washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

Matthew Yglesias explains how “On Day One, Biden Can Start Winning the Midterms” at Blooomberg Opinon: “Job No. 1 (and 2, 3 and 4) is delivering a rapid economic recovery. A big, quick Covid relief bill such as the one Biden unveiled last week would go far toward achieving that, which in turn underscores the need to get something done fast rather than advance ideological pet projects. As negotiations proceed over what and how much to include in this and future relief bills, Democrats should favor easily understandable policies — like sending $1,400 checks to everyone — rather than convoluted and opaque measures…. instead of being coy about it as they were during the 2020 campaign, Democrats should be loud and proud about the fact that the state and local financial assistance they are pledging to deliver in the next relief package is funding the police —and that, by opposing state and local aid, Republicans are in effect defunding the police….Biden cannot afford to settle for a slow recovery. He needs to break 21st century growth records in 2021 in order to position workers for strong wage gains in 2022….Biden also needs to do everything in his power to center the national political agenda on popular progressive ideas such as raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana and investing in clean energy. Progressives often tell themselves that this is exactly what they intend to do before getting derailed by things like linking Covid relief to immigration amnesty….For Democrats, the key to success in 2022 is a disciplined agenda in 2021.”

The Des Moines Register editorial Board offers “6 priorities Joe Biden should pursue immediately through executive action to undo the damage done by Trump” including: Restoring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; return the U.S. to the Iran nuclear deal; Reinstate regulations and repair the nation’s framework of environmental protections; Hold for-profit colleges accountable foer their abuses of federal aid programs; and Revoke the gag on health providers, which prevents physicians from making referrals to abortion providers; Shoring up the Affordable Care Act – Trump’s “administration slashed funds to promote Obamacare insurance, shortened the open enrollment period to buy private coverage, welcomed back junk health “plans” that do not cover essential health services, and cleared the way for states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients.,,,,We should say goodbye to all of that….The Biden administration can also refuse to allow states to privatize Medicaid programs, which could finally put an end to the costly privatization mess in Iowa, with its record of eroding service and delaying payments to providers.”

At The Hill, Amitai Etzioni urges, “Invoking the War Powers Act (WPA) would enable President Biden to use unique capacities provided in the act to accelerate the vaccination of Americans, without waiting for Congress to confirm his Cabinet members, hold hearings on the needed budget and so on. (The Washington Post reports that “Biden’s incoming administration is in danger of not having a single Cabinet official confirmed on Inauguration Day, upsetting a tradition going back to the Cold War of ensuring the president enters office with at least part of his national security team in place.”)….Drawing on the WPA (as well as on the Defense Production Act, which Biden is already planning to invoke) would allow for rapid, effective, multifaceted domestic mobilization. The statutes enable the president to order corporations that manufacture vaccines to increase their production. If they need additional resources that are not available through the marketplace, the president can order these materials to be turned over to these corporations, compensating those that will be forced to give them up.”

David Roberts aregues that “Joe Biden should do everything at once: How to succeed in hyperpolarized politics: run a blitz” at Vox: “The only thing Biden will have real control over is his administration and what it does. And his North Star, his organizing principle, should be doing as much good on as many fronts as fast as possible. Blitz….Biden’s best chance is to try to overwhelm the system the way Trump did, by doing so much that it’s impossible to make any one thing into a lasting story. He should launch so many simultaneous reforms that there’s no time for right-wing media to make up lies about all of them or for the Supreme Court to hear them all. He should ignore bad-faith attacks and stay relentlessly on message about what’s gotten done and what’s getting done next. He should, at every juncture, get caught trying to make government work better for ordinary people….To succeed, all this must happen alongside Democratic Party efforts to improve messaging and media, get persistent party infrastructure on the ground in communities the party has neglected, and innovate on voter outreach and persuasion. (Aaron Strauss has some good ideas on that front.)”

Political Strategy Notes

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to flip the hourglass and put impeachment on rapid track in the House is a done deal, and now impeachment papers will reportedly be sent to the senate very soon. Majority Leader McConnell’s choice about his personal support for convicting, or merely barring him from holding office (14th amendment, section 3) is still pending as of this writing. It’s a trickier call for Republican leaders. who have to decide not if, but how they want to divide their party, in favor of the voices for moderation and dignity restoration vs. more red meat for Trump’s trogs. In any case, President-elect Biden should refrain as much as possible from even mentioning Trump’s name going forward. He should focus instead on taking charge, and putting pandemic vaccinations and economic stimulus to help working Americans front and center. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to shrink inauguration festivities even further in the name of containing pandemic exposure and enhancing security.

Now that Trump has been impeached, it’s all about Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and whether he will lead his party toward Trump’s conviction or not. As Nick Niedzwiadek notes in “McConnell says he hasn’t ruled out convicting Trump in Senate trial” at Politico, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republican colleagues on Wednesday that he had yet to make up his mind on the fate of President Donald Trump, ahead of a House vote to impeach the president later in the day…..“While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell wrote in a letter.” As of this writing, it’s unclear whether McConnell is doing a media strip-tease and knows exactly what he is going to do, or if he is truly undecided, which would be understandible, consideing the consequences. It’s essentually a choice between pisssing off the energetic pro-Trump base, or restoring a semblance of credibility and dignity to his party to win back some centrist voters. It’s all about which path gives him power. Expect drama. Regardless of McConnel’s choice, Democrats should stay focused on what the Biden Admonistration should do to check the pandemic, rebuild the economy and brand Democrats as the party of all working Americans.

Some good news from the Institute of Politics Civility poll, conducted by Republican pollster and former GU Politics Fellow Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake between January 4, 2021 and January 7, 2021: “Despite deep political polarization and levels of civil and political unrest not seen in a generation, American voters are cautiously optimistic about the future of our politics, according to the most recent Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service (GU Politics) Civility Poll…..Just one week ahead of the Biden-Harris Inauguration (with its stated theme of “America United”), more than half (56%) of Americans are at least somewhat optimistic President-Elect Joe Biden can restore civility and unity in our politics, an issue at the forefront of his campaign. A full 9 in 10 Americans (92%) want the President and Congress to work together to solve our most important problems, and 63% think President-Elect Biden and Congress will be at least somewhat successful in this effort, including 44% of Republicans….The poll asked voters to rate on a scale of 0-100 the level of political division in America, with 100 being the highest level. Asked their view of the level of division now, the mean response was 76. But when asked to consider where their view will be in one year, the mean response was 65, an improvement of more than ten points.”

One of the more interesting aspects of the Georgia senate flip is how pro-Democratic activists got fierce about challenging the state’s voter suppression practices. Sam Levine rolls it out in “They always put other barriers in place’: how Georgia activists fought off voter suppression” at The Guardian: “Suppression has become more brazen in Georgia, overcoming it has become a core part of the work that Abrams and other organizers have done to mobilize the new electorate in the state. This work is not glamorous, focused on helping new voters navigate a bureaucracy designed to make it more difficult to vote. It’s making calls to voters to ensure they know their polling place, explaining how to fill out a mail-in ballot, and making sure they aren’t wrongly purged from the voter rolls. But the multi-year investment in overcoming voting barriers significantly contributed to organizers’ success in Georgia this year.” Looking ahead, Georgia GOTV activists will face a new challenge. ” Georgia Republicans have already signaled they plan to move ahead with new restrictions on vote-by-mail after an election in which a record number of people used the process.”

Political Strategy Notes

Harry Enten reports that “A historic percentage of Americans want Trump removed from office” at CNN Politics: “A look across polls conducted since riots at the Capitol on Wednesday shows that a clear plurality of Americans overall want Trump out of office, even as President-elect Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated on January 20….You can see that well in an ABC News/Ipsos poll released on Sunday. The majority (56%) say Trump should be removed from office, while just 43% believe he should not be removed….An average across polls since Wednesday (in which no pollster is counted more than once) shows that 50% of Americans want Trump to either be impeached, for the 25th Amendment to be invoked or for Trump to resign from office. The minority (43%) say that none of these should occur….The high percentage of Americans who want Trump out of office comes as House Democrats are already planning to introduce an impeachment resolution against Trump as soon as Monday.”

However, John Judis warns, “Democrats: Impeachment is a Political Trap” at Talking Points Memo: “If Democrats vote this week to impeach Trump, the Senate won’t take up the question of conviction until after the inauguration.  The Georgia election may not be certified until January 22, so at that point, the new majority leader Chuck Schumer can take up the question. A trial could take weeks, and would consume the news and the attention of Congress. The Democrats may not get the two-thirds vote it needs in the Senate to convict him. And in any case, Trump will be gone. What’s the point? To make it impossible for Trump, then 78, to run for office again? Nothing would benefit the Democrats more than another Trump bid….Politics is not a simple matter of right and wrong. It is a matter of priorities. Yes, Trump did wrong, he is a bad guy. But the country is in the grips of a pandemic – over 4000 people died on Thursday – and in December, the country lost 140,000 more jobs. The Democrats have to focus on that not on Trump….people outside the Beltway who make up the majorities Democrats need to govern are far more worried about the pandemic and recession than they are about impeaching Trump. And the Democrats can’t do an adequate job of both.”

Noting that “Republicans got a sizable Election Day turnout, but Democrats built a big enough lead in pre-Election Day voting to withstand their onslaught” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman write: “Given the close outcomes in Georgia, any number of factors could have tipped the races the other way. It seems reasonable to suggest that if Trump had accepted his presidential loss, Republicans could have more easily made the Senate runoffs a referendum on unified Democratic control of Washington and perhaps generated a bit more crossover support to have held the seats, and the Senate. After all, Republicans did finish ahead of Democrats in the initial voting in both Senate races back in November. We doubt that the president’s late-breaking support of $2,000 stimulus checks helped the Republicans, either, as it immediately threw cold water on the $600 stimulus checks that Congress approved in advance of the election….But for now, the Democratic victories in Georgia give President-elect Joe Biden more breathing room for getting his Cabinet and judicial appointments through the Senate and for pursuing his legislative agenda.” A Georgia county turnout map from their article:

For capsule profiles of each Georgia County, click here and scroll down to chart. For in-depth demographic profiles of each county, click on the “FIPS code” column in the chart.

From “Georgia Runoff Takeaways from the Cook Political Report Editors“: Editor and Publisher Charlie Cook writes, “This may also impact what may be going on in polling. Interestingly the polling in Georgia over this year appeared to be quite accurate, both in the regular general election and the runoff….The Senate Democratic agenda can only be as liberal/progressive as the least liberal/progressive Democratic senators — the lowest common denominator. Sens. Joe Manchin, Kirsten Sinema, Jon Tester, Chris Coons and a half dozen other Democrats may well be the screening committee for the Senate Democratic agenda items, what does not pass muster with them or with any Republicans is not likely to pass the Senate.” Looking toward the next midterm election, Senate Editor Jessica Taylor adds, “Democrats certainly have vulnerable members — including newly-elected Sens. Mark Kelly and Arizona and now Raphael Warnock in Georgia who have to run again in 2022 for a full term. But state parties and the base in those states seem unwilling to understand the direction that demographic shifts have changed their states, hence why both Martha McSally (in 2018 too) and Kelly Loeffler had to move to the far, far right just to survive primaries — positions that then doomed them in the general even as each was supposed to appeal to suburban women voters.”

What are the Best Reponses to Trump’s Goon Riot?

In “Impeach and Convict. Right Now. Trump is too dangerous to leave in office for even another minute,” New York Times columnist Bret Stephens writes: “The duty of the House of Representatives and the Senate, once they certify Joe Biden’s election, is to reconvene, Wednesday night if possible, to impeach the president and then remove him from office and bar him from ever holding office again….To allow Trump to serve out his term, however brief it may be, puts the nation’s safety at risk, leaves our reputation as a democracy in tatters and evades the inescapable truth that the assault on Congress was an act of violent sedition aided and abetted by a lawless, immoral and terrifying president.”

From the Washington Post editorial Board: “The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security. Vice President Pence, who had to be whisked off the Senate floor for his own protection, should immediately gather the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring that Mr. Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Congress, which would be required to ratify the action if Mr. Trump resisted, should do so. Mr. Pence should serve until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20….Now that the stakes are viscerally clear, Mr. McConnell and every other Republican, almost all of whom bear some blame for what occurred on Wednesday, have an overriding responsibility to the nation: stopping Mr. Trump and restoring faith in democracy….The highest voice in the land incited people to break that faith, not just in tweets, but by inciting them to action. Mr. Trump is a menace, and as long as he remains in the White House, the country will be in danger.”

Law profesors David Landau and Rosalind Dixon write in a New York Times op-ed,”First, Vice President Pence and a majority of the cabinet should invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment in order to make a declaration that Mr. Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” This would immediately suspend, but not remove, Mr. Trump from the exercise of his presidential duties and appoint Mr. Pence as acting president. The 25th Amendment would not and should not be used as a lasting solution in a case of this kind, but rather as a temporary measure to sideline a demonstrably unfit and dangerous actor who is fueling anti-democratic action….Second, the House should quickly draw up and pass articles of impeachment. And then the Senate should hold a fair — but immediate and efficient — trial both to remove President Trump from office and, as important, to disqualify him from serving in public office in the future….A public vote and rapid trial in the Senate would give much-needed legitimacy to actions to remove Mr. Trump from office. By forcing Republicans to stand up for democracy and against the president’s actions, it would also reaffirm bipartisan support for the fundamental principles of American democracy. Further, while the 25th Amendment is intended mainly for illness or other objective incapacities, impeachment offers an appropriate moral response to the president’s conduct, including incitement to violence and attacks on basic democratic norms.”

But anyone who expects the machinery of the 25th Amendment to work in time to prevent further Trump atrocities should read “Senior officials have discussed removing Trump under the 25th Amendment. Here’s how that could work” by Tim Elfrink at The Washington Post. Still, congress should take both steps to stand firm for the principles of legal accountability, no matter how long it takes. Congress should also do whatever they can to establish accountability for the security failures on the part of the capitol police administrators. Strong security measures to protect the inauguration should be put in place. Meanwhile, what can ordinary citizens do? Capture photos and videos of the rioters breaking the law and post them, so their employers will at least know who they are paying. Demand that they be arrested and charged with violations of the law. Going forward, continue to photograph Trump’s goons breaking the law and post their photos. Contact members of congress and senators and demand they stand up for accountability for the riots. Call for expulsion of members of congress and the senate who voted against certification of the Electoral College vote. Consider boycotts of corporate donors to these members of congress and the senate.

Political Strategy Notes

In his Washington Post column, “Georgia’s voters end the Trump era. Definitively,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “Thanks to the voters of Georgia, the 2020 election looks very different than it did 48 hours ago. President-elect Joe Biden will now govern with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House. The margins will be thin, but the power of Republicans to obstruct has been sharply diminished….And the political map of the United States looks very different, too. Four years ago, it was unimaginable that Democratic control of the elected branches of the federal government would be cemented by victories in Senate races in Georgia. The Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won in a state that had not elected a Democrat to the Senate in two decades….The outcome put an exclamation point on Biden’s success and a dagger into the Trump era. President Trump almost certainly hurt Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both directly and indirectly….Their defining issues were economic, and their victories would make it far easier for Biden to enact a large new relief package, a major infrastructure program, and expansions in health-care coverage and child care — as well as democracy reforms and voting-rights protections….Georgia’s choice will make an enormous difference in Washington — easing passage of Biden’s program, speeding the confirmation of his appointees and enabling the new president to fill empty court seats.”

Stacey Abrams marked Trump’s riot at the capitol with an eloquent meme:

Geoffrey Kabaservice shares some insights on the Georgia Senate flip at The Guardian: “The election returns from Georgia are showing a consistent pattern of Democrats having shown up at the polls at rates approaching their general election turnout, while significant numbers of Republicans stayed home. Democrats did a superb job of voter mobilization, including the door-to-door efforts that they chose not to undertake for pandemic-related reasons in the lead-up to the November elections. But they also made the straightforward argument that the Georgia elections mattered because Biden’s success in appointing officials and passing progressive programs would depend upon Democrats retaking control of the Senate….Credit for the victories must go to the candidates themselves, get-out-the-vote organizers in Georgia’s minority communities (Stacey Abrams above all), and Democratic donors and volunteers from all over the country. But the Republicans did as much to lose these elections as the Democrats did to win them.”

After giving Warnock, Ossoff and their campaigns, along with Abrams and Georgia’s energetic activist community due credit, there’s no avoiding the conclusion that Trump’s blundering clusterfuck rhetoric and behavior made the Georgia senate flip inevitable. Alex Isenstadt notes at Politico that “senior Republicans are in near universal agreement that Trump’s relentless, two-month assault on voting processes around the nation and in Georgia played a major role in the party’s twin defeats in the state….Scott Jennings, a Kentucky-based GOP strategist and longtime McConnell confidante, noted that the party had suffered poor turnout in conservative areas of Georgia where Trump had strong support. “That’s on him. He told them their votes didn’t count, and some of them listened,” Jennings said….GOP officials had conducted internal polling showing that moderate voters were especially receptive to the idea that a Republican-controlled Senate would provide a needed check on the Biden White House. But Republicans concluded they couldn’t wage a check-and-balance focused campaign because it would be an implicit acknowledgment that Trump had lost, something that would alienate the president and his supporters….“Republicans had everything going for them in this race, except Trump. If this election had been about checks and balances, then the Republicans would have won. Instead it was about Trump and his conspiracy theories,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant, who was a top adviser on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign….“By constantly exacting a pledge of fealty from the Republican candidates he basically froze them in place and made it almost impossible for them to run their own races. Instead they were in this constant state of reaction to Trump and his whims — whims that were toxic in the most important suburban areas of the state,” said Kevin Madden, a top adviser on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.”

Polling Averages, Trump’s Meddling Spur Dem Hopes for Winning Senate Control

If you predicted a year ago that not one, but two impassioned followers of Martin Luther King, Jr. would be ahead in polling averages as slight favorites to unseat two incumbent Republican Senators on runoff election day in the state of Georgia, your friends would probably ask if you needed a ride home. Yet here we are, as fired up Georgians close out the final day of the runoff campaign for both of their state’s U.S. Senate seats. Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Dr. King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church and Jon Ossoff, a former staffer for Rep. John Lewis, now hold narrow, within the m.o.e., leads in both the FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics polling averages.

FiveThirtyEight has Ossoff leading his race on election day by a polling margin average of 49.1 to Perdue’s 47.4, while Warnock is running ahead of Loeffler by a margin of 49.4 percent to 47.2. At Real Clear Politics, Warnock leads with a 1.3 percent polling average, while Ossoff is ahead by 1.0. The trendline over the last week favors the Democrats.

Democrats have had their hopes dashed before, and yes, a strong election day turnout in conservative counties could re-elect the incumbent Republicans. This is a toss-up election and anything can happen, including the worst case scenario. But it’s equally-important to understand that Democrats have already won something important by getting this close. If the optimistic scenario prevails, Stacy Abrams should be politically-cannonized, or at least offered the DNC chair. She will certainly be favored to win Georgia’s governorship race, if she choses to run for it in 2022.

The caveat, however, is that no runoff scenario will give Democrats a strongly-dominant position in terms of enacting their legislative agenda. Even if they win both seats, a sole Democratic senator defecting on a vote can deny them a majority, never mind a filibuster-proof majority. Even talk of scrapping the filibuster has cooled, since some Democratic senators, including Mancin and Sinema have expressed reservations about it. Further, as Ronald Brownstein writes at CNN Politics,

The one sure bet from Tuesday’s US Senate runoff elections in Georgia is that they will produce a Senate precariously balanced between the two parties, accelerating a fundamental change that is simultaneously making the institution more volatile and more rigid.

Even if Republicans win both races, they will control the Senate majority with only 52 seats. If Democrats win both, they will eke out a 50-50 Senate majority with the tie-breaking vote of incoming Vice President Kamala Harris. A split would produce a 51-49 GOP majority.

That slim range of possibilities underscores a key change in the structure of Senate elections: With each party now consistently dominating elections up and down the ballot across a larger swath of states, it has become much tougher for either to amass a commanding Senate majority.

The fact that neither side will control more than 52 seats after Tuesday means that either party has held at least 55 Senate seats in only three congressional sessions since 2000. By contrast, in the previous 20-year span, one party reached 55 seats or more in seven congressional sessions. In fact, the meager three majorities of 55 seats or more since 2000 represent the fewest times that any party has accumulated at least 55% of the Senate seats over a 20-year span since the turn of the 20th century, according to official Senate records.

The inability of either side to build a big cushion has contributed to a historic level of volatility in Senate control, with neither party holding the majority for more than eight consecutive years since 1980, a span of turnover unprecedented in American history.

The narrow majorities have also contributed to a Senate that has grown more rigid, with much more partisan conflict and less of the ad hoc bipartisan deal-making that characterized the body through the second half of the 20th century. The Senate will mark a new high — or low — in its rising partisanship on Wednesday when about a quarter or more of Republican senators will vote against recognizing Democrat Joe Biden’s election as president, despite the complete inability of President Donald Trump to present any credible evidence of fraud.

Whether they win or lose the runoff, however, Democrats have something to celebrate. They now have a solid beachhead in the South, and the demographic trends are all in a blue direction.

Political Strategy Notes

Can Democrats Win Georgia—and the Senate?,” Charles Bethea asks at The New Yorker and writes: “Bernard Fraga, a professor of political science at Emory and the author of “The Turnout Gap,” told me that turnout tends to drop by forty per cent or more for runoff elections. In Georgia, he explained, the drop-off is typically more severe among Democrats. But he didn’t expect this runoff to be typical. We might see a drop-off as small as fifteen per cent, he suggested. “But will that historically low drop-off be disproportionately Republican or Democratic?” he asked. “That’s what these groups on the ground are trying to decide.”….Fraga told me that nationalizing the races had been a boon for Democrats in the fall, that it spurred interest and brought in money that helped drive turnout. Ufot said that things like the postcard barrage simply work. “It’s part of our ‘ten touches,’ ” she said, explaining that receiving ten reminders about an election increases the likelihood that a registered voter will actually show up….By the end of early voting, more than three million Georgians had cast their ballots, and the early data appeared to favor the Democrats: there were thousands of new voters, a high percentage of Black voters, and somewhat lower turnout—so far; Election Day voting may rebalance things—in conservative parts of the state.”

From “Democrats may make history in Georgia’s Senate runoffs” by Harry Enten at CNN Politics: “My average of Georgia polls shows the two Senate runoffs on Tuesday are within the margin of error and way too close to call….It’s hard not to assign Perdue and Loeffler’s troubles at least partially to Trump. He was the weak link for Republicans running statewide in Georgia this past year. He lost by 0.2 points and his margin was more than a point worse than the Republican candidates in both Senate races….More bluntly, Trump is the only Republican to lose a statewide race in Georgia in more than a decade….In theory, Perdue and Loeffler do not want this race to become about Trump. Trump, however, has helped to accomplish the opposite of that….Trump is reminding the few but very important split ticket voters in Georgia that Perdue and Loeffler are part of Trump’s Republican Party….In doing so, he may be helping to change the dynamic of what normally occurs in runoffs in the Peach State. We haven’t been seeing Republicans picking up ground ahead of the runoff like they normally do. As the averages show, it seems that the Republicans may actually be losing ground….Now, it would be one thing if Trump’s antics were driving Republicans to the polls. After all, high turnout doesn’t come close to guaranteeing a Democratic victory….But so far, the turnout swing seems to be favoring Democrats. Black voters have consistently been making up 3 to 4 points more of voters through the early voting period than they did at the equivalent points in the general election….Meanwhile, turnout in the more White rural areas of the state has been lagging. A lot of these White rural voters are fans of Trump, and it could be that him attacking Georgia Republicans makes them less likely to want to turn out and vote.”

As regards the political fallout concerning the stimulus checks, “Public opinion does appear to be on Democrats’ side,” Perry Bacon, Jr. reports at FiveThirtyEight. “Seventy-eight percent of Americans said they supported these $2,000 stimulus checks, compared to 17 percent who opposed them, according to a poll conducted Dec. 22-28 by the left-leaning Data for Progress. Similarly, a survey conducted by Business Insider and Survey Monkey on Dec. 21 found that 62 percent of Americans said that the $600 stimulus checks adopted in a recent bill is not enough; 76 percent said the payments should be more than $1,000…giving Ossoff and Warnock the opportunity to suggest that Loeffler and Perdue are impediments to the payments, since they back McConnell continuing as majority leader.” Bacon notes some of the ways it might not matter, including the fact that many voters don’t seem to care much about policy, but adds, “Democrats are pushing a popular idea right before what look like very-close elections, and the Republican Party is blocking it. The issue could well help Warnock and Ossoff in Georgia…”

How might Dems respond to Trump’s boot-lickers in congress refusing to certify the Electoral College vote, upcomming on Wednesday?  Just get out of the way and watch them collapse their party in a pathetic orgy of self-destruction, is one answer. As NorthBronxDem notes “In epic Twitter thread, Steve Schmidt explains why 1/6/21 will be the end of the Republican Party.” at Daily Kos: “Steve Schmidt, the former Republican strategist and newly minted member of the Democratic Party, went on Twitter this evening to explain how January 6 path will spell doom for the Republican Party.” Schmidt tweets, “The 6th will commence a political civil war inside the GOP. The autocratic side will roll over the pro-democracy remnant of the GOP like the Wehrmacht did the Belgian Army in 1940. The ‘22 GOP primary season will be a blood letting. The 6th will be a loyalty test. The purge…will follow. Does anybody doubt the outcome of the @IvankaTrump vs. @marcorubio primary in Florida? Anyone willing to make a bet on @robportman? It turns out JFK was right. The problem of trying to ride the tiger is the likelihood of winding up inside the tiger. The poisonous…Fruit from four years of collaboration and complicity with Trumps insanity, illiberalism and incompetence are ready for harvest. It will kill the GOP because it’s Pro Democracy faction and Autocratic factions can no more exist together then could the Whig Party hold together…The abolitionist with the Slave master. It won’t happen over night but the destination is clear. The Conservative party in America is dead…”

Youth Activism May Help Warnock and Ossoff Give Dems Senate Control

There was a time when the “out-of-state trouble-maker” critique worked, particularly in the south. In 2021 – not so much. Rachel Janfaza explains how “Young people are getting out the vote in Georgia — from thousands of miles away” at CNN Politics:

From messaging potential voters on dating apps to helping pay for Uber rides to the polls, young people across the country are playing a role in the Georgia Senate runoff elections from afar, and they’re getting creative with digital techniques while doing so….Students, influencers and celebrities got to work as soon as they realized both of Georgia’s Senate seats were heading to runoffs on January 5, as no candidate won more than 50% of the vote in November.

….On the left, Students for Ossoff and Warnock, a youth-led organization unaffiliated with the Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock campaigns but working to drum up support for the Democratic candidates, has mobilized a group of national field organizers, who live out of state but work to turn out voters for the two Georgia Democrats. They organize digitally by hosting Zoom calls and phone banks and help run the organization’s viral TikTok account.

Janfaza notes further, “According to Emily Zanieski, a student at Georgia Southern University who helps lead national programming for the organization, Students for Ossoff and Warnock has attracted members from Students for Markey — a group that gained national attention for their wit and humor online while helping Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey win his Democratic primary in September.” Also,

For its part, Sunrise Movement, the progressive youth-led climate justice organization, has mobilized their 400-plus local hubs to call and text into Georgia. The group is prioritizing contact with young voters who are under the age of 35. Since November, more than 1,000 Sunrise volunteers have made more than 500,000 calls, sent over 299,000 texts and reached 18,700 young voters in Georgia, according to the organization.

…Plus1 Vote, a New York-based nonpartisan organization that encourages voters to bring a plus one to the polls to increase turnout, is providing free Uber rides to the polls across Georgia for early voting, absentee ballot drop off and on Election Day. Georgians are encouraged to use the voucher code “VoteGA” in the Uber app to receive their free ride to the polls.

Meanwhile, organizers with “Swipe Out the Vote Georgia” are using dating apps such as Tinder and Hinge to contact Georgia voters and ensure they have a plan to vote. According to messaging from the group, the technique is “for those who are tired of phone banking and texting, and want to try something new and exciting.”

In addition, check out Elliot C. McLaughlin’s “How Atlanta rappers helped flip the White House (and they’re hustling to flip the US Senate)” also at CNN Politics, which reports on the extraordinary role of Hip Hop artists and their fans in sparking political activism in the heart of the south.

If Georgia’s runoff flips the senate majority, there will be lots of discussion about which demographic played the pivotal role. But win or lose, these young activists deserve great credit for mobilizing their generation to win a better future.

Political Strategy Notes

As we close out the year and the last day of early voting in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff elections today, both Democrats, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock lead in FiveThirtyEight’s average of all polls conducted for the runoff. Ossoff leads Perdue by 48.5 to Perdue’s 47.5, while Warnock leads 49.2 to Loeffler’s 47.3.  Real Clear Politics poll average calculations report Warnock leading by 1.8 percent and Ossoff ahead with a .8 lead. Both elections are clearly in toss-up territory. Democrats have reasons to be optimistic, including a disproportionately large turnout of Georgia’s African American voters thus far and the utter confusion driving divisions in the state GOP, exacerbated by Trump’s relentless sore-loser chaos, McConnell’s obstruction of the stimulus increase and the incumbent senators’ pandemic profiteering.

Brent Budowsky explains why “Trump Georgia rally could backfire, electing Ossoff and Warnock” at The Hill: “Today the battle rages in Washington and Georgia over the possibility of $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks that are strongly supported by President Trump, almost all Democrats in Congress, a minority of Republicans in Congress, and Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock….By contrast, Georgia’s GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have taken so many shifting positions on COVID-19 relief that voters need a scoreboard to keep track of what they believe on a given day….One reason the Trump rally in Georgiacould backfire against Republicans is that it will dramatize to voters how strongly the Democratic candidates are fighting for them economically while the Republican candidates are not….The second reason that Trump’s rally in Georgia could backfire against Republicans, and help elect Ossoff and Warnock, is that while Democrats are engaging in a massive voter mobilization and turnout project, Trump’s false claims that Georgia’s voting systems are corrupt and that the state’s electoral votes were stolen from him will enrage Biden voters and have some effect depressing on GOP turnout….The Georgia rally will be all about Trump, complete with attacks against Georgia Republicans, which will anger Biden voters, mobilize Democratic voters, divide and depress Republican voters, confuse public presentations from Loeffler and Perdue, and possibly give Ossoff and Warnock a decisive last-minute boost on Election Day.”

At The Washington Post, E. J. Dionne, Jr. offers this message point for Democrats in his last column of the year, “Republican ‘populism’ is a fraud,”: “If Georgia’s voters want serious legislating next year about the crisis we face, they need to elect Ossoff and Warnock. Biden’s decision to make another campaign visit on their behalf shows that, however much he hopes he can work with Republicans, he knows he’ll be far better off with a Senate not in the hands of the Grim Reaper, as McConnell has proudly called himself….That’s because Republicans were only willing to embrace Trump’s “populism” as long as it was fake — or of a right-wing sort that elevated the politics of race and immigration. The moment Trump started talking about real money for non-elites, the GOP leadership threw its hands up in horror. McConnell’s maneuvers this week are the last gasp of his party’s hypocrisy, rooted in a burning desire for working-class votes unmatched by a will to do anything to earn them.”

Looking forward to future Democratic campaigns, here’s a voter turnout tip, from an interview conducted by Scott Harris at Between the Lines with ‘Tony The Democrat,’ founder of Post Cards to Voters, : “A volunteer-centered progressive electoral outreach project founded in the wake of Donald Trump’s unexpected election victory in 2016, has blossomed into an effective national get out the vote organization with a proud record of success. Postcards to Voters, based in Georgia, recruits volunteers to write “friendly, handwritten reminders to targeted voters, giving Democrats a winning edge in close, key races coast to coast….From its first campaign on behalf of Georgia Democratic congressional candidate Jon Ossoff in 2017, with the help of just five volunteers, Postcards to Voters has expanded to work with 75,000 volunteers in all 50 states who have written close to 8 million postcards to voters in over 200 key election campaigns.” As Tony the Democrat explains further, “Our postcards are fully handwritten. We do not use printed mailing labels. We don’t send printed postcards to the volunteers where they just sign the bottom or add a sentence at the bottom. The entire message is handwritten and hand addressed. And we encourage the volunteers to use any appropriate postcard, including souvenir and travel postcards. Some people make their own. But the combination of the fully handwritten message and address along with the fact that the postcard itself is not one of these immediately obvious campaign mailers….So it’s easy to read. You don’t have to make a decision. Should I open this envelope from an unknown party? It’s a postcard. It’s like an open face sandwich. You know what’s inside. And it’s not a long, long letter. It’s easy and quick to read. We only write to Democratic voters.”

Political Strategy Notes

A. P.’s Ben Nadler writes in “Turnout among young voters key to Georgia Senate runoffs: Georgia voters under 30 helped President-elect Joe Biden win the state. Democratic Senate candidates hope for similar results in January’s runoffs” at The Monitor: “In Georgia, people under 30 cast about 16% of the votes in the November election, compared with 13% nationwide, according to AP VoteCast. About six in 10 voters under 30 in Georgia backed Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump. But like voters overall, younger voters split starkly by race and ethnicity. Young nonwhite voters backed Mr. Biden overwhelmingly, with roughly eight in 10 supporting Democrats. Among young white voters, Mr. Trump was favored by about two to one.”…The push to connect with young voters has been especially apparent for the Democratic campaigns, which have more to gain from youth turnout – and more to lose if there’s a drop-off….Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock have held rallies in college towns, invested in staff to help register and mobilize young voters, and engaged social media influencers to promote content and run ad campaigns on new media and digital platforms. They recently hosted a game night on Twitch, a livestreaming platform popular with young gamers. Mr. Ossoff also has made a push to connect with voters through TikTok, a video sharing app used by millions of U.S. teens.”

Here’s where Democrats really need to do much better in the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff elections, from “Turnout likely to be key in Georgia runoff election” by the Associated Press: “Early voting is lagging in Georgia’s smaller urban areas including Savannah, Augusta, Macon and Columbus, and Democratic vote totals have been disappointing in rural areas.” Democrats are strongest in the Atlanta metro area, and they showed dramatic improvement in the ‘donut’ surrounding Atlanta in the November presidential contest. Democrats showed some improvement in turnout in the exurbs north of Atlanta, including GA-7, the only red to blue House seat pick-up for Dems nation-wide in November. But Dems still lag badly in many rural counties, where winning 25 percent of the vote would be a significnt improvement.

At this point Democrats still have an good chance of winning both senate seats in the Georgia runoff election. But even if we don’t, SemDem’s “How to beat Mitch McConnell—even if we don’t win back the Senate” at Daily Kos has some interesting ideas, including: “As far as appointments go, Biden has a lot of options, as helpfully outlined by Washington Monthly. Obama paved the way for the appointment of nearly unlimited policy czars, and Biden also has the ability to appoint “acting” positions for more than 1,200 agency positions. (Trump managed to do it for other positions, as well.) Perhaps most interestingly, Biden can use the adjournment clause, in Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, to force numerous recess appointments.” SemDem also cites examples of unilateral initiatives Biden can take with respect to the pandemic, including, but not limited to: (“appointing a “national supply chain commander” and establishing a “pandemic testing board”); putting photos on Social Security cards, which can serve as valid i.d. for voting; rejoining the Paris Climate Accords; forgive stuident loan debt or reduce the interest; eliminate Dreamer deportations and child caging; extend the ACA enrollment period; and “restoring government unions, breaking up monopolies, utilizing municipal lending instruments for better access to loans, and enacting Wall Street reform—just to name a few. The point is that Joe Biden can do a lot on his own, and if Georgia’s runoff goes sideways, he’d better get ready to do ‘em.”