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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Dems Must Plan Strategy to Respond to New AI Messaging Campaigns

Kyle Kondik and Carah Ong Whaley have a warning, “How generative AI tools can make campaign messages even more deceptive” up at Saboto’s Crystal Ball. The messaging tools they are talking about are available for any political party. But it’s the Democrats who should worry about them the most, given the moral decay of the GOP, which was not all that reluctant to deceive voters in the first place. Some of Kondik’s and Whaley’s observations:

Winter is coming. We are rapidly moving from “alternative facts” to artificial ones in politics, campaigns, and elections.

In July, a campaign ad from Never Back Down, a group that supports Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) in the 2024 presidential race, attacked former President Trump. The ad featured a soundbite of what sounds like former President Trump’s voice. But it wasn’t. Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) is a tool that is used by humans, but it poses several dangers to elections and to democracy. Leading into the 2024 election, we are already seeing the use of “deepfakes,” computer-created manipulation of a person’s voice or likeness using machine learning to create content that appears real. We spoke with UVA Today about the challenges deepfakes pose to free elections and democracy, and we are sharing some key points that we made in the piece:

Candidate comments out of context, and doctored photos and video footage, have already been used for decades in campaigns. What Gen AI tools do is dramatically increase the ability and scale to spread false information and propaganda, leaving us numb and questioning everything we see and hear at a time when elections are already facing a crisis of public confidence. Such tools also open up the ability to spread mis-, dis-, and malinformation to any person in the world with a digital device. On top of that, depending on how Gen AI tools have been trained, they can amplify, reinforce, and perpetuate existing biases, with impacts on decision-making and outcomes.

Most of the the public is only dimly aware at best of what is coming, and even those who deploy these weapons may not be so well-informed about the potential for harm they bring to our politics. As the authors note further:

For some voters, exposure to certain messages might suppress turnout. For others, even worse, it could stoke anger and political violence. It’s worth noting here it’s not just the United States having elections in 2024 — there are some 65 elections across 54 countries slated for 2024. So, the potential harms extend globally. I am especially concerned about the use of AI for voter manipulation, not just through deepfakes, but through the ability of Gen AI to be microtargeting on steroids through text message and email campaigns. Indeed, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, stated in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that spreading one-on-one interactive disinformation was one of his greatest concerns about the technology.

With significant changeover in leadership at social media companies, especially at X (formerly Twitter), policy and technical teams may not be fully prepared to detect, assess, and prevent the proliferation of mis-, dis-, and malinformation across platforms. This is particularly troubling given that malinformation online and organizing online can spill over into political violence in the real world. Think Charlottesville 2017 or Jan. 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol, but much, much worse.

Democratic researchers are looking into it, and it is encouraging, as Kondik and Whaley note, that “Congress and the White House are deliberating how to balance the harms and advantages of Gen AI” and “Seven leading tech companies — Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft, and OpenAI — recently signed a voluntary commitment with the Biden administration to manage risks created by AI.” These companies have promised ““robust technical mechanisms to ensure that users know when content is AI generated, such as a watermarking system,” but it would be folly for Democrats to bet their survival on such agreements being honored.

There are ways Democrats could use the AI tools with integrity guidelines, and Dems should explore the possibilities. Budget-strapped campaigns, however, may not have adequate resources to hire the needed talent, which may be a limited pool in high demand in the months ahead.

Kondik and Whaley urge that “candidates, campaigns and PACs, issue groups, etc.” be required “to report the use of Gen AI, in the same way they are required to report campaign expenditures or lobbying activities. Candidates and campaigns should also be required to clearly label not just videos, but also emails and text messages microtargeting different demographic groups.”

The Federal Election Commission is also chewing on a range of such proposals and hopes to get some public feedback by October 16th of this year. The University of Virginia Center for Politics is also soliciting ideas from the public to be emailed to clo3s@virginia.edu. Kondik and Whaley flag episodes of their ‘Politics is Everything’ podcast, “A Regulatory Regime for AI? ft. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke; Neverending Cat and Mouse: Are Online Companies Prepared for 2024 Elections? ft. Katie Harbath; Saving Democracy from & with AI ft. Nathan Sanders; and How Congress Is Addressing the Harmful Effects of AI ft. Anna Lenhart.”

They also direct interested readers to Bryan McKenzie’s “Is That Real? Deepfakes Could Post Danger to Free Elections” at UVA Today.

These are good resources. Democrats, however, would do well to remember that Republicans are unlikely to have deeply-felt internal debates about the morality of using the new AI tools. They are probably already busy planning how to use them in forthcoming campaigns at the federal, state and local levels. Of particular concern will be roll-outs of outrageous fakes and audiovisual distortions in the final days of campaigns in swing states and districts, so that it’s too late for an effective response. To not have a plan for dealing with such an onslaught would be political negligence with potentially-dire consequences.

Political Strategy Notes

In ‘follow the money’ news, Thomas B. Edsall writes at The New York Times: “A separate examination of the views of donors compared with the views of ordinary voters, “What Do Donors Want? Heterogeneity by Party and Policy Domain,” by David Broockman and Neil Malhotra, political scientists at Berkeley and Stanford, found: Republican donors’ views are especially conservative on economic issues relative to Republican citizens, but are typically closer to Republican citizens’ views on social issues. By contrast, Democratic donors’ views are especially liberal on social issues relative to Democratic citizens’, whereas their views on economic issues are typically closer to Democratic citizens’ views. Finally, both groups of donors are more pro-globalism than citizens are, but especially Democratic donors….Broockman and Malhotra made the case that these differences between voters and donors help explain a variety of puzzles in contemporary American politics, including: the Republican Party passing fiscally conservative policies that we show donors favor but which are unpopular even with Republican citizens; the focus of many Democratic Party campaigns on progressive social policies popular with donors, but that are less publicly popular than classic New Deal economic policies; and the popularity of anti-globalism candidates opposed by party establishments, such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Edsall notes, further, “Some of Broockman and Malhotra’s specific polling results: 52 percent of Republican donors strongly disagree that the government should make sure all Americans have health insurance, versus only 23 percent of Republican citizens. Significant differences were found on taxing millionaires, spending on the poor, enacting programs for those with low incomes — with Republican donors consistently more conservative than Republican voters.”

Edsall notes further, “On the Democratic side, donors were substantially more liberal than regular voters on abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control and especially on ending capital punishment, with 80 percent of donors in support, compared with 40 percent of regular voters….Broockman, Nicholas Carnes, Melody Crowder-Meyer and Christopher Skovron provided support for Persily’s view in their 2019 paper, “Why Local Party Leaders Don’t Support Nominating Centrists.” Broockman and his colleagues surveyed 1,118 county-level party leaders and found that “given the choice between a more centrist and more extreme candidate, they strongly prefer extremists, with Democrats doing so by about two to one and Republicans by 10 to one.”….If what Broockman and his co-authors found about local party leaders is a signal that polarized thinking is gaining strength at all levels of the Democratic and Republican Parties, the prospects for those seeking to restore sanity to American politics — or at least reduce extremism — look increasingly dismal.” While centrist funding sources may have given  up on GOP candidates, they may want to take a closer look at centrist Democratic candidates. They are certainly going to be able to find more potentially moderate candidates who are Democrats. Also, liberal Democrats and Democratic Party officials should keep in mind that their party can’t secure working majorities without more moderates in office.

Ronald Brownstein explains “Why Republican voters believe Trump” at CNN Politics: “Now, Trump has transformed his multiple indictments – particularly from Black prosecutors he has repeatedly called “racist” – into just the latest proof point for the widespread belief within the GOP base that the biggest victims of discrimination are the groups most of them belong to: Christians, men and Whites….“Victimhood is embedded in every part of Trump’s campaign, personality, communications, and strategy,” says Tresa Undem, a pollster for progressive causes. “The only thing that shifts is the topic and the object of blame.”….The choice by most GOP leaders and voters alike to rally around Trump amid 91 felony charges underscores again how much protection that sense of victimhood provides him against behavior previously considered fatal for any political leader….it also shows that Trump’s belligerent approach toward all the forces he says are threatening conservatives – from the “deep state” to the media and entertainment industry, to protesters in the Black Lives Matter and #metoo movements – will remain central to the GOP message, whether he stays the party’s principal figure or not….Overwhelming majorities of Republican voters dismiss the charges against Trump. In a comprehensive recent national survey by Bright Line Watch, a collaborative of political scientists studying threats to American democracy, 15% or fewer of Republicans said Trump had committed a crime either in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, his actions on January 6, 2021, or his hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016; only one-in-four thought he had broken the law in his handling of classified documents. And in the hush money and classified document cases, over four-fifths of Republicans agreed that “Trump would not have been prosecuted…if he were someone else.” A CBS/YouGov poll released Sunday recorded similar attitudes and produced one more head-turning finding: a bigger share of GOP voters said they trusted Trump to tell them the truth than any other source tested, including not only conservative media figures and religious leaders, but even their own “friends and family.”

Brownstein continues, “Some of the attitudes that have helped Trump delegitimize the charges with Republicans are recent; others are much more long-standing….In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan added another brick to the wall of distrust among Republicans specifically with his argument that government was not the solution to our challenges, but the problem….In Undem’s polling over the past few years, over four-fifths of Republicans have said that discrimination against Whites is now as big a problem as bias against minorities; three-fourths have described discrimination against Christians as a significant problem in US society; about seven-in-ten have said society now punishes men just for acting like men; and about two-thirds have described White men as the group most discriminated against in the modern US. Half of Republicans in her polling agreed with all four of those assertions, seven-in-ten agreed with at least three of them. Only one-in-20 Republicans rejected all of those ideas….Daniel Cox, a senior fellow in polling and public opinion at the center-right American Enterprise Institute, agrees that Trump’s bedrock base of conservative Whites without a college degree has grown more likely in recent years to view themselves rather than traditionally marginalized groups as the true victims of discrimination. But he argues those views are at least “partly rooted in reality….“My sense is that the folks who are most loyal to Trump—White non-college conservatives—see powerful cultural, political and economic institutions as no longer representing their interests or values-or worse, actively working against them,” Cox says. “It is not demographic alienation that drives their politics so much as the belief that media orgs look down on them, that the legal system and financial sectors operate to marginalize them, and the political system works to diminish them….It’s white Americans without college degrees who feel most acutely that there are no powerful interests looking out for them.” Brownstein continues, When Trump and other elected GOP officials assert that he cannot receive a fair trial in any jurisdiction that mostly votes Democratic, they are expressing what might be called a form of “soft secession” – the conviction that all the institutions tied to blue America are so hostile and malevolent that conservatives must fundamentally deny their legitimacy….Trump is the Republican most effectively riding that wave now, but it seems unlikely to recede whenever he fades from the political scene. Cox believes the claim that major institutions are now biased against conservatives will be “more pronounced” in the GOP while Trump is the party’s most powerful figure but agrees the alienation he’s drawing on will remain “pervasive” in the party with or without him.”

‘Populist Resentment’ Doesn’t Have to Be a Right-Wing Brand

Some observations from “If the Left Doesn’t Channel Populist Resentment, We Know Who Will” by Erica Etelson at The Nation:

The liberal commentariat is miffed. Oliver Anthony, a white down-and-out former mill worker, broke the Internet with a populist country tune called “Rich Men North of Richmondrecorded on his land in Farmville, Va. Folks of all races, from the right, left, and center, are singing its praises.

I’ve watched dozens of reaction videos, many of them by Black music critics visibly moved, sometimes to tears, by Anthony’s extremely relatable lament—“selling my soul, working all day, overtime hours for bullshit pay,” while the powers that be kick us all down, “people like me, people like you.”

After decrying workplace exploitation, Anthony goes after a political establishment whose only use for the working class is to tax and control them while letting inflation, hunger, and greed run rampant. It is the song of a man who feels sad, angry, beaten-down, and all but hopeless. That is to say, it is the ballad of 2023 America.

Etelson notes that some liberal critics fault the song as a wing nut anthem, while right-wing commentators are promoting the song. “The trope of the lazy welfare cheat has been a staple of blame-the-victim, anti-government rhetoric for decades. And right-wing politicians and influencers do have a nasty habit of donning the mantle of working-class crusader while serving the rich and powerful.” Etelson adds,

But here’s what I believe liberal critics are missing when they focus on the song’s discordant notes: People areworking “overtime hours for bullshit pay.” There are “folks in the street with nothing to eat.” And working- and middle-class taxpayers are getting squeezed, because neither party is willing to raise taxes on the rich. Meanwhile, an out-of-touch Democratic establishment is telling us that, thanks to Bidenomics, the economy is thriving, the implication being that there’s little cause for complaint. If we want to reach the people who have made this song their anthem, we have to spend more time hearing what they, and their music, have to say, and less time yucking on their yum.

….The song’s fans are fed up and ready for change, but if the only change on offer is slashing the welfare rolls or sealing the border or banning critical race theory, then that’s what many of them will go with. Others will surrender to apathy and cynicism, convinced that no one in the political class truly cares about them. Populist ferment requires yeast, and right now the left isn’t supplying it.

Etelson adds, “We need to relentlessly put forward a counternarrative that holds the real culprits accountable.” There have been some good protest songs that met this challenge, but they were not as energetically promoted. Check out, for example, James McMurtry’s “We Can’t Make It Here” or going farther back further, to Iris Dement’s 1996 “Wasteland of the Free,” both as well-crafted as “Try That in a Small Town” (see Andrew Levison’s take on this song) and “Rich Men North of Richmond,” but neither of which got much play on country or Americana format stations, iTunes or Spotify.

“Liberals have a habit of denigrating rural and working-class people’s tastes and lifestyles,” Etelson says, which is overstated, since there are many liberals who don’t do that. Unfortunately, those who do so are so obnoxious that they get lots of media coverage. But Etelson is right in arguing that “This kind of elitist condescension is a big reason working-class voters (and not just white ones) increasingly vote Republican or stay home.”

It’s certainly true that Republicans have more effectively leveraged ‘populist resentment’ against Democrats, who should be embarrassed for allowing that to happen without much of a fight. It would also be good if more liberals in the arts – including writers, filmmakers and performing artists – would accept Etelson’t challenge and make more of a priority to hold “the real culprits accountable.”

Political Strategy Notes

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Alan I. Abramowitz crunches data from major political polls and shares some observations regarding ‘negative partisanship,’ including: “What is perhaps even more surprising than Trump’s domination of the Republican nomination contest is his continued competitiveness in a potential general election matchup with President Biden. Despite all of the criminal charges filed against him, Trump remains locked in a near dead heat with Biden, receiving an average of 43.7% of the vote compared with 44.2% for Biden according to the most recent RealClearPolitics polling average…..the key to understanding both Donald Trump’s domination of the Republican nomination contest and his continued competitiveness in a general election matchup with Joe Biden is negative partisanship. Negative partisanship refers to the growing dislike of the opposing party and its leaders among voters who identify with or lean toward one of the two major parties in the U.S….One of the most important consequences of negative partisanship is that crossing party lines to support a candidate from the opposing party has become totally unacceptable to the large majority of partisans. As a result, defection rates by partisans have declined dramatically in all types of elections, and especially in presidential elections….There is one interesting difference between the ratings given by Democrats and Republicans to their own party’s leader: 16% of Republicans rated Donald Trump below 35 degrees while only 8% of Democrats rated Joe Biden below 35 degrees. These numbers suggest that a somewhat larger share of Republicans than Democrats had serious reservations about the frontrunner for their party’s 2024 presidential nomination….it appears likely that a rematch between Biden and Trump in 2024 will remain highly competitive with the outcome hinging on a small number of swing voters in a handful of closely contested states — an outcome that could lend itself to attacks on the integrity of the election by the former president and his allies.”

In his article, ““What’s the Matter With Florida? The GOP’s doomed war against higher ed,” James Fallows writes at The Washington Monthly: “Community colleges are an exception to the partisan divide over higher ed. According to the New America survey, some 85 percent of Americans, a majority in both parties, believe that community colleges are succeeding in their main role, which is to match people who need opportunities with the opportunities a continually changing economy can open up. As for research universities, their role in spinning off innovations and businesses has been evident from the time of the land grant universities onward. “Researchers estimate that for each new patent awarded to a college, 15 jobs are created in the local economy,” Fischer writes. If you want to boost your region’s economy, the best step would be to establish a research university there 100 years ago. The second-best step would be not to drive that university’s students and faculty away now….In the biggest sense, colleges and universities are increasingly the key to community and regional success. But, as Charlie Mahtesian recently pointed out in Politico, they’re also an electoral threat to a Republican Party seen as anti-knowledge….What’s the matter with Florida at the moment might boil down to Ron DeSantis, and his crass willingness to sacrifice his state’s future to his own culture war campaign. What’s the matter with the GOP’s larger anti-education campaign is that it can do a lot of damage before it ultimately fails….It will fail because it’s based on a losing bet—that a party can permanently ride the grievances of a shrinking minority—and because it’s at odds with the long-term sources of economic, cultural, and civic development. Someday historians will see the anti-college campaign as the death throes of a doomed movement, like the last stages of the Know-Nothing Party in the 1850s.”

Fallows also has some suggestions for “college community—leaders, teachers, neighbors, students,” also good advice for Democratic campaigns to: “Never pull up the ladders. Keep talking about a bigger tent. Yes, these are two different images, and clichés. But they embrace one crucial reality: Even people who “don’t like” colleges mostly dream that their children and grandchildren will go to one. I don’t have New America polling data to back this up. But I do have nearly a decade of traveling smaller-town America with my wife, Deb, talking mostly with people who themselves lacked college degrees. And this is the story the Monthly’s improved college rankings have told….Ask people what they don’t like about the weirdos and lefties who now run colleges and they’ll tell you—as their grandparents might have complained about the weirdo hippies at Berkeley in the 1960s, and their grandparents might have grumbled about the privileged, prissy “college boys” in the era of Stover at Yale. But ask them what they hope for their own grandchildren, and the doors opened by higher education are almost always high on the list….Colleges need to present themselves as holding the doors open, expanding the tent, making sure the ladders are available to people who couldn’t reach them before. Making college sustainably affordable is obviously number one on this list. Number two is making people aware that 99 percent of American colleges are not Darwinian struggles-for-survival in the admissions process but in fact have room for nearly all. Colleges have often portrayed themselves as citadels, and with reason. For now they should emphasize their nearness and accessibility, not their distance from normal life….The Republican war on colleges boils down to the idea that colleges are them—one more object of suspicion, resentment, riling-up, and punishment….America’s higher ed establishment should show day by day why the colleges view America, and the larger public should view America’s colleges, as crucial parts of us.” Of all the discontents felt by Trump’s working-class voters, the limited opportunities for affordable higher education for their kids has to be a leading concern. President Biden’s initiatives to make college and vocational education affordable for all young people are a good start. He and Democrats should push these initiatives louder and harder.

In “A New Poll Has Bad News for the Guy Who Keeps Getting Indicted,” Josh Marshall shares some thoughts at Talking Points Memo on recent polling showing how the public feels about Trump’s legal woes. As Marshall writes, “There’s a new poll out from Politico Magazine/Ipsos the results of which are straight out of Obviousville. But surprisingly few people ever go to Obviousville. So those results are worth discussing. The central finding is that the parade of criminal charges against Donald Trump are not in fact good news, politically or individually, for Donald Trump. More specifically, majorities (albeit bare ones) of Americans want his trials to be held before the election (61%), believe he’s guilty (51%) and believe he should go to prison if convicted (50%)….Critically, Politico notes that a substantial minority of the population (between a quarter and a third) says they’re not that familiar with the charges against Trump. Since the charges – especially those in the Mar-a-Lago case – are quite strong as an evidentiary matter that suggests there’s plenty of room for things to get worse for Trump….For all this, what struck me most in the poll is below the top lines. These 50% or 51% results suggest the same old split down the middle polarization we’re accustomed to. But that’s not quite it. 51% believe Trump is guilty. 26% believe he’s not. That’s pretty lopsided. 22% say they don’t know. 50% say Trump should go to prison if he’s convicted. 18% say he shouldn’t be penalized. The rest are split between probation and some financial penalty….If you step back and ask how many respondents buy what we might call the Republican public line – that Trump’s innocent and the prosecutions are an abuse of power – only a bit over 20% of the population seem to buy that….My hunch is that a substantial part of the ‘don’t know’ group is based on what we might call willed partisan uncertainty. In other words, people who really don’t want Trump to be guilty and are uncomfortable with what would seem to flow from that judgment. But they also can’t square the facts with any belief that he’s innocent. When push comes to shove partisanship has a way of shaping not only our opinions but also how we interpret the facts. I suspect partisanship will bring a significant proportion of those people around.”

Hey, What Happened to the GOP’s ‘Economic Populism’?

The Republican presidential debate is old news already because of Trump’s mugshot and his latest legal mess. But if you have room for just one more take, try “‘Economic Populism’ Was Nowhere to Be Found at the GOP Debate” by Branko Marcetic, who observes at Jacobin:

Remember how the Republican Party is meant to be a “working-class party” that has rejected neoliberal economics? It’s a claim plastered all over the GOP’s branding since the 2020 elections. Well, apparently the Republican candidates themselves forgot, since the new working class–focused, economically populist mood we keep being told has taken over the GOP was nowhere to be found at last night’s Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee.

Republicans have defended the economic interests of wealthy elites over the working-class for well over a century. In Milwaukee, the eight Republican presidential candidates doubled down on their party’s tradition. As Marcetic notes,

America “cannot succeed when the Congress spends trillions and trillions of dollars,” Florida governor Ron DeSantis thundered. “We cannot sit by any longer and allow the kind of spending that’s going on in Washington,” said former New Jersey governor and Donald Trump whipping boy Chris Christie, shortly after boasting about cutting taxes and debt as governor. Tea Party darling and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley attacked Republicans and the Donald Trump administration in particular as wild spendthrifts that “added $8 trillion to our debt,” even at one point comparing Democrats favorably to the GOP in terms of keeping a lid on earmarks. “I think it’s time for an accountant in the White House,” she concluded.

“I was the first person in this race to say we’ve got to deal with the long-term national debt issues,” said Mike Pence as if such a promise were novel, pledging to “restore fiscal responsibility” and complaining that “you’ve got people on this stage who won’t even talk about issues like Social Security and Medicare,” a not-so-subtle nod to the former vice president’s pledge to cut those entitlement programs. This was in response to a question that started out mentioning the rising cost of groceries, by the way.

Marcetic adds, “Trump’s gargantuan 2017 tax cut for the rich featured prominently in the debate, but not as a focus of attack for letting the richest of the rich pay lower rates than working-class Americans and eventually hiking rates for lower- and middle-income earners. Instead, candidates fell over each other to attach themselves to that legislative love letter to plutocrats (whose December 22, 2017 signing, incidentally, coincided with maybe the worst period for Trump’s approval rating), as when South Carolina senator Tim Scott took credit for the law — and deservedly so — and Pence brought it up in response to, of all things, a question about crime in US cities.”

Also, notes Marcetic, “Haley complained that Trump had “left us with ninety million people on Medicaid” and “forty-two million people on food stamps” by signing the CARES Act in March 2020. Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson bragged about slashing his state’s government employee rolls by 14 percent, before affirming that as president, “we need someone who can actually constrain the growth of federal government, that can actually reduce the size — and I’ve pledged to reduce by 10 percent our federal, nondefense workforce.”

Summing up, Marcetic writes, “So let’s go over what the Republican candidates were pledging to do as president in 2023: slash spending, gut entitlements, shrink government, bust unions, and cut taxes for the rich — all while maintaining current funding for the cartoonishly large US military.”

It is no surprise that the Republicans deployed their usual strategy of emphasizing culture war distractions to overshadow their reactionary economic policies. Yes, we know, Jacobin is a hard left rag. But Marcetic hits the most significant takeaway squarely.

Political Strategy Notes

I watched as much as I could stand of the GOP’s Fantasy Island debate. I did see Nikki Haley’s well-publicized rant, which, who knows, may have clinched her a veep slot. The others yammered on much as expected, though I was a tad surprised at Christie’s weak performance, other than his ChatGPT zinger. Nowhere in evidence were any inklings of a candidate with Liz Cheney’s principled commitment to democracy or Adam Kinzinger’s decency. As for the elephant in the room, there should have been a really big empty chair. If you want to read a fresh take on the Republican front-runner, check out Drew Westen’s TDS strategy white paper, “All the President’s Mental Disorders.” Otherwise, there are plenty of debate takeaway screeds out there, including “34 Things You Missed at the First Republican Debate,” “Who Won the First Debate, “The Fox GOP Debate Melted Down When the Word “Climate” Was Mentioned,” “Republican Debaters Agreed on One Thing: They Hate Vivek Ramaswamy,” and “Who won, who lost and who fizzled in the first Republican debate.” All in all, not an impressive night for the political party that was once rooted in conservative principles, instead of personality cult derangement.

However, there are many other political articles worth reading, such as NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall’s “Trump Voters Can See Right Through DeSantis,” in which he writes: “DeSantis has turned out to be a stiff on the stump, a man without affect. He speaks in alphabet talk: C.R.T., D.E.I., E.S.G. His attempts to outflank Trump from the right — “We’re going to have all these deep state people, you know, we’re going to start slitting throats on day one” — seem to be more politically calculated than based on conviction….[Joan C.] Williams described DeSantis’s approach to campaigning as “a clumsy color-by-numbers culture-wars formula” accompanied by a speaking style “more Harvard than hard hat, as when he talked about ‘biomedical security restrictions’ in his speech to the Republican Party convention in North Carolina (whatever those are??).” Linda Skitka, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois-Chicago, wrote to Edsall by email that “DeSantis, “is very specific and consistent about policy, and he is too extreme for many on the right. To ice the cake, he appears to be really bad at retail politics — he just isn’t likable, and certainly isn’t charismatic. Together, I don’t think DeSantis can compete to overcome these obstacles, even if he were to start using Trump-like rhetoric.” Edsall quotes Cornell political scientist David Bateman, who observes that everything about DeSantis “seems calculated. He’s the Yale and Harvard guy now complaining about intellectuals and elites. He’s talking about wokism and critical race theory, when no one knows what those are (even Trump noted no one can define woke, though he yells against it himself). When he tries to be as visceral as Trump, he just comes off as weird. DeSantis saying he’s going to start “slitting throats” reminded me of Romney’s “severely conservative.” While DeSantis’s is a dangerous escalation of violent imagery, they both sound bizarre and unnatural.”

Edsall continues, “Bateman suggested that insofar as DeSantis is seen as “an establishment Trump, who I expect most voters will see as fully aligned with G.O.P. orthodoxy but even more focused on the priorities of racial and social conservatives (taking over universities, banning books, or attacking transpersons), he starts to look more like a general election loser.”….Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, argued in an email that DeSantis has adopted an approach to the nomination fight that was bound to fail: “DeSantis’s strategy, and that of any candidate not named Trump, should be to consolidate the Maybe Trump voters. But DeSantis has seemed like he was going after the Always Trump voters with his aggressive language (“slitting throats”), his comment that Ukraine was just a “territorial dispute,” his suggestion that vaccine conspiracy theorist RFK Jr. would be a good candidate to head the Centers for Disease Control, and his doubling down on whether slavery might have been beneficial to some enslaved people.”….Robert Y. Shapiro, a political scientist at Columbia, elaborated on the difficulties facing DeSantis’s bid to position himself to the right of Trump. “The DeSantis strategy is weak in that there are not enough Republican voters to be gained to the right of Trump,”….Dianne Pinderhughes, a political scientist at Notre Dame, wrote by email that an image of DeSantis at a campaign event captured for her the weakness of his campaign for the nomination.“He has no affect,” Pinderhughes wrote. “My favorite example is a photo of him. He’s surrounded by a group of people, campaign supporters, but every face in the photo is flat, unexcited, unsmiling (including of course the candidate).”

I’m still a bit surprised that there is not more grumbling about Trump chickening out of the first debate, not that he had much to fear from the 8 munchkins. Perhaps it is more understandable in light of his complicated legal problems, which merit more media coverage than the Milwaukee drivelfest. Stephen Collinson rolls it out well in “Trump’s looming surrender will kill the buzz of the first GOP debate” at CNN Politics: “The idea that the front-runner for a major party nomination would boycott the first televised clash between candidates, then the next day surrender to authorities over his fourth criminal indictment would have been unthinkable at any previous moment in history. But that’s the reality as an unprecedented presidential election unfolds under the shadow of Trump’s criminal peril – and his extraordinary strength in the GOP primary that, at least for now, allows him to ignore all the normal rules of campaigning….the melee in Milwaukee was like a prize fight that lacked the reigning champion, as Trump stayed home, reasoning that he is so far ahead in the GOP primary that he had nothing to gain by showing up. At best, the debate turned into an audition for second place in a race that, on the current trajectory, looks likely to catapult Trump to his third consecutive Republican nomination….the ex-president might have won by staying away – even if his unwillingness to submit to debating his policies before voters on live television smacks of the same contempt for democracy that has landed him with four criminal indictments….Trump, exploiting his unrelenting support among GOP primary voters, has pulled off the feat of wielding multiple indictments as a political shield….the spectacle of Trump’s big jet with his name on the side heading to Georgia for processing at the Fulton County jail will soon overshadow the rest of the race….”

Political Strategy Notes

By now it is obvious to most swing voters that there is only one political party that is doing anything to improve health care for America’s working people, and the other political party has provided zero leadership for needed health care reforms. That realization is paying off in a big way in a key swing state. In her article, “With prescription drug costs, Nevada Democrats believe they’ve found a winning issue,” Gabby Birenbaum writes in The Nevada Independent: “As Democrats have fanned out across the country this summer to sell voters on the president’s agenda a year out from the election, Cabinet members and elected officials have honed in on a specific theme in appearances in Las Vegas — the cost of prescription drugs…..The bulk of the IRA, passed just over a year ago, focused on kickstarting clean energy production across the country, providing incentives for companies and consumers alike to go green. But it also included health care policies from Biden’s broader domestic agenda, referred to as Build Back Better. The IRA capped the price of insulin at $35 per month for Medicare beneficiaries, which went into effect in January. Eli Lilly, the largest manufacturer of insulin in the U.S., announced it too would cap the cost of insulin for private insurance users in March….Additionally, out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors will be capped at $2,000 annually beginning in 2025. And the law will allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices of 10 drugs with pharmaceutical companies, with negotiated prices to be implemented by 2026; further drugs will be subject to negotiation each successive year. (Medicare’s list, which is due September 1, is expected to include the most widely prescribed drugs for common conditions including blood disorders, arthritis  and heart disease.)….Democrats say the messaging is part of a concentrated effort to highlight what has proven to be one of the most popular elements of the party’s signature policy achievement, hoping to bring the campaign to the comfortable turf of health care while also signaling engagement on the issue of rising costs.”

Birenbaum continues, “And in a legislative landscape in which the infrastructure, clean energy and manufacturing efforts spurred by Democrat-passed laws will take years to implement, the focus on prescription drug pricing provides what party members say is a simple, effective electoral message….“Historic legislation is fantastic, but it’s conceptual,” White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients said to a group of regional reporters last week. “That’s why we need to be on the ground, and be comfortable being repetitive about telling the story … $35 insulin is resonating so quickly with people. It’s immediate savings.”….By retroactively applying the IRA’s $2,000 out-of-pocket cap to 2020 costs paid by Nevadans, HHS estimates that 143,000 Nevada seniors will save $434 per year on the cost of their prescription drugs in 2025. On the cost of insulin, nearly 11,000 Nevadans qualify for the $35 cap, saving an average of $439 annually per person….“It’s incredible,” Becerra said at an event in Las Vegas. “This is going to be a game-changing law.”….In a press conference, Horsford said he’s unsurprised by these provisions’ popularitybecause he hears from constituents and family members about how beneficial the insulin caps have already proven. He said he had family members who saw their monthly payment go from over $300 to $35….“They were explaining it to me at the dinner table, and I said ‘Yeah, I voted for that!’” Horsford said. “That’s real money that people can use to pay the cost of rent, of putting food on the table, of spending time with their kids and doing other activities with their grandkids.”….With Nevada’s population of seniors 65 and older growing — having seen an increase of 40 percent between 2011 and 2018 — the political calculus of the law’s appeal is straightforward. The IRA passed without a single Republican vote in either chamber, meaning Democrats will own the law next November, for better or worse.”

Birenbaum adds, “A July poll of registered voters from Navigator Research and Democrat-aligned Global Strategy Group found that the insulin cap was the most popular provision in the bill, with 82 percent support. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drugs was similarly well-received, with 81 percent approval, and the $2,000 out-of-pocket cap earned 77 percent support….Most of the voters polled were also able to identify the prescription drug provisions as being part of the Inflation Reduction Act — 81 percent of respondents agreed the IRA allowed Medicare to negotiate the price of drugs, compared to only 51 percent of voters who think the IRA provides tax incentives for manufacturing job creation….As the biggest health care law since the ACA, strategists said that Medicare negotiating the price of drugs and prescription drug cost caps have the benefit of being easily understood, as opposed to the ACA, and thus far, have had a smooth rollout, the lack of which plagued the Obama administration….The Biden campaign is banking on the popularity of a prescription drugs-based message….“Simple policies can go very far,” White House National Economic Council Deputy Director Joelle Gamble said to reporters. “And I think this is a policy that people understand. They know how much they pay; they know the president and Democrats in Congress are lowering [those costs.]”….With the insulin cost caps already in place, that message should be easy to promote. But Democrats will have to be proactive in advertising the negotiation and out-of-pocket cost caps, given that they will not kick in until after the election….Peter Koltak, a Democratic strategist who’s worked on several Nevada campaigns, said the cost of prescription drugs should be a winning issue for Democrats….“This is already popular — this starts way more popular than the ACA was,” he said. “It’s only going to get more popular … it’s all upside, really.”….Koltak added that several key swing demographics — Latinos, seniors and suburban voters among them — shift toward voting for a generic Democrat who supports capping the cost of prescription drugs when juxtaposed with a standard Republican who does not, citing state data from Democratic pollsters Global Strategy Group.”

Birenbaum notes further, “Strategists said the issue marries health care and rising costs, the latter of which typically benefits Republicans more. Combining the two allows Democrats to address a potential weakness while campaigning on an area that voters trust them on….“[Health care] is kind of a bread-and-butter Democratic issue,” UNLV political science professor Dan Lee said….The fact that it targets seniors — a group with high voter turnout — is another political appeal….Though AARP Nevada is nonpartisan, it plans to engage all elected officials during the campaign season and beyond on the prescription drug provisions of the IRA, which Jessica Padrón, the organization’s associate state director of advocacy and outreach, said has resonated with members….“Older Americans are tired of promises to tackle these issues,” she said. “And they’re thrilled that Congress finally took action. We’re getting a lot of positive feedback.”….An analysis of per capita prescription drug spending between 2004 and 2019 from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Peter G. Petersen Foundation found that Americans, on average, spend $1,126 annually on prescription drugs, double the average of peer nations. Democrats argue these high prices are because, up until next year, the government can not negotiate drug prices the way it can in Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, for example….The next step for Democrats is to expand the program to institute maximum prices for those not on Medicare. That can only be done with majorities in both chambers and Biden re-elected to the White House — making it an explicit part of their campaign appeal….And it’s not just Congress that can bring the benefits to Nevadans younger than 65. Democrats in the Legislature passed a bill to apply the Medicare-negotiated price caps statewide in 2026, allowing private insurance beneficiaries to take advantage of the new lower costs as well, though Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) vetoed the bill.” Birenbaum’s article focuses on Nevada, but the very substantial economic and health benefits she cites apply nation-wide.

Political Strategy Notes

At The Hill, Tara Suter reports that a “Majority of voters think Trump ‘did something illegal,” and writes: “In a recent Fox News poll, a majority of registered voters said they think Trump “did something illegal” related to “efforts to overturn the 2020 election.”….The poll, released Wednesday, also found that 20 percent of registered voters think Trump “did something wrong” but “not illegal.” Another 24 percent said the former president “did nothing seriously wrong.”….The same poll revealed a drop in the number of voters who think the Department of Justice’s “treatment” of the former president “is politically motivated,” from 55 percent in June to 51 percent this month. Parallel to those findings, there was a rise in those who said the DOJ’s actions against the former president are not “politically motivated.”….The poll was conducted between August 11 and 13, with a margin of error of 3 percent and a sample size of 1,002 registered voters.” Suter did not report any numbers indicating what percentage of survey respondents would vote for him anyway.

In similar vein, G. Elliot Morris, editorial director of data analytics at ABC News, writes at FiveThirtyEight that “two weeks after Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, polling data suggests he has been unable to convince voters that his latest boogeyman — the United States Department of Justice — is really out to get him. Instead, polls show that while it may not be putting a serious dent in his lead in the Republican primary, voters overall view his latest indictment as serious and believe that Trump’s actions related to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, merit criminal charges. And among both adults and Republicans, Trump’s favorability rating fell after he was indicted in June for illegally retaining classified documents and refusing to return them to the U.S. officials when asked….In the two weeks after federal prosecutors unsealed the classified-documents indictment, Trump’s net favorability rating among Republicans fell from +57.1 to +55.3, a drop of 1.8 percentage points….Over that same time period, Trump’s net favorability rating among all adults fell from -11.9 percentage points — the high point for him in 2023 — back down to -14.8, a slightly larger dip than among Republicans….Two studies of election results in the 2022 midterms found that the Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives who received endorsements from Trump or voiced support for his election denialism performed worse than Republican House candidates who did not. In a CBS/YouGov poll conducted Aug. 2-4,  a majority of adults said the indictments against Trump were “upholding the rule of law” (57 percent) and an effort to “defend democracy” (52 percent), although more than half also said the indictments and investigations were trying to stop the Trump campaign (59 percent).”

Voters who are concerned about big corporations picking their pocket will probably find the efforts of President Biden and Democrats of significant interest. At least that’s one of the big bets Democratic Party leaders are placing in the 2024 campaign. As Madison Hall reports at The Insider, “House Democrats are increasingly embracing what could be a winning strategy as the 2024 election approaches by joining in on the Biden Administration’s crusade against “junk fees.”….In October 2022, the White House announced its plans to go after junk fees — “fees designed either to confuse or deceive consumers or to take advantage of lock-in or other forms of situational market power” — which it said could save consumers more than $1 billion each year….According to a recent report from the Associated Press, with assistance from the Progressive Change Institute, some House Democrats have already held events addressing junk fees and there are at least a dozen or more planned across the country….Then, five months later, Biden addressed the issue again during his 2023 State of the Union speech, where he made a point to note how he personally understands “how unfair it feels when a company overcharges you and gets away with it.”….And after the Biden Administration’s push in part led to some airlines changing policies to allow family seating without additional fees and Live Nation Entertainment to introduce a more “transparent” pricing model, House Democrats have entered the fight as well….According to a recent report from the Associated Press, with assistance from the Progressive Change Institute, some House Democrats have already held events addressing junk fees and there are at least a dozen or more planned across the country.”

In “Will Biden Have Enough Chips in 2024? Today on TAP: His industrial-policy programs are great. How much of an election year difference can they make?,” Robert Kuttner writes at The American Prospect: “Biden’s big public programs, including the CHIPS and Science Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and the bipartisan infrastructure law together spend about $2 trillion over ten years—about 1 percent of GDP. If you compare the relative scale, as well as the longer lead time of Biden’s public investments, you can appreciate why Biden does not get the credit he deserves….The White House fact sheet on CHIPS, released August 8, tells us: “In the one year since CHIPS was signed into law, companies have announced over $166 billion in manufacturing in semiconductors and electronics, and at least 50 community colleges in 19 states have announced new or expanded programming to help American workers access good-paying jobs in the semiconductor industry.”….as Ronnie Chatterji, who recently stepped down as White House coordinator for the CHIPS and Science program, points out, these new publicly subsidized investments do make a concentrated difference, with high local media visibility, in some states and regions….These include Ohio, where Intel has broken ground for a massive new campus and several thousand new jobs, and upstate New York, where Micron will invest billions. Other key places with large new semiconductor investments are Arizona and Indiana….The challenge, beyond election year visibility, is that the administration has only so much leverage. These are global companies that can produce anywhere in the world; they have never had union production workforces….That said, the Biden semiconductor program is a genuine achievement that will revive a key domestic industry and relieve supply chain pressures, as well as a monumental ideological reversal. The political question is whether it’s sufficient, even with the best messaging in the word, to overcome the long-term sense of government having failed to deliver for working-class voters who face worsening terms of engagement with the economy.”

Zakaria and Levison: The Immigration Fix Is Within Reach

In his Washington Post column, “Immigration can be fixed. So why aren’t we doing it?,” Fareed Zakaria unveils a common-sense approach to solving a problem that has bedeviled Democrats for too long. As Zakaria writes,

In May, it seemed obvious that the United States was going to face an unmanageable border crisis. In the previous fiscal year, there were about 2.4 millionapprehensions of people trying to enter the United States at the southern border. And the authorities were about to lose the provision of Title 42 implemented in March 2020 that allowed them to swiftly expel migrants at the border as a pandemic-prevention measure. But the end of the pandemic meant that temporary power also had to come to a close.

In fact, as it turned out, there was no crisis. The number of encounters with migrants at the southern border actually dropped by a third, from about 7,100 per day in April to about 4,800 per day in June, according to the latest available data. Why did this happen?

It seems that the Biden administration’s plan worked. It put in place a series of measures designed to deal with the impending problem, chiefly a stiff penalty for crossing the border illegally (deportation plus a five-year ban on any reentry), coupled with expanding ways to apply for legal asylum in the migrant’s home country. It was a welcome case of well-designed policymaking a difference.

But this success does not change the fact that the U.S. immigration system is broken. The crush at the southern border may be less than anticipated, but it is still an influx, and its effects are being felt across the nation. Texas, overwhelmed by the numbers, has bused migrants to Washington and New York. But the truth is that migrants have been crowding into major American cities, including Chicago, on a scale that is breaking those communities’ capacities to respond.

Zakaria goes on to describe in detail the overwhelming problems associated with this migration in New York, and notes similar effects in Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  He adds that “The migration crisis is being exacerbated by politics on both sides. The MAGA right, of course, demonizes migrants and asylum seekers and prefers no solution since a crisis helps it politically. But the far left routinely attacks any sensible measures aimed at curbing the influx as cruel, inhumane and illegal.” Further, Zakaria writes,

America’s immigration system is broken. Its asylum laws were designed after the Holocaust to allow admission to a small number of people personally facing intense persecution because of their religion or political beliefs. It provided for their residency applications to be evaluated while they waited in the country.

….Although some might have legitimate claims, most are fleeing the same conditions of poverty, violence, instability and disease that have been driving would-be immigrants to the United States for hundreds of years. Today, many have realized that if they claim asylum, they get special treatment. Some U.S. officials handling this issue have told me that people are gaming the system to gain the best possible chance of entry.

The laws and rules around asylum must be fixed so that immigration authorities can focus on the small number of genuine asylum seekers while compelling the rest to seek other legal means of entry. At the same time, it’s important to note that the United States is facing a drastic shortfall of labor and must expand legal immigration in many areas for just that reason. We urgently need to attract the world’s best technically skilled people so that they can push forward the information and biotech revolutions that are transforming the economy and life itself. With unemployment rates around 50-year lows, it is obvious that we need more workers in many sectors of the economy, from agriculture to hospitality. If this is done in a legal and orderly manner, Americans will welcome the new workers.

Zakaria concludes, “Biden has tried to work with Republicans on several issues, and he has even had a few successes. He should propose an immigration bill that is genuinely bipartisan and forces compromises from both sides. It would be one more strong dose of evidence that policy can triumph over populism.”

On the same topic, be sure to read Andrew Levison’s TDS Strategy Memo, “Democrats Will Lose Elections in 2022 and 2024 if they do not offer a plausible strategy for reducing the surge of immigrants at the border,” which includes a subset of specific immigration reforms that can help meet Zakaria’s challenge, defuse the crisis and empower Dems win a working majority next year.

Political Strategy Notes

Here’s an excerpt from a worthy screed, “Trump’s Kryptonite: How Progressives Can Win Back the Working Class” by The Editors of Jacobin: “In November 2021, together with Jacobin and YouGov, the CWCP [Center for Working-Class Politics] published findings from our first original survey experiment, designed to better understand which kinds of progressive candidates, messages, and policies are most effective in appealing to working-class voters….Among other things, the survey found that voters without college degrees are strongly attracted to candidates who focus on bread-and-butter issues, use economic populist language, and promote a bold progressive policy agenda. Our findings suggested that working-class voters lost to Donald Trump could be won back by following the model set by the populist campaigns of Bernie Sanders, John Fetterman, Matt Cartwright, Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez, and others….we designed a new surveyexperiment in which we presented seven pairs of hypothetical candidates to a representative group of 1,650 voters. We assessed a vast range of candidate types (23,100 distinct candidate profiles in total) to better understand which candidates perform best overall and among different groups of voters….Our aim was to test which elements of economic populism are most effective in persuading working-class voters, how the effects of economic populist messaging change in the face of opposition messaging, and how these effects vary both across classes and within the working class….Overall, we find that progressives can make inroads with working-class voters if they run campaigns that convey a credible commitment to the interests of working people. This means running more working-class candidates, running jobs-focused campaigns, and picking a fight with political and economic elites on behalf of working Americans.”

Jacobin Editors continue, “Running on a jobs platform, including a federal jobs guarantee, can help progressive candidates. Virtually all voter groups prefer candidates who run on a jobs platform. Remarkably, respondents’ positive views toward candidates running on a jobs guarantee were consistent across Democrats, independents, and even Republicans. Candidates who ran on a jobs guarantee were also popular with black respondents, swing voters, low-propensity voters, respondents without a college degree, and rural respondents. Across the thirty-six different combinations of candidate rhetoric and policy positions we surveyed, the single most popular combination was economic populist rhetoric and a jobs guarantee….Populist “us-versus-them” rhetoric appeals to working-class voters, regardless of partisan affiliation. Working-class Democrats, independents, Republicans, women, and rural respondents all prefer candidates who use populist language: that is, sound bites that name economic or political elites as a major cause of the country’s problems and call on working Americans to oppose them….Running more non-elite, working-class candidates can help progressives attract more working-class voters. Blue- and pink-collar Democratic candidates are more popular than professional and/or upper-class candidates, particularly among working-class Democrats and Republicans. Non-elite, working-class candidates are also viewed favorably by women, Latinos, political independents, urban and rural respondents, low-propensity voters, non-college-educated respondents, and swing voters….Candidates who use class-based populist messaging are particularly popular with the blue-collar workers Democrats need to win in many “purple” states. Manual workers, a group that gave majority support to Trump in 2020, favor economic populist candidates more strongly than any other occupational group. Low-propensity voters also have a clear preference for these candidates.” The Jacobin Editors have more to say on this topic, and you can read the full report on which the editorial is based here.

At The New Republic’s ‘The Soapbox,” Alex Thomas explain how “Direct Democracy Is Upending the GOP’s Radical Agenda.” As Thomas writes, “Like the Kansas vote on abortion a year ago, the Ohio vote yielded a much higher voter turnout than Republicans had hoped for. And make no mistake: The defeat of Ohio’s Issue 1 is undoubtedly due to that large turnout. However, there’s little evidence to show that ballot measures drive turnout in general elections. In the upcoming general election—which seems destined for a rematch between Biden and Trump—experts generally agree that ballot measures’ effect on turnout will be difficult to quantify as the top of the ticket offers such a divisive matchup….But that doesn’t negate the importance of ballot issues or their effect on the political landscape. Professor Daniel Smith of the University of Florida told me that ballot measures “have these spillover effects; it could be not only turnout but increasing political knowledge and civic engagement. Increasing political participation more generally because citizens are now being asked to exercise their voice.”….On Tuesday, Ohioans turned out in droves to exercise their voices and to retain their ability to exercise their voices. The early voting figures alone tell a story—at least 578,490 Ohioans turned in early ballots for the Issue 1 vote. Only 288,700 Ohioans voted early in the 2022 election, according to The Columbus Dispatch. But while the effort to limit direct democracy was defeated in Ohio, there’s no indication that Republicans are likely to slow their efforts to silence the will of their constituents….Of course, the political landscape of America is much different than it was at the turn of the century. Voters are more engaged. The 2020 election featured the second-highest percentage of voter participation in American history. And in post-RoeAmerica, there’s no indication that voters are more likely to stay home—even if Republicans in Ohio, and other state legislatures around the country, dearly wish that they would.”

Excerpts from “Democrats Really Need to Win Back Young White Male Voters From the GOP” by Ameshia Cross at The Daily Beast: “It’s commonly known that younger voters lean more liberal, which is a major part of why Democrats make stronger appeals to get young people to the polls when compared with Republicans. But one large group of younger voters currently tilts in the opposite direction—18-year-old white males….Twelfth-grade boys are nearly twice as likely to identify as conservativeversus identifying as liberal, according to a survey by Monitoring the Future….This is a big deal. In the latter term of the George W. Bush presidency and into the early days of Barack Obama’s time in the White House, liberal boys outnumbered conservatives. Those days might be long gone. Conversely, more young women continue to identify as liberal. Teen girls have doubled their support for Democrats in the decade between 2012 and 2022….But why are 18 year-old boys leaning more conservative, and what about the age of Trump appeals to them? Part of the answer is an embrace of toxic masculinity ….Though the Fox News juggernaut—and lesser-watched conservative counterparts like The Blaze, Newsmax, and OAN—are predominately viewed by an older generation of white male conservatives, their talking points are regurgitated on new media that’s more likely to be seen by younger people….With thin margins of victory in races from the presidency to city councils, even slight changes in voter attitudes are worth a second look. Democrats need to find a message to these voters that the toxic masculinity of Trump and the MAGA movement is not the way forward for this country, and that they are not victims of modernity….Democrats cannot simply hope that as the older Fox News-viewing population dies off that their politics will go with them. The newfound growth in conservative identification among young white males shows that the battle for justice, equality, and a sustainable future is far from over.”