washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

“The emerging Democratic strategy is two-fold,” David Weigel writes at Semafor. “One: They need to counteract “Trump amnesia,” the catchall term for voters forgetting aspects of his presidency that they hated in real time. The top of Biden’s remarks, invoking the Jan. 6 riots and how Republicans had memory-holed them, was part of that….Outside of California’s central valley, where the House GOP’s super PAC spent money to help Rep. David Valadao beat a challenger who attacked his vote for Trump’s post-Jan. 6 impeachment, the party was nominating MAGA candidates who kept insisting that the 2020 election was stolen. As Trump locked up the nomination this week, Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake was picking up support from GOP leaders, ensuring that the swing state’s Republican ticket would be led by two candidates who’d lost it….The second part of the strategy looks forward — a people-versus-the-powerful message, portraying Trump as a catspaw for right-wing economic interests….“I wish there was more coverage of the Trump record of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy,” said North Carolina Rep. Wiley Nickel, a Democrat leaving the House this year after Republicans re-drew the state’s map and made his seat unwinnable. “That’s their record. If Republicans have unified government, Social Security and Medicare will be on the chopping block.”….Biden worked that angle on Thursday, repeatedly, calling out United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain in the gallery and highlighting the GOP’s least popular economic policies. As Semafor’s Shelby Talcott reports, the campaign is increasingly focusing on Project 2025, the Heritage Foundation’s compendium of policy and personnel advice for the next Republican president. Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 campaign separated Trump from the rest of the GOP, citing then-House Speaker Paul Ryan as a character witness. Biden is binding them together.”

Check out the Biden campaign’s first ad, post SOTU:

In “DLCC unveils ambitious “Multi-Cycle” strategy for long-term democratic dominance,” Stacy M. Brown writes at insight news.com: “The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) on Monday, Feb. 26, revealed an expansive strategy memo, charting a multifaceted plan to venture into historically Republican strongholds and solidify Democratic power over the next decade. Departing from the typical focus on immediate elections, Democrats are now adopting a forward-thinking approach to counter the historical trend of losing gains in subsequent cycles….Distinguishing itself as the sole party committee investing in multi-cycle victories, the DLCC said it aims to tackle this challenge head-on. Officials said the strategy is to secure immediate electoral triumphs and establish a lasting infrastructure that will fortify Democratic influence for years to come. Investments made in 2024 will lay the foundation to claim the majority in state legislatures throughout the decade, officials declared….The DLCC stressed the urgency of countering the Republicans’ successful long-term game, citing underhanded tactics, gerrymandering, and substantial financial investments that have consistently allowed them to dominate state legislatures. To thwart these efforts, the DLCC advocates for significant resources, investments, and a clear strategy for sustained power….The DLCC also asserted its capability to secure immediate electoral gains while strategically building Democratic power over multiple election cycles. Officials pointed to recent elections reflecting this approach’s success, with state Democrats now controlling 41 of the 99 state legislative chambers, marking a significant shift in political power.”

Brown adds, “As the DLCC gears up for the 2024 cycle with its largest-ever $60 million budget, officials outlined a bold, evidence-based plan to achieve majority control in 50 chambers by 2030. The multifaceted strategy includes:

  • Breaking Republican supermajorities.
  • Expanding into traditionally Republican territory.
  • Setting the stage for new Democratic trifectas.
  • Combating gerrymandering.
  • Tracking other races that influence power balances.
  • Taking advantage of special elections.

Specifically, the DLCC’s multi-cycle strategy targets states like Kansas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin to break or prevent Republican supermajorities. The committee has already invested in Wisconsin and North Carolina as part of its battleground initiatives. Additionally, the DLCC aims to gradually chip away at Republican trifectas in states like Georgia, which is identified as a prime location for political change in 2024….The DLCC stressed the importance of holding key seats in states that don’t align gubernatorial and legislative elections in the same year. This strategic move allows Democrats to establish governing trifectas over multiple cycles. With half of its Senate seats up for election in 2024, Pennsylvania serves as a crucial target for the DLCC, aiming to secure a trifecta in 2026 alongside a competitive gubernatorial race….“With new redistricting maps decided by 2030 elections and in order to fundamentally transform the balance of power in states, we need a long-term strategy to break into territory that Republicans have long dominated,” DLCC President Heather Williams said in an email. “That’s exactly what this plan does. The DLCC is the only party committee tasked with working cycle over cycle to build Democratic power in state legislatures. Our 2024 target map includes states like Kansas, North Carolina, Georgia, and Wisconsin – states where we must build infrastructure and position Democrats to gradually chip away at Republican power. 2024 is the year of the states, and what happens this year will shape the arc of Democratic power in the states for the decade. Today, Republicans have been put on notice that the DLCC has the plan to win not only the year, but also the decade and decades to come.”

President Biden’s SOTU Shames GOP

I wish every swing voter viewed President Biden’s State of the Union address. More likely only a fraction of them tuned in. Usually the annual speech is a glorified laundry list. But not this time. This time President Biden seized the opportunity to confront the GOP’s bullshit meme that he is too old to be a strong leader, as if his tangible accomplishments weren’t enough to disprove it. The President shredded the ageist bigotry, not only with the focus and substance of his remarks, but also with his alert and energetic speech delivery. The gaffe-counters were undoubtedly disappointed.

The President was supremely confident in almost every sentence. At several points he stopped to bandy with hecklers, even challenging the Republicans in a good-humored way when they weren’t expecting it. They appeared toothless and stunned by Biden’s confidence. The most fun was when he nailed them for showing up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for infrastructure projects they voted against. The best they could manage was howls and groans, while their Speaker grimaced and made smirky little faces up on the podium behind the President, as Vice President Harris stood and applauded joyfully.

President Biden channeled some of the “Is that all you got?” attitude that FDR deployed so successfully as he rebuilt America. Biden revived the spirit that empowered the visionary leadership of JFK and get-it-done determination of LBJ. The Democrats are back from their long nap. I hope President Biden gets a bump in his approval ratings. He certainly deserves it. No matter what happens, Dems should be assured that he did his best.

As for the GOP’s official response to the SOTU, I doubt Sen. Katie Britt’s whispery and breathless rant will get much traction. She trotted out a couple of cherry-picked immigration horror stories, and that was pretty much it. Regarding the media coverage of Biden’s SOTU, so far it is less than impressive. Speeches don’t have all that much shelf-life anyway.

Enough gush. Here’s the the very dry C-SPAN summary, and those who haven’t yet viewed the SOTU can click on this link to watch full video of the speech :

President Joe Biden delivered his 2024 State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Throughout the speech, he drew a contrast between himself and former President Trump, the leading challenger against Mr. Biden in the 2024 presidential election. The president addressed a range of domestic issues, including his record and plans for manufacturing and jobs, safeguarding reproductive rights, taxing billionaires, making health care more affordable, eliminating junk fees, and calling on Congress to pass a bipartisan border bill. He also discussed international issues, such as stopping Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and delivering more aid to Palestinians amid the Israel-Hamas war.

All in all, it was a very good night for the Biden-Harris campaign.

Political Strategy Notes

“In 11 states, felons lose their voting rights indefinitely for some crimes, or require a governor’s pardon for voting rights to be restored,” Clark Merrefield writes at Journalist’s Resource. Felons “face an additional waiting period after completion of sentence (including parole and probation) or require additional action before voting rights can be restored,” according to research from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

  • Those 11 strictest states are Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming, according to the NCSL. Florida “disenfranchises more returning citizens than any other state,” write the authors of a January 2023 paper in the Vanderbilt Law Review.
  • There are 14 states where people convicted of felonies lose the right to vote while incarcerated, as well as while completing probation or parole, according to the NCSL. These states are Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • There are 23 states where people convicted of felonies lose the right to vote only while incarcerated, according to the NCSL, with the right automatically reinstated after time served. These states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington.
  • People convicted of felonies in the District of Columbia, Maine and Vermont do not lose their voting rights and can vote while incarcerated.
  • In some states, people convicted of a felony can vote in the state where they live even if they wouldn’t be eligible in the state where they were convicted. Journalists covering this topic should consult legislation and reach out to legal experts to understand their state rules for restoring voting rights. For a quick look at restoring voting rights for people with criminal convictions, check this U.S. Department of Justice state-by-state guide“.

Further into the article, Merrefield adds, “More than 4 million people in the U.S. are barred from voting because of a felony conviction, according to estimates from The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization that advocates for “effective and humane responses to crime.” News outlets commonly cite reports and policy briefs from The Sentencing Project, and their data is used in academic research, including in one of the papers featured below….Over the past quarter century, about half of state legislatures have moved to restore voting rights to those disenfranchised due to a felony conviction….“Since 1997, 26 states and the District of Columbia have expanded voting rights to people living with felony convictions,” according to an October 2023 report from The Sentencing Project. “As a result, over 2 million Americans have regained the right to vote.”….we have gathered and summarized six studies that explore demographic trends in felony disenfranchisement as well as how felony disenfranchisement affects political engagement and electoral democracy in U.S. states. The research roundup is followed by story ideas and interview questions for journalists….The findings show …

  • Public health outcomes tend to be worse in states where democratic processes are affected by policies such as felony disenfranchisement.
  • People are more likely to support felony disenfranchisement when they express attitudes aligned with xenophobia and when they support policies that would restrict immigration and reduce government funding for public programs.
  • Felony disenfranchisement is relatively higher where Black populations also exhibit higher rates of depressive symptoms.
  • Restoring voting rights to people convicted of felonies is unlikely to meaningfully affect election results — but those who have their voting rights restored tend to feel they personally have more of a say in how their state governments operate.

Kyle Kondik shares some, thoughts on the Super Tuesday results at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a big political development on Tuesday that had nothing to do with Super Tuesday: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) announced that she would not seek a second term—arguably 2024’s most important remaining big candidate decision for the Senate, barring something unexpected down the line. Sinema, whose election as a Democrat was a significant moment in Arizona’s transition from red state to purple state, left the Democrats following the 2022 election, although she continued to caucus with them. Sinema, who upset the left during her term, may have lost a primary to Rep. Ruben Gallego (D, AZ-3), who is on track to be the Democratic nominee. Sinema is thus the second straight occupant of this seat, following Republican Jeff Flake, to serve just a single term and retire at least partially because of base problems (Flake probably would have lost a primary in 2018 had he run). Gallego is now set up for a general election against, most likely, 2022 gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake (R) in a race that remains a Toss-up. On balance, this is probably a good development for Gallego, although it’s not completely obvious how a three-person general election (including Sinema) would have worked out. Sinema almost certainly would have finished in third, which is probably why she’s not running now. The two most recent nonpartisan Arizona polls showed Sinema having different impacts on the race: A Noble Predictive Insights poll from last month showed Gallego leading Lake by 10 points in a head to head battle but only up 3 in a three-way race, so Gallego was clearly doing better without Sinema in the race. However, an Emerson College/The Hill/Nexstar poll, also from last month, showed Gallego up 7 in the two-way and 6 in the three-way, effectively the same-sized lead.”

Miles Bryan and Noel King explain “What Biden could do to bring grocery prices down” at Vox: “So what can the Biden administration actually do about high food prices and shrinking packages?….“While the government can’t necessarily control the prices retail puts on stickers, we can give more money to low-income people to deal with those higher prices,” Elizabeth Pancotti, a strategic advisor at the progressive think tank the Groundwork Collaborative, told Today, Explained co-host Noel King….The Biden administration also is moving to make the meat and grocery industries more competitive, and therefore cheaper for consumers. They’ve even opened up a joint task force between the FTC and Department of Justice to investigate unfair and illegal pricing….Elizabeth Pancotti: “Just last week we actually found out that the Federal Trade Commission is suing to block the $25 billion merger deal between the grocery store giants Kroger and Albertsons. This had been kind of rumored in the news that the FTC was considering it….This deal was announced, about a year and a half ago, and some state attorneys general have already sued to say that this merger would make grocery markets less competitive in certain regions and certain states. But now the Federal Trade Commission has sued to block the merger entirely across the entire country….And then there is the meat industry. For beef, pork, and poultry, there are about six players that control between half and 75 percent of the market. But this wasn’t always the case. The industry has become highly consolidated over the last 30 to 40 years, and that has kind of two big effects….There’s actually a law on the books about how companies can charge different prices depending on the size of their buyer, and so it’s much cheaper to manufacture 100 bags of Doritos for every single Walmart store in America. You’ve got an economy of scale there that brings down Frito-Lay’s price. You probably really want Walmart to buy a lot of Doritos from you if you’re Frito-Lay. And so you might give them a discount above and beyond how much cheaper it is for you to make that outsized number of bags of Doritos. That’s illegal under the Robinson-Patman Act.”

Super Tuesday’s Good News for Dems

Outside of President Biden’s sweep of states in which he was on the ballot, probably the best Super Tuesday news for Democrats came from North Carolina, where a deeply-flawed Republican won his party’s nomination for Governor. As Aaron Blake explains at WaPo, “In what may be the nation’s marquee governor’s race, the GOP overwhelmingly nominated Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. Robinson’s past statements make some of these flawed candidates look like mainstream Republicans. He has:

  • attacked school shooting victims and questioned whether the Las Vegas massacre was real.
  • suggested 9/11 might have been an inside job and that the moon landing might have been faked.
  • repeatedly employed antisemitic tropes.
  • suggested Black Americans should pay reparations rather than receive them.
  • repeatedly derided women in offensive terms — and much, much more.”

If N.C. Democrats can’t hold the Governor’s mansion, they might replace Florida’s Dems as the least effective mega-state party in the U.S.

Texas Dems also have reason to be optimistic, having nominated the mediagenic Colin Allred to take on Ted Cruz, who may be the most vulnerable Republican U. S. Senator of the ballot in November. As Eric Bradner notes at CNN Politics, “But Texas, along with Florida, might represent Democrats’ best chance of going on offense under the 2024 Senate map….Allred, a former NFL player who first won his Dallas-area seat by ousting a Republican incumbent in a hard-fought 2018 race, has focused on health care — including his support for the Affordable Care Act and abortion rights. Allred is also a prolific fundraiser, outraising Cruz $4.8 million to $3.4 million in 2023’s fourth quarter and ending the year with $10.1 million in the bank to Cruz’s $6.2 million.” Allred’s toughest challenge may be navigating the gun safety issue, which is especially difficult in Texas. So far, he has played a competent hand. Having just beaten a much-respected Latino progressive Roland Guttierrez, Allred must also strive to unify his party.

With 12-term congressman Rep. Adam’s Schiff’s primary victory in the U.S. senate race, California Democrats will probably hold the Senate seat vacated by the death of Dianne Feinstein and now held by seat-warmer Laphonza Butler. Republican Steve Garvey, who has equivocated regarding his support for Trump, did finish ahead of Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee, but Schiff’s victory bodes well for Democrats, “in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-1.” Schiff is also a formidable debater and a hefty majority of those who voted for Porter and Lee will likely cast ballots for Schiff in the Fall. But he has to reach out to Lee and Porter to help heal lingering scars and get the full benefit of their active support.

Trump’s predictable romp in every state but Vermont, which Nikki Haley won, is tempered by the quickening pace of his legal problems. Barring a major economic downturn, widespread discontent of ‘never-trump” Republicans should work to President Biden’s advantage in the months ahead. A statistically-significant share of traditional Republican conservatives will likely vote for President Biden and many others will simply not vote at all. President Biden’s job one in the months ahead is to minimize the percentage of Democratic voters who stay at home or vote for third party candidates. That project merits a dedicated campaign task force. He must also make sure his campaign prepares and broadcasts video clips and ads that demonstrate his energy and lucidity on priority issues — alongside video that shows Trump bragging about his destroying reproductive freedom, and showcasing Trump’s disjointed gaffes. If President Biden can pull this off, it should help down ballot Democratic candidates do well. An eloquent SOTU on Thursday, punctuated with vision and vigor, would be a good start.

Political Strategy Notes

“It’s the paradox of Bidenism,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in “How paradoxes of class will shape the 2024 election” at The Washington Post: “The president sees himself as the champion of the working class but can’t rely on its support to win reelection. To prevail, he’ll need a mountain of ballots from college-educated voters in metropolitan areas….The flip side is the paradox of the Republican Party, which now depends on White working-class votes, especially in small towns and the countryside. Yet its economic policies remain geared to the interests of high earners and investors, many of whom have fled the party….These twin paradoxes are central to the outcome of the 2024 campaign, though neither is new. Countless studies and polemics have examined the Democrats’ “working-class problem.” The Republicans’ problem has been growing quietly since the 1990s — and then Donald Trump turned a gradual trend into an acute predicament….President Biden seemed to be the ideal Democrat to restore his party’s standing with working-class voters of all races. In conversations over the decades, “Scranton Joe” invariably turned to his frustration with Democrats for failing to understand the “working middle class.”….As he’ll make clear in Thursday’s State of the Union speech, his economic policies have leaned their way, and not just on labor and trade issues. When he talks about his administration’s investments in infrastructure, technology and clean energy, he points out that the many jobs they’re creating — often by leveraging the private sector — are opening “a path to a good career” to all Americans “whether they go to college or not.”….These programs have pushed a lot of money into struggling communities that are at the heart of Trump’s electoral strength. In a study released last month, my colleagues at the Brookings Institution concluded that “economically distressed counties are receiving a larger-than-proportional share of that investment surge relative to their current share of the economy.”….Yet these efforts have yet to produce the working-class resurgence Democrats hoped for. A Quinnipiac poll released Feb. 21, which showed Biden leading Trump 49 percent to 45 percent, pointed to each candidate’s class challenges. Among White registered voters with college degrees, Biden led Trump 60 percent to 34 percent. Those without college degrees gave Trump 58 percent to Biden’s 37 percent….Meanwhile, the survey showed Trump doing better among Latino and Black voters than he did in 2016 or 2020, underscoring the argument made by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira in their recent book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?” The authors found that between 2012 and 2022, Democrats lost 25 points off their advantage among the non-White working class voters. Because Biden will need both large margins and high turnout from Black and Latino voters, this could be a big deal….what’s often cast as a class split may be even more a place divide. It’s described dramatically in a new book by Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman, “White Rural Rage.” Political scientist Daniel Schlozman, co-author with Sam Rosenfeld of the forthcoming book “The Hollow Parties,” said in an interview that one of the most important contributors to polarization is the gulf between urban/suburban America and small-town/rural America. Given the workings of the Senate and the electoral college, that gives the GOP outsize influence in elections and government….Biden and his party can’t give up on winning working-class voters for both practical and principled reasons. The president has made clear he intends to keep bending his policymaking in their direction — and that doing so is the only way to heal the nation’s deep divides for the long term….But, in the short run, his strategy for victory will require big margins among better-off voters who might not be turned on by Scranton Joe and his blue-collar loyalties but are horrified by the alternative.”

“The DLCC has so far diverted over $200,000 into the Pennsylvania House Caucus this cycle, a clear testament to the weight they place on holding the majority in the state legislature,” Maryann Pugh writes at mychesco.com. “This tactic forms part of the DLCC’s first wave of investments for the 2024 battleground state campaigns. The campaign purse currently stands at a staggering $750,000 total direct investment into their target states….Holding the Pennsylvania House reigns supreme on the DLCC’s strategic priority list. They aim to prevent the Speaker’s gavel from falling into MAGA Republican hands at any cost. Joanna McClinton, the current seat holder, has the DLCC’s full backing as they rally to ensure her position remains secure….DLCC President Heather Williams underscored the significance of these commitments, stating that 2024 is the year of the states. “2024 is the year of the states and the DLCC has invested over $200k into the Pennsylvania Democratic House Caucus to set the stage for our strategy in 2024. We know the stakes of winning these crucial battleground states are high, with abortion, voting rights, fundamental freedoms, and more on the line.”  said Williams….“Our Democratic candidates need early and strong support to build sustainable winning campaigns – early investments are often what make or break races. That’s why the DLCC is on the ground early, working hand and hand with our caucus and campaign committees across the country so we can win in November and beyond. The DLCC’s goal is to fundamentally shift the balance of power in the states and therefore, the country. These investments get us closer to that goal,” continued….This is the most important year in state legislative campaign history, and we are laser-focused on channeling our resources through November to defeat vulnerable Republicans and secure Democratic power in the states.”

Devon Hasano reports that “Vice President Kamala Harris Outlines Strategy To Protect Voting Rights Nationwide” at Democracy Docket: “Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated the White House’s continued support for voting rights on Tuesday when she hosted a roundtable discussion with leaders and organizers leading the fight on the issue. …In a speech before the closed-press meeting, Harris outlined the White House’s four-part strategy to protect voting rights, describing voting as “a fundamental freedom that unlocks all the other freedoms….The strategy includes:

  1. Instructing federal agencies to do all they can to inform Americans on how to vote and when they are eligible,
  1. Promoting voter participation for students by allowing students to get paid to register voters and be poll workers through federal work study,
  1. Protecting election workers by creating the Elections Threats Taskforce that has held more than 100 events to train officials on protecting election workers and
  1. Fighting voter suppression laws by challenging discriminatory laws in court via the U.S. Department of Justice.

Harris also called for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — bills that would drastically improve the voting rights landscape nationwide….The vice president closed by announcing “three national days of action” for voting to continue “work that is about uplifting communities, strengthening coalitions, strengthening communities around their power and ability to lead in their own communities.” The days include Juneteenth (June 19), the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (Aug. 6) and National Voter Registration Day (Sept. 17).”

In “The Downballot: Our big fat Super Tuesday primary preview (transcript), David Nir, political director of Daily Kos, notes, “We as an organization, Daily Kos, have advocated on behalf of legislation that Democrats have introduced in Congress repeatedly that would outlaw partisan gerrymandering. And no one doubts that Congress can do this, at least for congressional redistricting. The power to do so is right there in the Constitution, in the section known as the Elections Clause. The Elections Clause says, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” But hold on, here’s the important part: “[B]ut the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations,” and those regulations include how maps are drawn to elect members of Congress. But every last single Republican in Congress has voted against this bill, which is now called the Freedom to Vote Act. And thanks to the filibuster in the Senate, it remains dead, but it’s not just congressional Republicans….In 2019, the Supreme Court infamously said that federal courts were incapable of adjudicating disputes over partisan gerrymandering. And it was an astonishing statement to make because in the same ruling the Supreme Court said, state courts are able to adjudicate these claims. Are they really saying, is Justice John Roberts saying that state court judges, he’s not the equal of state Supreme Court justices? Really, I don’t believe that for a second. And there’s no doubt that, had Mitch McConnell not engaged in unprecedented obstruction and blocked Merrick Garland’s appointment for the better part of a year, that there would have been five votes to say that “Yes, the federal courts can police gerrymandering.” So here we are, Democrats have done everything they can to make gerrymandering illegal, and Republicans have done everything they can to keep it legal. And Republicans love gerrymandering because they know—they know—that the only way they can cling to power is by ensuring that they can still win elections even if they fail to win the most votes….that leaves Democrats with two choices, either accept the status quo and let Republicans continue to tilt the playing field as far to the right as they can, or fight fire with fire and try to tilt the playing field back toward fairness by using the tools at your disposal.”

Political Strategy Notes

In the wake of the Michigan Democratic primary, Nathaniel Rakich addresses a worrisome question in his article, “Could Arab American and Muslim voters cost Biden the 2024 election?” at 538, via abcnews.com: “On Tuesday, President Joe Biden won the Democratic primary in Michiganwith 81 percent of the vote — and yet it was his opponents who claimed victory….At least 100,000 Democrats in the Great Lakes State voted for “uncommitted,” a protest vote driven in large part by dissatisfaction with Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Multiple groups had urged voters to reject Biden due to his support for Israel in the conflict, and the “uncommitted” vote was particularly high in heavily Arab American and Muslim cities such as Dearborn (where “uncommitted” actually defeated Biden 56 percent to 40 percent)….The deep discontent among these normally Democratic voting blocs could be a problem for Biden in November, particularly in swing-state Michigan, which has the nation’s highest share of Arab Americans and one of the highest shares of Muslims. The Biden campaign is counting on Arab American and Muslim voters holding their nose and voting for him anyway when they consider the likely alternative: former President Donald Trump, who also supports Israel and has a history of anti-Muslim rhetoric.” However, Rakich adds, “While it’s possible that Arab American and Muslim voters could decide a very close race, Biden could also win reelection without their support….many Arab Americans and Muslims were persuadable voters even before the Israel-Hamas war broke out on Oct. 7, 2023.” However, “For the first time since at least 1996, more Arab Americans also identified as Republicans than as Democrats, 32 percent to 23 percent. Just six months earlier, in April, 40 percent had identified as Democrats and 24 percent had identified as Republicans.” Yet, “most swing states don’t have significant Arab American or Muslim populations; even in Michigan, which has the largest such populations, they each make up less than 3 percent.” In addition, there are likely to be significant numbers of “uncommitted” voters, who will vote for Biden in November, when faced with the alternative of Trump defining Mideast policy and whipping up antipathy towards Muslims and Arab-Americans in the U.S. In any event, a Mideast ceasefire at least partly brokered by President Biden would likely help his campaign – and the sooner the better.

The Biden campaign should be concerned about another foreign policy issue, as reported in “Two years into the war, American support for Ukraine is down” by Monica Potts, also at 538, via abcnews.com. “From the beginning, Americans supported helping Ukraine, but only to a certain extent. Early on, many experts feared a swift Russian victory over the country and a conflict that could spill into the rest of Europe, including the U.S.’s NATO allies. As a result, most Americans, 71 percent, saw Russia as a threat to the country, according to polling from YouGov/The Economist right before the war started. Americans also supported economic sanctions almost immediately imposed by President Joe Biden’s administration and the European Union. Biden also recently announced new sanctions….A plurality of Americans also supported financial aid to Ukraine to help fight off the attack. But even then, 51 percent wanted the U.S.’s role to be “minor,” according to an AP-NORC poll from before the conflict….Forty-five percent of Americans now think the U.S. is spending too much money helping Ukraine, according to an AP-NORC poll from November. Ukraine aid is especially unpopular among Republicans, 59 percent of whom said the U.S. had spent too much. Disapproval may be especially high among supporters of former President Donald Trump: Only about a third of Trump supporters favored ongoing Ukraine funding in an Ipsos/Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll from Sept. 7-18, while 59 percent of anti-Trump Republicans favored it….At the same time, a plurality of Americans, 43 percent, think the West should support Ukraine until Russia withdraws, and 46 percent think the West is not doing enough to support Ukraine, according to a YouGov/EuroTrack poll from Jan. 5 – Feb. 4. Regardless of support for helping the Ukrainian resistance, what can’t hurt and might help President Biden’s re-election is a sustained media campaign, featuring not only TV ads, but also Democratic leaders repeatedly shaming Republicans for giving Putin a free ride on his invasion of Ukraine.

And speaking of free rides, Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani reports on Hunter Biden’s criticism of Republicans for their silence and abdication of responsibility for investigating Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s $2 billion deal with the Saudis. As Varkiani writes, “It’s a smart point to bring up, and one that begs repeating as we get closer to November. Shortly after he left the White House, Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Trump, accepted at least $2 billion from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. That money went directly to Kushner’s new private equity firm, Affinity Partners. According to the original documents, The New York Times reported, in return for their hefty investment, the Saudis would receive at least a 28 percent stake in Kushner’s firm and be recognized as a “cornerstone” investor….If that wasn’t concerning enough, a later report from The Intercept revealed that the pitch from Affinity Partners focused almost entirely on Kushner’s official roles in the Trump administration and the potential political connections he could offer the Saudi investors in return for their investment. Perhaps none of this is a huge surprise, given that during the Trump years, MBS reportedly bragged about having Kushner “in his pocket.” Hunter Biden is not the best messenger for calling attention to the Kushner-Saudi deal. But Democratic leaders should repeat the points he is making about GOP hypocrisy at every opportunity.

John Halpin makes the case that “Americans Aren’t Paying Close Attention to the 2024 Election” at The Liberal Patriot, and writes: “For the 2024 horse race polls to have any real credibility this far out, you need to have some confidence that most Americans are paying attention to the race otherwise you’re measuring the opinions of the most engaged voters and getting mere inclinations from everyone else….But according to the most recent data from The Economist/YouGov, the opposite is true—most Americans report that they are not paying close attention to the 2024 election at this stage….only 40 percent of American adults overall report that they have been paying a lot of attention to the 2024 election, with 31 percent paying some attention and 28 percent paying only a little or no attention at all. Even among registered voters, only half report paying a lot of attention to the election.” Halpin provides this chart to indicate how different demograpahic groups are following election news:

Political Strategy Notes

in “Barriers to voting for people with disabilities: An explainer and research roundup” at Journalists’s Resource, Naseem S. Miller reports on an issue that affects millions of voters and their families, but doesn’t get much attention: “A growing body of research shows that voting and health are intertwined. People affected by poor health or disabilities are less likely to cast a ballot than the general population….When previously disenfranchised people, including people with disabilities, vote, policies that benefit everyone and better health outcomes follow, according to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute….About 42.5 million Americans have disabilities, according to 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. ….In the November 2020 election, individuals with disabilities voted at a 7% lower rate than people without disabilities, according to the Disability and Voting Accessibility in the 2020 Elections survey by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and Rutgers University. More than 11% — nearly 2 million people with disabilities — said they faced difficulties voting….Voters with disabilities face a range of barriers, including inaccessible voting places, lack of accessible voting machines, and state laws that restrict voting by mail or criminalize assisting a person in voting, according to the American Civil Liberties Union….When the Government Accountability Office officials visited 167 polling places during the 2016 general election, only 17% were fully accessible for people with disabilities who wanted to vote in person. The most common barriers were steep ramps, lack of signs for accessible paths to the building, gravel parking lots or lack of parking options….In 2023, at least 14 states enacted 17 restrictive voting laws, which will take effect for the 2024 general election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute at New York University. Most of the laws limit mail-in voting, shorten the window of requesting a mail ballot or ban drop boxes. Even though these laws don’t target people with disabilities, they create additional barriers for them….People who live in institutions like nursing homes, those who are under legal guardianship and people with mental illness are also less likely to vote than the general population, research has shown. In some cases, these people are prohibited from voting by state law.” While there is no convincing data indicating Democrats would get moe votes than Republicans by expanded access for these voters, Democrats might benefit by being more visible champions of reforms to make voting more convenient for them.

Some revealing statistics from “What America’s Relocation Boom Means for Election 2024” by Shawn Donnan at Bloomberg Business: “The population shifts are more pronounced in some battleground states than others, and they don’t uniformly favor Biden. But in aggregate, they offer a reason for optimism for the president’s campaign, even as polls showhim trailing his likely opponent, Donald Trump: A Bloomberg analysis of state population forecasts found swing-state counties that Biden won in 2020 will have on net gained almost twice as many people by election day as those that voted for Trump….Counting people is hard, and state demographers’ population forecasts don’t always agree with Census Bureau estimates, which for some states point to smaller gains….Still, by November’s presidential election, around 30 million Americans — the equivalent of the population of Texas — will have moved to a different state since 2020, even if migration recedes to a pre-pandemic pace…..In Georgia, where Biden beat Trump by fewer than 12,000 votes in 2020, the population will have grown by almost 395,000, according to state forecasts. Most of that growth is in metro Atlanta counties that Biden won handily in 2020. Likewise, in Nevada, Las Vegas home Clark County will have added almost 125,000 people by the time the election is held…..State forecasts show Maricopa County, Arizona, which Biden won narrowly and where 2 million ballots were cast in 2020, will have 337,000 more residents on election day 2024. Biden’s razor-thin 2020 margin there suggests that capitalizing on that growth may not be as easy as in Wisconsin, Georgia or Nevada….The relocation boom is not a tailwind for Biden everywhere. In North Carolina, the growth in red counties appears to have more than offset the rapid growth in the Raleigh-Durham metro area’s blue suburbs, according to state forecasts….Rapidly growing states like Georgia and North Carolina are seeing major changes in the composition of their electorates, while others like Pennsylvania are becoming more urban as they fight to maintain population.”

Bill Scher explains why “It’s Time for Biden to Learn from Reagan and Go All “Morning in America”: The president has a better economic record than Reagan. He should take a page from the Gipper’s extremely optimistic 1984 reelection ad campaign” at The Washington Monthly: “The Biden economy is by nearly every significant measure better than the 1984 Reagan economy: the unemployment rate is lower, earnings are higher, the poverty rate is lower, inflation is lower, and interest rates are lower. Yet public sentiment towards Biden hasn’t caught up to the economic data, the media continues to harp on his age, and Donald Trump is furiously retconning the economic narrative of the last seven years….The public may come to credit Biden with the improved economy, so long as the improvement continues, in time for Election Day. But with counterwinds, Biden can’t assume credit will organically materialize. Because his challenge is steeper than Reagan’s, he should not wait until September to marshal his best arguments….Granted, an inherent risk with bragging about economic data is that it can go south….But a review of the original Morning in America spot reminds us that emotion, not data, made it resonate….A Biden version of Morning in America could sound like this: It’s morning in America. Today, more Americans will go to work than ever in our country’s history….Why not lift directly from the original’s first line? It’s technically accurate as a matter of raw numbers: in every month of 2023, for the first time, over 160 million Americans were employed. But the unemployment rate has been at 4 percent or below for the last two years, which hasn’t happened in over 50 years. Even if the unemployment rate ticks up some, the line will almost surely remain technically true…And we’re building things in America again…As of January 2024, we have 13 million manufacturing workers (about 8 percent of the workforce), the most in 15 years….We’re enjoying the fruits of our labor, living in safer neighborhoods, and taking more vacations….The 2023 murder rate is down 12 percent from the prior year, according to crime data analyst Jeff Asher, and all violent crime (through the third quarter of 2023) is down 8 percent. ….Then, to close the ad, why change a word?….It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Biden, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?….Ideally, the Biden campaign would tap people from all walks of life—small business owners, PTA presidents, first responders, community bankers, blue-collar workers, stay-at-home parents, community college students, and retirees—from every state or even every county, to echo similar messages in local media about how the economy has turned around. Such a communications effort would till the soil for a national Morning in America campaign, which would not have to consist of just one ad but several versions tailored to different demographics.”

Democrats have often faulted  evangelical Republican members of congresss for violating the separation of church and state. But Washington Post syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. reports on a unique challenge Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CONN) has posed to House Speaker Mikie Johnson (R-LA), connecting New Testament teachings to GOP policies. As Dionne, writes, “Because Johnson’s brand of Christianity is decidedly right-wing, he has since faced much criticism and reproof — which is entirely fair for a politician who has chosen to make his religious convictions so central to his public life. But Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), whose progressivism on issues related to economic justice is rooted in her Catholic tradition’s social teaching, has another way of approaching the question….I was not surprised when she recently called me to report that she had been thinking a lot about Johnson’s comment on the Bible explaining his outlook. Her purpose, she said, was not to question Johnson’s commitment to Christianity. On the contrary, DeLauro went out of her way to be respectful to Johnson’s spiritual life….“He is a man of faith, I start from there,” DeLauro said. “And he says his beliefs are rooted in the Bible, and many of us believe that. … The Bible is replete with guidance, of attention to act as a community, to focus in on the poor,” she said. “And the Bible lays out a faith-based policy agenda. It espouses social justice.”….And off she went, citing Exodus’s command not to oppress the poor or the stranger whose cry God will hear; Leviticus on setting aside of a share of the harvest for the poor; the Gospel of Matthew on the need for a living wage; the letter of James on the obligation not to show favoritism for the rich over the needy…..DeLauro wanted to be clear that however much she disagrees with Johnson on a slew of questions, she was not accusing him of anything. Instead, she wants to invite him to a dialogue on what taking the Bible seriously means.”

Political Strategy Notes

NYT Opinion essayist Thomas B. Edsall addresses a question of overarching consequence for the 2024 presidential election, “Does Biden Have to Cede the White Working Class to Trump?” An excerpt: “A chorus of political analysts on the center left is once again arguing that the Democratic Party must reclaim a significant share of racially and culturally conservative white working-class voters if it is to regain majority status….John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira have made this case repeatedly in recent years, most exhaustively in their 2023 book, “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?”….They are not alone….“For Victory in 2024, Democrats Must Win Back the Working Class,” Will Marshall, the founder and president of the Progressive Policy Institute, wrote in October 2023. “Can Democrats Win Back the Working Class?Jared Abbott and Fred DeVeaux of the Center for Working-Class Politics asked in June 2023; “Democrats Need Biden to Appeal to Working-Class Voters” is how David Byler, the former Washington Post data columnist, put it the same month.” Edsall quoters a number of academics who have expertise on issues related tot he topic, including Judis, who says: “Democrats have won and could win elections without winning back many of the working-class voters that deserted the party over the last decades. Democrats did so in 2022 by decrying Republican attacks on abortion rights and on gun control and by decrying Donald Trump’s leadership and his threat to democracy. Democrats could win on these issues again in 2024.” However, notes Edsall, “Judis argued, however, that this approach is not adequate to “establish solid majorities capable of upending the balance of power in American politics.” For Democrats to return to their position as the dominant political party, Judis maintained that “they have to win back working-class voters.”

Edsall also quotes William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who contends: “1. The lines between the white working class and the nonwhite working class are eroding. Donald Trump received 41 percent of the non-college Hispanic vote in 2020 and may well do better this time around. If this turns out to be the case, then the old Democratic formula — add minorities to college-educated voters to make a majority — becomes obsolete….2. The share of young Americans attending and completing college peaked a decade ago and has been fitfully declining ever since….3. The “stop chasing the working-class vote” approach flunks the most important test — Electoral College math. The stubborn fact is that working-class voters (especially but not only white) form a larger share of the electorate in key battleground states, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, than they do nationally….Galston provided The Times with data showing that while the national share of white working-class voters is 35 percent, it is 45 percent in Pennsylvania, 52 percent in Michigan and 56 percent in Wisconsin, all battleground states Biden won in close contests in 2020 and states that the Democrats are very likely to need again this November.” Edsall also quotes Dartmouth political scientist Sena Westwood, who observes, ““it is foolhardy for Democrats to count on higher education to offset the growth of more conservative minority populations….The number of students entering the nation’s colleges, Westwood wrote, is about to fall off an “enrollment cliff,” while “the nonwhite portion of America is on track to continue surging. The undeniable truth is that the future of America and of both parties rests in the hands of America’s minority population.”

Edsall notes further, “Robert Borosage, a founder of the Campaign for America’s Future and the issue director of Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign, argued in an email that white working-class voters are crucial to the ideological coherence of the Democratic Party, You can’t build an enduring majority for progressive change vital to sustaining a democracy without a broad coalition that includes white working-class support. Without the effort to appeal to the white working class, you will watch more and more erosion of working people of all races and genders.…Candidates, Borosage continued, “who lead with a populist economic agenda can, in my view, sustain their social liberalism. Candidates that lead with their social liberalism and eschew a populist economic agenda pay a severe price for that failure — Hillary Rodham Clinton as signature example.”….Politically speaking, in Borosage’s view, Democrats have suffered more because of their economic policies than from cultural liberalism and identity politics: Where Democrats have been losing is that their economics hasn’t worked for working people. It is far more destructive to be the party of Wall Street and multinational corporations (the neoliberalism from Carter to Clinton to Obama, with Clinton the worst offender) than to be the party defending abortion or D.E.I.  Edsall; adds, “While the call coming from Judis, Galston and others for the Democratic Party to do all it can to retain and expand its working-class support has merit, I think [Jacob] Hacker’s case for Democrats’ continued reliance on an upstairs-downstairs coalition will be the party’s de facto strategy.”

At 538, via abcnews, Monica Potts shares some observations about divided GOP state parties in key swing states: “In Michigan, Arizona and Georgia, intense internal battles are tearing through the state Republican parties. The fights largely pivot around divisions that opened up in the wake of the last presidential election. A new cadre of Trump-loyalist party leaders, in many cases propelled into power based on their defense of the Big Lie that former President Donald Trump actually won in 2020, have found themselves at war with more establishment-aligned Republicans … and, increasingly, with each other….These rifts in three potential swing states are one of the many ways that Trump’s hold on the GOP and the rise of election denial in the aftermath of the 2020 election are defining not only the election this fall — when Trump loyalists could be looking at their 2020 playbook for ways to influence the outcome — but also the Republican state party organizations that will shape their states’ politics for years to come….State parties traditionally don’t play a huge formal role in presidential elections, but they can certainly have an impact. While national candidates and party organizations have their own turnout and fundraising machines, state parties filter money from the national parties, recruit local and state candidates, and play a role in driving turnout. Even more directly, in some states, including Arizona, Georgia and Michigan, state parties also choose electors for the Electoral College vote, an issue that has become newly salient in the wake of 2020 election denial. “If there’s a question about who gets on the ballot as electors … [state party leadership] comes into play, because a lot of times the state party rules specify how electors are chosen,” said Douglas Roscoe, a political science professor at UMass-Dartmouth….With election deniers helping to shape state parties, another battle could open up if election results in a state are close and subject to court challenges, in which these organizations traditionally play a role….More broadly, state parties play a major role in selecting candidates for down-ballot races. A dearth of young Republican leaders seems to be an emerging challenge for the GOP, as support for Trump and the Big Lie remain a litmus test for those who would run for office — these younger, Trump-aligned Republicans are often less experienced than their more establishment peers, more focused on grandstanding than policymaking.”

Navalny Assassination Underscores ‘GOP Soft on Putin’ Meme

Kelly Eleveld explains why “Democrats have an opening as Trump rolls over for Putin at Daily Kos: ”

It’s worth remembering here that, despite Trump’s bromance with Putin, the vast majority of Americans have no love for Russia. In fact, last year, Gallup found Russia’s favorability rating among Americans was at an all-time low of 9%, as former Obama White House aide Dan Pfeiffer noted in his “Message Box” Substack.

Newly released polling from Pew Research Center also found that 74% of Americans view the war in Ukraine as important to U.S. national interests, including 43% who describe it as “very” important….The combination of Russia’s abysmal favorability rating, Americans’ understanding that the fate of Ukraine has implications here at home, and Putin’s likely role in Navalny’s death—his biggest political threat at home—leave Trump and Republicans more vulnerable than ever to attack on the issue.

Eleveld urges that “Biden and Democrats should keep rallying around Navalny’s death, Putin’s thuggery, and Trump’s cowardice. For House Republicans, failure to act on the Senate-passed aid package will likely play terribly in the 17 Biden-won districts they need to hold in November to keep control of the House.”

In “Schism over Russia drives Republicans apart” at CNN Politics, Zachary B. Wolf notes that “In recent days, Haley has made passionate arguments about the need for the US to stand up to autocrats and bristled at Trump’s attempt to compare himself to Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who died in jail.”

Further, notes Eleveld, “And on Tuesday, the Biden administration said it plans to announce a new sanctions package against Russia on Friday over Navalny’s death.” Quite a contrast from Putin’s lapdog. As Eleveld writes, ” Biden is taking charge, using the tools at his disposal to hold Putin to account, while Trump is whining on the national stage and promising to give Putin free rein “to do whatever the hell they want” to our NATO allies.”

It’s too early in the ’24 election campaign to assess whether the Navalny assassination will continue to deepen the divide among Republicans leading up to the election. But Democrats certainly can get plenty of video footage showing beloved Republican leaders, including Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan and Republican presidential nominee John McCain warning Americans – and their fellow Republicans – to be wary of the malevolence of Russian leaders. Hell, Reagan called the Soviet Union, which Putin wants to restore under his control, “the evil empire.”

The conventional wisdom is that foreign policy doesn’t win or lose elections because the economy overshadows all international concerns, although historians can name a few exceptions. But the steady improvement in  economic indicators just might give Democrats enough room to make what they can of the GOP’s shamefully epic cave to Putin, and pick up a point or two in key swing states.

Political Strategy Notes

Adriana Gomes Licon and Jonathan J. Cooper of Associated press report that “Biden’s rightward shift on immigration angers advocates. But it’s resonating with many Democrats,” and explain: “In his 2020 campaign, Joe Biden vowed to undo former President Donald Trump ’s immigration policies, specifically expressing frustration with a policy setting limits on the number of asylum seekers accepted each day at the southern border….This year, Biden backed a Senate proposal that would have set daily limits on border crossings — and Democrats are planning to campaign to reelect him by emphasizing that Republicans caused the deal to collapse….Democrats are reframing the immigration debate, going from embracing more welcoming policies in response to the Trump administration’s programs at the border — including its separation of hundreds of immigrant children from their parents — to declaring that they can get tough on border security and adopt policies long sought by Republicans. Biden’s rhetorical shift risks straining his support from immigrants and their advocates who campaigned for him in 2020, but it appears to be working for Democrats after they won a special election in New York….“We need to lean into this and not just on border security, but, yes, tough border security coupled with increased legal pathways,” said Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist….Democrat Tom Suozzi, who won Tuesday’s special election in New York for the House seat once held by ousted Republican Rep. George Santos, ran ads calling for more border security and featuring an interview he did on Fox News in which he supported U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement….His district includes parts of Queens, a diverse New York borough that has received thousands of migrants bused from the border.” However, note the authors, “More than 130 organizations from around the country sent a letter to Biden opposing the deal and the tougher standards for asylum. Some immigration activists expressed frustration with Biden and a lack of enthusiasm to go knock on doors for him at a recent gathering of more than a dozen advocacy groups in Arizona.”

Licon and Cooper continue, “Julián Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and secretary of housing and urban development who ran against Biden for the presidential nomination in 2020, suggested Biden and his allies were adopting the terms of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell….“Democrats, you’re never going to be cruel enough, ‘tough’ enough, anti-immigrant enough or able to deport your way to the negotiating table with McConnell and MAGA,” Castro said. “Stop playing their game.”….The border proposal would have included for the first time a right to counsel for vulnerable asylum seekers such as children 13 and younger and would have raised the cap on immigrant visas available by 250,000 over the next five years. The National Border Patrol Council and the Chamber of Commerce supported it….“The President stands with the overwhelming majority of Americans who demand action from Washington to address our long-broken immigration system,” Kevin Munoz, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign, said in a statement. “MAGA Republicans, led by Donald Trump, have opted to abdicate their responsibilities so they can demonize immigrants to score political points.”….Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat and the only Hispanic woman in the upper chamber, said her constituents want to see an “orderly process at the border.” She said they still demand broad immigration reforms that legalize the status of “Dreamers” and others who only have temporary protections from deportation. “We can work on a broken immigration system but also secure our border,” Cortez Masto said in an interview. “Many of the Nevadans that I talked to, including in the Latino community, get that because they want safe communities. They understand that. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to continue to work on fixing this broken immigration system.” Cortez Masto said she hopes that after the collapse of the border deal, the public sees that Republicans were not looking for solutions….Gabriel Aldebot, a 66-year-old union electrician in Las Vegas, said he felt lawmakers must secure the border, and a compromise that includes more resources for enforcement is the best way to do it….“The more bipartisan, the more it’ll seem like it’s fair to people,” Aldebot said after voting for Biden in Nevada’s Democratic primary.”

Rehan Mirza explores “How AI deepfakes threaten the 2024 elections” at Jounalist’s Resource: “Deepfakes already have affected other elections around the globe. In recent elections in Slovakia, for example, AI-generated audio recordings circulated on Facebook, impersonating a liberal candidate discussing plans to raise alcohol prices and rig the election. During the February 2023 Nigerian elections,an AI-manipulated audio clip falsely implicated a presidential candidate in plans to manipulate ballots. With elections this year in over 50 countries involving half the globe’s population, there are fears deepfakes could seriously undermine their integrity…. Media outlets including the BBC and the New York Times sounded the alarm on deepfakes as far back as 2018. However, in past elections, including the 2022 U.S. midterms, the technology did not produce believable fakes and was not accessible enough, in terms of both affordability and ease of use, to be “weaponized for political disinformation.” Instead, those looking to manipulate media narratives relied on simpler and cheaper ways to spread disinformation, including mislabeling or misrepresenting authentic videos, text-based disinformation campaigns, or just plain old lying on air.…As deepfakes continually improve in sophistication and accessibility, they will increasingly contribute to the deluge of informational detritus. They’re already convincing. Last month, The New York Times published an online test inviting readers to look at 10 images and try to identify which were real and which were generated by AI, demonstrating first-hand the difficulty of differentiating between real and AI-generated images. This was supported by multiple academic studies, which found that “faces of white people created by AI systems were perceived as more realistic than genuine photographs,” New York Times reporter Stuart A. Thompson explained….Listening to the audio clip of the fake robocall that targeted New Hampshire voters, it is difficult to distinguish from Biden’s real voice.”

“The media narrative is grim for president Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats,” Susan Milligan writes in “Democrats Are Trailing Everywhere But at the Ballot Box: Democrats aren’t getting a lot of encouraging news from 2024 opinion polls these days. But elections are painting a much different picture” at U.S. News: “Biden’s too old and his mental acuity is questionable, sayeth the pundits and the polls. Democratic base voters, particularly Black voters, are disenchanted with the president, leading a generally cranky Democratic rank-and-file to stay home this November….Actual elections, however, paint a much different picture. Democrats scored a big win in New York on Tuesday, and the numbers were extremely encouraging for the party. Not only did Democrats add a seat to their caucus in Washington, but it wasn’t even close: Tom Suozzi, a former House member who reclaimed his old job, beat Republican Mazi Pilip by 8 percentage points – a 16-point swing from 15 months ago, when former GOP Rep. George Santos took the district by 8 percentage points….Across the country, Democrats are winning special elections and overperforming in elections they have predictably lost. And it’s fueling optimism among Democrats looking at a challenging election year for both the White House and Congress….”Polls don’t vote. People vote. And that’s what’s been happening,” says Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern, a veteran lawmaker from Massachusetts who has served in both the minority and the majority. Despite what the polls say, “people have been voting, and they’ve been voting Democratic. I feel really good about November – and not just about the president. I feel really good about us taking back the House.”….Experts caution that a special election win in New York – particularly a district Biden won in 2020, albeit when the district was drawn to be more Democratic-friendly – does not a national movement make. The president still has abysmally low approval ratings, and national and battleground state polls show him in a tight race with his likely fall opponent, former President Donald Trump.”