these Black voters (re)engaged and (re)enthused is going to be critical for Democrats’ ability to hold the Senate.”

Walter quotes Woodbury, who says Democrats, “are actually making progress on things that matter to them, they just don’t know about it.” In other words, stop focusing on what you haven’t yet accomplished, and spend more time telling people what you’ve already done for them. He wants to see Democrats spend as much money telling these voters why their vote to put Democrats in charge mattered as they spent in 2020 bombarding them with texts telling them to vote.”

For example, Woodbury argues that Democrats should be talking up the Department of Justice’s work in banning no-knock entries and chokeholds by federal agents. Text voters directly and let them know how many free COVID vaccines and test kits have been delivered in their community and help connect them with those same resources.

Woodbury also worries that not connecting with these voters today will only give Republicans more opportunities to siphon them away in the future. The Trump campaign flooded social media with messages that played up the frustration and cynicism these voters already have about the Democratic Party. “We have to talk to them because someone already is.”

However, Walter cautions, “Even a robust messaging and marketing program of the size and scale Woodbury proposes is unlikely to move the needle in 2022. But, Woodbury’s research has uncovered a more fundamental challenge for Democrats. For the last 12 years, two people — Barack Obama and Donald Trump — have been the animating forces engaging Democratic voters; one motivated with hope, the other fear. But, they can’t rely on them for much longer. Instead, Democrats need to show their most loyal voters that they’ve delivered on the issues most important to their lives, not just the legislation that is taking up so much of the political capital and oxygen in Washington.”

Political Strategy Notes

From “How Democrats can rebuild their ‘blue wall’ in the Midwest” by John Austin at The Hill: “Popular perceptions aside, and as I have written before, today there is no monolithic Midwestern “Rust Belt” of struggling manufacturing and mill towns. There was once a common economic storyline among the small, mid-sized and large manufacturing communities strung through the fields, forests and along the rivers and lakefronts of the upper Midwest….But this manufacturing-based economy, rocked by globalization, technological change and new competitors has undergone decades of restructuring. and in some places the total disappearance of manufacturing plants and their well-paying jobs. Communities have struggled to adapt….These small and medium-sized factory towns have outsized political influence. In Michigan and Wisconsin, for example, more than half of the voting population resides in the smaller and midsize manufacturing communities….And as the report by Midwestern Democratic strategists Richard Martin, David Wilhelm and Mike Lux documents, in the communities that have seen the most severe manufacturing job loss, the ground is fertile for a nationalist, nostalgic and populist appeal of the kind offered by Donald Trump….Why is this? Residents of struggling industrial communities are responsive to the messages of leaders who identify with them and against urban elites — leaders who promise to bring back the industries that once provided well-paying jobs, and blame trade deals and immigrants for their community’s woes….And this populist message can come from the left or the right. Both Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (who did very well in Midwest factory town communities in the 2016 primary, defeating Hillary Clinton outright in Michigan) offered a politics of resentment — essentially a message that says: “you are getting screwed and someone else is getting theirs at your expense.”

Austin adds, that “the report notes that the Midwest mirrors the nation’s voting trends, with Democrats gaining votes in recent years in the bigger cities and their suburbs while losing votes in rural areas. But according to the report, the biggest losses came in the small and midsize industrial communities that shed manufacturing jobs (and the good health care that goes with them) during the past eight years. More than 2.6 million fewer Democratic votes in 2020 versus 2012 came from once solidly blue Democratic strongholds such Chippewa Falls, Wis., and Bay City, Mich….Strategists worry that without the polarizing presence of Trump on the ballot (at least in 2022), suburban moderate Republicans, repelled by Trump, may return to their party. Absent these votes in key Midwest congressional districts, the Democrats’ electoral goose may be cooked….there is also compelling evidence that where former “Rust Belt” communities find new economic footing, the lure of resentful populism wanes as residents grow more optimistic about the future….This has been the case in the Midwest. Residents of industrial communities that have made the transition to a new economy exhibit different attitudes and voting patterns than those in communities that still struggle. Resurgent industrial communities, such as Pittsburgh, Pa., and Grand Rapids, Mich., as well several smaller Midwest former industrial communities that have turned an economic corner, see powerful trends away from nationalism and nostalgia and towards moderate centrism. This was true in both the 2018 midterm elections and in the November 2020 election results — when once solidly Republican counties such as Kent County, Mich., home to newly thriving Grand Rapids, went for both a Democratic governor and President Biden….What working-class voters want to hear from Democratic leaders is: “We see you. We understand why you are upset with the conditions of your community. You and your community and future success are a national priority. We are here to support and offer resources for you to build your own future.”….Only then can Democrats begin to rebuild the blue wall.”

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman share some insights about bellwether Virginia’s gubernatorial race, including: “Though the McAuliffe campaign has worked relentlessly to tie Youngkin to Trump, an unpopular figure in the commonwealth who has endorsed Youngkin several times, President Biden’s weakened approval ratings weigh on Democrats. Congressional Democrats’ lack of action on big-item legislation, specifically on infrastructure and social spending, also seems to be dampening enthusiasm among their rank-and-file voters….The down-ballot races will probably be linked closely with the top of the ticket, with the state House of Delegates up for grabs in addition to the other statewide offices….While early voting is down a good deal compared to last year’s presidential race, as expected, it is hard to draw firm conclusions from these totals because the lion’s share of Virginians have traditionally voted on Election Day, aside from last year during the pandemic….So the early/mail vote share has already surpassed all of 2017, when early/mail-in voting was much harder to do in Virginia, but the pace is likely behind 2020 at a comparable point of the election. Given a trend toward Democrats preferring to vote early and Republicans preferring to vote in-person, one could see this as alarming for Democrats — and it may indeed represent a lack of Democratic enthusiasm in the post-Trump era. On the other hand, Virginia has such little tradition of early/mail voting — and voters may be more comfortable voting in-person despite the pandemic compared to a year ago — that it’s possible many voters from both parties are just going to vote on Election Day even if they voted early a year ago.”

Former President Trump finally came up with a good idea, and he should be reminded of it repeatedly by the media. As reported by Zachary Evans in “Trump Urges Republicans to Sit Out Coming Elections” at Yahoo News: “Former President Trump is urging Republicans not to vote in upcoming elections unless the “fraud” of the 2020 elections is uncovered….“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 and ’24,” Trump said in a statement released Wednesday. “It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.” Perhaps some independent group could make it a viral video, leading up to the midterm elections. Evans notes further, “Trump’s claims of a “rigged” election also depressed voter turnout during the Georgia Senate runoff elections on January 5. Georgians elected two Democratic senators as a result, giving the party 50 total Senate seats.”

Political Strategy Notes

At CNN Politics, Harry Enten reports some results from CNN’s latest opinion poll: “Democrats hold a 1-point advantage among all registered voters on the generic congressional ballot, which is within the margin of error. Among those voters who say they’re extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in the midterms, Republicans hold a 4-point edge. Democrats, meanwhile, are up 6 points among those who are only somewhat or not enthusiastic about voting next year….Now look at those who say they’re going to vote Democratic and are enthusiastic vs. those who are not. Very liberals make up 20% of those who are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year, while only 11% of those aren’t. That is, the Democratic voters who are more enthusiastic about voting next year are more likely to be very liberal than those are lack enthusiasm….You can see this in party identification (instead of going by who they’re going to vote for) too. Very liberals make up 20% among those who identify as closer to the Democratic Party and are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year. They’re 11% of those who aren’t….Take a look at the post-election polling with a Democratic president in every midterm since 1978. In those five midterms, Republican voters were far more likely to show up than Democratic midterms. The median midterm of them saw Republicans making up 6 points more of voters who showed up in midterms than they made up of all registered voters….Democrats who didn’t cast a ballot in 2014 were 9 points less likely to say they were very liberal and 12 points less likely to say they were liberal (very or somewhat) than those who did vote.”

“Among the Democrats who were verified as voting in 2016 and 2018 by the Pew Research Center, 54% were liberal,” Enten adds. “Liberals were a minority (42%) of those who voted in 2016 but not 2018. They were a minority too (43%) of those who voted in 2020 but not 2018….A mere 37% of the Democrats who didn’t vote in either 2016, 2018 or 2020 said they were liberal….Of course, none of this should be terribly surprising. The voters who sit out elections are more moderate overall, regardless of their party affiliation, in the Pew dataset….Therein lies the potentially good news for Democrats. The people less likely to vote as well as those who are persuadable voters are more likely to be closer to the center of the aisle….A more similar message than one might expect could work to capture both of these groups. Biden and the Democrats may need a strong one ahead of 2022.”

Larry Schack and Mick McWilliams, co-founders of Project Home Fire, share results from a University of Virginia/Project Home Fire poll on immigration at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Among the poll findings, according to McWilliams and Schack, “For swing groups open to compromise on this issue, immigration does not set up as an “all or nothing” issue. These voters are concerned about immigration but are also more persuadable on this topic. They are looking for policies that balance their interests with those of immigrants, helping them feel more safe and secure….For example, relative to the Tax Conscious Seniors, Concerned Moms are significantly less fearful of the negative effects of immigration. Compared to the base group of voters for whom immigration is a non-issue, these Concerned Moms are worried about higher housing costs, taxes, and potential negative employment effects due to immigration. They need to feel that creating pathways and opportunities for immigrants won’t disadvantage them. They present as open to messaging and policies that balance continued progress on immigration with safeguarding and protecting the interests of themselves and their children….Tax Conscious Seniors prioritize economic concerns — specifically, higher taxes — above all else. They see too much immigration as running up welfare, health care, and education costs, driving up the amount of taxes they pay. They worry that if things continue on what they see as the current trajectory, America will become more socialist. They see rising housing costs as the next domino to fall. They are prone to be older and retired voters, for whom the compromise-reinforcing goal is to engage them in a discussion that moves them from uncertainty to stability, and then to security and reassurance that they will not slip backwards through no fault of their own because of immigration….For those who wish to foster compromise between Biden and Trump voters, focusing on these sorts of messages may be a way to start a conversation and reduce the heat surrounding the immigration issue.”

From E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s column, “Biden needs a reboot. Fighting for democracy is the key” at The Washington Post: “Biden needs to restore the sense he created early on that he knows where he’s going. This requires refining his original objectives in response to events….The tension between bipartisan Joe and Democratic Joe is now unsustainable. Biden needs to accept that Republicans will do him no favors between now and the 2022 elections and turn this to his advantage….The broader argument for Biden’s presidency comes in two parts. First, insist that everything he wants to do — vaccination mandates, child care, elder care, health care and the rest — is in the interest not only of his own supporters but also of most Americans who voted for Donald Trump….Harry Truman-style, Biden should press Republicans about what benefits they propose to deny to Americans who need them. Do they want less child care? Less health coverage? More expensive drugs? No tax breaks under the child tax credit? And do recalcitrant Republican governors want an unending pandemic? Biden’s tough speech in Chicago last Thursday on vaccinations was in keeping with his growing militancy on the subject….He also needs to be more vividly Reagan-esque in describing the stronger, fairer and more prosperous country he’s trying to build. Biden is not bowing to some “liberal wish list.” He’s attempting to bring to life a country less divided — socially, regionally and racially — by creating opportunity where it doesn’t exist now….Biden must insist that Republicans can’t have it both ways on Trump’s election subversion. They are either for it or against it. Those who quietly tell reporters they bemoan what Trump is doing should be called upon to say so out loud, forcefully, and act accordingly….By recognizing that rallying the nation behind the cause of democracy is now his most important task, Biden would do more than reboot his presidency and give his party a fighting chance in 2022. He’d be doing what he was elected to do.”

Brownstein: How Dems Can Escape a ‘Midterm Blowout’

Ronald Brownstein explains “What Democrats Need to Understand About the Changing Electorate: How the president’s party can avoid a midterm blowout” at The Atlantic:

Follow the sun. That’s the advice to Democrats from a leading party fundraising organization in an exhaustive analysis of the electoral landscape released today.

The study, from the group Way to Win, provided exclusively to The Atlantic, argues that to solidify their position in Congress and the Electoral College, Democrats must increase their investment and focus on Sun Belt states that have become more politically competitive over recent years as they have grown more urbanized and racially diverse. “The majority of new, likely Democratic voters live in the South and Southwest, places the Democratic establishment have long ignored or are just waking up to now,” the group argues in the report.

The study, focusing on 11 battleground states, is as much a warning as an exhortation. It contends that although the key to contesting Sun Belt states such as North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Arizona is to sustain engagement among the largely nonwhite infrequent voters who turned out in huge numbers in 2018 and 2020, it also warns that Republicans could consolidate Donald Trump’s gains last year among some minority voters, particularly Latino men. “These trends across our multiracial coalition demonstrate the urgent need for campaigns and independent groups to stop assuming voters of color will vote Democrat,” the report asserts.

The study echoes the findings of other Democratic strategists such as Mike Podhorzer, the longtime political director of the AFL-CIO, in arguing that the Democrats’ best chance to avoid the usual midterm losses is to turn out large numbers of those surge voters next year.

Such a strategy would be the polar opposite of the “skip the south” approach advocated by some Democratic strategists a decade ago. Further,

Using an analysis of voter files by the firm TargetSmart, the report studied the 64.8 million voters who cast ballots last year in the 11 states where Way to Win focused its efforts: a Sun Belt–heavy list that includes Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida in the Southeast; Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas in the Southwest; and Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in the Rust Belt.

TargetSmart projects that nearly 41 million of the voters in those states turned out in all three of the most recent elections—2016, 2018, and 2020—and that those dependable voters split almost exactly in half between Biden and Trump. Way to Win sees little opportunity for moving those voters through persuasion efforts, writing that they “are polarized, deeply entrenched, partisan base voters.” Only about one in seven of these habitual voters, the group concludes, might be genuinely persuadable from election to election.

Instead, the report argues that the Democratic Party has greater opportunity among less reliable voters. Despite Trump’s own success at energizing infrequent voters, the study found that in these crucial states, Biden actually generated more support from voters who turn out only occasionally.

Across the 11 states, TargetSmart calculated, nearly 13 million 2020 voters participated in just two of the past three elections, and they preferred Biden 52 percent to 48 percent. Another 11.1 million 2020 voters did not vote in either 2018 or 2016, and they gave Biden an estimated advantage of 54 percent to 46 percent. Looking beyond these infrequent voters, the study found that another nearly 25 million registered adults did not vote in any of the three most recent elections, and they model as more Democratic- than Republican-leaning in all 11 states.

These concentric circles of irregular voters—especially those who have now turned out to oppose Trump or his party in either 2018 or 2020, or both—represent the Democrats’ best chance of expanding their support, and contesting new states, in the years ahead, the report argues. “To expand the Democratic base with a durable coalition,” the report maintains, all of these infrequent voters “must be invited to become more habitual voters who consistently break for Democrats. Democrats cannot afford a scarcity mindset where we only talk to high-frequency ‘persuadable’ voters in 2022.”

But there are some caveats in this argument:

Even as it flags that opportunity, the Way to Win study echoes other Democratic analysts who have seen signs through Biden’s first months that Republicans may be preserving the unexpected gains Trump recorded among Latino voters, particularly men, and even (though fewer) Black voters. “In some ways this is a clarion call and a warning sign because it means that we need more investment and more work to figure out what is happening in these communities,” Gavito says. One lesson that’s clear already regarding Latinos, she says, is that emphasizing “a traditional Democratic message that’s centered on racial justice” without delivering improvement in material day-to-day conditions is “falling on deaf ears.”

….In the Sun Belt, non-college-educated white voters are both a smaller share of the electorate and more resistant to Democrats, in part because more of them than in the Rust Belt are evangelical Christians. (Although exit polls showed Biden winning about two in five non-college-educated white voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and even Iowa, he carried only about one in five of them in North Carolina and Georgia and only about one in four in Texas.) Conversely, the opportunity for mobilization is greater in the Sun Belt—where people of color constitute a majority of the population turning 18 each year in many of the states—than in the Rust Belt. Given those political and demographic realities, most Democratic campaigns and candidates across the Sun Belt believe their future depends primarily on engaging younger and nonwhite voters—and the registration and turnout efforts led by Stacey Abrams in Georgia is the model they hope to emulate.

But the best way forward for Democrats has never been to prioritize one region over the other; Dems have to focus on both ‘expansion’ and ‘persuasion’ to build an enduring voter coalition.

Fernandez Ancona says Way to Win isn’t calling for Democrats to abandon the Rust Belt, or to concede more working-class white voters to the GOP. Rather, she says, the group believes that party donors and campaigns must increase the resources devoted to “expansion” of the minority electorate so that it more closely matches the greater sums already devoted to the “persuasion” of mostly white swing voters.

“I don’t think it’s expansion versus persuasion: It’s that we have to prioritize expansion just as we have historically prioritized persuasion,” she says. “We saw that in 2020. It’s very clear: We needed it all.”

In fact, both Fernandez Ancona and Gavito argue, the entire debate over whether to stress recapturing more white voters or mobilizing more nonwhite voters obscures the party’s actual challenge: finding ways to unify a coalition that is inherently more multiracial and multigenerational than the Republicans’. Even with Trump’s gains among some minority voters, white voters still supplied almost 92 percent of his votes across these 11 states, the analysis found. Biden’s contrasting coalition was much more diverse: just under 60 percent white and more than 40 percent nonwhite.

“Sometimes we are missing the whole and we are not grasping that the multiracial coalition includes white people and people of color, and we have to hold that coalition together,” Fernandez Ancona says. “Thinking about the whole coalition [means] we have to find messages that unite around a shared vision that includes cross-racial solidarity.”

Democrats have a good mix of policies in b both the reconciliation and infrastructure legislation, although the substance of their legislative proposals is getting smothered be media emphasis on the economic cost. Democrats have to figure out how to get more focus on “the kind of kitchen-table programs embedded in the Democrats’ big budget-reconciliation bill, such as tax credits for children, lower prescription-drug prices, and increased subsidies for health- and child-care expenses.”

Brownstein concludes that, unless Dems can “persuade Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to pass the bill, debates about the Sun Belt versus the Rust Belt, or white versus nonwhite voters, may be washed away by a tide of disapproval from all of those directions.” Put another way, do the Manchin and Sinema visions of ‘bipartisanship’ have room for a viable Democratic Party, or do they prefer a wholesale cave to Mitch McConnell’s one-man veto?

Political Strategy Notes

In “Wanted: A better Build Back Better campaign,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes at The Washington Post: ““The public chaos of last week demonstrated many things: that the various wings of the Democratic Party misread each other; that the relentless focus on the single number of $3.5 trillion has left most Americans clueless about what Biden wants to do; and that the party’s exceptionally narrow majorities in Congress require more finesse than even its most skilled vote-counters anticipated….If there is good news for Biden and his party, it’s that each side in the internal skirmishes now knows the other’s strengths and red lines….Moderates learned that progressives have the numbers in the House to block a physical infrastructure bill if Biden’s broader social and climate investment program isn’t passed alongside it. Progressives learned that the overall spending number in the package has to come down more than they initially thought to satisfy Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)….And Biden administration officials acknowledge that the president and his allies need to do a far better job in refocusing the debate away from the big numbers and toward the concrete help the president’s initiatives offer to middle-class and lower-income families. He plans extensive travel to stress such measures as expanded child care, the child tax credit and health coverage, along with the urgency of action on climate change….What Democrats must fight above all are misrepresentations of the Build Back Better bill as some left-wing scheme. On the contrary, Biden’s proposals are a direct response to critiques often emanating from middle-of-the-road Democrats: that the party needs to spend less time on cultural issues and more on fighting for direct benefits to the working and middle classes, a cause that unites voters across racial and regional lines….“This package goes to the very heart of why working-class Americans vote Democratic,” Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), one of Biden’s earliest and staunchest supporters, told me. “If we are able to pass this bill, I am confident it will help us with those blue-collar voters who went for Obama twice and swung to Trump.”

“Sinema has, for the last few years, had the same ideological record as Manchin,” Harry Enten writes in “Why Kyrsten Sinema’s tactics may backfire” at CNN Politics. “As I’ve noted before, Manchin’s ideological record is about the best Democrats can hope for from West Virginia….But Democrats can hope for more from an Arizona Democrat. Their party has a much easier time winning in Arizona than West Virginia….Start with what happened in last year’s presidential election. President Joe Biden won the state of Arizona by 0.3 points. West Virginia, unlike Arizona, is a red state. Biden lost the state by 39 points. This came after Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton lost the state by more than 40 points in 2016….Arizona, on the other hand, is purple and has been chugging to the left. Biden did 4 points better than Clinton, who in turn did 6 points better than Barack Obama in 2012….Part of what may be happening is that Sinema thinks that Arizona is a redder state than it actually is. That’s understandable insofar as Democrats have only started winning statewide races there with regularity recently….Democrats in Arizona now control two of the five seats on the state’s corporation commission, the secretary of state’s office and superintendent of public instruction office. They also hold five of the nine US House seats….Sinema may be leaving herself open to a primary challenge — a possibility certain liberal groups are already eyeing….And unlike Manchin, who has beaten back primary challenges easily, Sinema isn’t going to face a primary electorate where less than 40% of registered Democrats call themselves liberal….Democrats in Arizona are about as liberal as the national average, according to both the 2020 primary exit polls and CES. More than 60% of Democrats called themselves liberal in both surveys….The bottom line is that Sinema may be unnecessarily moderate for her own electoral good. Maybe it’ll work out for her. Still, It’s possible though that not only is she making Biden’s life more difficult, but her own electoral future more difficult as well.”

Is the pivotal importance of the infrastructure and reconciliation packages over-hyped? At The Washington Monthly, Matthew Cooper writes in “Stay Calm. Biden’s Presidency Is Not “On the Line with Build Back Better” that “we don’t know what will determine the fate of the midterm elections next year. There are past trends, such as the president’s party losing seats in Congress. But that’s hardly preordained. In two of the past seven midterms, the president’s party has gained seats. In 1998, Democrats increased their House numbers when the public was more revolted by Ken Starr’s hyper-zealous prosecution of Bill Clinton than by the latter’s behavior. In 2002, voters gave the GOP a boost in the midterms as George W. Bush prosecuted his “global war on terrorism” but hadn’t yet lurched into Iraq. Biden, like Bush in 2002, post-9/11, or even FDR in 1934 amid the Depression, may benefit from the unparalleled challenge of the pandemic. We don’t know….We do know that passing significant legislation doesn’t guarantee midterm success. The first two years of Barack Obama and Lyndon Johnson’s terms suggest as much. If passing Medicare didn’t help Democrats in 1966 when they got slaughtered, will Build Back Better help in 2022?….The COVID-19 pandemic will shape the midterm elections more than the fate of the bill. If we go from a Delta variant to, say, a more transmissible, more toxic Sigma variant next year, that’ll matter more than the phase-in of paid family and medical leave. Flattening the curve will prevent Republicans from flattening Democrats….Another reason Build Back Better might not affect the midterms is that its benefits won’t be felt for some time, far after the midterms. The immensely popular provision in the bill to provide Medicare benefits for hearing aids and dental care will be phased in, so it’s not like Aunt Gladys will have a new set of teeth by Election Day.

Cooper adds, “Other provisions will require a long delay while federal agencies craft regulations. Probably the most important item in the bill is a long extension of the child care tax credits passed earlier this year in the American Rescue Plan Act, which are due to expire. If passed, that won’t be felt at all. It’ll just be a continuation of what families are getting now….Of course, passage of the massive legislation, even trimmed, combined with the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill, would give Democrats some bragging rights come November 2022. But if Build Back Better doesn’t pass, Biden can still run on what he’s done: overseen the vaccination of what will be more (possibly way more) than 200 million Americans; passed a series of emergency measures that kept the economy from hemorrhaging; and enacted the American Rescue Plan Act, with its stimulus checks and health insurance subsidy…..Biden can also brag about leveraging his power for popular mask mandates. He can brag about bringing an end to the unpopular war in Afghanistan (albeit without glory), and ending the insanity and corruption of the Trump years. Those are things to run on. The economy seems to be on a good trajectory, inshallah….But will the public say that, since Democrats control both chambers, they’re dolts because they couldn’t pass the president’s bill? I doubt it. It may give Biden a reason to argue in the midterms that he needs a real majority in Congress, not a precariously thin one that one intransigent senator can scuttle. The collapse of Build Back Better might give him and members an excellent chance to make a public case for killing or curtailing the filibuster. What’s more, if the failure of Build Back Better led to the passage of a voting rights bill, that could potentially do more to help the party than anything else….I don’t know where this all ends. I tend to think that Schumer and Pelosi can and will pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and Build Back Better in some limited form, maybe by another name. They might shorten the bill’s duration from 10 to five years or excise some significant chunks until next year. Even if it doesn’t pass, however, it’s not the Democrats’ last chance at holding on to their majority. Their fate has much more to do with protecting the nation from the ravages of viral mutations than anything else.”

Political Strategy Notes

E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes about the Democratic challenge regarding congressional action on President Biden’s physical and social infrastructure legislation: “In times of turmoil, I often turn to Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.), who doubles as an experienced lawmaker and a political scientist whose book “The Congressional Experience” is now in its fourth edition. A moderate with progressive instincts, Price is above all an institutionalist who believes that politicians in a democracy have a duty — to their constituents and their party — to govern effectively….“What is the moral obligation that comes from holding an office, of being a member of Congress?” he asked when I spoke with him on Wednesday. “The responsibility to understand that successful institutional performance is at least as important, perhaps more important, than fighting for your own particular positions….His solution to the current impasse? “Senators Manchin and Sinema have an obligation to the rest of us to state their position. It’s impossible for us to negotiate if they don’t either give a top-line number or say what they want to cut,” he said. “But if they do provide that, it’s then an obligation of progressives to show some forbearance, to support the physical infrastructure bill — which we should be proud of — and then negotiate on the larger bill.”…This is the only way to keep what began as a bracing effort at social reform from turning terribly sour.”

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein writes, “In just the past week, the casualty count of Democratic priorities doomed by the filibuster has mounted; both police and immigration reform now appear to be blocked in the Senate, and legislation codifying abortion rights faces equally dim prospects. Simultaneously, the party has tied itself in knots attempting to squeeze its economic agenda into a single, sprawling “reconciliation” bill, because that process offers the only protection against a GOP filibuster. Meanwhile, legislation establishing a new federal floor for voting rights, the party’s top priority after the reconciliation bill, remains stalled in the Senate under threat of another GOP filibuster. And then, this week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell raised the temperature even higher by leading a Republican filibuster that has blocked Democratic efforts to raise the nation’s debt ceiling….“On voting rights, budget, and reconciliation, potential economic calamity [over the debt ceiling]—this is a very clarifying few weeks,” says Eli Zupnick, a spokesperson for Fix Our Senate, a liberal group advocating for ending the filibuster. “Our hope is this will culminate in Democrats finally realizing they cannot keep preserving this weapon that McConnell can use to derail their agenda and hurt President Biden’s ability to govern.””

Brownstein continues, “Democrats now have unified control of government but remain stymied on many issues by their refusal to confront the disaster of the filibuster. By the time a new generation of Democrats summons the will and consensus to reconsider the rule, the party could lose its control of government. Either scenario leaves them unable to pass the party priorities. Once that window shuts, it might not reopen for some time. If Democrats lose either the House or the Senate in 2022, it could take years before they again control both chambers and the White House—especially if they fail to pass voting-rights legislation counteracting the laws and congressional gerrymanders that red states are passing to tilt the electoral playing field toward the GOP….Given the parliamentary dynamics of the modern Congress on vivid display this fall, a Senate vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster seems almost inevitable in the next few years: It’s an anachronism in a system defined by greater cohesion within the parties and more conflict between them. The real question may be whether Democrats dismantle it themselves now, or watch as Republicans do it the next time they hold unified control of Congress and the White House.”

“If 90 percent of voters are choosing parties rather than candidates,” Democratic consultant Hal Malchow asks in his article, “How the Democratic Party’s campaign strategy is failing America” at The Hill, “why are we spending all of our advertising dollars to distinguish candidates? …Convincing a voter to cast a ballot for a candidate is a one-time decision affecting one election contest in one year. Getting a voter to move party allegiance might be a hundred times more valuable….If voters are voting straight tickets, then a change of party usually affects every candidate on the ballot. But the benefit is larger still. Analysis in states with party registration suggests that a decision to register with a political party is a decision that lasts in excess of 30 years. A Democracy Fund study showed that between 2012 and 2017, 13 percent of voters changed their party registration or, 2.6 percent per year. If that is the average party switching percentage per year, then the average length of a party registration would be 38 years. If an independent or a Republican becomes a Democrat, the decision could benefit Democratic candidates up and down the ballot possibly for three decades or more.”

Political Strategy Notes

In his Washington Post column, “Democrats: Political suicide is not a strategy,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes about curent divisions among Democrats regarding the Build Back Better  and physical infrastructure bills: “…The ugly process and the relentless focus on the bill’s current $3.5 trillion price tag are taking a toll and feeding other misunderstandings. Only rarely is it pointed out that this is spent out over 10 years and thus amounts to just 1.2 percent of the economy. Worse, the focus on a single abstract total means little attention to what the Build Back Better initiatives would actually do — for children, families, education, health care, housing and climate.” However, “When Democrats allow a debate to be only about a number,” Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a leading moderate, said in an interview, “it’s like talking about a Christmas party and only discussing the hangover.” Dionne notes, “Substantively, added Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), starting the discussion this way gets things exactly backward. “We should work from what policies we want to enact,” he said, “rather than an arbitrary number.”….Biden has been pressing Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and other more conservative Democrats to be specific about what they do and don’t want in a final package.”

Dionne adds, “At his news conference on Friday, Biden said this was a central theme in his meetings with congressional Democrats this past week. “Forget a number,” Biden told them. “What do you think we should be doing?” He added that when some of his interlocutors listed all their priorities, they discovered that “it adds up to a number higher than they said they were for.”….Here’s one more misconception: the idea that all middle-of-the-road Democrats are of the same mind. In fact, most House Democrats, including many moderates, agree with the original goal of passing the Senate’s bipartisan physical infrastructure bill in tandem with the larger Build Back Better bill…..House Democrats eager for a quick vote on the bipartisan bill hinted this weekend that they were willing to show short-term patience in the interest of longer-term success. Biden should be ready to encourage them down this path….In my ideal world, we would spend more than $3.5 trillion, given how much needs to be done to give low- and middle-income Americans what Biden called “a little breathing room.”….But in the world as it exists, compromise is likely to require something smaller. That’s okay. What would not be okay: for Democrats to walk away from the best opportunity they have had in at least two generations to repair and reconstruct our nation’s social contract. Despite all their grousing, I think they know that.”

At CNN Politics, John Blake explains “How voter suppression laws hurt White people,” and shares some message points Democrats may want to distill and leverage in the months ahead: “White people — not just people of color — have been some of the biggest victims of voter suppression tactics….The Republican Party’s crusade to make voting more difficult isn’t just morally wrong. It’s folly. By obsessively chasing the phantom of widespread voter fraud, they are actually hurting their own base of White voters….Some of the more obvious boomerang effects of these laws have already been noted. Voter restrictions anger and mobilize voters of color. They make it more difficult for older, rural White citizens to vote. And they discourage some White voters from even participating in elections….Even some GOP leaders are now warning that restrictive voting laws are hurting their base. One commentator went further, saying Republicans are “inadvertently suppressing their own voters.”….States that enacted partisan gerrymandering — redrawing congressional districts to favor the Republican party and deprive Black people of voting power — tended to have higher infant mortality rates, Keena says. They also were more likely to challenge the Affordable Care Act in courts and were generally less responsive to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 than Republican-controlled states that didn’t gerrymander, he found…..There is a phrase that describes what happens to some White voters in states like Mississippi. It’s called “Dying of Whiteness” — the name of a 2019 book by Jonathan M. Metzl that describes a political dynamic where racial, “backlash governance” leads to White voters picking political leaders who enact policies that tend to make them sicker, poorer and more likely to die early by gun suicide….This same dynamic is partly why most of the counties in the US with the fewest fully vaccinated people are in Southern states led by GOP governors…..”When state governments rig the voting rules to suppress the voting power of their opponents, there are measurable decreases in public health and policy outcomes that affect everyone,” Keena says.”

Blake continues, “Republican leaders who seek to restrict voting rights also hurt themselves by turning off young White voters who could make the difference for them in future elections….Some GOP leaders make an effort to appeal to young voters, but their party’s voter restriction laws send another message: We don’t want you to vote….This message hurts young White voters by breeding political cynicism and apathy, says Mary A. Evins, coordinator for the American Democracy Project, a program that encourages civic engagement among youth. She says “the big chunk” of White voters impacted by voter restriction laws are the youngest voters….The Democrats’ voting overhaul bill would address many of Evins’ concerns. The new bill would make Election Day a public holiday, make it easier to register to vote, ensure states have early voting for federal elections and allow all voters to request mail-in ballots.” Blake reminds his readers that “The civil rights movement that swept away the apartheid system in the South also helped White people. The fall of Jim Crow lifted the economy of the entire South. It raised the standard of living for White people as new Southern leaders abandoned racial demagoguery to invest more in social services, education and public works that benefitted everyone, Whites included.” Sponsors of voter suppression legislation do their best to target Black voters, who have voted overwhelmingly Democratic in recent years. But, as Blake argues, the collateral damage of racially-motivated voter suppression inadvertently includes many white, conservative-leaning voters as well. Democrats would be smart to hone their messaging to show white voters how they too are being ripped off by Republican voter suppression legislation.

Political Strategy Notes

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Alan I. Abramowitz addresses a pivotal question for the midterm elections and beyond: “Can Democrats Win Back the White Working Class?” Abramowitz argues that “Appealing to the economic interests of white non-college voters may not be enough for Democrats to win back their support….In this article, I use evidence from the 2020 American National Election Study to examine the effects of various political attitudes on the candidate preferences of college and non-college white voters in the 2020 presidential election. In line with the arguments of racial resentment theorists, I find that economic insecurity had very little impact on white voter decision-making in 2020. However, I find that the rejection of the Democratic Party by white working class voters goes beyond racial resentment alone. Instead, I find that support for Donald Trump among white working class voters reflected conservative views across a wide range of policy issues including social welfare issues, cultural issues, racial justice issues, gun control, immigration, and climate change. In other words, the rejection of the Democratic Party by white working class voters is fundamentally ideological. This fact makes it very unlikely that Democrats will be able to win back large numbers of white working class voters by appealing to their economic self-interest.” Abramowitz cites data and provides charts which indicate “clear evidence that white working class voters tend to support conservative policies in every major issue domain, not just a few. They are just as conservative, if not more conservative, on traditional social welfare issues involving the size and role of government as they are on newer cultural issues such as abortion and gay rights. Most importantly, the across-the-board conservatism of white working class voters goes a long way toward explaining their current support for the Republican Party….These findings indicate that efforts by Democratic leaders to win back the support of white working class voters who have been voting for Republican candidates in recent years by appealing to their economic interests or shifting to the right on issues like immigration and gay rights are unlikely to bear much fruit. Moreover, tacking to the right to win votes from a shrinking population of white working class voters might turn off large numbers of college educated white voters with liberal views on these issues.”

In her Los Angeles Times article, “Young voters turned out in force for Democrats in 2020. Will they stick around?,” Janet Hook writes that young voters “will be key to the Democratic Party’s ability to keep control of Congress in 2022. Many young people were spurred to vote by anger toward former President Trump, but much more is driving them….These young Democratic voters have produced a new wave of grass-roots activism, inspired less by candidates than by their passion for issues that their generation thrust to the fore such as racial justice, gun safety and climate change….“I’ve never seen the activism I’ve seen among young people,” said Luis Sánchez, executive director of Power California, a political group that organizes young people of color. “This growing awareness and civic engagement is engagement that goes beyond voting.”….A survey of young people by the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics in March found 36% said they were politically active or engaged — even higher than the 24% who said they were engaged after President Obama’s 2008 election. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University found in a 2020 poll that 31% of people ages 18 to 24 had participated in a march or demonstration, up from 5% in 2016. They didn’t just march; they voted. The 2020 surge of young voters — turning out at an even higher rate and in larger numbers than for Obama in 2008 — overwhelmingly favored Democrats….Democrats’ advantage among young voters is of relatively recent vintage. Before most millennials qualified to vote — in the 2000 presidential election and most elections back to 1972 — young voters split about evenly between the parties. That changed in 2004, when Democrat John Kerry won 54% of the youth vote. Since then, Democrats’ edge has grown. That is partly a reflection of a demographic shift over the last 20 years.

Hook continues, “Voters younger than 40 are the most racially and ethnically diverse generations in American history: About 45% of millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) and nearly half of Gen Zers (born after 1996) are people of color, compared with 30% of baby boomers….Ironically, the pandemic may have helped facilitate higher levels of political engagement among young people. The ways states tried to limit the virus’ spread by making it easier to vote were especially useful for first-time voters who are often baffled by registration and ballot processes….That could change in 2022, because many new state voting laws are repealing the pandemic-era changes and implementing other provisions — such as stricter voter ID and residency requirements — that will make it harder for young people to register in college towns. Rock the Vote, a group focused on getting young Americans to the polls, is stepping up its education efforts on how to navigate these new requirements….In Georgia, the group is teaming up with professional sports teams and celebrities to promote voter education in Atlanta’s high schools, sponsoring a curriculum designed to inform teenagers even before they are old enough to vote….The pandemic shutdown also proved to be an incubator of political activism and ambition.“ Young people really took advantage of their time and used the internet as a medium for spreading activism,” said Osirus Polachart, a 23-year-old student at UC Berkeley. Those efforts did not end just because Trump left the White House.”

“Democrats’ hopes of including a path to citizenship for the 8 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the US in their upcoming budget reconciliation bill were dashed by a ruling from the Senate parliamentarian,” Nicole Narea writes at Vox. “It’s certainly a setback, given that reconciliation looked like their best chance to pass immigration reform this year, but it doesn’t mean that immigration reform has reached a dead end….Democrats have several immediate options, including presenting the parliamentarian with alternative proposals, overruling the parliamentarian, or resuming bipartisan negotiations on narrow immigration policies that at least some Republicans might find palatable….But while any one of those paths could yield urgent protections for at least some groups of immigrants, none presents the opportunity to meaningfully modernize the US’s broken immigration system to meet America’s changing demographic and economic needs. In the long run, Democrats will likely need to build consensus around immigration issues beyond their own ranks and pass broader legislation with Republican support….Democrats are planning to field alternative immigration proposals before the parliamentarian in the hopes of inclusion in their reconciliation bill….One proposal is to update the “immigration registry.” Under the registry, if an immigrant has been living in the US since before a certain date, they are eligible to apply for permanent residence under federal law, regardless of whether they overstayed a visa or entered the US without authorization. But that date hasn’t been updated in decades. It’s currently January 1, 1972….Another option would be to set a “rolling” cutoff date that automatically adjusts, perhaps advancing by one year annually or creating an eligibility standard requiring a certain number of years of continuously residing in the US. Democrats could also propose a similar change to an existing law known as Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows a family member or employer to apply for a green card on behalf of an undocumented immigrant….Democrats could also propose a similar change to an existing law known as Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows a family member or employer to apply for a green card on behalf of an undocumented immigrant. It’s essentially obsolete at this point because only applications filed before April 30, 2001, were accepted. But Democrats could advance that date. Given that more than 8 million US citizens have at least one undocumented family member living with them, that small date change could have big implications.”