washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

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

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

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

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

Political Strategy Notes

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

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

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

Table 1: States where Republicans overperform in House

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

Political Strategy Notes

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

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

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

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

Political Strategy Notes

At The Washington Monthly, Bill Scher outlines “The Voting Rights Package That Can Pass the Senate: A plan that can get past Joe Manchin, the Republicans, and still help voters.” As Scher writes, “The 72-year-old West Virginian made a big mistake when he drafted his compromise bill by himself, then sprung it on the rest of Congress, without any Republicans buying in ahead of time. So when Stacey Abrams announced she supported Manchin’s proposal, Republicans unfairly—perhaps blinkered by racism—presumed it was a raw deal. Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt was, well, blunt: “When Stacey Abrams immediately endorsed Senator Manchin’s proposal, it became the Stacey Abrams substitute, not the Joe Manchin substitute.”….A compact bill, prioritizing a few measures with distinct appeal to both parties, would be more likely to produce a bipartisan breakthrough. I would suggest a three-pronged bill.” Scher goes on to flesh out the three elements he thinks could get traction: Require voter i.d.; “enfranchise non-incarcerated felons and ex-felons; and tougher penalties and measures to insure a “fair and impartially conducted election process.” Read Scher’s article for more details.

In her article, “We Just Got Our Clearest Picture Yet Of How Biden Won In 2020,” Danielle Kurtzleben writes at npr.org: “We know that President Biden won the 2020 election (regardless of what former President Donald Trump and his allies say). We just haven’t had a great picture of howBiden won….That is until Wednesday, when we got the clearest data yet on how different groups voted, and crucially, how those votes shifted from 2016. The Pew Research Center just released its validated voters’ report, considered a more accurate measure of the electorate than exit polls, which have the potential for significant inaccuracies….The new Pew data shows that shifts among suburban voters, white men and independents helped Biden win in November, even while white women and Hispanics swung toward Trump from 2016 to 2020….To compile the data, Pew matches up survey respondents with state voter records. Those voter files do not say how a person voted, but they do allow researchers to be sure that a person voted, period. That helps with accuracy, eliminating the possibility of survey respondents overreporting their voting activity. In addition, the Pew study uses large samples of Americans — more than 11,000 people in 2020.

Among “the big takeaways” Kurtzleben cites: “While Pew found Trump winning the suburbs by 2 points in 2016, Biden won them by 11 points in 2020, a 13-point overall swing. Considering that the suburbs accounted for just over half of all voters, it was a big demographic win for Biden….That said, Trump gained in both rural and urban areas. He won 65% of rural voters, a 6-point jump from 2016. And while cities were still majority-Democratic, his support there jumped by 9 points, to 33%….In 2020, men were nearly evenly split, with 48% choosing Biden to Trump’s 50%. That gap shrank considerably from 2016, when Trump won men by 11 points. In addition, this group that swung away from Trump grew as a share of the electorate from 2016 — signaling that in a year with high turnout, men’s turnout grew more. White men were a big part of the swing toward Biden. In 2016, Trump won white men by 30 points. In 2020, he won them again, but by a substantially slimmer 17 points….in 2016, white women were split 47% to 45%, slightly in Trump’s favor but not a majority….This year, however, it appears that Trump did win a majority of white women. Pew found that 53% of white women chose Trump this year, up by 6 points from 2016….Black voters didn’t shift significantly from 2016. They remained Democratic stalwarts, with 92% choosing Biden — barely changed from four years earlier. Nearly three-quarters of Asian voters also voted for Biden, along with 6 in 10 Hispanic voters….”

Charlie Cook explains why “Biden Is on a Political Ledge With Transportation, Crime” at The Cook Political Report: “As this column pointed out earlier this week, with the economy firing on all eight cylinders, the purpose of this legislation has changed from shoring up and stimulating growth to the substance of the measure itself—the long-ignored and deteriorating transportation systems, as well as water and sewer lines and expanding broadband….The danger for House Democrats and the left is that if the party is seen as holding hostage much needed deferred maintenance on our infrastructure in order to advance their green climate change and social welfare agenda items, that could be a sticky problem in competitive districts and states, especially those with large suburban populations. Of course those pushing hardest for the green and social programs are those from the safest of districts and states, so they tend to be less cognizant or appreciative of the political danger….The other political move by Biden this week was his Wednesday speech on the uptick in violent crime and what can be done about it. The address was a tacit acknowledgement that law and order did pop up as a reason for some swing voters to take an unexpected detour away from the Democratic ticket in the closing weeks of the campaign. Since the 1960s, in fact, Democrats have often been perceived as “soft on crime.”….Last fall’s challenge for Democrats was less the straightforward issue of crime on the streets but of lawlessness in the streets, when in quite a few cities peaceful and lawful protests spun out of control. Republicans were able to raise enough questions in swing voters minds that Democrats could not be trusted to preserve order.”

Political Strategy Notes

In “Redistricting Holds Key to House Majority” at The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter writes: “Since the end of the Civil War, the party holding the White House has lost House seats in 36 out of the 39 midterm elections. Then there’s the fact that midterm elections are almost always referenda on the incumbent president, even more so when a party bears full responsibility for governing….President Biden’s job approval rating at this point sits at 52 percent. The good news for Democrats: he’s above water. The bad news for Democrats: this may be his high watermark. Even as Biden has presided over a successful roll-out of the COVID vaccine and a re-opening of the economy, support among independent voters is tepid. At the same time, approval among Republicans is pretty much non-existent. In other words, if this is where Biden’s job approval sits when things are going relatively well, and his administration hasn’t made obvious fumbles, it’s hard to see how his job approval ratings can go much higher in these next few months. Plus, it’s easy to see how a mediocre or troublesome next year can easily drag those approval ratings down….

Walter notes, further, that “we have no idea if the surge of voters we saw flood into polling places in 2018 and 2020 will remain engaged in politics now that Donald Trump is no longer on the ballot or in the White House. Moreover, writes demographic guru Ron Brownstein, more Democrats than Republicans turned out to vote in the Trump era, giving Democrats a bigger pool of potential voters to turnout in 2022.” However, “In 2021, the GOP will control the remapping process in 20 states with 187 districts, while Democrats will be able to draw the map in 8 states with 75 districts. Independent commissions will draw maps in 10 states with 121 districts. Just six states with 46 districts have split control….Republicans control line drawing in twice as many districts as Democrats. There’s also the fact that maps drawn by “independent commissions” like those in Ohio, New York, Utah and Iowa can be overturned by a vote of the state legislature. Only New York has a Democratic-controlled legislature and governor.” Walter concludes, “Traditionally, a midterm election is driven by two major factors — the political environment and opinions about the sitting president. This year, however, it is redistricting that is likely to be the most significant. In fact, until we know what the new lines are going to look like, discussions about Biden’s approval ratings, the political climate, or the makeup of the electorate are pointless.”

“A Gallup poll earlier this year also found that only 27 percent of Americans were satisfied with the nation’s policies to reduce or control crime, and that 65 percent were dissatisfied,” Nathaniel Rakich writes at FiveThirtyEight. “That’s a big change from 2020, when 47 percent were satisfied and 49 percent were dissatisfied….Altogether, this has sparked a narrative that the rise in violent crime poses a political problem for Democrats, who are the ruling party and also traditionally perceived as softer on crime. But at this point, it’s not really clear that the crime issue will hurt Democrats and anti-police progressives politically. For starters, Americans are actually pretty divided on what the best solution to stopping crime is. In a YouGov/Yahoo News poll from May 24-26, 32 percent of adults said that law enforcement is not tough enough on most offenders — but about the same amount, 27 percent, said law enforcement is too tough on most offenders. (Eighteen percent thought law enforcement’s level of toughness was about right, while 22 percent weren’t sure.)….The public is also pretty sharply divided on whether Democrats or Republicans are better on the issue of crime. When asked whether Biden or former President Donald Trump has done a better job handling crime, 34 percent of respondents to the YouGov/Yahoo poll said Trump, while 32 percent said Biden….Similarly, in elections so far in 2021, it also doesn’t look like crime is driving voters toward more conservative candidates. True, this week’s Democratic primary for mayor of New York City focused heavily on crime, and the winner was most likely Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, arguably the race’s most pro-police candidate. But there are plenty of counterexamples: In the Democratic primary for Philadelphia district attorney, incumbent Larry Krasner — the George Washington of the progressive criminal-justice movement — handily defeated a moderate who attempted to tie Krasner’s policies to Philadelphia’s rising crime rate. And in this month’s special election for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, the Republican candidate ran what was virtually a single-issue campaign on crime and policing issues; Democrat Melanie Stansbury ended up winning by 25 percentage points, exceeding the district’s D+18 partisan lean.”

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik shares the latest map depicting “Party control of statewide elected executive offices” and writes: “Currently, one party controls all of the statewide elected executive offices in 36 of the 50 states….Candidate decisions by down-ballot executive officeholders in Florida and Missouri could make Republican statewide sweeps easier in those states, and Democrats may have opportunities to sweep more states on their side….Democrats could sweep Maryland and maybe Massachusetts. Popular Gov. Phil Scott (R-VT), the lone Republican elected in Vermont, has to run every two years. If he were to not run again, Democrats could sweep there….Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, and Nevada are split states that all should feature competitive races next year. Sweeps can’t be ruled out in any of them….The bottom line is that we may have even more one-party statewide executive states after 2022 than we have now, which would fit in with a larger trend toward one-party dominance in many of the states.”

Political Strategy Notes

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall provides a data-driven analysis of the role of education in reducing and widening inequality, and addresses crititical questions for national and local education policy and political debate, “Is education no longer “a great equalizer of the conditions of men,” as Horace Mann declared in 1848, but instead a great divider? Can the Biden administration’s efforts to distribute cash benefits to the working class and the poor produce sustained improvements in the lives of those on the bottom tiers of income and wealth — or would a substantial investment in children’s training and enrichment programs at a very early age produce more consistent and permanent results? Edsall givs the data a rigorous workout and concludes, “Education, training in cognitive and noncognitive skills, nutrition, health care and parenting are all among the building blocks of human capital, and evidence suggests that continuing investments that combat economic hardship among whites and minorities — and which help defuse debilitating conflicts over values, culture and race — stand the best chance of reversing the disarray and inequality that plague our political system and our social order.”

Benjamin Swasey reports at npr.com that “A bipartisan group of senators is “very, very close” to an agreement on a deal for an infrastructure package, Ohio Republican Rob Portman told Capitol Hill reporters Wednesday, and President Biden has invited the group to the White House Thursday….The invitation follows meetings between White House advisers and the group of senators Wednesday….on June 10, a group of five Republicans and five Democrats announced they had agreed on the contours of a package: some $1.2 trillion in spending over eight years, but less than half that in new spending.” As always the key disagreements center around financing infrastructure improvements. As Swasey notes, “A key sticking point has been how to pay for the measure, with Republicans opposed to undoing any of their 2017 tax cuts, and Biden against raising the gas tax….Portman told reporters the group has “a balanced group of pay-fors,” but did not go into more detail.” However, “The bipartisan infrastructure talks are on one track. Meanwhile, Democrats are eyeing a second, much larger package that would include spending on climate and education and pass along party lines, via the Senate’s budget reconciliation process….Senate Democrats have begun the budget process that would allow such a measure to move through the chamber.”

“So what is the way forward? Both Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) will have to come up with a new understanding of what their pledgesto save the filibuster mean,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column. “They’re not being asked to abandon the filibuster altogether. They are being called upon to accept that if the current rule is left unchanged, partisan majorities in Republican states will be able to make it harder to vote while Democrats in Washington render themselves powerless to do anything about it…Manchin got an object lesson in the futility of seeking GOP votes when Schumer invited him to slim down the For the People Act. Manchin proposed jettisoning many parts of the bill that Republicans don’t like and even endorsed voter-ID requirements, which Republicans have championed….McConnell’s response to Manchin’s efforts? He said the compromise bill had a “rotten core.” How many GOP slaps in the face will Manchin accept?….Memo to Democrats: Curbing the power of big money in politics is very popular.” Also, Dionne notes, “There are many ways to reform the filibuster without getting rid of it, including one proposed a decade ago by … Joe Manchin. Both Norm Ornstein, the congressional scholar, and former senator Tom Harkin have suggested approaches that would place a heavier burden on the minority trying to block action.”

Zachary B. Wolf explains why “Crime is becoming one of America’s biggest political issues” at CNN Politics: “The post-reopening murder wave is about to become a major subject of conversation. Murders have gone up in 2021, and the summer — high season for homicide — is just getting started….This new societal crisis is already turning political….Republicans are likely to carry the perception of the nation’s cities overrun by crime into the 2022 midterm elections….The political divide on crime will grow as Biden and Democrats focus on guns, which are involved in most murders, as the root of the problem, and Republicans blame liberal mayors and governors and lax attitudes toward policing. “We will make sure you can’t sell death and mayhem on our streets,” Biden said on Wednesday….Wolf adds, “Violent crime is up. Violent crime and murder rates are certainly up around the country compared to recent years (crime, more generally, is often down)….Murder rates, already creeping up from a low of 4.4 murders per 100,000 people in 2014, certainly increased during and now after the pandemic….The national murder rate of around five murders per 100,000 people in 2019 — is about half its all time recorded high in 1980, when more than 10 Americans for every 100,000 were murdered. Covid, by comparison, has killed more than 183 Americans per 100,000 people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.” In terms of the Democratic response, Wolf writes that Biden “plans to sign executive actions with a particular focus on tamping down gun crimes, according to officials who spoke with reporters Tuesday night, and again called on Congress to take steps to enact new gun control laws. Senior administration officials also told reporters Tuesday evening that Biden’s plan will rely on using American Rescue Plan dollars for more flexible applications, including hiring law enforcement above pre-pandemic levels or using the funds toward community violence intervention programs.”

Political Strategy Notes

NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall shares this insight about American political attitudes shaped by trade-caused job insecurity: “Looking at the United States as a micro case study with global implications, David Autor, an economist at M.I.T., found that among white voters, those who lost jobs because of trade with China moved toward the political right….“Trade-exposed districts with an initial majority white population or initially in Republican hands became substantially more likely to elect a conservative Republican,” Autor and three colleagues wrote in a 2020 paper, “Importing Political Polarization? The Electoral Consequences of Rising Trade Exposure.” The results support “a political economy literature that connects adverse economic conditions to support for nativist or extreme politicians.”

From Charlie Cook’s post on the “Democrats’ Double Standard” at The Cook Political Report: “In a provocative piece for The Democratic Strategist newsletter, political analyst Andrew Levison asks his fellow Democrats whether they agree with these three statements:

  1. “It is entirely reasonable for progressives to insist on candidates who do not just agree to support certain progressive policies because they are required as part of participation in a political alliance but who fully and sincerely embrace basic progressive values.
  2. “It is entirely reasonable for progressives to be suspicious of candidates who come from backgrounds and reflect the cultural outlook of communities that are culturally distant from the progressive world and culture.
  3. “It is entirely reasonable for progressives to feel that non-progressive voters ought to be willing to support a progressive candidate if they agree with his or her economic platform even if they disagree with other aspects of his or her agenda.”

According to Levison, for most progressives, “these three statements seem entirely reasonable, indeed obvious. After all, why shouldn’t progressives have the right to demand candidates who sincerely support progressive views and reflect a progressive cultural outlook …?”….Levison then turns the question on its head, with a second set of three statements:

  1. “It is entirely reasonable for culturally traditional rural and white working class people to insist on candidates who do not just agree to support certain culturally traditional policies because they are required as part of participation in a political alliance but who fully and sincerely embrace certain traditional cultural values.
  2. “It is entirely reasonable for culturally traditional rural and white working class people to be suspicious of candidates who come from backgrounds and reflect the cultural outlook of communities that are culturally distant from the rural and white working class world and culture.
  3. “It is entirely reasonable for rural and white working class people to feel that voters who are not rural or white working class ought to be willing to support a culturally traditional rural or white working class candidate if they agree with his or her economic agenda even if they may disagree with some of his or her other views and proposals.”

As Levison puts it, “the underlying logic is identical in the two cases. Yet many progressives will agree with the first set of propositions but then reject the second.”….Just as many Republican members of the House and Senate representing mostly rural- and small-town-oriented states and districts cannot seem to understand the pressures and considerations of their colleagues in highly suburban districts, many Democrats seem blissfully unaware that some of their colleagues represent (or more accurately, used to represent) constituents who see life, politics, and policy somewhat differently….Arguably, that is one of the things largely missing in American politics and conversations about politics: a hesitancy to judge others before you have walked a mile in their shoes, as the old admonition goes.”

In “Democrats Lost Ground With Non-College Voters of Color In 2020,” also at The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter reports on a disturbing trend for Democrats: “In digging through the 2020 voter data provided by the Democratic data firm Catalist, Third Way’s Aliza Astrow found that even as Biden was able to slightly improve on Clinton’s showing with white, non-college voters, “Democrats endured a sharp drop-off in support” from non-college voters of color. In 2016, according to the data from Catalist, Clinton took 81 percent of the vote from non-college voters of color. In 2020, Biden took 75 percent among this group, a 6-point drop. …While it’s hard to characterize a 75 percent showing as ‘weak,’ Democrats’ heavy reliance on voters of color means the party can’t afford to see more slippage among this demographic group in upcoming elections. Democrats’ long-term viability in Sun Belt states like Arizona, Texas, Georgia and North Carolina require more than just winning over white suburbanites and not losing any more ground with white, non-college voters. They have to continue to run up the score with voters of color….As with white voters, there is a decent gender gap among voters of color, both among non-college and college-educated voters. But, the drop in support among women (both college and non-college-educated) for Democrats between 2016 and 2020 was significant. For example, while Biden did 5 points worse among non-college men of color and 2 points worse among college-educated men of color than Clinton, he performed five points worse among college-educated women and seven points worse among non-college women. While many suspected that Trump’s appeal was unique to male voters of color (some attributed it to Trump’s direct appeal to ‘machismo’)  Astrow’s analysis shows that he gained among women voters of color too.”

“The deeper problem for Democrats in congressional elections is structural, due to the concentration of their voters in cities—and as Jonathan Rodden shows in Why Cities Lose, the Democratic vote is more concentrated in cities now than it has ever been,” Paul Starr writes in The American Prospect. “The Senate overrepresents the more rural and white states; in House elections, Democrats “waste” votes in urban districts where they run up lopsided victories. To win a majority of legislative seats, Democrats don’t just need a majority of votes nationally; they need to win by a majority-plus—by several extra percentage points—to compensate for their inefficient geographic distribution….That underlying problem, however, doesn’t wholly explain why Democrats met so many disappointments in down-ballot races in 2020. They initially seemed in a good position to win Senate races in Maine, North Carolina, Iowa, and Montana that they ultimately lost. They expected to gain House seats and instead lost 15, leaving them with a margin of only seven. Some voters who chose Biden apparently did not trust Democrats enough to vote for Democrats for Congress and give the party an unqualified mandate….This is where Democrats could be in a stronger position in 2022. The pandemic-related fear that Democrats would lock down the economy at the cost of jobs may have been responsible for some voters’ ambivalence in 2020. If the pandemic is behind us next year, the economy is booming, and Biden continues to provide steady leadership, Democrats may be able to offer a politics of hope and reassurance as a convincing alternative to the Republican politics of fear….It’s not clear that a democracy with a two-party system can survive when one of the parties no longer agrees to be bound by the rules of fair elections. We may have just been lucky in 2020 that the institutional checks held; they may not next time….Under these circumstances, Democrats have to be bold and careful simultaneously. They have to be bold in fighting the battles they are fighting, and they have to be careful in choosing which battles to fight and how they fight them. Not every cause is ripe; not every cause is equally urgent. Right now, they need to prove government works for ordinary people, and just as important, they need to pass federal election reforms to give American democracy the strongest possible defense against right-wing assault. If they are unable to do so because of the Senate filibuster, it will be the kind of colossal failure that later generations never forgive.”

Political Strategy Notes

In his article, “Democrats Should Leap at the Chance to Take Joe Manchin’s Deal” at Slate, Richald L. Hasen writes: “With new pressure on Manchin since he again backed the filibuster and stated his explicit opposition to the initial version of the For the People Act earlier this month, he finally released his counteroffer on Wednesday. It includes a number of the most important voting rights and campaign finance priorities of the original bill, including a requirement of 15 days of early voting in federal elections, automatic voter registration, limits on partisan gerrymandering, and improved campaign finance disclosure. He’s also on board with extending campaign finance provisions to communications on the internet and to currently nondisclosing “dark money” groups, prohibiting false information about when, where, and how people vote, and an updated preclearance process….Democrats should jump at the opportunity to pass such a bill, but it is also fair to acknowledge it is far from perfect. Many of the darlings in the For the People Act are not on Manchin’s list, such as felon reenfranchisement, public financing of congressional elections, restructuring the often-deadlocked Federal Election Commission, and limiting state voter purges. Not only would the Manchin proposal continue to allow states to engage in voter purges, it also will require some form of voter identification for voting in federal elections, though in a more relaxed form than some of the strict rules some states have enacted. It also would weaken some of the standards for restoring preclearance under the John Lewis bill, making it harder to get a jurisdiction covered by the requirement and easier for a jurisdiction to get out from under its coverage….Again, this is a good deal being offered to Democrats, and Democrats should grab it. Voter identification is not necessarily bad, if it is implemented fairly, has ways for people lacking ID to still vote, and is funded fully by the government. Many of the items on the Democratic wish list not here are much less urgent than what is being offered and can be pursued another time.”

“His movements come as Senate Democrats prepare for a vote next week on the elections bill. The legislation is a top priority for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, but has little chance of becoming law given opposition from Manchin and the GOP,” Laura Barron-Lopez, Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett write at Politico. “The West Virginia senator organized his Monday meeting after a similar conversation with leaders of national civil rights organizations one week earlier. With no change to the filibuster on the horizon, Manchin and the groups know that 10 Republican senators will be needed to support legislation that would achieve two major Democratic goals: reauthorizing key sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and approving changes to American elections that lie at the heart of the party’s massive but stalled elections bill….Manchin is making clear he’s not against everything in the elections bill: He supports expanded early voting and a ban on partisan gerrymandering, according to a copy of his memo obtained by POLITICO. But he also wants new voter ID requirements and is pushing for more flexibility for state officials to remove voters from voter rolls, both of which run counter to the design of the elections bill that already passed the House….Manchin also proposes making Election Day a public holiday, mandating 15 consecutive days of early voting and allowing for automatic registration through the DMV with the ability to opt out.”

Newsweek’s Katherine Fung reports that “Joe Manchin Signals He’s Open to Filibuster Reform, Offering Hope to Democrats,” and notes, “Sen. Joe Manchin is signaling he may be open to reforming the filibuster, offering hope to Democrats who are eager to push their legislative agenda through Congress without the 60 votes currently required by the Senate rule….On Monday, Manchin joined a private Zoom call hosted by No Labels, an operation that combats partisan dysfunction and funnels donor money to conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans, to discuss the filibuster, infrastructure negotiations and the failed efforts to create a January 6 commission….In remarks obtained by The Intercept, Manchin said he would consider lowering the threshold to beat the filibuster or forcing the minority to show up on the Senate floor in large enough numbers to maintain a filibutser….”That’s one of many good, good suggestions I’ve had,” the senator said about lowering the cloture total from 60 to 55….I looked back…when it went from 67 votes to 60 votes, and also what was happening, what made them think that it needed to change. So I’m open to looking at it, I’m just not open to getting rid of the filibuster, that’s all,” he added.”

Wasdhington Post syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. shares this asessment of the Biden-Putin summit: “Watching Putin play defense underscored the good news from Geneva: The Biden-Putin encounter could hardly have been more different from the bizarre get-togethers between the Russian leader and former president Donald Trump. Biden denied the Russian leader a shared podium, and there was, thankfully, no fawning over Putin, no taking Putin’s word over the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies….On the contrary, when Biden met later with reporters, he derided any link between the jailing of Navalny and the Jan. 6 events as “ridiculous,” and he used his opening remarks to reaffirm the democracy-strengthening purpose of his European journey….Biden said he told Putin that “no president of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values, to stand up for the universal and fundamental freedoms that all men and women have in our view. That’s just part of the DNA of our country….Biden’s final thought before he headed home: “As long as I’m president, we’re going to stick to the notion that we’re open, accountable and transparent.” Perhaps that was a parting shot at Vladimir Putin.”

Political Strategy Notes

Some “key points” from “Forecasting the 2022 Midterm Election with the Generic Ballot” by Alan I. Abramowitz at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “National House generic ballot polling can be a useful tool in projecting the overall results of House and Senate elections….The president’s party often loses ground in midterms, but the magnitude of those losses varies greatly depending on the national political environment and the seats held by each party prior to the election….A model using the generic ballot and seat exposure shows that a single digit lead on the generic ballot would give Democrats a good chance to keep control of the Senate. Given the expected impact of redistricting, however, Democrats probably need a larger lead to keep control of the House.” Abramowitz notes, “If we assume that redistricting will be worth an additional 10 House seats to the GOP, Democrats would likely need a lead of at least 10 points on the generic ballot in order to maintain control of the lower chamber….Because of the large impact of seat exposure in Senate elections, even a small advantage on the generic ballot would give Democrats a good chance to keep control of the upper chamber. However, our forecast does not take into account the specific seats that are on the ballot in 2022, only the numbers of Democratic and Republican seats. In addition, as mentioned earlier, the margin of error for the Senate model is relatively large, leaving room for a range of possible outcomes from a GOP gain of two-to-three seats to a Democratic gain of four-to-five seats. As with the House, the margin of control in the next Senate is likely to be very narrow.”

Amy Walter argues “Liberals Are Attacking Joe Manchin. That’s Good News for the DSCC” at The Cook Political Report: “Black, Hispanic, college-educated, young, urban and professional voters all represent a much smaller share of the electorate in West Virginia than just about anywhere else. White voters without a four-year degree, Donald Trump’s demographic base, made up 69 percent of voters there in 2020, according to census data, the highest in the country.”…For those who are looking for a deep dive into what makes Manchin tick, I highly recommend listening to New York Times political reporter Jonathan Martin’s expert analysis  on a recent episode of the New York Time’s podcast The Daily…..But, while liberals train their fire at Manchin, swing state Democrats up in 2022 are able to fly under the radar on the issue. Manchin is serving as a political ‘heat shield,’ protecting Senate Democrats like Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire), Mark Kelly (Arizona) and Catherine Cortez Mastro (Nevada) from having to be the ‘deciding vote’ on eliminating the legislative tactic.”

Also at The Cook Political Report, Charlie Cook writes: “A new study conducted jointly for Third Way, the Collective PAC, and the Latino Victory Fund, and first reported by The New York Times on Sunday, issued a half dozen key findings. First, wrote the authors, Democratic strategists Marlon Marshall and Lynda Tran, “voters of color are persuadable voters who need to be convinced.” Second, Republican attempts to brand Democrats as “radicals” worked. Third, “polling was a huge problem—even after 2016 adjustments.” Fourth, “COVID-19 affected everything.” Fifth, “year round organizing worked, as did cross-party collaboration.” Sixth and finally, “our hopes for 2020 were just too high.”….Blame polling if you must, but the reality is that a lot of Democratic and liberal donors and activists often use their glands more than their brains. Their hatred for Sen. Mitch McConnell pushed them to spend an enormous amount of money in Kentucky on a candidate who was never likely to win. At the end of the day, Kentucky is still Kentucky. Similarly, while Jaime Harrison proved to be a great Senate candidate in South Carolina, it still didn’t change the fact that only South Carolinians would be voting. Harrison could take solace only from beating the proverbial point spread, which is more than Democrats could say in states like Montana and Kansas….It is a thought-provoking report that is worth a read by campaign junkies on both sides.”

In “Democracy Is Already Dying in the States: Republicans around the country are proving Joe Manchin wrong” at The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein documents the overwhelming case that Republicans have unilaterally spearheaded the voter suppression campaign in the states. Brownstein shares new data from “an analysis of state voting records provided exclusively to The Atlantic by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU,” and observes, “Manchin has been vague and elusive on why bipartisanship should be the standard for voting laws in Washington when it’s clearly not the rule in the states, or why he believes that congressional Republicans will agree to undo the partisan advantages their state counterparts are pushing into law. (His office did not respond to a request for comment on those questions.) Privately, other Democrats and voting-rights advocates have debated whether he is being naive or disingenuous in insisting that a critical mass of Senate Republicans will ultimately vote to protect voting rights. The new Brennan data, by so starkly documenting the partisan nature of the offensive against voter access under way in the states, may point the needle further toward disingenuous as the explanation if Manchin remains adamant in his refusal to act without Republican consent.”

Political Strategy Notes

In his New York Times column, “How Far Are Republicans Willing to Go? They’re Already Gone,” Thomas B. Edsall writes, “Among those I consulted for this column, there was wide agreement that democratic backsliding is a process difficult for the average voter to detect — and that one of the crucial factors enabling the current procedural undermining of democracy in the states is that voters have little interest in or understanding of election rules and regulations….“Democratic erosion is subtle and slow, often nearly imperceptible until it’s too late,” Robert Blair, a political scientist at Brown, wrote in an email:

The U.S. will not become an autocracy. Political parties will not be banned; elections will not be canceled or overturned willy nilly. But the U.S. may increasingly become a “democracy with asterisks,” one in which the playing field is tilted heavily in favor of whichever party writes the rules of the game.

Blair is decidedly pessimistic about the likelihood that American voters will succeed in opposing the degradation of the system:

I have very little faith in the American public as a bulwark against these threats. In general Americans do not prioritize democratic principles in our vote choices, and we are alarmingly willing to tolerate antidemocratic ideas and actions by co-partisans. Polarization seems to make this worse. If American democracy is at risk, citizens will not save it.”

Edsall also notes, “At one level, the Republican anti-democratic drive is clearly a holding action. A detailed Brookings study, “America’s electoral future: The coming generational transformation,” by Rob Griffin, Ruy Teixeira and William Frey, argues that Republicans have reason to fear the future:

Millennials and Generation Z appear to be far more Democratic leaning than their predecessors were at the same age. Even if today’s youngest generations do grow more conservative as they age, it’s not at all clear they would end up as conservative as older generations are today.

In addition, the three authors write, “America’s youngest generations are more racially and ethnically diverse than older generations.”….As a result, Griffin, Teixeira and Frey contend,

the underlying demographic changes our country is likely to experience over the next several elections generally favor the Democratic Party. The projected growth of groups by race, age, education, gender and state tends to be more robust among Democratic-leaning groups, creating a consistent and growing headwind for the Republican Party.

From 2020 to 2036, the authors project that the percentage of eligible voters who identify as nonwhite in Texas will grow from 50 to 60 percent, in Georgia from 43 to 50 percent, in Arizona from 38 to 48 percent….As these percentages grow, Republicans will be under constant pressure to enact state legislation to further restrict registration and voting. The question will become: How far are they willing to go?”

From Jeff E. Schapiro’s article, “Analysis: McAuliffe 2.0 gambles that, for Virginia, what’s old is new” in The Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Incomplete returns showed McAuliffe leading his four opponents for the nomination with a whopping 62% of the vote, far exceeding public polls that had him hovering around 49%. His victory seemed foreordained, hastened by a lopsided advantage in name recognition, fundraising, advertising endorsements and organization….McAuliffe, a New York-born Bill-and-Hillary-Clinton intimate who lives in Fairfax County, will be teamed with an Afro-Latina legislator for lieutenant governor, Del. Hala Ayala of Prince William County, and the incumbent attorney general, Mark Herring of Loudoun County, who is seeking a third term and was McAuliffe’s running mate in 2013….Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun and Arlington counties comprise a Democratic bulwark, the so-called Blue Wall — a fast-growing, multi-hued suburb that became even friendlier to the party during the Trump presidency, a reminder that national and local politics can be one in the same there….”What makes McAuliffe’s wire-to-wire victory in the Democratic primary even more remarkable is that the field, aside from McAuliffe, was decidedly diverse,” Chris Cillizza notes at CNN Politics….But it is worth noting that Democratic voters opted for the establishment, White, male, 60-something candidate when very credible alternatives were available.”

Democrats who complain that their party is playing pattycake instead of hardball regarding the January 6th GOP-supported riot in the U.S. capitol will be encouraged by Rep. Eric Swallwell’s lawsuit to hold key Republicans accountable. As Aaron Rupar explains at Vox, “While some of the people who breached the Capitol have been held accountable for their actions, those who helped incite them have not. Trump was impeached by the House but not convicted by the Senate, and none of the “Stop the Steal” speakers have faced charges….Swalwell’s lawsuit is an attempt to provide that accountability. In his personal capacity, Swalwell, who served as an impeachment manager during Trump’s most recent impeachment trial, filed suit against Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani, and Brooks in March, alleging that “as a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the Defendants’ express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol.” Swalwell and other Democrats believe that criminal prosecutions for the riot are not enough. “Swalwell’s lawsuit “seeks compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, a declaration that defendants violated the law and a requirement that they provide seven-days written notice before any future rally or public event in Washington on a day with any significant election or election certification event….But a guilty verdict would nevertheless be a striking, and public, rebuke — a statement despite their claims otherwise (and despite the Senate’s acquittal of Trump) that Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani, and Brooks did spur the insurrectionists, and that they damaged the democratic process in doing so.”