washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

The Dems’ New Mississippi Campaign

Could this be the year Democrats score a big win in Mississippi, the state with the highest percentage of Black residents? Taylor Vance explores the possibilities in his article, “Inside the Democratic Party’s coordinated effort to turn out Black voters for the Nov. 7 election” at Mississippi Today. Some excerpts from Vance’s article:

The get-out-the-vote efforts from Democratic Party officials have continued into late October and have been focused across the state, not just in the Jackson metro.

This past weekend, state party leaders attended multiple events on the Gulf Coast, including a get-out-the-vote rally Sunday night at First Missionary Baptist Church Handsboro in Gulfport. The event, which organizers titled “Wake the Sleeping Giant,” was keynoted by Bishop William James Barber II, co-chair of the national organization Poor People’s Campaign.

The party will host a virtual organizing event called “Souls to the Polls” on Oct. 28, which is the first day of in-person absentee voting. The party has also hosted several town hall-style events in multiple Mississippi towns over the past few weeks focused on the state’s hospital crisis before mostly-Black audiences, culminating with a final stop on the tour in Jackson on Oct. 25.

And while party leaders organize their own events, Democratic candidates are benefitting from the independent electoral work of numerous third-party progressive organizations that are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to knock doors and target hyper-local Black communities. These groups, many of which have long organizing histories in Mississippi, are pumping money this cycle into door-knocking, phone banking, direct mailing, and digital and radio advertising.

Vance adds that “the party’s work of the past few weeks marks a noticeable shift in strategy to energize its base ahead of the 2023 election. Lackluster efforts with Black voters during the 2019 statewide election cycle from former state party leaders notoriously left candidates frustrated and Democratic voters feeling left behind..” Vance notes that “Black Mississippi voters make up the overwhelming foundation of the Democratic Party — about two-thirds of the party’s voting base.”

Vance explains further,

The bulk of media attention and national party resources during the election cycle has focused on [Brandon] Presley, the Democratic nominee for governor who has mounted a formidable campaign against Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and recently outraised the incumbent governor in campaign donations.

But most of the recent Black voter outreach events have not been framed exclusively around Presley’s race or any specific candidate. Rather, they have served as a repudiation of conservative policies over the last four years that, in the Democratic leaders’ view, harm Black communities. The events have served as a call to action to elect all Democrats on the ballot.

However, there have been instances when Presley’s work as north Mississippi’s public service commissioner was lauded, and his attendance at predominantly Black churches, HBCU football games and other places over the past few weeks was clearly noticed.

Presley has a powerful ally in Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), who President Biden has credited with providing pivotal support for his election to the presidency. Clyburn is campaigning for Presley in Mississippi and advising him on strategy and tactics to win a pivotal share of the Black vote.

While the contest for governor is Mississippi’s marquee race, Vance writes, “The governor’s race aside, several progressive officials proclaimed the slate of Democratic statewide candidates was strong, and they were building a better foundation for the party that can continue to be stronger in future years.”

As a moderate Democrat, Presley has a good chance to take away some votes from the Republican incumbent. In addition, Clyburn notes that Presley was instrumental in securing substantial funding for the inclusion of broadband for rural communities in the bipartisan infrastructure bill congress passed in 2021.

Political Strategy Notes

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains why “The GOP’s speaker chaos is a blessing in disguise,” and writes: “The chaotic Republican-led House of Representatives has a rather poor sense of timing. The United States is in the midst of two international emergencies and faces the threat of a government shutdown next month. President Biden’s prime-time speech on Thursday pressing for aid to Ukraine and Israel underscored the exorbitant costs of the GOP meltdown….But the embarrassing exercise could prove to be a blessing because it’s exposing a crisis in our politics that must be confronted. The endless battle for the speakership is already encouraging new thinking and might yet lead to institutional arrangements to allow bipartisan majorities to work their will….The House impasse was precipitated by both radicalization and division within the Republican Party. Narrow majorities in the House have enabled right-wing radicals to disable the governing system. Normal progressives and normal conservatives, in alliance with politicians closer to the center, are discovering a shared interest in keeping the nihilist right far from the levers of power….The GOP doesn’t want to recognize that McCarthy gave Democrats no reason to save him — he flatly refused to negotiate with them in his hour of need — and many reasons to believe he’d continue to kowtow to party extremists….The last straw came after Democrats gave more votes than Republicans did to pass McCarthy’s bill to avoid a government shutdown last month. The next day, McCarthy turned around and bizarrely claimed that Democrats “did not want the bill” and “were willing to let government shut down.” That dishonest nonsense sealed his fate.”

“Democrats are going out of their way,” Dionne adds, “to say they are ready to deal. “We are willing to find a bipartisan path forward so we can reopen the House,” Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference on Friday, after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) went down in his third and decisive defeat in the speakership vote. Republicans, Jeffries said, had a choice: to “embrace bipartisanship and abandon extremism.”….The Democratic rank and file has quietly been working in this direction. Rep. Annie Kuster (N.H.), chair of the New Democrat Coalition, told me that moderate Democrats “were talking to any reasonable Republican we had a relationship with” in an effort to empower Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.) to bring up bills that have broad support in both parties….She noted that the Democrats’ conditions were minimal and hardly left-wing: to agree to avoid a government shutdown; to pass spending bills along the lines of the fiscal accord McCarthy and McHenry themselves made with Biden in May to avert a debt default; and to provide military aid to Ukraine and Israel and humanitarian aid for Palestinians….All friends of democratic rule should be grateful. With a regiment of nine lesser-known Republicans pondering a now wide-open speaker’s race, a new version of the McHenry option might gain appeal….Bipartisanship is no magic elixir, but bipartisanship in pursuit of majority rule is a worthy cause. Pushing Republicans to confront extremism in their ranks is both good politics and essential for governing. The Democrats’ offer to help Republicans through their intraparty struggle will either hasten the day of reckoning or expose the GOP’s refusal to stand up to its nihilists.”

“Former President Obama issued a new statement Monday on the ongoing violence taking place in Israel and Gaza as the death toll continues to tick up,” Lauren Sforza writes in “Obama issues new statement on Israel and Gaza” at The Hill. “In a lengthy statement, Obama again condemned the deadly attacks launched by the militant group Hamas on Oct. 7 in what he called an “unspeakable brutality.” While he maintained Israel had a right to defend itself against the attacks, he reiterated the need to abide by “international law.”….“But even as we support Israel, we should also be clear that how Israel prosecutes this fight against Hamas matters. In particular, it matters — as President Biden has repeatedly emphasized — that Israel’s military strategy abides by international law, including those laws that seek to avoid, to every extent possible, the death or suffering of civilian populations,” Obama wrote….He said upholding international law is “vital for building alliances and shaping international opinion.”….The attacks on Israel have resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians across the region. More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed, mostly in the initial attack launched by Hamas on Oct. 7. The U.S. and other countries have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization….More than 5,000 Palestinians have been killed so far in the conflict in Gaza, including an estimated 2,055 children and 1,119 women, with more than 15,000 injured, the Gaza Health Ministry reported Monday….“The Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water and electricity to a captive civilian population threatens not only to worsen a growing humanitarian crisis; it could further harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region,” he wrote….He also recognized Israel has “every right to exist,” but Palestinians have “also lived in disputed territories for generations.”….“But if we care about keeping open the possibility of peace, security and dignity for future generations of Israeli and Palestinian children — as well as for our own children — then it falls upon all of us to at least make the effort to model, in our own words and actions, the kind of world we want them to inherit,” he concluded.”

You may not be shocked to learn that “Voters under 30 are trending left of the general electorate,” as Monica Potts and Holly Fuong report at FiveThirtyEight, via ABC News. “Voters under the age of 30 have largely been part of the Democratic camp since former President Barack Obama won two-thirds of them in 2008. That same age group may have helped put President Joe Biden over the top in 2020, and assisted Democrats in broadly overperforming expectations in the 2022 midterms. And there’s some evidence that these young voters are staying liberal even as they age, defying the trend of previous generations. That’s especially true of millennials, the now-27 to 42 year-olds who were so taken with Obama’s first campaign. (Throughout this analysis, we use the Pew Research Center’s definitions of millennials and Generation Z.)….Young voters are consistently more liberal than the general electorate is on a range of issues, according to a 538 analysis. We took a look at data from the Cooperative Election Study, a Harvard University survey of at least 60,000 Americans taken before the 2020 elections and the 2022 midterms, and found notable differences between younger voters and the general electorate on key issues like the environment, abortion and immigration. That could make a big difference in the general election — that is, if young voters actually show up to vote….In 2020 and 2022, voters under 30 made up 21 percent of the electorate, according to our analysis of the CES data. In both of those elections, the cohort of 18 to 29 year-olds was composed of a mix of millennials and Gen Z, those born after 1996. More of Gen Z will be eligible to vote next year than ever before, and so far, they seem to be voting like the millennials that came before them. If history holds, they are likely to become more politically active as they age, and if they keep the political preferences they exhibit now, then like millennials, they’ll have a bigger and bigger impact on elections to come. That impact may begin as soon as 2024….Turnout among millennials and Gen Z, many of whom will be voting in their first presidential election, will be key in 2024. The youngest voters in any given election year have historically been the least likely to vote, with around 46 percent in that age group voting in 2016, more than 15 percentage points lower than the general electorate. Turnout rose in 2020, as it did for all groups, when an estimated 50 percent of young voters and 66 percent of the general electorate voted, but declined some in 2022 compared to the previous midterm in 2018.”

Political Strategy Notes

“To comment on this intra-left controversy risks distorting the political stakes,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column, “Empathy for Palestinians cannot mean sympathy for Hamas.” Dionne cites “a rare consensus in mainstream politics that Hamas’s terrorism was “an act of sheer evil,” as President Biden said in his powerful speech on Tuesday. Little pockets of sympathy for Hamas will have no effect on U.S. politics going forward. The important contrast is between the moral and strategic seriousness of Biden’s response and the petty, unhinged and self-involved rantings of Donald Trump. Maybe, just maybe, Americans pondering a vote for the former president will see more clearly that returning him to the White House would be an act of democratic suicide….The sharp turn to the right in Israel that Netanyahu engineered has undercut support for the country among younger Americans in the United States. Most of these increasingly vocal critics have resisted supporting Hamas, but the gut liberal sympathy for Israel has largely disappeared among those born after Biden’s generation and mine. If Hamas’s shameful attack has mostly restored consensus in the Democratic Party around the need to defend Israel against mass terrorism, the underlying opposition to Israel’s settlement policies and its refusal to engage with Palestinian demands for self-determination remains….The shock of these traumatic events should shake everyone into a reassessment rooted in moral realism. As my Post colleague Max Bootargued last week, the imperative of accountability should lead eventually to Netanyahu’s ouster. Even as supporters of Israel stand up for its right to self-defense, analysts with long experience in the Middle East, including Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times and The Post’s David Ignatius, warn of the dangers of overreach in Gaza. Having reported alongside them and learned from them during the war in Lebanon in the 1980s, I share their skepticism of grand military plans that promise to settle a conflict for good. We have seen too many such promises fail in the Middle East. And Biden was right in his speech to call attention to moral obligations that apply even in legitimate wars of self-preservation….The left should not stop advocating on behalf of justice for Palestinians. And Israel’s center and left should not stop demanding that Netanyahu’s plans to undercut the country’s judiciary be shelved permanently. But terrorism will not create a more democratic Israel or lead to self-determination for Palestinians. The Israeli-Palestinian dispute is rife with ambiguities and conflicting moral claims. This cannot be said of what Hamas did. Its actions are, exactly as Biden said, unambiguously evil.”

NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall flags an important study, “24 for ’24: Urgent Recommendations in Law, Media, Politics, and Tech for Fair and Legitimate 2024 U.S. Elections,” and here are some excerpts from the Executive Summary: “Over the last two decades, hyperpolarized politics and very close elections have led to fights over election rules and controversy over the administration of U.S. elections. The emergence of these “voting wars” has caused some people, especially those on the losing end of election battles, to question the fairness and integrity of the systems and rules used for conducting elections and tabulating results. This crisis of confidence emerged even as election administration has become more professionalized and even after some of the worst-performing voting systems were taken out of service….Concerns about election fairness and legitimacy exploded during and after the 2020 elections. That election was conducted during a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and as one of the two major presidential candidates, Donald J. Trump, repeatedly made false and unsubstantiated claims against the integrity of the electoral process. After losing the election, Trump and his allies engaged in an unprecedented series of maneuvers in an unsuccessful attempt to overturn the 2020 U.S. presidential results. All reliable evidence indicates that the election was conducted without widespread fraud or irregularities under difficult circumstances….No longer can we take for granted that people will accept election results as legitimate. The United States faces continued threats to peaceful transitions of power after election authorities (or courts) have declared a presidential election winner….Variation and fragmentation of authority leave ample room for litigation in the case of close election results….After public meetings and further online deliberations, this Committee makes the following 24 recommendations for immediate change that should be implemented to increase the fairness and help bolster the legitimacy of the 2024 elections. These recommendation are aimed collectively at assuring access to the ballot for all eligible voters, protecting election integrity, and enhancing the public’s confidence in the fairness of the election and the accuracy of the results.* Read the report here for the specific 24 recommendations.

Should Democrats get more involved in helping to pick the next House Speaker? It’s a tricky strategic question. It’s so much fun to watch the Jim Jordan follies. And there is the saying, “When your adversary is committing political suicide, get out of the way.” But at a certain point, might the public get pissed off that Democrats don’t use what leverage they can muster to prevent the next government shutdown from happening. Perhaps the strategy is to let the Republicans keep branding themselves as incompetent and incapable of governing for a while, and then create a coalition that can elect a more moderate Republican speaker. It’s doubtful that the House is going to pass anything anyway. As Justin Papp writes at Roll Call, “In fact, there’s some shiny silver lining visible in the depths of Republican dysfunction, Crockett and other Democrats said. “There is no campaign slogan, there is no messaging the Democrats could ever do, to better demonstrate who the modern day Republican Party is,” Crockett said….“It’s not good for our country, and it’s not good for the world,” said New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, who chairs the New Democrat Coalition, of a potential Jim Jordan speakership. “But winning the majority in 2024 just got a whole hell-of-a-lot easier.”….with an important election approaching next November and a razor-thin GOP House majority, some Democratic lawmakers and strategists are salivating over what they view as unforced Republican errors….“There’s almost no doubt that this type of dysfunction and chaos among Republicans will benefit Democrats,” said Brad Woodhouse, a Democratic strategist….“By tying their political futures to an election-denying, anti-law enforcement, pro-shutdown far-right extremist, these so-called moderates are hand-delivering the DCCC content for campaign ads ahead of next year but, more importantly, they are doing a grave disservice to their country,” said Viet Shelton, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee….“There will be tens of millions of campaign dollars making sure voters are aware of the GOP’s further lurch toward autocracy and lunacy,” Jeff Timmer, a senior adviser with the center-right Lincoln Project, said via email Monday. “Not only will this doom the 18 Rs in Biden districts, it’s going to imperil other marginal Rs … in ways they don’t yet comprehend.”

Papp continues, “Democrats, in response, have begun making their own chess moves, launching campaigns Monday targeting Jordan and drawing attention to his role in spreading lies about the 2020 presidential election in the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the Capitol; his staunchly antiabortion stance; and the allegations that he turned a blind eye to sexual assault while he coached wrestling at Ohio State University in the 1980s and 1990s….On Monday, House Majority Forward, the nonprofit wing of House Democrats’ leading super PAC, launched robocalls in 11 districts — many of which are seen as highly competitive in 2024 — urging House Republicans to vote against Jordan as speaker….“Republicans have nominated Jim Jordan for Speaker, who voted to overturn the 2020 election, defended the criminals who attacked the Capitol on January 6th, and is in favor of an extreme agenda to ban abortion nationwide, cut veteran benefits by 22%, eliminate health insurance for 21 million Americans, and fire 108,000 school teachers and aides,” the robocall says….The calls targeted Reps. David Schweikert and Juan Ciscomani of Arizona, Bill Huizenga and John James in Michigan, and Nick LaLota, George Santos, Anthony D’Esposito, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro, Elise Stefanik and Brandon Williams, all from New York….Also on Monday, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee announced a six-figure ad buy in support of Virginia state Democrats in response to the “silly, yet predictable Republican speaker fight.”…. “If national Republicans continue to show they won’t govern, why would Virginia Republicans be any different?” Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Communications Director Abhi Rahman said in a statement announcing the investment in local races….Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has called for a bipartisan end to the impasse, in which Democrats would supply votes in exchange for concessions on rules and House procedures to better foster bipartisan governing….By and large, Republicans have rejected calls for a bipartisan solution, though Kuster said as recently as Monday that some Republicans were still interested in working across the aisle, though they’d need to first hit “rock bottom” first before turning to their Democratic colleagues.”

Political Strategy Notes

An excerpt from “What Friends Owe Friends: Why Washington Should Restrain Israeli Military Action in Gaza—and Preserve a Path to Peace” by Richard Haas at Foreign Affairs. “The case for the United States working to shape Israel’s response to the crisis and its aftermath rests not just on the reality that good if tough advice is what friends owe one another. The United States has interests in the Middle East and beyond that would not be well-served by an Israeli invasion and occupation of Gaza, nor by longer-term Israeli policies that offer no hope to Palestinians who reject violence. Such U.S. aims are sure to make for difficult conversations and politics. But the alternative—of a wider war and the indefinite continuation of an unsustainable status quo—would be far more difficult and dangerous….The United States should urge Israel, first in private, then in public if necessary, to orient its policy around building the context for a viable Palestinian partner to emerge over time. By contrast, Israeli policy has, in recent years, seemed intent on undermining the Palestinian Authority so as to be able to say there is no partner for peace. The aim should be to demonstrate that what Hamas offers is a dead end—but also, just as important, that there is a better alternative for those willing to reject violence and accept Israel. That would mean putting sharp limits on settlement activity in the West Bank; articulating final-status principles that would include a Palestinian state; and specifying stringent but still reasonable conditions the Palestinians could meet in order to achieve that aim….Getting there would require a U.S. willingness to take an active hand in the process and show a willingness to state U.S. views publicly, even if it means distancing the United States from Israeli policy. ” And if Biden’s leadership can make a significant contribution to peace in the Middle East, it will provide a boost to his image as the adult in the room when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.

In “The House GOP Is Irretrievably Broken” at The Nation,  Joan Walsh suggests a new approach for Dems: “No Republican is likely to get 217 votes from Republicans only. Everybody in that party hates everybody else, and some of them seem to hate everybody. The next speaker will have to be elected with Democratic votes, perhaps just a handful of moderate defectors. If a GOP candidate gave Democrats some concessions—bigger roles on committees, a way to avert a government shutdown in November, calling off or at least slow-walking the bogus Joe Biden impeachment inquiry—maybe they’d win more than a handful of Democratic votes, but they’d almost certainly lose even more Republicans….I’ve said this many times: In a sane world, reporters and pundits would be hammering Republicans about one solution that should be obvious: that five or so Republicans join all 212 Dems and back Speaker Hakeem Jeffries. People laugh at me when I suggest that, but here’s my point: Of course it’s virtually impossible given the current political gridlock. But it’s not the job of reporters to be cynical and rule out solutions; it’s their job to posit solutions and ask why they’re not on the table….If Republicans do find a sacrificial moderate—some are surfacing Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole, one of McCarthy’s most loyal lieutenants—you’ll hear the pundit class bleating for Democrats to make him speaker. As I was writing, former Meet the Press host David Gregory, now a CNN analyst, proved me right, telling Poppy Harlow: “I actually have my eye on Democrats. How long are Democrats going to stand by in the world of identity politics, and zero-sum politics, and not be part of any solution?” There is not even a GOP speaker nominee yet, but Gregory thinks Democrats are part of the problem anyway….I’ll be here pushing the obvious solution—that some combination of Republicans in districts Biden won and those about to retire break ranks and join Democrats to elect Jeffries as speaker. It’s highly unlikely. But it shouldn’t be. The media has helped create the climate in which it’s unthinkable.”

“Last week, I wrote a column puzzling why no mainstream Democrat is challenging President Biden for the nomination, given the strong demand among Democrats for a different and younger nominee.”  Jonathan Chait writes at New York magazine. “It remains mysterious to me.”….Dan Pfeiffer offers a reasonably strong response that still fails to satisfy my curiosity. Pfeiffer, a former aide to President Obama, argues that the main challengers are largely unknown. Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, Georgia senator Raphael Warnock, and Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker “were mentioned but still have relatively low name ID among the Democratic electorate,” in a CNN poll. He concludes, “a primary challenge would be a massive longshot with potentially devastating consequences for the primary challenger and the incumbent.”….I think that argument may capture why private polls might not show an alternative standing a strong chance to beat Biden. And perhaps it would also explain why challengers have stayed out of the race — if they are surreptitiously taking polls and finding Biden holds a commanding lead, which some insiders have speculated but remains unknown, they would sensibly decide not to run against him….But I think this misunderstands the nature of such a race. Name recognition is extremely important in an ordinary presidential primary. Contested primaries typically involve a lot of candidates, and a big component of winning is getting the media to give you a lot of coverage so voters think of you as a contender. 2020 had an enormous field of contenders, most of whom never received serious coverage…But a race with one main contender against Biden would have a different dynamic. (This assumes the contender had a credible background, such as having won statewide office or some other well-established record.) The campaign would draw a lot of media attention. Name recognition would pretty quickly cease to pose a major obstacle. The question would be whether the candidate could look to Democrats like a better candidate than Biden….Yes, it’s early, and yes, the polling has limited value this far from an election. An improving economy offers a highly plausible scenario for how the dynamic of the race could change for the better….That said, I can’t escape the conclusion that Democrats are treating a highly risky plan as though it were a safe one, locking themselves in to a single-track strategy, and leaving themselves little recourse if the plan falters.”

Harold Meyerson writes in “Investing in Disinvested AmericaThe Biden administration’s manufacturing subsidies are disproportionately flowing to red states and districts” at The American Prospect: “Like Lyndon Johnson once he became president, Joe Biden has deliberately sought to build on Roosevelt’s New Deal legacy. He is surely the most pro-union president since FDR; he is reviving the long-overdue regulation of big business; his social proposals in the Build Back Better bill of paid sick leave, affordable child care, and free community college would have extended the social provisions of the New Deal; and his commitment of funds and tax credits to revive America’s industries and infrastructure has clear echoes of Roosevelt’s public investments….That those commitments of funds also have a specific regional focus, though, isn’t often viewed as a central feature of Bidenomics. A Washington Post article from this August headlined “5 Key Pillars of President Biden’s Economic Revolution” said that the five were: Run the economy hot; Make unions stronger; Revive domestic manufacturing through green energy; Rein in corporate power; and Expand the safety net….,Those are indeed five key Bidenomics pillars. But there’s a sixth, or, at least, a crucial addition to the one about reviving domestic manufacturing: Locating that revival in regions that private capital has long abandoned….I don’t for a moment think that the Biden people believe investments of any size will enable Biden to carry South Carolina, Tennessee, or other solid-red states in 2024. I do think they believe it can help him in swing states like Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina, and add an insurance point or two in a state like Michigan. That said, most of his campaign jaunts have been to states and districts where he can claim credit for a new plant springing up. Even if he’s in the reddest of red states, the thinking goes, his message can seep across state lines and may swing some votes that really matter….By revitalizing communities with the shops and eateries and everything needed to serve a new workforce, these projects, if they continue to spring up as they’ve done so far, can bring new life to Disinvested America. Placed alongside Biden’s pro-union actions, his campaign against monopolies and overpriced medications, his as-yet-unrealized plans to help families navigate child care and sick leave and the costs of college, his resurrection of American industry and the places from which it fled affords him just one more way he can answer the question of Which Side Are You On….Biden has yet to convince most Americans—especially those whose local economies will benefit the most from those policies—that he is, in fact, very much on their side. His resurrection of American manufacturing comes with no guarantee of electoral success. But in its long-term effect on American well-being, as Biden once famously said, it’s a big fuckin’ deal.”

Political Strategy Notes

As Democrats ponder the political consequences of RFK, Jr.’s decision to run for President as an Independent, Amanda Marcotte riffs on the topic at Salon, and writes: “Could Kennedy pull votes away from Trump? Trump’s campaign team certainly seems to think so, at least according to Shelby Talcott at Semafor. She reports that “internal campaign polling suggests his expected third party bid could draw more votes from Trump than President Joe Biden in a general election.” In their typical self-aggrandizing style, a Trump campaign member told Semafor they plan on “dropping napalm after napalm on his head reminding the public of his very liberal views.”….They may find that this is a more difficult task than their belligerent rhetoric suggests. Because the slice of voters Trump and Kennedy could be competing over aren’t defined by political beliefs that map neatly onto concepts like “liberal” or “conservative.”….Right now, polling data is all over the place on whether Kennedy would be a spoiler for Trump or Biden….As voters learn more, Kennedy’s almost certainly going to lose his already weak Democratic support while turning a few heads among Republican voters, especially the 25% who are QAnoners. The party leadership on both sides seems to get this. It’s why Democrats are shrugging Kennedy off, while the RNC sent out a panicked email titled, “23 Reasons to Oppose RFK Jr.” It’s possible that Kennedy’s campaign will offset whatever damage Cornell West’s Independent run may do to Democratic prospects. But it’s also possible that RFK could end up hurting Democrats more than helping them. Harry Enten reports a CNN Politics that “A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted this past week among likely voters finds former President Donald Trump at 40%, Biden at 38% and Kennedy at 14% in a hypothetical November 2024 matchup. The 2-point difference between Biden and Trump looks a lot like other surveys we’ve seen and is well within the margin of error.”

Ali Swenson shares some similar observations at apnews.com: “Republicans attacked Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Monday as the longtime environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist launched an independent bid for the White House, reflecting growing concerns on the right that the former Democrat now threatens to take votes from former President Donald Trump in 2024….“Voters should not be deceived by anyone who pretends to have conservative values,” said Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung in a statement. He labeled Kennedy’s campaign “nothing more than a vanity project for a liberal Kennedy looking to cash in on his family’s name.”….Kennedy, a member of one of the most famous families in Democratic politics, was running a long-shot primary bid and holds better favorability ratings among Republicans than Democrats. Even Trump just two weeks ago said of Kennedy, “I like him a lot. I’ve known him for a long time.”….Aware of the risk that Kennedy could pull votes away from Republicans, Trump allies have begun circulating opposition research against Kennedy designed to damage his standing among would-be conservative supporters….The Republican National Committee published a fact sheet before Kennedy’s speech titled “Radical DEMOCRAT RFK Jr.” that lists times he supported liberal politicians or ideas. The document also listed times he supported conspiracy theories about COVID-19 or “stolen-election claims” related to the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections that Democrats lost to President George W. Bush….Polls show far more Republicans than Democrats have a favorable opinion of Kennedy. He also has gained support from some far-right conservatives for his fringe views, including his vocal distrust of COVID-19 vaccines, which studies have shown are safe and effective against severe disease and death.”

The ever-quotable Norman Ornstein, emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has a few choice words about the G.O.P.’s growing inability to govern, cross-posted here from “‘What Is Broken in American Politics Is the Republican Party” at Politico: “It has been clear for some years that what is broken in American politics is the Republican Party. The roots go back for decades — starting with Newt Gingrich’s arrival in the House in 1979. But the current chaos was triggered, ironically, by the self-proclaimed “Young Guns” — Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy — when they went around the country in 2009 recruiting tea party radicals, exploiting their anger after the financial collapse and the backlash against Barack Obama, promising to blow up the establishment in Washington with the hopes that they could use that anger to catapult themselves into the majority. Their expectation was that once these tea party radicals were in the House, they could co-opt them. Instead, of course, they were co-opted. John Boehner was the first victim of the Young Guns, but now all three of the Guns have been shot down by their own gang. Cantor lost his seat to a tea party radical; Ryan suffered the same fate as speaker as John Boehner, forced to leave by the radical right. And now McCarthy, the last one standing, has been taken out by the same forces in an even more dramatic manner….Donald Trump was in some ways a logical extension of the nihilistic, radical politics that emerged in the two decades before his emergence as a presidential candidate and president. But he was an accelerant, not the cause. The GOP transformation into a radical cult was there before he became its leader, and was itself shaped and incited by the rise of tribal media and social media, and advanced by gerrymandering and other political tools that insulated a minority in the country from the consequences of their radical statements and actions. McCarthy paid the price — but we will all pay a heavier price with an ungovernable House dominated by a lunatic fringe that is now at the center of the GOP.”

Substack star and Boston College historian Heather Cox Richardson offers some insights about President Biden that Democrats may find encouraging, amid all the handwringing about his age and competency, quoted here from “‘An end of American democracy’: Heather Cox Richardson on Trump’s historic threat” by David Smith at The Guardian: “I was not a Biden supporter, to be honest. I thought we needed somebody new and much more aggressive, and yet I completely admit I was wrong because he has, first of all, a very deep understanding of foreign affairs, which I tended to denigrate….“I thought in 2020 that was not going to matter and could I have been more wrong? I think not. That really mattered and continues to matter in that one of the reasons Republicans are backing off of Ukraine right now is that they recognise, for all that it’s not hitting the United States newspapers, Ukraine is actually making important gains. A win from the Ukrainians would really boost Biden’s re-election and the Republicans recognise that and are willing to scuttle that so long as it means they can regain power here. His foreign affairs understanding has been been key….“The other thing about Biden is his extraordinary skill at dealmaking has made this domestic administration the most effective since at least the Great Society and probably the New Deal. You think about the fact that Trump could never get infrastructure through Congress, even though everybody wanted it….“The question going into 2024 is: will people understand that Biden has created a government that does work for the people? Whether or not you like its policies personally, he is trying to use that government to meet the needs of the people in a way that the Republicans haven’t done since 1981. He is a transformative president….”

Political Strategy Notes

In his article, “What this year’s labor strikes mean for America’s working class” at The Hill, Andy Levin, distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, adds clarity to current reporting about the dramatic increase in labor union strikes and other organized worker actions. As Levin writes, “It wasn’t too long ago that a working-class job, meant a middle-class life….  I grew up in Michigan in the 1970s, when some of us went off to college but many more went straight into factories, construction and other industries. My friends’ working-class jobs provided a type of stability and security that feels elusive in 2023….Even if there was only one parent working outside the home, families owned their houses. There was plenty of food. Health insurance covered illness or injury without the threat of bankruptcy. Our parents could buy us a bike and maybe even take us “Up North” on a little vacation. … But now, in Michigan and throughout the country, the type of working-class prosperity that surrounded me as a kid exists mostly in the memories of people my age or older….In the 20th century world I was born into, the American labor movement showed we could build a relatively inclusive economy in which work really paid by giving voice and power to workers in construction, manufacturing, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, transit, trucking and more. And while that world has eroded, now, in 2023, workers across the economy are showing us that this can be our future again.” Levin notes the impressive gains UPS Teamsters made as “the largest group of working people under one contract” and adds ‘Simply put, the UPS employees’ win for themselves provides a boost to the whole working class….Now, the UAW is building on this momentum….Poll after poll shows that despite potential disruptions in auto production, Americans are siding with the UAW rank and file….Whether you are a member of an established union at GM or fighting to create a new one at REI, you are amplifying the same question: Can we have livable jobs in America in the 2020s?….Until we update our laws to guarantee that workers who form a union can get a fair contract within a half year or so, we will not be able to rebuild the middle class in this country.” And therein lies a great unmet and almost unarticulated challenge for Democrats in congress and state legislatures — to become increasingly visible advocates for worker rights and better living standards, and to promote labor unions as the most effective vehicle for improving the living standards of America’s working-class.

Levin concludes, “Labor economists can tell you that many jobs will continue to require high school plus an apprenticeship, short-term credential or on-the-job training. We must help students and workers get the training and credentials they need to do the work of advanced manufacturing, information technology and more. But we must also organize society so that work really pays, including for the huge number of people who will devote themselves skillfully to jobs across multiple sectors that don’t require college degrees…. This is what the UAW strike is really about. Through unions, workers can create an America that more closely resembles the shared prosperity of my childhood than the “trickle down” world my children have inherited. All the rank and file are asking for is solidly middle-class wages, good benefits, dignified retirement and the sanity of regular and predictable hours like the people I grew up with had. Union workers built the middle class in the 20th century, and they are the best people to rebuild it in the 21st.” Democrats should also remember that their fate is much  intertwined with the survival and growth of a more organized labor force. Unions not only provide Democratic candidates with needed funds for their campaigns; they also provide an enormous pool of campaign volunteers, who help promote Democratic candidates and get out the vote. That’s why Republicans have put so much energy into weakening and destroying unions, in addition to their donors’ desire to keep wages low. Also, labor unions create community among working people, places and occasions to gather, to affirm their solidarity and visibility as creative and effective advocates for a better society.

But here and there, local Democratic groups have done an exceptionally-good job of spotlighting worker rights.  As Erik Gunn reports in “Democrats push an agenda to restore worker rights” at the Wisconsin Examiner, “Flanked by a phalanx of union members in trades ranging from carpentry to teaching, Democrats in the Legislature rolled out a 10-bill collection Thursday to enshrine workers’ rights in state law after a decade and a half of measures rolling back those rights….“The people of our country are rising up and standing together to demand better wages, benefits, treatment and a higher quality of life,” said Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) at a news conference to announce the initiative….She pointed to union organizing, activism and contract fights at Colectivo and Starbucks coffee shops, Leinenkugel brewery and UPS as well as the prospect of a looming job action by the UAW in the auto industry….“Right now, union popularity is soaring, with seven out of 10 Americans having a positive view of labor unions, because labor unions are getting real results that improve both the economic and safety conditions for the workers they represent,” Shankland said….“As our state continues to grapple with a historic worker shortage, putting forward pro-worker policies is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. We know that pro-worker legislation will help us recruit and retain the skilled workforce needed for our workers, businesses, economies and communities to thrive.”….With Republicans holding a supermajority in the Senate and just a few seats shy of that number in the Assembly, Shankland acknowledged the difficulty of advancing the measures, but said she wasn’t giving up on getting bipartisan support for at least some of the agenda….In an interview, she asserted that data shows the Walker-era laws harming workers’ rights have also harmed the economy….“We know we have a demographic issue in Wisconsin — our workforce is aging,” Shankland said.  “And we believe that the key to the workforce shortage is treating workers with the dignity and respect they deserve and have earned through their loyalty and hard work and productivity.”

Democrats should also champion worker rights as a top priority for endorsing Supreme Court and appeals court nominees.  The way it is now, the public hears very little about the views of court nominees regarding worker and union rights, even though adults spend half their waking lives, five days a week, on the job. We hear plenty about potential high court nominees and judge appointee records and views regarding abortion, affirmative action, LGBTQ rights, the environment and a broad range of social issues. Think of all the media coverage in recent years about whether or not a baker had to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple vs. how little media attention was provided to any worker rights cases. A lot of this falls on the failure of the press to provide adequate coverage of worker rights cases. But it’s nonetheless up to Democrats and Democratic office-holders to help raise awareness of worker rights issues to the point where big media can no longer ignore job-related issues. As Eve Tahmincioglu, Celine McNicholas, and Daniel Costa report at The Economic Policy Institute, “The Supreme Court has played an important role in the decades-long campaign to erode workers’ rights in this country. In particular, the Supreme Court has issued rulings that have undermined everything from workers’ rights to form unions, the ability to build strong unions, and health and safety on the job. This term, the Supreme Court once again sided with corporations in Glacier Northwest v. Teamsters to make it easier for employers to sue unions over their decision to strike.” Compare the media coverage of this case with the aforementioned cake case. The E.P.I. article provides details about important worker rights rulings that got very little big media coverage. With disapproval of the Supreme Court at an historic high, wouldn’t now be a good time for Democrats to make a loud case for a more worker-friendly Supreme Court?

Stalking Persuadable Voters

The best election campaigns do a good job of both turning out supporters and winning over a healthy share of “persuadable” voters.

Turnout is more of a science – good campaigns know where most of their supporters are and take tried and true steps to get them to the polls. It’s not an exact science, since people keep moving and changing their minds, and sometimes it’s not enough. But you can’t win an election without a solid turnout effort, unless your candidate is a really good one.

Persuasion, on the other hand, is more of an art. there are some tried and true rules for winning hearts and minds. But they don’t always work as planned, either, and these voters can be found in many demographic groups. Yet no campaigns win important elections without persuading a significant number of previously uncommitted voters to support their candidates.

America is so polarized now, that even identifying persuadable voting groups is increasingly difficult.  At The Wall St. Journal, Aaron Zitner and Kara Dapena share some interesting statistics about persuadable voters in their graph-rich article, “A Quarter of Americans Can’t Decide Whom to Vote For. What Do We Know About Them?” including:

….most voters say their choice for president is already settled, if their options are Biden and Trump. That leaves a small but meaningful share of voters, 26%, as “up for grabs,” or persuadable. And these voters are conflicted: They don’t think Biden is doing a good job but dislike some of Trump’s personal qualities. They have a sour view of the economy but favor abortion rights. The findings give clues to how each party will try to reach these voters in the coming months.

The persuadable voters have a negative view of both Biden and Trump, more so than do the rest of the electorate. Some 70% have an unfavorable view of Biden, and 74% have an unfavorable view of Trump….Biden faces a number of challenges in winning over these voters. Only 29% approve of his job performance. Two-thirds say the economy has gotten worse during his time in office, and few say he has handled economic issues well.

Trump also faces hurdles: The persuadable voters favor abortion rights, which many states rescinded or scaled back after Trump’s Supreme Court nominees helped overturn Roe v. Wade. These voters disapprove of GOP efforts to move toward impeaching Biden, and they think Trump took illegal steps to hold on to power after losing the 2020 election.

Zitner and Dapena note also that “these persuadable voters, as a group, are not driven by the liberal or conservative ideology, with 39% identifying as ideologically moderate….They are also sour about the state of the nation, with only about 11% thinking the country is going in the right direction.”

The 26 percent persuadable figure is a lot larger than I would have guesstimated. Perhaps the volume of partisan voters is so loud and amplified beyond measure in big media that their numbers are overestimated. Meanwhile, quiet, more persuadable voters may be keeping their powder dry until the closing weeks of the election.

In any case, 13 months out from the presidential election, Democrats still have plenty of room for improving their turnout and persuasion efforts.

Political Strategy Notes

At The Washingtonian, Hunter Spears interviews Ron Elving, American University professor and a Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, who explains “Don’t Worry, Trump Isn’t Going to Become the Next Speaker of the House. Probably!“: “Article 1 [of the Constitution] says, “the House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” That’s the only guidance we get. It doesn’t say [the Speaker] has to be a member, but I think it’s just a presumption that it would be. But, in all the rules that Congress has adopted in 200 and some years, they’ve never specified that the speaker had to be a member of the House….It’s like the pope being a Catholic—I’m not sure that there’s anything in the Vatican’s protocols that says “oh and by the way, the pope should be a Catholic.” It’s not like they’re just going to pick Taylor Swift, it has to be a cardinal!….Trump would have to get virtually all the Republicans on board for that, and I could see getting half or two-thirds if some of them hold their nose—but not all. Some may not want to anger the Trump supporters in their districts, but there are 20-some Republicans from districts that actually voted for Biden….I don’t think the average Republican wants to play a hand in giving Trump the power to shut down the government. Even if all of them did back him, their majority is so slim it’s almost a non-majority. If an elevator door didn’t open or a taxi driver got lost, they might not get the votes….At the end of our conversation, Elving suggested we take a look at clause 10 (b) of rule XXIII in the official Rules of the House of Representatives. The clause reads:

a member … who has been indicted for or otherwise formally charged with criminal conduct in any Federal, State, or local court punishable as a felony for which a sentence of two or more years’ imprisonment may be imposed should … step aside from any conference leadership position until judicial or executive proceedings result in an acquittal or the charges are dismissed or reduced.

So if Republicans did want Trump as speaker, they might have to address the above first.” So, probably not gonna happen. And that’s actually a little good news for Republicans, who would have an even tougher time of being taken seriously as adults going into 2024 with the Trump follies running the House.

The other Fantasy Island scenario I’ve heard being bandied about is the Democrats, plus a very small handful of Republican House members electing Liz Cheney as the next Speaker. It’s a lovely thought, which would call attention to the GOP’s embarrassing character problem, which is one reason why it probably won’t happen. Being sane and having some integrity, Cheney likely wouldn’t want the job. Would you want to spend the next couple of years herding bellowing and whiny Republicans into a working majority? Plus, there is a high probability that the next speaker will also get canned in short order, given the belligerent nihilism of the MAGA crowd. And there is close to a zero chance that the House will pass any legislation that gives the Republicans any bragging rights. Not a lot of upside for Ms. Cheney, who currently enjoys the respect of millions of Americans across the political spectrum. Why trade that to front for the worst shite show in U.S. political history? Worry more about her running for president than speaker. At NBC News, Scott Wong and Sahil Kapur have a little roundup of some more realistic possibilities for the next Speaker, including: Majority Leader Steve Scalise; Majority whip Tom Emmer; Garret Graves; Patrick Henry; Elise Stefanik; Jim Jordan; Tom Cole and a few wild cards. Most of them are Trump grovelers and it’s hard to envision the Republicans emerging from this debacle with a modicum of dignity that will earn the respect of swing voters. Still, Democrats would be wise to plan strategy around one of them getting the Speaker’s gavel. And dare we hope that this sorry affair may help Dems win a House majority next year?

J. Miles Coleman of Sabato’s Crystal Ball offers some astute observation of the GOP House meltdown, including: “We doubt there is much actual political fallout here, but one thing to monitor going forward is how much more dysfunctional the House becomes. The chances of a shutdown, which McCarthy narrowly avoided thanks to Democratic votes over the weekend, just shot up, as we are going to be doing the shutdown dance again in November and the new GOP speaker (assuming there is one) may need to take a harder line in an attempt to satiate his most insatiable members. It may be that this speaker gets a reprieve from some of the hardliners simply because he or she is not McCarthy. Democrats, meanwhile, declined to throw McCarthy a lifeline during the motion to vacate, opting en masse to vote with the Republican rebels. The Democrats seemed legitimately angry at McCarthy for offering them less than nothing for their support, which he clearly needed (or he just needed some Democrats to vote present on the motion to vacate, allowing loyal Republicans to deliver a majority of those voting)….Democrats also will likely relish the continued turbulence on the Republican side. That said, there are risks to them, too. Yes, it would probably be easy to blame Republicans for a future shutdown, but an extended one that has an impact on the economy could have repercussions for the president, too….One final point: Despite his rocky rise to the top and short tenure as Speaker, McCarthy had been a prodigious fundraiser for House Republicans. Over the last several cycles, Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC he was aligned with, emerged as one of the most formidable outside spending groups in House races. With McCarthy out, there may be some negative effects on GOP fundraising.”

Meanwhile, Cooper Burton reports that “The Supreme Court starts its new term with dismal approval ratings” at FiveThirtyEight: “Numbers from a new average we built (similar to our presidential approval tracker) to track approval of the Supreme Court over time show that the court remains extremely unpopular with the American public: At the time of publication, an average of 38 percent of Americans approved of the job the Supreme Court is doing while 54 percent disapproved, for an average net approval rating of -16 percentage points. (Be on the lookout for a full launch of the tracker soon.)….The court’s net approval rating at the beginning of September was the lowest since our tracker began in December 2020. Other metrics besides approval, like favorability and confidence, have also registered record lows. In a Pew Research survey from July, the court’s favorability was the lowest since they began asking the question back in 1987. And 62 percent of adults in an April Marist/NPR/PBS NewsHour poll said that they had not very much or no confidence at all in the Supreme Court….some of the justices themselves have expressed concern over both the perception and reality of the court’s ideological divides. Add that to the steady stream of ethics scandals that have continued to trickle out since April, and you get the recipe for an unhappy public — in our average, the court’s net approval rating has fallen 17 points since it began releasing the biggest opinions of the term in May, despite the data showing public agreement with most of those decisions.” Democrats should keep pointing out that this is a Republican-dominated Supreme Court, and Republicans violated long-standing Senate agreements so they could pack the Court. The most realistic way to change it is to elect a landslide Democratic majority next year – one which can implement reforms to restore the Supreme Court’s credibility.

Political Strategy Notes

Manu Raju, Lauren Fox and Melanie Zanona report “House Democrats weigh risky strategy: Whether to save McCarthy” at CNN Politics, and write: “While no decisions have been made, some of the party’s moderates are privately signaling they’d be willing to cut a deal to help McCarthy stave off a right-wing revolt – as long as the speaker meets their own demands….Publicly, Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries has not weighed in on how he’d want his members to manage a challenge to McCarthy’s speakership, saying it’s hypothetical at this point. But privately, Jeffries has counseled his members to keep their powder dry, according to multiple sources, a recognition it’s better for Democrats to keep their options open as the government funding fight plays outs.…“If somehow Democrats are asked to be helpful, it’s not just going to have to be out of the kindness of our hearts,” Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan, told CNN. “If Kevin can’t govern with just his part – which clearly he can’t – and he wants to have a conversation with us about how to do that, we are going to have a policy conversation.”….members who spoke to CNN made clear that any Democratic help would come at a cost. And their asking price for saving his speakership, Democratic members say, is a bipartisan deal to avoid a shutdown – a route McCarthy is not yet prepared to take, as Republicans are still trying to find consensus on a GOP plan to fund the government.” Um, Kevin, beggars can’t be choosers. “It’s a complicated dance for Democrats, who don’t want to be seen as saving McCarthy – especially after he just launched an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden – and could open them up to backlash on the left. But some Democrats also fear the potential alternative: a government shutdown and the prospect of an even more right-wing lawmaker ascending to the speakership if McCarthy is ousted – or the House being paralyzed with no candidate able to win 218 votes to be elected speaker.”

In “Is American Polarization a Reality or a Political Strategy?,” Carl Smith interviews Rachel Kleinfeld at governing.com and shares some of her comments in response to his questions: “Carnegie has just published a paper from [Rachel] Kleinfeld, Polarization, Democracy, and Political Violence in the United States: What the Research Says. It offers a detailed view of research on polarization, and what has been learned about the interplay between public attitudes, politics and political violence….“Americans are not as ideologically polarized as they believe themselves to be,” she finds, but emotions are being polarized for political purposes, leading to new levels of threats against state and local officials. “That makes it even more pertinent to get a handle on what’s going on and what we can do about it,” Kleinfeld says….”Party leaders have been selecting more extreme candidates for some time now — Democrats by maybe two to one and Republicans by a 13 to one margin, according to one study. Party leadership is playing a big role in how extreme our candidates are getting ideologically….Some of us are looking at things like getting rid of primaries and having ranked-choice voting, the way they’ve done it in Alaska, to create incentives for people to run in a less extreme way. Other academics are looking at things like proportional representation to try to get extremes out of politics….Threats are getting severe enough that they are deterring people from taking elected and appointed jobs, especially things like school board and city council, the grass roots that we need to function. We can’t run a democracy if good people don’t run for office.”

From “The GOP’s arsonists lost on the shutdown, but they’re not going away” by WaPo columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr.: “If anyone doubts which party is extreme and which favors bipartisan accord, the roll call on McCarthy’s resolution provided a resounding data point. Even as their party’s speaker sought the two-thirds majority he needed in this last-minute process, only 126 Republicans voted with him; 90 voted no. Among Democrats, the vote was 209-1….None of which bodes well for the next 45 days, and not just because some way must be found to finance aid to Ukraine, left out of the resolution. Democrats remain angry that McCarthy broke the deal he reached with Biden earlier this year during debt ceiling negotiations. That deal, too, was passed with more Democratic than Republican votes. McCarthy effectively rewrote the deal on Saturday, saying he viewed those numbers as a ceiling and would seek further cuts. The country could face this crisis again….“There will not be a lot of Democrats eager to rescue a guy who broke his deal with Biden and is currently trying to impeach him,” [Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim] Himes said in an interview. But if McCarthy were willing to share power with Democrats, they “might be open to negotiating” to contain the far right….“We’re the party that fights chaos,” he added….It’s notable that Biden gave his democracy speech in Arizona in honor of the late Sen. John McCain, a Republican who always defended the idea of putting country over party — and who was hated by Trump. Biden spoke of the danger posed by those who would “shut down the government” and “burn the place down.”….On Saturday, enough House Republicans joined their party colleagues in the Senate and Democrats to keep the arsonists at bay. Given Trump’s hold on the party, alas, there are few signs that this will become a habit.”

Disagree if you must, but Paul Rosenberg has an eloquent scold for some progressive Democrats in his article, “Leftists, save yourselves! It’s a bad moment for nihilistic self-indulgence; The far-left bromance with RFK Jr. is only helping Trump. Remember how left-wing purity worked out in the 1930s?” at Salon. As Rosenberg writes, “There’s a vast range of legitimate political choices leftists can make, to be clear. I think it’s generally a bad idea for folks on the left to attack one another over strategic differences. We need strategic and ideological diversity, and we need to welcome and engage profound disagreements — that’s healthy. But it’s simply bad faith to call yourself a “leftist” while, in practical terms, you’re working to sabotage decades of hard-won, partial progress and allow fascists to win….Of course Biden is no leftist, and his party remains largely terrified of the left. But there’s more space for real progressives in the Democratic Party than there has been for decades. More to the point, it’s the only vehicle we have to get certain things done: That’s why Bernie Sanders has caucused with the Democrats throughout his career in the House and Senate, while remaining an independent….I’m completely fine with people who devote 99% of their political energy attacking Democrats from the left on climate, prison abolition, militarism, class politics, you name it. But set aside that crucial 1%, because sometimes (indeed, pretty often) you need to vote for Democrats in order to keep Republicans out of office and create space for all the other battles we need to fight. That’s my minimum standard for the non-suicidal left. Almost everything else is up for grabs….My first rule of thumb is not to echo right-wing tropes or draw on their deeper narratives or worldviews. It’s tempting to take advantage of supposedly popular images, ideas or themes, but we need to be hyper-vigilant about not empowering the right, particularly when the right’s counter-mobilization against social progress has gained so much strength on its own.”

Political Strategy Notes

New York Times opinion essayist Thomas B. Edsall sent out a nine-pack of questions to “political operatives, pollsters and political scientists” and shares some of the responses he received. First some of his observations: “Why should Democrats be worrying?…From 2016 to 2023, according to Morning Consult, the share of voters saying that the Democratic Party “cares about me” fell to 41 percent from 43 percent while rising for the Republican Party to 39 percent from 30 percent; the share saying the Democrats “care about the middle class” fell to 46 percent from 47 percent while rising to 42 percent from 33 percent for the Republican Party….What’s more, the percentage of voters saying the Democratic Party is “too liberal” rose to 47 percent from 40 percent from 2020 to 2023 while the percentage saying the Republican Party was “too conservative” remained constant at 38 percent….Why should Republicans be worrying?….Robert M. Stein, a political scientist at Rice, responded to my question about MAGA turnout by email: “Turnout among MAGA supporters may be less important than how many MAGA voters there are in the 2024 election and in which states they are.”….One of the most distinctive demographic characteristics of self-identified MAGA voters, Stein pointed out, “is their age: Over half (56 percent) were over the age of 65 as of 2020. By 2024, the proportion of MAGA voters over 70 will be greater than 50 percent and will put these voters in the likely category of voters leaving the electorate, dying, ill and unable to vote.”

Drilling down on demographic change, Edsall writes: “Because of these trends, Stein continued, “it may be the case that the absolute number and share of the electorate that are MAGA voters is diluted in 2024 by their own exit from the electorate and the entry of new and younger and non-MAGA voters.”…Along similar lines, Martin Wattenberg, a political scientist at the University of California, Irvine, argued by email that generational change will be a key factor in the elections….From 2020 to 2024, “about 13 million adult citizens will have died,” and “these lost voters favored Trump in 2020 by a substantial margin. My rough estimate is that removing these voters from the electorate will increase Biden’s national popular vote margin by about 1.2 million votes.”….The aging of the electorate works to the advantage of Biden and his fellow Democrats. So, too, does what is happening with younger voters at the other end of the age distribution. Here, Democrats have an ace in the hole: the strong liberal and Democratic convictions of voters ages 18 to 42, whose share of the electorate is steadily growing.” And the issues embraced by surging younger voters favor Democrats. As Edsall notes, ”

Don’t forget Gen Z. They are on fire. Unlike you and me, who dove under our school desks in nuclear attack drills but never experienced a nuclear attack, this generation spent their entire school lives doing mass shooting drills and witnessing a mass shooting at a school in the news regularly.

Young voters, Trippi continued, “are not going to vote G.O.P., and they are going to vote. Dobbs, climate, homophobia, gun violence are all driving this generation away from the G.O.P. — in much the same way that Dems lost the younger generation during the Reagan years.”

Edsall notes lots of anxiety about potential 3rd party effects: “Paul Begala, a Democratic political operative and CNN contributor, wrote by email:

Please allow me to start with what to me is the most critical variable in the 2024 presidential election: Will Dr. Cornel West’s Green Party candidacy swing the election to Donald Trump? If I were working for the Biden-Harris ticket, that’s what would keep me up at night.

In Begala’s opinion, “Dr. West has more charisma, better communications skills and greater potential appeal than Dr. Jill Stein did in 2016. If, in fact, he is able to garner even 2 to 5 percent, that could doom Biden and the country.”….And that, Begala continued, does not “even take into account a potential centrist candidacy under the No Labels banner. Biden won moderates by a 30-point margin (64 to 34), and 38 percent of all voters described themselves as moderate in 2020. If No Labels were to field a viable, centrist candidate, that, too, would doom Biden.” Also, “Norman Ornstein, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, agreed, arguing that third-party candidates are a “huge issue”:

The role of No Labels and, secondarily, of Cornel West: They could be genuine spoilers here. And that is their goal. Harlan Crow and other right-wing billionaires did not give big bucks to No Labels to create more moderate politics and outcomes.

Edsall sees media coverage as a potential wild card of considerable consequence. “One source of uncertainty is the media, which can and often does play a key role in setting the campaign agenda. The contest between Hillary Clinton and Trump is a prime example….In the aftermath of the 2016 election, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard conducted a study, summarized in “Partisanship, Propaganda, & Disinformation: Online Media & the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.” It found that reporting on Clinton was dominated “by coverage of alleged improprieties associated with the Clinton Foundation and emails.”….According to the study, the press, television and online media devoted more space and time to Clinton’s emails than it did to the combined coverage of Trump’s taxes, his comments about women, his failed “university,” his foundation and his campaign’s dealings with Russia….In the run-up to 2024, it is unlikely the media could inflict much more damage on Trump, given that the extensive coverage of the 91 felony counts against him has not seemed to affect his favorable or unfavorable rating….Biden, in contrast, has much more to gain or lose from media coverage. Will it focus on his age or his legislative and policy achievements? On inflation and consumer costs or economic growth and high employment rates? On questions about his ability to complete a second term or the threats to democracy posed by the ascendant right wing of the Republican Party?”