washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

Douglas E. Schoen, former advisor to President Clinton and 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, puts the infrastrucxture deal in perspective in his article, “Bipartisan infrastructure win shows Democrats must continue working across the aisle” at The Hill: “The Senate’s vote on Wednesday to take up a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill was a big win for bipartisanship, and a big win for President Biden….The 67-to-32 procedural vote, which included 17 Republicans, came just hours after a group of centrist Senators finished negotiating enough details to begin official consideration of the legislation. Though the bill has a ways to go in the Senate and the House, this procedural vote was an encouraging step in the right direction….For years, lawmakers have repeatedly tried unsuccessfully to put together a bipartisan deal on infrastructure.” Schoen credits “President Biden and the group of bipartisan Senators for their efforts, and for showing Americans that cooperation and genuine progress are still possible, even in our deeply polarized political climate….Indeed, Democrats should approach the priorities in their massive $3.5 trillion bill — childcare, education, and clean energy investments — on an issue-by-issue basis in a bipartisan fashion, rather than ramming through one of the largest government expenditures in history on a simple party line vote through the Senate’s budget reconciliation process.”

Schoen continues, “From a practical perspective, proceeding cautiously and incrementally is the only sensical approach to take during such uncertain times — given the specter of inflation and a potential slowdown in the economy (or even a recession) as federal assistance to families is phased out in September. This economic uncertainty is further compounded by the recent growth in COVID-19 cases due to the highly infectious Delta variant….Moreover, Democrats ramming this $3.5 trillion bill through on party lines will have costly political consequences. And in my experience working in the White House, working across party lines leads to both meaningful reform as well as electoral success….After Republicans took back control of the House in the 1994 midterm elections, we worked with Republicans in Congress towards a balanced budget and welfare reform, both of which had bipartisan support. In 1996, President Clinton won his second term by a landslide, and he left office under an economic surplus….However, the Democrats’ failure to be incremental and bipartisan now in their approach to the rest of Biden’s agenda could put the party in the minority and Congress in 2022, and could also make a Republican victory in the 2024 presidential election much more likely.”

At FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley shares some new data regarding covid vaccination and political attitudes, which reveal the challenges President Biden faces going forward: “The delta variant is spreading rapidly in part because around 30 percent of Americans remain entirely unvaccinated. About 60 percent of adults are fully vaccinated and another 9 percent are partly vaccinated,1 which puts the country just short of — and behind schedule for — President Biden’s 70 percent goal set for July Fourth….Republicans are more likely than Democrats and independents to say they won’t get a vaccination. Depending on the poll, somewhere around 20 percent to 30 percent of Republicans say they won’t get vaccinated, whereas only about 5 percent of Democrats say the same. Independents who are refusing to get the vaccine range from around 10 percent to 25 percent in surveys….the Public Religion Research Institute recently found that the share of Americans under age 50 who were hesitant or opposed to getting the vaccine fell from slightly more than 50 percent in March to 35 percent in June. Still, just under half of that group of 35 percent remained opposed to getting vaccinated in the June survey…In the latest weekly survey from The Economist/YouGov, slightly less than half of Black and Hispanic adults reported being fully vaccinated, while more than 60 percent of white adults said they were….The Kaiser Family Foundation found in April that significantly more unvaccinated Black and Hispanic adults than white adults didn’t know where or when they could get a vaccine….The Economist/YouGov survey showed that around 80 percent of white Americans with a college degree had been fully vaccinated, compared with about 55 percent of those without a degree.” Skelley also notes that “According to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll, 63 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of COVID-19, but that’s 9 percentage points lower than the share who approved at the end of March.”

In “Other Polling Bites,” Skelley notes that “Morning Consult/Politico found that 58 percent of registered voters supported a congressional commission investigation of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, which comes as the House select committee looking into the insurrection held its first hearing on Tuesday. Support was down from 66 percent in June, however, as only 34 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of independents backed the congressional investigation, down from 45 percent and 65 percent, respectively.” The fact that the hearings have to compete with the Olympics for public attention at a time when Americans are hungry for some positive news may be reflected in attitudes toward the investigation in the near future. Of course, congress has to proceed with the probe, regardless of polls. What would be helpful at this point would be a survey linking public attitudes toward the two parties to the January 6th assault on the capitol. Democratic 2022 candidates and campaigns need some clues about how memory of the January 6th assault on the capitol plays with potential swing voters, in particular. In any event, the available video of January 6th provides Democrats with a potentially-powerful resource in the 2022  campaign– if they use it effectively to brand the GOP as the party of chaos and a dangerous enemy of democracy.


Political Strategy Notes

No one needs to worry that President Biden might forget to show up in communities where the pivotal working-class constituency lives. In “Biden stays close to home as he plots blue-collar focused presidential travel,” Kevin Liptak writes at CNN Politics: “Want to see President Joe Biden in person? Consider a move to Pennsylvania.…That is where the President visited again Wednesday, his sixth visit to the commonwealth of his birth since taking office six months ago. He toured a Mack Trucks facility in the Lehigh Valley, met with local union members and received a briefing on the company’s new electric dump truck….”It’s a nice area,” Biden observed to one of the facility’s employees as they walked alongside a cab assembly line. “It’s almost heaven. I’m from Scranton.”….Pennsylvania and Ohio will be the site of contested Senate races next year. And those states’ working-class towns and industrial heritage make them well-suited to promote infrastructure, Biden’s current chief agenda item….a pattern has emerged in each of Biden’s trips that underscores his attention toward blue-collar workers. Speaking after visiting a training center for electrical workers in Cincinnati last week, Biden underscored why he has focused in particular on union workers….”If every IBEW person decided they’re going to quit, this country comes to a screeching halt,” he said in a video posted to Instagram….On previous visits to Pennsylvania, Biden could be found touring a flooring company in Chester, speaking at a carpenters training facility in Pittsburgh and celebrating Amtrak’s 50th anniversary at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station….He has engaged in similar activities in neighboring Ohio, which he visited most recently last week, and Michigan, where he took a joy ride in one of Ford’s new electric pickup trucks in May.”

From “Jan. 6 police officers give a master class on the dangers of right-wing extremism” by E. J. Dionne, Jr. at The Washingon Post: “Four law enforcement heroes made abundantly clear at Tuesday’s inaugural hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol why this inquiry is essential and why so many Republicans wanted to keep it from happening….Their dramatic, heartfelt testimony also made an airtight case that right-wing extremism is a clear and present danger to the United States….“What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened,” D.C. police officer Michael Fanone said….A thorough investigation of what happened will necessarily be an inquiry into the right-wing extremism that is bleeding into the mainstream of the Republican Party. The best among the Republicans know how dangerous this is for their party and the country. Unfortunately, they do not currently have the upper hand in the GOP, which is why Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) were named to the committee by a Democratic House speaker, not by their own leadership….And there was nothing subtle about the racism confronted by Dunn, who testified that the rioters repeatedly addressed him with an unprintable racial epithet. “Other Black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on January 6,” he said….What happened on Jan. 6 was monstrous, the product of a dangerous, anti-democratic sickness haunting parts of the American right. This is the sort of event that a free nation must come to terms with, not ignore; investigate, not sweep under the rug; and understand, not dismiss as a one-off display of violence. That’s why this committee’s work is so important.”

“Rather than insisting on “Medicare for All” — Sanders’ trademark universal, government-funded health care plan — or the climate-change-fighting Green New Deal, Our Revolution is focusing on the more modest alternatives endorsed by President Joe Biden,” Bill Weissert of AP notes in “Pro-Sanders Group Rebranding Into ‘Pragmatic Progressives’: The progressive advocacy group Our Revolution is rebranding now that Bernie Sanders is no longer the undisputed leader of the left“….”Those include expanding eligibility for the existing Medicare program and curtailing federal subsidies for fossil fuel companies…..The shift reflects a progressive movement that is at a crossroads. Biden won the Democratic nomination last year by offering more centrist alternatives to much of Sanders’ agenda. Since then, progressive candidates have faced a series of electoral disappointments and are contending with anxiety from moderate Democrats worried that the party’s leftward shift could cost them control of Congress during next year’s midterm elections….“Coming out of Bernie’s 2016 campaign, in some ways the organization was probably more of a bridge organization between the two electoral cycles,” Joseph Geevarghese, Our Revolution’s executive director, said in an interview. “What we’re trying to build is something that is longer term” and “part of the overall ecosystem of the progressive movement.”….“I think we are rooted in a bold, progressive vision, but we’re also pragmatic progressives,” Geevarghese said….“You can see a real change in the trajectory of where the Democratic Party is when it comes to the big investments, the use of government levers to improve people’s livelihoods, the fight against climate change,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action.”

At The New Yorker, John Cassidy cites “research by economists—including Janet Currie, of Princeton, James Heckman, of the University of Chicago, and Hilary Hoynes, of the University of California, Berkeley—which showed that, over the long term, government interventions targeted at early childhood generate high returns for the individuals concerned and for society at large. The prioritization of real-world results over a priori theorizing marked an important advance in economics, and it is no coincidence that the Biden economic team is heavily populated by empiricists. But, to make the monthly child tax-credit payments a reality, it also took years of political effort, two upset Democratic Senate victories in Georgia, and a President willing to prioritize a costly anti-poverty initiative. For that last one, Biden deserves special credit….With votes on advancing the two big spending measures expected before Congress goes into its summer recess, and new doubts emerging about the prospects for agreement on the infrastructure package, the next couple of weeks could be key. From a macro-political perspective, the justification for the ambitious Biden agenda is that, after four years of Donald Trump, and a second Presidential election in which Trump gained more than forty-six per cent of the vote, it is imperative to demonstrate to the wider public that the game isn’t rigged for the élites, and that the federal government can deliver tangible benefits to working Americans. Only by accomplishing this objective will it be possible to build a new social bargain on which democracy (and non-predatory capitalism) can rest more securely. One may quibble with elements of this strategy. But, after a week in which it was revealed that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff feared that Trump was planning to execute a coup earlier this year, the thought of its failing outright is almost too dire to contemplate. What’s at stake is much more than dollars and cents.”


Political Strategy Notes

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. applauds the very few Republican leaders who are finally urging the public to get vaccinated – and also has some message points for Democratic candidates and campaigns: “Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that as of July 23, the 20 states with the highest vaccination rates (counting the District of Columbia as a state) all voted for President Biden….A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of CDC data found that as of July 6, the average vaccination rate in counties that voted for Biden was 46.7 percent. In counties that voted for Donald Trump, the vaccination rate was 35 percent….This, sadly, should be no surprise. An Associated Press-NORC poll released Friday found that among Democrats, only 18 percent were “not very” or “not at all” confident in the effectiveness of vaccines; among Republicans, 42 percent expressed such doubts….Three states — Florida, Texas and Missouri — accounted for 40 percent of new covid cases last week….It’s the new political geography of sickness and death….Democratic pollster Guy Molyneux pointed to the unpopularity of the anti-vaccine position generally, and especially among “red state business communities” who fear new lockdowns….“I wouldn’t be surprised if GOP pols are hearing from business leaders: Knock it off with the anti-vax nonsense,” Molyneux said. The National Football League’s tough stand on vaccination is a high-profile example of a business alarmed about the impact of a resurgent virus on its operations….So please, Republican politicians, keep shouting from the rooftops about the imperative of getting vaccinated. But you also need to take another virus seriously. The spread of extremism in your party is deadly — to our health and to our democracy.

At The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter explains why President Biden’s bipartisan outreach may have a very short shelf life: “No matter what happens with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, it’s pretty clear that this is the last chance for any significant and meaningful bipartisan legislation for the foreseeable future. And, that’s not just because control of the Senate is on the line in 2022. Two of the three Republicans most heavily involved in the bipartisan deal-making on infrastructure won’t be in Congress in 2023, while the third could lose a primary. Ohio’s Rob Portman and North Carolina’s Richard Burr are retiring, while Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has earned former President Trump’s wrath by voting to impeach him, has a serious intra-party challenge. As important, the Republicans running to replace them are more interested in fighting than in fixing, more invested in widening the partisan chasm than in narrowing it. Meanwhile, Democratic Senate candidates in key swing seat Senate races don’t share President Biden’s optimism about GOP cooperation. Many of them have pledged to nix the filibuster, something Biden recently said would “throw the entire Congress into chaos.”….in the Democratic primary for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania, every major candidate takes a different view than Biden. All have said they would vote to eliminate the parliamentary procedure. Many of the top Democratic candidates in North Carolina and Wisconsin are also committed to ending the procedure. Even if the filibuster stays intact, the fact that Democrats — even those in swing states — are willing to throw out the parliamentary procedure suggests that members of Biden’s party are much more pessimistic than he is about the comity and bipartisanship.,,,President Biden may believe that there’s still a chance for the Senate to work in a bipartisan way. But, there will be fewer members in that body come 2023 that believe that.”

Will the Florida Democratic Party ever get it together? As Matt Dixon writes in “Florida Democrats anxious over stalled Miami congressional races” at Politico, “Two Miami-area congressional races are likely to be some of the nation’s most expensive and competitive midterm contests. But Democrats so far are missing one thing: candidates….Then-Democratic Reps. Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell lost the seats in surprise upsets in 2020. Democrats now see both races as winnable — Hillary Clinton won both districts in 2016 by double digits, and the seats tend to sway between Republican and Democratic control. But some Florida Democrats are blaming the poor recruitment drive on the party, which they say isn’t doing enough to recruit and assist strong candidates — a sign of larger problems in the nation’s biggest swing state….At the same time, Shalala is watching how the state’s redistricting process plays out before deciding whether to run again. The former Clinton administration cabinet official would be the initial favorite in the primary if she enters the race but could leave Democrats scrambling well into the 2022 election cycle if she delays her decision much longer….The unsettled field has left Florida Democrats anxious that two potential opportunities are slipping away from them, especially after Republicans and former President Donald Trump galvanized Miami’s Cuban exile community during the 2020 elections….“Without question it is definitely frustrating,” said Ben Pollara, a Miami-based Democratic consultant. “These are going to be ultra-competitive seats that you will need to raise a lot of money for. I’ve been telling people to get in as soon as you can.”….The growing unease underscores the weak position Democrats are in in Florida as the national party attempts to protect its slim margin in the House. Florida Democrats have struggled this year to recruit A-list candidates for statewide offices like attorney general and even governor, a sign that Democrats see their chances of toppling Republicans dimming….Democrats contend that they have a strong chance of winning back Salazar’s seat, which includes tony Miami Beach. The lines will be redrawn, but the previous two presidential elections show how it raced away from Democrats: President Joe Biden won Salazar’s current district by roughly 3 points in 2020, just four years after Hillary Clinton carried it by almost 20 points.”

Jeet Heer observes in “The Fate of the New Popular Front” at Dissent: “Is Joe Biden the reincarnation of Lyndon B. Johnson or even Franklin D. Roosevelt? Biden will have to rack up many more legislative victories before he can make any such boast, but based on the first few months of his presidency, it is safe to say that Washington is now more amenable to left-wing ideas than at any time since the peak of the Great Society….Many have been taken by surprise by this development. Biden’s political identity has been resolutely centrist for decades. And he was the second-most moderate of the Democrats who vied for the presidential nomination in 2020, to the left only of former Republican Michael Bloomberg. Yet Biden’s centrism has always been tempered by a healthy opportunism. He is a party man, with an uncanny gift for locating himself wherever the median Democratic Party voter is. And thanks to Bernie Sanders’s two bids for the presidential nomination and the rise of a young cohort of openly leftist lawmakers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the other members of the Squad, the center of gravity of the Democratic Party is well to the left of where it has been for the last half-century….One sign of Biden’s political acumen is the effort he has made to integrate the left into the Democratic Party—something that Hillary Clinton failed to do in her ill-starred 2016 run. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain has been especially diligent in making sure that the progressive wing is involved in policymaking. Bernie Sanders’s elevation to chair of the Senate Committee on the Budget, an influential perch, ensures a pressure point for keeping alive social democratic proposals even if the White House backslides. In April, Sanders’s advocacy ensured that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer signed on for pushing for cheaper drug prices and a lowering of the Medicare eligibility age, both areas where the White House needs prodding….The dilemma for the left is sometimes presented as a judgement between a Popular Front strategy pursued by Sanders and the Squad—working within the Democratic Party—versus an oppositional left strategy—seeing the Democratic Party establishment as an institutional foe that needs to be delegitimized for progress to occur. The advocates of the Popular Front are willing to praise Joe Biden and mobilize for the party in order to get concessions. For the oppositional left, this transactional alliance is a dead end that will inevitably involve a watering down of radical demands….Between these two poles, there is a spectrum of concern about the left’s place in the Democratic alliance.”


A Progressive Wish List for Biden’s 2nd Term Coming Into View

A report card for progressive Democrats six months into President Biden’s first term would merit  an overall “B.” The Democratic left has done a pretty good job of meeting their primary responsibility, which is to press the case for progressive policy options as much as possible, without forming a circular firing squad leading up to the midterm elections. So far, so good.

They don’t deserve an “A,” because of the tepid response to the GOP campaign to brand Democrats as supporting unpopular policies like “defunding the police,” “open borders” and unbridled socialism. Some of this is the fault of easily-distracted media. But there is considerable room for improvement in the way left Dems push back against such ridiculous stereotypes. A little more message discipline and repetition wouldn’t hurt.

Progressive Democrats are not supposed to provide uncritical support of their party’s leader on all occasions But they need to be there for the big battles, the way they showed up for Georgia’s U.S. senate candidates in the January run-offs. True that Georgia flipped in large part because of the blueing of the suburbs and Trump’s mismanagement of his party’s campaign. But it was the fire lit by energetic Black activism and progressives that helped persuade Georgia’s voters. A repeat perfomance for Warnock is needed in 2022, if Dems are going to secure a working senate majority.

Progressive Democrats should run and win where they can in 2022. But when they lose primaries, support the Democratic nominee wholeheartedly. Unity for all Democratic candidates in November, 2022 is required for winning a functional Democratic majority that can actually govern. Without unity, we don’t really have a viable political party.

Above all, left Dems should think and plan long-term. Three leading progressive Democratic goals, Medicare for All,  filibuster reform and increasing the size of the Supreme Court belong on Biden’s 2nd term wish list (unless he wins enough senate seats next year), even though he has expressed skepticism about these reforms. But one of Biden’s political virtues is that he is open to change – when the circumstances are right. Securing these reforms depends on holding the House majority and a net pick-up of a couple of U.S. senate seats next year. These are not extravagant goals, despite historical patterns, particularly if Biden’s approval ratings stay high.

President Biden is certainly doing his part. His strategy of competent management of the Covid pandemic, a major economic stimulus, plus steady progress in winning incremental reforms to improve the lives of struggling Americans is paying off. As he hits the campaign trail for 2022 Democratic candidates this week, progressive Democrats should see it as part of their cause.


Political Strategy Notes

In his article, “The Tool That Joe Biden Refuses to Use: The president’s speech about the sanctity of the vote did not go far enough” at The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein explains, “That relative emphasis on infrastructure over voting rights may reflect several calculations in the White House. One is the belief, as officials have described to me, that the best way for Biden to prevent Republicans from stealing future elections is for Democrats to maintain control of the House and Senate in 2022—and the best way to ensure that is for him to pass the bread-and-butter agenda he ran on (which includes, in their view, working with Republicans)….Others see in Biden’s approach an implicit acknowledgment that he is highly unlikely to persuade the Democratic holdouts—led by Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona—to change the Senate filibuster, the necessary precondition to passing any new federal voting-rights legislation. By that analysis, the White House is modulating Biden’s engagement in a fight that he is very unlikely to win. “I believe they have decided that Manchin, and maybe others, are unmovable on the filibuster, and if they are unmovable, let’s focus on what we can do and not beat our heads against a wall that is simply never going to crack,” Matt Bennett, the executive vice president for public affairs at the centrist Democratic group Third Way, told me….A third possible factor in the White House ranking may be the most confounding to voting-rights groups. In his speech yesterday, Biden, like Vice President Kamala Harris in an address last week, seemed to suggest that Democrats could overcome the recent red-state moves with sufficient on-the-ground organizing. A top White House official had first made that argument to me in May in response to the initial wave of criticism from civil- and voting-rights groups that the administration was not adequately engaged in this fight.” Further, ” The late-June ruling by the six GOP-appointed Supreme Court justices further weakening the Voting Rights Act diminished the odds that the Justice Department or civil-rights groups can block these new state laws in court….With the Democratic options narrowing, the one lever the party possesses is federal legislation establishing a nationwide floor of voting rights, including guaranteed access to early and mail voting, as well as automatic and same-day voter registration. After a Republican filibuster blocked Senate debate on such a bill last month, Democrats have been attempting to negotiate a scaled-down version of the legislation based on the principles that Manchin indicated last month he could support.”

Also at the Atlantic, Edward-Isaac Dovere writes that President Biden “gripes privately about the filibuster, aware that the parliamentary procedure is, in many minds, what’s standing between him and the FDR-size agenda he now aspires to accomplish. He looks at next year’s midterms and sees that historical trends, supercharged by gerrymandering and new red-state voting restrictions, threaten not just whatever legacy he hopes to build for his own presidency, but democracy itself….Still, the president doesn’t want to throw all his energy into a fight with Trump, or a fight over an initiative like the For the People Act, the Democrats’ favored election-reform bill. Many top White House aides (as well as more Democratic senators than have said so publicly, despite voting for it) see the legislation as full of problems that wouldn’t hold up to a Supreme Court challenge. Plus, the votes aren’t there for it to pass in the Senate. As for the filibuster, Biden believes that not only would coming out against the bill publicly be counterproductive, but that doing so would end all hope of getting any other legislation through the Senate….Biden believes that this is precisely the kind of elitist trap Democrats fall into time and again, to their own detriment. The more energy and airtime Democrats devote to eliminating the filibuster, the less energy they’re putting into talking up the expanded child tax credit or working toward the passage of a historic infrastructure bill. He believes voters are going to care much more about the money in their pockets than the less tangible issues of government reform….“What I’ve learned in my entire career in politics, you can do anything with somebody and get them to move as long as you don’t change their standard of living downward,” he told me….Scrapping the filibuster won’t matter if nothing else can pass the Senate and Biden has a failed presidency; protecting small margins in elections won’t matter if Democrats don’t deliver on other priorities and lose House races next year by 5 or 10 percent.”

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik notes in the first part of his new series on redistricting that “there are 10 states that use a commission to draw the lines: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington. If those commissions did not exist, and redistricting power was instead given to the state legislature with the possibility of a gubernatorial veto, Democrats would have the power to draw the maps in six of these 10 states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington), Republicans would have the power in three (Arizona, Idaho, and Montana), and there would be divided government control in Michigan (Democrats hold the governorship, Republicans hold the state legislature). Instead of Republicans holding a 187-75 edge, their advantage would be a more modest 200-170 under this scenario, with the remaining 65 districts either in one-district states or in ones with divided government….So in some states, Democrats may be, or are, kicking themselves for backing redistricting commissions. Both parties supported a 2018 Colorado ballot issue that created an independent redistricting commission for congressional maps. Had it not passed, Democrats now would have gerrymandering power in the Centennial State and drawn themselves a better map than a draft the commission released a few weeks ago, which likely will result in a 5-3 Democratic delegation but could split 4-4 in a strong Republican year. “We’re (expletive) idiots,” said one anonymous state lawmaker, as quoted by the Colorado Sun.”

The Nation’s Elie Mystal makes a compelling argument that pretty much all voting rights reform legislation is doomed because the current U.S. Supreme Court majority is already in the pocket of the GOP, when it comes to voting rights. Further, argues Mystal, “There is something the Democrats could do to restore the Voting Rights Act. Expand the Supreme Court. It’s actually the only reasonable thing Democrats can do. The Supreme Court has made it clear that there are not five votes to support the notion that nonwhites should have equal access to the ballot box. If Democrats do not expand the court, then they accept that premise and leave Black people—their actual base of electoral support—to fend for themselves against whatever ideas Republican governors can come up with to discourage them from voting….But to expand the court, you first need to break the filibuster….Even if the filibuster is somehow defeated, it’s pretty clear that Biden would want to use that power to pass an infrastructure bill as well as these well-intentioned voting rights protections that will be easily overturned by the Supreme Court in a few years time. The will to do what is necessary to protect Black people from Republicans simply doesn’t exist in the current Democratic Party….So they feed us this lie, this falsehood that a carefully tailored voting rights restoration bill will be above constitutional reproach, even though the conservatives on the Supreme Court have literally already told us precisely how they will strike down any new voter protection bill should they have to. Democrats are trying to wish a better Supreme Court into existence, because they don’t have the political strength to use their constitutional powers to make one….I know this isn’t what most liberals want to hear, but it is the truth. Bills promising federal oversight of state elections are dead on arrival at the conservative Supreme Court. The only way to fix that problem is to fix that court. Everything else is a pointless show, a cacophony of sound meant to distract people from the cold reality that democracy is sinking.” All of which underscores the importance of Democrats breaking the historical pattern of the president’s party losing seats in the House and Senate in its first midterm elections, and even more challenging — picking up two or three Senate seats needed to shred the filibuster and increase the size of the Supreme Court.


Political Strategy Notes

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes that “Unprecedented, redistributive government spending across the wealthy countries prevented the pandemic downturn from becoming another Great Depression. At the same time, the seething social resentments that right-wing populists brought to the fore forced even the complacent to recognize the dislocations and injustices bred by rising inequality over the last half-century….This shift toward interventionism has been reinforced by a climate crisis whose dangers are increasingly obvious to large majorities across the democratic world….All this has led to a resurgence of social democracy’s core idea: that market economies can thrive only when governments underwrite them with strong systems of social insurance, new paths to opportunity for those cast aside by capitalism’s “creative destruction,” and updated rules to advance social goods that include family life, education, public health — and the planet itself….This explains why there is more unity among Democrats than skeptics expected around Biden’s big investment program. Its emphasis on shared social needs reflects how broad the new consensus is. It encompasses pro-capitalist moderates such as Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) no less than democratic socialists such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).”

From postfun.com: There are more people in the red areas than the grey, which may help explain political ad buys.

In an article orginally published in The National Journal, Charlie Cook writes at the Cook Political Report: “One Washington Post column cited a recent Navigator survey conducted for a group of liberal labor groups and individuals involved in Democratic politics and policy. Three in five registered voters in its national sample said they believe that the country is in crisis—72 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents, and 53 percent of Democrats. When respondents were given a list of 14 different possibilities and asked which ones they considered a major crisis, the top issue was violent crime, with 54 percent. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans said so, as did 52 percent of independents and Democrats. This was 3 points higher than the coronavirus pandemic and well above a whole host of Democratic priorities, including China, climate change, voting, joblessness, and infrastructure, as well as “cancel culture.”….As Biden tries to navigate rising crime, he and his team are clearly mindful of how toxic his party’s most extreme voices are to swing voters. Despite his efforts to create a lot of distance from that movement, there is a certain guilt by association that’s amplified very effectively by his GOP and conservative critics….Many Democrats—including Biden at his press conference on crime last month—point to their efforts to enact tougher gun laws. But voters are savvy enough to know that new regulations on guns aren’t likely to get through Congress. Until then, they want to know: What happens? What else can you do to keep me safe? Democrats’ majority may depend on their answer.”

At Politco, Steven Shepard notes: “A new, highly anticipated report from the leading association of pollsters confirms just how wrong the 2020 election polls were. But nine months after that closer-than-expected contest, the people asking why are still looking for answers….National surveys of the 2020 presidential contest were the least accurate in 40 years, while the state polls were the worst in at least two decades, according to the new, comprehensive report from the American Association for Public Opinion Research….The most likely — if far from certain — culprit for off-kilter polling results is that key groups of people don’t answer polls in the first place….Comparing the final election results to the poll numbers for each candidate, Trump’s support was understated by a whopping 3.3 points on average, while Biden’s was overstated by a point — turning what looked like a solid Biden lead into a closer, if still decisive, race….It wasn’t just a Trump effect, either. The polls of Senate and governor’s races were off by an even greater margin: 6 points on average….Without definitive answers about the causes of the 2020 miss, however, pollsters aren’t sure they’ll be able to get it right in 2022, 2024 or beyond.”


Political Strategy Notes

Hugo Lowell reports at The Guardian: “Top Democrats in the House are spearheading a new effort to convince the Senate to carve out a historic exception to the filibuster that would allow them to push through their marquee voting rights and election reform legislation over unanimous Republican opposition….The sweeping measure to expand voting rights known as S1 fell victim to a Republican filibuster last month after the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, and his leadership team unified the conference to sink the bill in a party-line vote….Now, furious at Republicans for weaponizing the filibuster against Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, the House majority whip, James Clyburn, is pushing Senate Democrats to end its use for constitutional measures, according to sources familiar with the matter…Ending the use of the filibuster for constitutional measures – and lowering the threshold to pass legislation to a simple majority in the 50-50 Senate – is significant as it would almost certainly pave the way for Democrats to expand voting across the US….Democrats open to making the change have previously indicated that their argument that the minority party should not have the power to repeatedly block legislation with widespread support resonates with the wider American public….“The people did not give Democrats the House, Senate and White House to compromise with insurrectionists,” the Democratic congresswoman Ayanna Pressley wrote on Twitter after Republicans blocked S1, illustrating the sentiment. “Abolish the filibuster so we can do the people’s work.””

From Simone Pathe’s “The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022” at CNN Politcs: “The fight for control of the evenly divided Senate will be the most dramatic showdown of 2022, and based on the candidates who have jumped in so far — and those who are expected to — there are a few changes to this month’s ranking of the Senate seats most likely to flip partisan control….Pennsylvania — an open-seat race in a state that President Joe Biden carried in 2020 — remains the most likely to flip. But four other states have moved around slightly….Two other Biden states are trading places, with New Hampshire leapfrogging above Nevada. It’s true that Biden carried the Granite State by a wider margin, but the potential GOP candidate options there are enough to move it above the Silver State for now. Of course, that could change if two big name Republicans in New Hampshire pass on the race….Two Trump states are also switching spots. Florida is now above Ohio in terms of likelihood of flipping. Democrats have done better recently at the presidential level in Florida than they have in Ohio, and that’s all the more relevant now that Democratic Rep. Val Demings is running against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Democrats already had a candidate in Ohio — Rep. Tim Ryan — but the increasingly red state is tougher terrain for the party. However, this is fluid — it’s still possible that the messy GOP primary in the Buckeye State will be just the opening Democrats need.” Pathe provides a detailed run-down for each of the states.

In his New York Times Column, “Lean in to it. Lean into the Culture War,” Thomas B. Edsall writes, “Should responsibility for the rampant polarization that characterizes American politics today be laid at the feet of liberals or conservatives? I posed that question to my friend Bill Galston, a senior fellow at Brookings and a columnist at The Wall Street Journal….He emailed me his reply:

It is fair to say that the proponents of cultural change have been mostly on offense since Brown v. the Board of Education, while the defenders of the status quo have been on defense.

Once the conflict enters the political arena, though, other factors come into play, Galston argues:

Intensity makes a huge difference, and on many of the cultural issues, including guns and immigration, the right is more intense than the left.

Galston put it like this:

When being “right” on a cultural controversy becomes a threshold issue for an intense minority, it can drive the party much farther to the left or right than its median voter.

Along with intensity, another driving force in escalating polarization, in Galston’s view, is elite behavior:

Newt Gingrich believed that the brand of politics Bob Michel practiced had contributed to House Republicans’ 40-year sojourn in the political desert. Gingrich decided to change this, starting with Republicans’ vocabulary and tactics. This proved effective, but at the cost of rising incivility and declining cooperation between the political parties. Once the use of terms such as “corruption,” “disgrace” and “traitor” becomes routine in Congress, the intense personal antipathy these words express is bound to trickle down to rank-and-file party identifiers.

The race and gender issues that have come to play such a central role in American politics are rooted in the enormous changes in society from the 1950s to the 1970s, Galston wrote:

The United States in the early 1950s resembled the country as it had been for decades. By the early 1970s, everything had changed, stunning Americans who had grown up in what seemed to them to be a stable, traditional society and setting the stage for a conservative reaction. Half a century after the Scopes trial, evangelical Protestantism re-entered the public square and soon became an important build-block of the coalition that brought Ronald Reagan to power.

Edsall also quotes Yale political science professor Jacob Hacker: “It strains credulity to argue that Democrats have been pushing culture-war issues more than Republicans. It’s mostly Republican elites who have accentuated these issues to attract more and more working-class white voters even as they pursue a plutocratic economic agenda that’s unpopular among those voters. Certainly, Biden has not focused much on cultural issues since entering office — his key agenda items are all bread-and-butter economic policies. Meanwhile, we have Republicans making critical race theory and transgender sports into big political issues (neither of which, so far as I can tell, hardly mattered to voters at all before they were elevated by right-wing media and the G.O.P.).” Edsall adds, “There is substantial evidence in support of Hacker’s argument that Republican politicians and strategists have led the charge in raising hot-button issues….If right-wing manipulation of cultural and racial issues does end up backfiring, that will defy the long history of the Republican Party’s successful deployment of divisive wedge issues — from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush to Newt Gingrich to George W. Bush to Donald Trump. Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated that the half-life of these radioactive topics is longer than expected, and Democrats, if they want to protect their fragile majority, must be doubly careful not to hand their adversaries ever more powerful weapons.”


Political Strategy Notes

Geoffrey Skelley explains “Why The Gender Gap May Have Shrunk In The 2020 Election” at FiveThirtyEight: “It’s harder to pinpoint exactly why the gender gap shrunk from 2016 to 2020, but Pew’s numbers point to a couple of possible explanations, particularly the influence that educational attainment has on vote choice. Consider Biden’s improvement among college-educated men. He won 58 percent of this group, a giant leap from Clinton’s 49 percent in 2016. And his performance among college-educated men marked a 10-point advantage over how he did among men overall. Conversely for Trump, his gains among women were largely concentrated among those without a four-year college degree. His support among that group grew from 43 percent in 2016 to 50 percent in 2020. Taken together, this reflects the recent trend of Americans with higher education levels shifting toward the Democrats, and less-well-educated Americans moving toward the GOP….This shift was especially notable among white voters,2 as educational attainment has tended to be a larger cleavage for them than for other racial or ethnic groups. Biden won 54 percent of white men with a college degree, up from Clinton’s 47 percent in 2016, while white women without a four-year degree moved in the other direction, as Trump’s support grew to 64 percent, up from 56 percent in 2016….Yet, educational attainment isn’t the whole story, as white men without a college degree also shifted significantly toward Biden in 2020. Although Trump still won that group by a huge margin, Biden won 31 percent of them compared with Clinton’s 23 percent — an improvement that may have been foreshadowed by Biden’s performance in the presidential primary, in which he did notably better than Clinton in many parts of the country with higher shares of white voters without a college degree.”

“Congressional Democrats confront an unusual problem in trying to pass large investments in the nation’s economy, its environment and its social well-being,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column. “Just about everything they want to do is popular, yet when you add everything up, it costs a politically eye-popping pot of money….Think of it as an especially challenging version of the Goldilocks problem: What’s not too small, not too big, but just right?….If the final bill is too small, popular priorities fall by the wayside. Do you cut climate spending or the duration of the child tax credit or health-care expansions? Or housing or home care for the aged, or early-childhood education? Trimming any of these would create legitimate howls of protest not only from progressives but also from more middle-of-the-road advocates of the programs involved..But doing everything that Democrats would like to do could mean doubling or tripling the overall spending number that more cautious Democrats might find comfortable. The range runs from the $2 trillion that Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has mentioned to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) proposed $5 trillion to $6 trillion, with President Biden weighing in initially around $4.5 trillion. (Yes, he does have a knack for finding his party’s center ground.)”

At The Hill, Amy Parnes and Abigail Goldberg-Zelizer report that “Biden’s midterm strategies start to come into focus” and note, “President Biden has visited a string of swing districts and states in the last month, underscoring his determination to help his party in next year’s midterm races….On Wednesday, Biden traveled to Crystal Lake, Ill., where he has sought to sell his infrastructure plan. The district, which supported former President Trump in 2020, is represented by Rep. Lauren Underwood (D), who has been at the center of attacks from the National Republican Congressional Committee….Biden in late June stopped in La Crosse, Wis., where Democratic congressman Ron Kind is also a perennial GOP target….Democrats say Biden wants to show he can be of service to vulnerable Democrats in the months leading up to the high-stakes midterm contests where they’re in jeopardy of losing their control of the House and Senate….And some strategists argue Biden can be a help just about wherever he goes…..“There is no place in America that he is not at least a net positive for Democrats,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who added that Biden’s “brand right now is to be a bridge to disaffected Republicans and independents….Biden’s travel schedule also often looks like it has been drawn up with his own possible reelection bid in mind for 2024. There have been plenty of trips to the swing statesof Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Georgia, a state Biden took from Republicans last year. Next week, the president will go to another swing states — Pennsylvania — where he will speak about voting rights.”

Adam Gopnik mulls over “Biden’s Invisible Ideology” and writes at The New Yorker: “Biden, by contrast, insisted that the way to win was not to play. In the face of the new politics of spectacle, he kept true to old-school coalition politics. He understood that the Black Church mattered more in Democratic primaries than any amount of Twitter snark, and, by keeping a low profile on social media, showed that social-media politics was a mirage. Throughout the dark, dystopian post-election months of Trump’s tantrum—which led to the insurrection on January 6th—many Democrats deplored Biden’s seeming passivity, his reluctance to call a coup a coup and a would-be dictator a would-be dictator. Instead, he and his team were remarkably (to many, it seemed, exasperatingly) focussed on counting the votes, trusting the process, and staffing the government….It looked at the time dangerously passive; it turned out to be patiently wise, for Biden and his team, widely attacked as pusillanimous centrists with no particular convictions, are in fact ideologues. Their ideology is largely invisible but no less ideological for refusing to present itself out in the open. It is the belief, animating Biden’s whole career, that there is a surprisingly large area of agreement in American life and that, by appealing to that area of agreement, electoral victory and progress can be found. (As a recent Populace survey stated, Biden and Trump voters hold “collective illusions” about each other, and “what is often mistaken for breadth of political disagreement is actually narrow — if extremely intense — disagreement on a limited number of partisan issues.”) Biden’s ideology is, in fact, the old ideology of pragmatic progressive pluralism—the ideology of F.D.R. and L.B.J. Beneath the strut and show and hysteria of politics, there is often a remarkably resilient consensus in the country. Outside the white Deep South, there was a broad consensus against segregation in 1964; outside the most paranoid registers of Wall Street, there was a similar consensus for social guarantees in 1934. Right now, post-pandemic, polls show a robust consensus for a public option to the Affordable Care Act, modernized infrastructure, even for tax hikes on the very rich and big corporations. The more you devote yourself to theatrical gestures and public spectacle, the less likely you are to succeed at making these improvements—and turning Trumpism around. Successful pluralist politicians reach out to the other side, not in a meek show of bipartisanship, but in order to steal their voters.”


Political Strategy Notes

In “The Jan. 6 Committee Is Politically Terrible For Republicans — And They Did It To Themselves,” Kate Riga writes at Talking Points Memo: “Pelosi chose Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as one of her eight selections. Cheney already lost her leadership position within the Republican caucus over her refusal to accept the big lie, and said she was “honored” to serve….Picking Cheney allows Pelosi to avoid the narrative that would have dominated the independent commission, where the Democratic and Republican appointees would have been evenly split. Instead of neat, party-line battles between Democratic and Republican appointees, Pelosi will likely be able to tout bipartisan decisions and findings, as Cheney has an actual interest in investigating what happened. The independent commission was much more likely to end in a partisan schism, perhaps even with dueling majority and minority reports….Ultimately, Republicans saved Democrats from themselves. Democrats right up to Pelosi made clear that they preferred the independent commission model, regardless of its built-in features that would have made it easier for Republicans to manipulate…..Expect months of GOP objection to every move the committee makes — “witch hunt!” — and dismissal of its fact-finding. But its discoveries will be covered and conclusions made known, with Republicans having very little say over the matter. For that, Republicans have no one to blame but themselves.”

NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall explores the phenomenon of “political schadenfreude” in politics, and notes, “In their July 3 paper, “Partisan Schadenfreude and the Demand for Candidate Cruelty,” Steven W. Webster, Adam N. Glynn and Matthew P. Motta, political scientists at Indiana University, Emory and Oklahoma State, explore “the prevalence of partisan schadenfreude — that is, taking ‘joy in the suffering’ of partisan others.”….In it, they argue that a “sizable portion of the American mass public engages in partisan schadenfreude and these attitudes are most commonly expressed by the most ideologically extreme Americans.”….In addition, Webster, Glynn and Motta write, these voters create a “demand for candidate cruelty” since these voters are “more likely than not to vote for candidates who promise to pass policies that ‘disproportionately harm’ supporters of the opposing political party.”….In response to my emailed inquiries, Webster answered: Schadenfreude is a bipartisan attitude. In our study, the schadenfreude measure ranges from 0-6. For Republicans, the mean score on this measure is 2.81; for Democrats, it is 2.67. Notably, there is a considerable amount of variation in how much partisans express schadenfreude: some express very little schadenfreude, while others exhibit an extraordinary amount. Those who identify as a ‘strong Democrat’ or a ‘strong Republican’ tend to express greater levels of schadenfreude than those who do not strongly identify with their party.”….Democrats should consider that Schadenfreude is not a particularly good look for any political candidate, who hope to win over swing voters who are tired of all the bickering. And yet, there are studies which indicate that negative campaigning works.

Some key points from “Where Both Parties Overperform in the House” by Louis Jacobsen at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “— As we head into a once-a-decade redistricting cycle, we analyzed which states have one party that is currently overperforming in its House delegation compared to that party’s share of the 2020 presidential vote.— Overall, the GOP has notched notable overperformances in 19 medium-to-large-sized states, compared to 11 for the Democrats. However, the total number of excess seats for each party from these states is roughly in balance, though Republicans have a slight edge: 32 for the GOP, 28 for the Democrats.— The three biggest sources of excess seats for the GOP today — Texas, Ohio, and Florida — could provide additional excess seats in the coming redistricting round, given the fact that each state has unified Republican control of state government. The Democrats’ options for squeezing out additional seats are more limited because many of their biggest sources of excess seats have a commission system for redistricting.”

Table 1: States where Republicans overperform in House

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas was caught spilling the beans. As Jake Johnson reports at Common Dreams: “Newly leaked video footage of a recent event hosted by the right-wing group Patriot Voices shows Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas openly admitting that his party wants “18 more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done” as President Joe Biden, a bipartisan group of senators, and congressional Democrats work to pass climate and infrastructure legislation….”Honestly, right now, for the next 18 months, our job is to do everything we can to slow all of that down to get to December of 2022,” Roy says in the clip, referring to the month after that year’s midterm elections. Republicans need to flip just a handful of seats to take back the House and Senate….”I don’t vote for anything in the House of Representatives right now,” Roy says in response to an audience member’s question about the sweeping infrastructure and safety-net package that Democrats are planning to pass unilaterally alongside a White House-backed bipartisan deal….As the clip of Roy circulated online Tuesday, McConnell (R-Ky.) told a Kentucky audience that Republicans intend to give Democrats a “hell of a fight” over their plans to pass a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure bill using the budget reconciliation process, which is exempt from the Senate’s 60-vote legislative filibuster—an archaic tool that McConnell has repeatedly used to obstruct Democratic legislation….Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, noted Monday that “not a single Republican voted for the American Rescue Plan,” a popular $1.9 trillion reconciliation package that included direct relief payments, an extension of emergency unemployment programs, and funding for vaccine distribution.” With Roy, McConnell and other Republicans bragging about their obstruction intentions, Democratic ad-makers have the resources to do a hell of a mash-up ad illustrating the GOP = Gridlock, Obstruction and Paralysis equation for the midterm elections.


Political Strategy Notes

The Data for Progress Newsletter reports that “Our latest polling with Invest in America on Biden’s Build Back Better infrastructure initiatives finds that bipartisan negotiations haven’t caused voters to lose their enthusiasm for the bold structural changes contained in the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan — in fact, they are strongly supportive of the clean energy, long-term care, and education investments contained in the American Jobs Plan, by +60-points, +53-points, and +41-points, respectively….In the same survey, we found that voters want to pass the AJP and AFP together via reconciliation by +31-points — news the White House seems glad to hear.

Commenting on the New York City Mayoral election in his column, “‘New York City Is a World Unto Itself.’ But It May Tell Us Where Democrats Are Headed,” Thomas B. Edsall writes that “In census tracts with a majority or plurality of whites without college degrees, Adams — who repeatedly declared on the campaign trail that “the prerequisite for prosperity is public safety” — led after stage one of the New York City Democratic primary last week, according to data provided to The Times by John Mollenkopf, director of the Graduate Center for Urban Research at C.U.N.Y….Adams took 28.5 percent of the first-choice ballots among these white voters, compared with the 17.1 percent that went to Garcia, who is white and has served as both sanitation commissioner and interim chairman of the New York City Housing Authority, and the 15.4 percent that went to Wiley ….Adams’s strength in non-college white tracts shows that his campaign made substantially larger inroads than either Garcia or Wiley among white working-class voters, a constituency in which the national Democratic Party has suffered sustained losses….Adams’s biggest margins were in Black majority non-college tracts, where he won with 59.2 percent to Wiley’s 24.4 percent and Garcia’s 4.7 percent. In Black majority college-educated tracts, Adams won a plurality, 37.5 percent, to Wiley’s 32.5 percent and Garcia’s 13.0 percent….Counting all the census tracts with a majority or plurality of adult voters who do not have college degrees, Adams won decisively with 42.1 percent — compared with Wiley’s 19.7 percent and Garcia’s 10.3 percent.”

Edsall quotes Jonathan Rieder, author of “Canarsie: The Jews and Italians of Brooklyn Against Liberalism,” who notes, “For all the gradual shrinkage of white non-college voters, the Democrats still require a multicultural middle to include non-affluent and lesser-educated whites in their majority coalition. And that will be hard to secure if the party is identified with ceding the border, lawlessness, ignoring less privileged whites, exclusionary versions of anti-racist diversity that smack of thought reform, phrasing like Latinx that large numbers of Latinos find off-putting, esoteric or perplexing, and so much more.” Edsall adds, “Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, who founded the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture with her husband Peter Steinfels, argues that Adams’s lead rests on four factors: (A) the “crime wave” that became the hot issue in the campaign; (B) on Adams’s story of experiencing police abuse and then being in the police; (C) on the emerging sense that Black voters are “moderates” — pace the views of progressives and young B.L.M. advocates (Black and white) — that N.Y.C. is a union city and that Adams had important endorsements; (D) Adams was pretty clearly the “working class” candidate and he campaigned in relevant districts. Defunding the police, which Adams opposes, is not a winning policy as Biden’s announcements on crime this past week underlined.”

At The Daily Beast, Matt Lewis shares some insights derived from the recent Pew Research poill: “To be clear, Biden did not win the married white male vote or “veteran households.” But the data suggests that Biden won the election by making inroads with these traditionally center-right constituencies by broadening his base of support—as opposed to winning by juicing traditionally Demographic constituencies. In other words, Biden won the presidency by losing groups of Americans like non-college whites by a smaller percentage than Hillary Clinton—and that made all the difference in the world….It’s possible a different Democratic candidate might have turned out higher numbers of voters traditionally assumed to represent progressive constituencies. However, Cohn (whose expertise is covering polling and demographics) is appropriately skeptical of this alternative electorate. And I agree with him. Trump drove progressive turnout. And even if minority turnout were higher in, say, California, it wouldn’t matter because of the electoral college. And any turnout gains made by a different Democrat (like Bernie Sanders—who won the New Hampshire primary) may have been offset by votes that were only gettable by Biden….Why does this matter? People in the Democratic Party (especially progressives) don’t fully appreciate or understand the coalition that got Biden elected in the first place. Indeed, I’m not sure Biden even fully appreciates this (if he did, he would more forcefully stand up to the left in his party), though he certainly has a better sense of it than most of his fellow Democrats.”