washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

In “If Democrats Win Back the House, They Will Have John Roberts to Thank,”New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall writes: “If Democrats take back control of the House in 2024 after having lost it in 2022, analysts may well look back to a Supreme Court decision announced last week, Allen v. Milligan, as crucial to the party’s victory. This is because the Milligan decision will quite possibly result in the replacement of as many as five majority white Republican districts with majority-minority Democratic districts, and that’s for starters….The court’s ruling in Milligan specifically requires Alabama to create a second House district in order to provide an opportunity for a Black candidate to win. The decision is an unexpected affirmation of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a development that immediately scrambled calculations being made about key House races across the nation….David Wasserman, the senior House analyst for the Cook Political Report, announced on Twitter that “in the wake of the SCOTUS Alabama decision, we’re shifting five House ratings in Democrats’ direction. It’s very likely two formerly Solid R seats will end up in Solid D.”….Milligan, Wasserman continued, “could reverberate across the Deep South leading to the creation of new Black-majority, strongly Democratic seats in multiple states.”….While more districts in other states could be added, depending on the outcome of further litigation, the Cook Report changed the “solid R” ratings of two Alabama and two Louisiana districts to “tossup” and the tossup rating of a Democratic-held seat in North Carolina, to “Lean D.”…If Democrats can gain five seats, it will critically affect the balance of power in Washington.”

Edsall also quotes Harvard Law professor Nicholas Stephanopolis, who says: “First, it means that Section 2 remains fully operative as a bulwark against racial vote dilution; second, it signals to conservative lower courts that they need to rule in favor of plaintiffs on facts like those in Milligan; third, it takes off the table arguments that Section 2 must be narrowly construed to avoid constitutional problems; and fourth, if Section 2 is constitutional, so should be other laws targeting racial disparities….It’s near-certain that Alabama will have a new Black opportunity (and Democratic) district by 2024, and this is also likely in Georgia and Louisiana. There may now be successful Section 2 claims in Texas, too. Milligan further complicates the looming Republican partisan gerrymander in North Carolina. And Milligan weakens Florida’s defense for eliminating a Black opportunity district around Jacksonville, which hinges on race-conscious districting being unconstitutional. Put it all together and at least 2-3, and quite possibly more, congressional districts are likely to change hands because of Milligan.”

Edsall quotes another Harvard professor, Lawrence H. Tribe, who cautioned in an email to Edsall, “First, nobody should believe the hype that this June’s Milligan decision has definitively rescued the Voting Rights Act from the dustbin to which the Roberts Court has been busy relegating it ever since Shelby County v. Holder cut the preclearance heart out of the Act a decade ago on constitutional grounds” Edsall explains, “In practice, Tribe argued, Milligan “left the preclearance provision of Section 5 a dead letter and kept in place the crippling interpretation of Section 2 set forth in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee.” But, Tribe continued, “Allen v. Milligan remains highly significant as an essential reminder that the court doesn’t exist in an isolation booth, unaffected by public reactions to its decisions that venture too far from the mainstream of legal and social thought.”….Roberts and Kavanaugh, in Tribe’s view, chose not to press the case against race-based redistricting in part because of “the controversy unleashed by the court in its shattering abortion ruling in Dobbs last June, coupled with other unrestrained shocks to the system delivered by the court in the landmark cases involving guns and climate change, and aggravated by the ethical stench swirling about the court as a result of improprieties.”….These developments, Tribe continued, “almost certainly had an impact, however subconscious, on the chief justice and on Justice Kavanaugh, who has increasingly sought to distance himself from the hard right.”….”Tribe warned that respite will be brief:

In a court that seems poised in the Harvard University and North Carolina University cases to interpret the Equal Protection Clause as a demand that government be blind to race, there remains a distinct danger that Section 2 will eventually be held flatly unconstitutional, a possibility that the Milligan ruling did not permanently foreclose and that several Justices pointedly underscored.

Even a cynic, Tribe wrote, “would have to concede that the court, and the country, dodged a deadly bullet in Milligan, something I view as worth celebrating. But that the gun remains loaded remains a cause for deep concern.”

If you are wondering how Trump’s legal meltdown is playing out with voters, Domenico Montanaro explains at nor.org: “There is a strange political divergence taking place that’s made possible by American information echo chambers….Republicans, whose main source of information comes from conservative media, are saying they believe Trump. But the opposite is true for the rest of the country, including the group of voters who largely decide elections – independents who only lean toward one party or the other….Swing voters view Trump as toxic, and Republican strategists and pollsters say he’s a main reason why the party has underperformed in the last three election cycles.That electability message hasn’t filtered down to the rest of the party though….”There’s this phenomenon that happens every time Trump is impeached or indicted, and I call it the ‘rally-round-Trump effect,’ where voters sort of share his grievance,” GOP pollster Sarah Longwell told NPR’s Morning Editionon Monday….Longwell is no Trump fan. But she hosts focus groups of Republican voters and is clear-eyed about Trump’s hold on the party. She told Morning Editionthat only two of the 50 voters she’s talked to over several months said another indictment would make them deviate from Trump. Nineteen said it would endear them more to him….In the limited polling since the indictment came out, that has been born out. A CBS/YouGov poll found that double the number of likely Republican primary voters said an indictment would change their view for the better (14%) than for the worse (7%). (Sixty-one percent said it wouldn’t change their view of him.)….The CBS poll found 80% of Republicans said Trump should still be able to be president even if he’s convicted….A minority of Republicans also said they believed it was a national security risk if Trump kept nuclear or military documents, but 80% of everyone else said it was serious. That just so clearly shows the fork in this political road….An ABC/Ipsos poll showed that the percentage of people saying this indictment is serious went up from 52% to 61%, as compared to the charges in New York stemming from hush-money payments Trump made to allegedly cover up affairs he was having….More than 6 in 10 independents said they think the charges were serious compared to slightly more than half after the New York indictment in April. And there was some movement among Republicans, too — 38% described these charges as serious compared to just 21% in April….But, importantly, there was no statistical change in how many thought Trump should or should not be charged. It’s nearly identical after the New York charges — half say he should be charged, a third or slightly more say he should not. And half also think the charges are politically motivated with independents split, which signals a big messaging fight ahead….”The question is, is how many more indictments are going to come,” Longwell asked, “and is it going to be a case where, because of all of Trump’s legal troubles, he’s the only person who ever gets talked about?”

Political Strategy Notes

At Axios, Alex Thompson has some tips re “Trump’s survive-the-unsurvivable plan,” which Dems may want to check out: “Trump has had a lot of practice surviving the unsurvivable. So his team has developed a playbook to repeat during bad news.

  • Pre-release: Trump will preempt any damaging announcement by releasing new information himself beforehand to try to blunt the impact of coming revelations.
  • Whataboutism: Trump will try to muddy the waters by pointing to any mistakes — real, exaggerated, or false — by his opponents.
  • Martyrdom: He will tell his supporters that any allegations against him are part of a larger conspiracy against his cause to fight the establishment.
  • Solidarity: Even before all the facts are known, Trump has his allies hit the airwaves to claim that he is innocent or his enemies are corrupt.
  • Shamelessness: Trump never hides or acts embarrassed, even in the face of damning information.
  • Flood the zone online: Trump’s team prepares large volumes of content ahead of time to pump out on social media.
  • Raise big money: Never waste a chance to raise money — especially if the Justice Department indicts him for obstruction and mishandling classified materials.
  • Go apocalyptic: “In the end, they’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you — and I’m just standing in their way,” Trump said Saturday at a rally in Columbus, Ga., in his first appearance since the Florida indictment. He also said: “This is the final battle.”

The big picture: Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. He’s the only former president to be indicted on federal charges. And he expects to be indicted at least once more — this time as part of his efforts to overturn his election loss in 2020….Zoom in: Former and current Trump aides often don’t defend Trump’s conduct — but believe that politics are on his side in part because of his ability to frame himself as a martyr for his voters’ larger cause.”

From Dan Brodey’s Daily Beast profile of Democratic Rep. Colin Allred, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Ted Cruz: “In an interview with The Daily Beast, Allred previewed all the themes his challenge will feature: Cruz’s objection to the 2020 election outcome after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, his opposition to legislation to prevent a default on the debt and to fund high-tech manufacturing, his coziness with far-right culture warriors, his zeal for the conservative media spotlight, and, yes, Cancun….The indelible image of Cruz returning to a storm-stricken Texas—where millions of his constituents were cold and without power in February 2021—from a family vacation in the Mexican resort city is, unsurprisingly, the apotheosis of Allred’s case against the incumbent. He calls it the “perfect encapsulation of how Ted Cruz sees himself as a public servant.”….Allred is also quick to mention he has won tough races before—he flipped a traditionally Republican seat in the Dallas suburbs in 2018….Allred, a Black man raised by a single mother who went from playing in the NFL to being a voting rights lawyer, is a polished communicator, said Rottinghaus, someone who “can deliver a really good message, is young and engaging, has a good story, and has bipartisan chops.”….In the 2024 election cycle, in which Democrats are defending their narrow Senate majority in daunting states like West Virginia, Texas actually represents the party’s best chance to flip a Republican-held seat, meaning the race will likely draw national attention…..In 2018, he defeated longtime incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) in a historically Republican suburban district by six points, one of the key data points of the Trump-era partisan political realignment. The people who voted for him that year, Allred said, “are no longer going to be voting for Ted Cruz.”….To underscore his broad appeal, the congressman is quick to note that he has been endorsed by both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and organized labor, traditionally two redoubts for the center-right and the center-left, respectively. “I’m not a generic Democrat,” Allred said. Brodey notes that Allred will likely have primary opposition. “Roland Gutierrez, a state senator who represents the gun violence-scarred community of Uvalde, is reportedly very likely to run against Cruz. Like O’Rourke, he has grabbed headlines for confronting Texas GOP leaders who have refused to pass gun reforms, and could capture enthusiasm among Democratic voters.”

In “The Rise of Independent Voters Is a Myth: A recent poll found that nearly half of Americans identify as independent. But they’re hiding the real truth about how they vote,” Alex Shepard writes at The New Republic: “America’s largest, fastest-growing political party isn’t led by Joe Biden or Donald Trump. It’s the Independent Party. At least, that was one of the biggest takeaways from a Gallup poll this spring. It found that 49 percent of Americans—roughly the same amount as the number of voters who identify as Democrats and Republicans combined—think of themselves as “independents.” (An identical poll a month later found slightly less eye-catching numbers.) That’s a huge jump from just 20 years ago, when less than a third of respondents identified that way….“The interesting thing about independents is that they do have affiliations to political parties,” said University of Michigan political scientist Yanna Krupnikov—who, with the University of Arizona’s Samara Klar, literally wrote the book on political independents, 2016’s Independent Politics: How American Disdain for Parties Leads to Political Inaction. “They typically have a preference, but it’s potentially different from the deep-seated attachment that a strong partisan might have. But a large portion of them do seem to prefer one party or the other.” Roughly three-quarters of independent voters are known as “leaners”—they typically turn out to vote for one party or the other. Most independents, in other words, aren’t so independent….Rather, “I think what this reflects is that most Americans have a pretty negative view of the party system in general and of what’s happening in our politics,” Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz told The New Republic. “There’s a reluctance to openly identify oneself as a partisan and to say, come right out and say, ‘I think of myself as a Republican or a Democrat.’”….more than 60 percent of independents who lean Republican or lean Democrat have “very” or “somewhat” cold opinions of the other party, according to a 2017 Pew Research poll….Regardless, the idea that these voters are a secret army of moderates waiting to be unlocked by a centrist party is likely a myth. Many do think the parties are too extreme; certainly most believe that they’re too disputatious. And yet they hardly represent a sizable “third party”: They’re not shopping around.”

On the other hand, Julia Manchester reports that “Democratic fears grow over third-party candidates” at The Hill, and writes: “The bipartisan group “No Labels” has been working toward building the foundation to launch a “unity ticket” to run as an option separate from Democrats or Republicans as polls show a rematch between Biden and former President Trump is likely. And Cornel West, a progressive activist, became the first relatively well-known third-party candidate to enter the race….The developments come as polling shows Americans souring on the prospect of a Biden-Trump rematch. A NewsNation/DDHQ poll released this week found 49 percent of respondents said it was somewhat or very likely they would consider voting for a third-party candidate in 2024 if Trump and Biden were the nominees….Meanwhile, an NBC News poll released last month found 70 percent of Americans said they did not want Biden to run for president next year, while 60 percent say they do not want Trump to run for president in 2024….“It’s almost universal,” said former Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who is involved with No Labels. “People are just saying ‘350 million Americans, can’t we have a different match?’”….While West’s chances of being elected president are slim, his candidacy, like past third-party bids, could impact the results of the election….Groups like Third Way and the Lincoln Project, a group critical of the state of the GOP under Trump, have come out strongly against the prospect of a third-party candidate. The groups have particularly taken aim at No Labels….“It is a guaranteed spoiler and the risk is all on the Democratic side,” said Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at Third Way. “It’s notable that Democrats are concerned about No Label’s third-party bid and no Republican is concerned, at least no Republican who is a Trump partisan or would support another Republican nominee. All of that concern is on the Democratic side.”….“Democrats rely far more on moderate and Independent voters than Republicans in national elections,” he added….No Labels has maintained a third-party bid is viable, citing polling that shows voters do not want a Trump vs. Biden rematch. The group says its polling shows 59 percent of voters say they would consider a moderate, independent ticket in 2024 if Trump and Biden are the nominees. The group is on the ballot in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado and Oregon.”

Is Trump at Long Last Toast, and How Should Dems Respond?

It’s too early to assess the political damage to Trump resulting from his recent and pending indictment(s), and more importantly for Dems to define a new 2024 strategy. But the damage looks substantial enough for Dems to begin thinking about it.

In “How Trump’s new indictment could affect 2024,” WaPo’s Aaron Blake limns the damage to Trump, as revealed by previous opinion polls: “

What seems clear is that more Americans, Republicans included, view these charges as serious. And while another indictment might not be enough to sink Trump in a GOP primary, this one for now appears more problematic, especially for his general-election hopes.

….The first thing to note: As with previous polls, people are less concerned about the charges Trump faces in Manhattan. While 52 percent of Americans regard it as a “serious crime” to falsify business records to conceal hush money payments to an adult-film star — the lowest percentage of five issues tested — 65 percent say the same about taking highly classified documents from the White House and obstructing efforts to retrieve them….Among just Republicans, while 28 percent say the former is serious, 42 percent say the latter is.

Much also depends on how much people would regard a conviction as being disqualifying. And that’s where this poll is especially helpful.

The survey also asked whether people thought Trump should be allowed to serve as president if he’s convicted of a “serious crime.” Just 23 percent overall said he should be, while 62 percent said he shouldn’t be. Republicans were more evenly split, with 39 percent saying a serious crime would be disqualifying.

The overlap between these two questions — how many people view serious crimes as disqualifying and regard these particular things as serious crimes — is also crucial.

Blake goes on to cite a YouGov poll which “combined the data” and found:

Regarding the Manhattan indictment, 41 percent of independents and 44 percent overall view the alleged crime as serious and also say it would be disqualifying.

Those numbers go up to 49 percent and 50 percent, respectively, in the classified documents case.

That’s nearly half of voters who, to the extent the case is proved in their minds, say Trump would be disqualified.

Blake adds, “this is people saying he shouldn’t even be considered for office in that case — not just that he will have done something seriously wrong.”

Of course, the shelf life of public attitudes toward Trump this week could be ancient history in a few more weeks. Or, it could get a lot worse pretty quick.

The Biden Administration will respond intelligently. The short term strategy is to STFU and allow impartial justice take its course. Other Democratic leaders will make comments disparaging Trump. But they should also focus their scorn on the GOP’s culture of corruption, moral decay and utter disdain for democracy, a perfect petri dish for creating their Frankenstein. The anti-Trump rank and file progressives are already in gloatfest mode – part of what 8 years of Frankenstein’s rampage has accomplished. But every Democrat should repeat the “let impartial justice take it’s course” mantra.

It is more possible today that one of the other Republicans will win the GOP presidential nomination. But let’s not be shocked if that doesn’t happen. Regardless, Democrats should focus on building unity, affirming their commitment to democratic values and principles and mobilizing a record-level turnout to end the exhausting mayhem of the Republican fiasco.

Political Strategy Notes

At FiveThirtyEight, Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux writes that “the GOP’s push to tighten abortion laws is generally at odds with public sentiment overall. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that in areas where abortion was prohibited in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, the share of people who think it should be easier to get an abortion rose from 31 percent in 2019 to 43 percent in 2023. There was a similar uptick in states where abortion was restricted or the law was being disputed in the courts. The poll also found that a majority of Americans (62 percent) think that states are making it too hard to get an abortion, including a substantial minority (39 percent) of Republicans. A majority (53 percent) of Republicans also think it should either be easier (20 percent) or about as difficult as it is now (33 percent) to get an abortion in their area, while less than half (44 percent) think it should be harder. And a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that Americans overall are much more likely to say that the Democratic Party represents their view on abortion (42 percent) compared to the Republican Party (26 percent)….None of this polling points to much of an appetite for more abortion restrictions, even among a solid chunk of Republicans. And it’s especially difficult for presidential candidates to find a position that both pleases anti-abortion advocates and isn’t broadly unpopular. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in April found that only 21 percent of Americans support a national ban on abortion without exceptions, and just over one-third (35 percent) are in favor of a national ban at six weeks’ gestation. The idea of banning abortion nationally — even at a later point in pregnancy, like 15 weeks — seems to be fairly politically toxic: A YouGov/Economist poll conducted last fall found that there was more support for establishing a national right to abortion (51 percent) than banning abortion at 15 weeks, while allowing states to enact stricter laws on their own (39 percent).”

In her article, “Moving Beyond the Good Ol’ Boys Club: Recent Trends in Women’s Representation in State Legislatures” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Carah Ong Whaley writes: “The percentage of women in state legislatures has increased in recent years. However, there is still a significant gender gap in most states as women have not reached parity in representation….The majority of women in state legislatures are Democrats. While more Republican women ran for office in 2022 than in previous years, that didn’t amount to closing the gender gap in representation….The percentage of women in state legislatures has increased more in Western and Northeastern states than in Midwestern and Southern states. This is likely due to a number of factors, including the political climate, the level of motivation and activism among women, and the availability of resources for women’s campaigns….Good politics and policy depend on diverse perspectives and lived experiences, but women remain underrepresented at all levels of government. As this analysis shows, the number of women in state legislatures is increasing, and this is a positive trend. However, as this analysis also demonstrates, progress is not a given and there are clearly states where more attention to closing the gender gap in representation is needed….For women to achieve parity in representation, there are structural challenges that states can address, including for example, by increasing salaries for legislators and providing stipends for childcare. There are also ways in which political parties and organizations can address the challenges women and other minoritized candidates face by expanding recruitment, encouragement, and training efforts, while increasing financial support for women to run for office. Openings and incumbency are also issues, and may require encouraging more women to challenge candidates from their own parties in primaries.”

In “As the Suburbs Go, So Goes America,” New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall writes, “Over the past half century, the percentage of Black Americans living in the nation’s suburbs has doubled, a shift that is changing the balance of political power in key regions of the country….“Since 1970, the share of Black individuals living in suburbs of large cities has risen from 16 to 36 percent,” Alexander W. Bartik and Evan Mast, economists at the University of Illinois and Notre Dame, write in their 2021 paper “Black Suburbanization: Causes and Consequences of a Transformation of American Cities.”…“This shift,” they point out, “is as large as the post-World War II wave of the Great Migration.”….In 1990, 33.9 percent of Black Americans in what are known as metropolitan statistical areas lived in the suburbs. By 2020, that grew to 51.2 percent, a 17.3-point shift over the same period; the share of Asian Americans in metropolitan statistical areas living in suburbs grew by 13.2 percentage points; and the share of Hispanics by 13.8 percentage points.” Commentators used to talk about “white flight” to describe the phenomenon of large numbers of white families moving from the cities to the suburbs and exurbs, usually implying out-migration driven by racism. But the Black exodus from the cities described by Edsall raises the possibility of something new. Call it “green flight” — families of all races simply wanting more of the natural world to enjoy, the forests, clean air and reduced traffic that you can still find in many rural communities.” There are political reverberations.

Edsall continues, “A study of the shifting politics of suburbia from the 1950s to the present, “Not Just White Soccer Moms: Voting in Suburbia in the 2016 and 2020 Elections,” by Ankit Rastogi and Michael Jones-Correa, both at the University of Pennsylvania, found that from the 1950s to the start of the 1990s,

Residing in racially homogeneous, middle-class enclaves, White suburban voters embraced a set of policy positions that perpetuated their racial and class position. Since the 1990s, however, the demographics of suburbs have been changing, with consequent political shifts.

As a result, by 2020, “suburban voters were more likely to back Biden, the Democratic candidate, than his Republican counterpart Trump.”…Why, the authors ask?

White suburban precincts showed greater support for Biden in 2020 than for Clinton in 2016. Our analysis indicates, however, that if all suburban voters had voted like white suburbanite precincts, Trump would have carried metropolitan suburbs in 2020.

So what saved the day for Biden? “Democrats carried metropolitan suburbs in 2020 because of suburban voters of color.” Edsall concludes, “America is undergoing a racial and ethnic upheaval that will profoundly shape election outcomes. On first glance, the trends would appear to favor Democrats, but there is no guarantee.”

Political Strategy Notes

Ronald Brownstein presents a case for “widening the pathways for legal immigration” at CNN Politics” and also writes: “Admitting more immigrants, many experts believe, is the most feasible way to expand America’s stagnating labor force after years of historically slow growth in the nation’s working-age population. And creating more opportunities for legal entry into the US – while maintaining strong penalties for illegal entry – may be the best long-term lever to reduce pressure on the border by encouraging more migrants to pursue legal means of entering the country and seeking work….With or without more legal immigration, experts agree, deteriorating economic and social conditions in multiple countries across Latin America guarantees difficulty in controlling the flow of migrants trying to cross the Southern border. But, to a degree that hasn’t been fully recognized, President Joe Biden and his administration are betting that creating more legal options will reduce the number of people looking to cross illegally and reduce pressure at the border, while also responding to the economy’s need for more workers. “That’s the theory of the case,” said Angela Kelley, chief policy adviser to the American Immigration Lawyers Association and former senior adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas….The Biden calculation is that more opportunity for legal entry creates more leverage for tougher enforcement. If potential migrants conclude they have no realistic chance to enter and work in America legally, the White House believes, they are less likely to be dissuaded by penalties under US law that can bar them from entry for years when they are caught trying to enter illegally. Migrants, after all, may not view such a prohibition on legal entry as much of a risk if there was virtually no chance of legal admission anyway. In the eyes of the administration, and like-minded immigration advocates, it takes a plausible carrot (the prospect of legal entry) to create an effective stick (with the entry ban of five years or more for illegal crossings that the administration announced when it ended the Trump administration’s pandemic-era Title 42 policy at the border.)”

Brownstein also notes, ““If you have legitimate consequences for unlawful entry combined … with easy to access legal pathways, these two things together reduce irregular migration,” said one administration official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal policy deliberations. “But one without the other has proven to be [ineffective].”….By itself, a more robust system of legal immigration “won’t solve the current crisis,” said Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the US Naturalization and Immigration Service under President Bill Clinton. But such a system, she believes, can contribute to stabilizing the border – and enhancing the credibility of enforcement efforts….“If there are realistic ways of coming to the country – a range of them – it makes the enforcement and something like a five-year ban, much more salient” to migrants, said Meissner, now a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a center-left think tank….Conservatives, meanwhile, remain dubious of any steps to increase legal immigration – even in the name of reducing illegal migration….The backdrop for this immigration debate is that the US is living through one of its longest sustained periods of sluggish population growth. In fact, from 2010 to 2020, the population grew more slowlythan in any ten-year span in US history except during the Great Depression, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Metro think tank….The slowdown has been especially acute in the youth and working-age population. The size of the US labor force (essentially the population 16 and older available to work) grew by almost three-fifths from 1960-1980 and rose again by more than a third from 1980-2000. But from 2000 to 2020 it increased by only around one-sixth. The labor force has been growing even more slowly since 2020.”

Further, Brownstein adds, “Using executive authority, Biden has done more to pave those legal pathways than generally recognized. Biden has doubled the number of migrants admitted under permanent employment visas by using his statutory authority to reallocate unused family-based visas to the employment category. He’s significantly expanded the number of temporary guest workers admitted for both agriculture and seasonal employment in businesses like fisheries and hotels, and targeted some of those extra visas to Latin American countries, including Guatemala and El Salvador, where difficult domestic conditions heighten pressure for illegal migration. Biden has also substantially increased the number of people designated for “Temporary Protected Status” that allows them to stay and work (or study) in the US because of unsafe conditions in their home country….Most ambitiously, Biden has used the federal government’s so-called “parole” authority to legally admit large numbers of migrants from countries facing acute crises. Presidents of both parties previously have used the parole authority to admit, for instance, Vietnamese immigrants after the fall of South Vietnam or Cubans after the communist takeover of the island. After first applying the parole authority to people from Afghanistan and Ukraine, the Biden administration subsequently announced it would admit up to 30,000 migrants a month from four countries in this hemisphere experiencing high levels of chaos: Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba. Those using the program must be sponsored by someone legally present in the US and fly to America; they are then authorized to work for two years. (The administration is developing a similar parole system to speed entry for migrants from Haiti, Cuba and four Latin American countries who are eligible to reunite with family members already in the US.)….The administration and its allies point out that illegal border crossings by migrants from the four countries designated for parole have plummeted since the program went into effect. “The evidence is promising,” Kelley says, that the availability of parole “disrupts the smuggling operation” by encouraging more people instead to seek a legal pathway….Still, the parole power is limited as a tool, since it only authorizes those admitted under it to stay in the US for two years.”

Nicole Lafond shares some choice observations in her post, “Where Things Stand: Save This Clip For Next Time They Pretend They Don’t Wanna Cut Soc Security, Medicare” at Talking Points Memo.” Lafond reports that Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy is catching a lot of heat from his right flank, which is very disappointed that Biden protected Asocial Security and Medicare from cuts. As Lafond reports: “House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is seemingly trying to get a handful of far-right members of the Freedom Caucus to chill out and stop threatening to redo the speakership election. They’re not likely to successfully depose him, but no one is eager for a redo of the January spectacle as a few loud members seek to reassert their authority. And, so, in what is seemingly a half-hearted effort to throw them a bone, McCarthy went on Fox News and promised to create some vague “commission” that’ll review further cuts to next year’s budget….The speaker then took it a step further. Instead of just promising that “this isn’t the end” and proposing some sort of additional amorphous cuts to quell a hardliner uprising, McCarthy doubled down, raising the possibility that this next step commission could look into gutting Social Security and Medicare. Music, in theory, to the ears of a salivating Freedom Caucus….Here’s the full exchange quickly:

McCarthy: “We only got to look at 11 percent of the budget to find these cuts. We have to look at the entire budget. The Congress has done this before after World War II –“

Harris Faulkner: “Why didn’t you see the whole budget?”

McCarthy: “The president walled off all the others. The majority driver of the budget is mandatory spending. It’s Medicare, Social Security, interest on the debt.”

Faulkner: “And he wouldn’t let you see? Wow.”

….Broadly speaking, Republicans have been trying to hollow out both Medicare and Social Security for decades, only to reverse course when the public catches on and paint their fixation with gutting the programs as innocent efforts to reform entitlements. In most recent memory, this about face played out live on television….This latest round of the GOP’s Medicare/Social Security-gutting fake out came to a head during this year’s State Of The Union address, when President Biden rather skillfullycornered Republicans into agreeing not to push for cuts to either program mid-speech.” What hasn’t changed is that the GOP is still the party that wants to reduce earned benefits for senior voters. Democrats should remind voters of this reality at every opportunity.

Political Strategy Notes

For a good lefty take on the debt ceiling deal, check out Harold Meyerson’s well-titled “You Go to War (or Not) With the President You Have” at the American Prospect. Among Meyerson’s observations: “Like the world according to T.S. Eliot, it ended with a whimper. Which is about the best progressives could have hoped for, given Republicans’ control of the House and the president’s limited ability to transcend that unfortunate state of affairs with some powerful messaging….This is not a president who does—who can do—powerful messaging….Joe Biden’s strengths and weaknesses are those of a workhorse senator. He can deal. He can keep lines of communication open to his fellow pols. He can’t use the powers of speech to reframe a debate or lift it to a higher level where his position becomes the obvious solution.Had he been so able, he might have gone on television to tell the nation why the very existence of the debt ceiling was an affront to both the Constitution and the nation’s standing. He would have laid out the reasons why he was inviting the Court to rule on it….But in his 50 years in the public eye, Biden has never delivered a speech with the power to alter the public’s understanding of a major issue. That wasn’t really a problem when he was a senator or even a vice president. It is, however, a genuinely limiting factor on his de facto powers as president….What he can enter into (a lot better than Donald Trump ever could) is the art of the deal. The concessions that Biden made are not only much less damaging than those of the 2011 arrangement—which ensured that the recovery from the 2008 crash would take a full decade—but might provide some political advantages in battles yet to come. Consider, for instance, one of the deal’s most egregious provisions, which my colleague David Dayen has termed the Pipeline Payoff. By ensuring that Joe Manchin’s pet pipeline is completed, now magically empowered to leap all remaining judicial and agency reviews in a single bound, Biden strengthens Manchin’s prospects for re-election next year, which the Democrats need if they’re to retain control of the Senate. He also lessens the prospect that Manchin will wage an independent presidential candidacy on the No Labels line, which would almost surely boost Republicans’ chances to win that election. For that matter, he makes it harder for No Labels to pretend that he’s a dangerous leftist who must be replaced. And, of course, he avoids the biggest obstacle to his own re-election, which was the economic implosion that would have followed a default, remote though the chance of an actual default actually was….This is not to say that Biden’s deal making didn’t come with a cost. From my perspective, its greatest cost was the omission of any permitting deal that would have sped the construction of electric transmission lines, absent which it could be a very long time before wind and solar power can light up distant cities and farms. That task now falls to a better Congress than the one we have now….He can’t speak but he can deal. As presidents go, we’ve done better, and we’ve done lots, LOTS worse.” You want more eloquence, find another Obama. You want a shrewd poker-player, Biden can deal.

Plenty has been said about the Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal, which just passed the House of Reps, and should sail through the senate. We’ll just add a snippet from “The good, the bad, and the ugly of the debt ceiling deal” by MSNBC Opinion Writer/Editor Hayes Brown: “…The final vote — 314 — 117, with Democrats providing the majority of the votes in favor — highlighted just how much the final agreement changed versus when the GOP passed its “Limit, Save, Grow Act” in April….Tellingly, the vote reflects the fact that the deal is bipartisan in the sense that it’s gotten votes from both parties, not that it is a win for both parties equally. Likewise, it is a compromise in that only some Americans will have their lives impacted for the worse. The alternative was either a massive hole Republicans tried to cut into the social safety net with their original bill, or widespread economic chaos a default would have caused….the bill could have been much worse. The Republican priorities it contains have been significantly pared back and there are a few Democratic priorities that were unexpectedly worked into the deal….Its budget provisions also get us through the next two fiscal years, which means the odds for a potential government shutdown have shrunk significantly. And, importantly, no matter what happens in 2024, the debt limit revision expires when Democrats will still control the Senate and White House….The bill is proof that Biden successfully defended the vast majority of his agenda passed by the last Congress. For example, there were only minor tweaks to the Inflation Reduction Act; the climate and health care provisions it contained were left intact. And a set of spending caps in the bill are pegged to the current year’s budget, not to fiscal year 2022’s budget as the GOP sought.”  Well-played, Mr. President.

One more mini-screed from Emily Brooks and Mike Willis at The Hill, who have one of those ‘Five takeaways’ posts. An excerpt from their subsection, “Jeffries, Dem leaders keep a tight ship“: “McCarthy was not the only untested congressional leader heading into the debt ceiling fight….Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the newly tapped Democratic leader, was also under heavy pressure to deliver for the party in his first major battle with a tight deadline and the economy in the balance…. That gave Jeffries and his leadership team the delicate task of protecting Biden, an unpopular president who’s running for reelection, from charges that he gave away too much, while also giving rank-and-file members of his caucus free rein to air their protests with the deal — and even vote against it when it hit the floor. There was no whip operation on final passage….“Members will make the decision that is best for them,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday morning….Jeffries also orchestrated several deft maneuvers throughout the debate….In January, Democratic leaders very quietly launched the process, known as a discharge petition, to force a vote on a clean debt ceiling bill as an emergency hatch if the talks went sideways. Behind Jeffries and Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), the Democratic whip, party leaders then secured unanimous support for that petition, which heightened the pressure on Republicans to cut a deal with Biden….And Wednesday, when McCarthy failed to secure the necessary Republican votes to pass the rule governing the bill, Jeffries mobilized Democrats to buck tradition and fill the void to ensure the measure could pass — but only after it was clear that Democrats would be needed to rescue the vote….Even McCarthy was impressed with that strategy….“I probably would have done the same [thing],” McCarthy said. “Good play.” And great teamwork, Dems.

Another good post at The American Prospect, Robert Kuttner’s “Biden, Student Debt, and the 2024 Election: Today on TAP: The president could make generational justice a big winner for basic decency—and for his re-election” provides some worthy insights, including: “Buried in the text of the debt deal is a provision codifying in law Biden’s plan to end serial student debt pauses as of September, pending a Supreme Court ruling on his partial debt cancellation. If the Court rules against him, the result will be a massive jolt to younger Americans (and not-so-young Americans) saddled with debt, as well as a big macroeconomic contraction to the economy….Thanks to the debt payment pause, which began in the bipartisan CARES Act of March 2020 and was extended indefinitely by executive order on Biden’s first day in office, some 48 million former students have had a three-year respite from this financial burden, which now totals over $1.7 trillion. By September, all could be paying the full tab….When Biden announced his plan for debt cancellation in August 2022, the decision was carefully poll-tested. Strategists weighed the benefit to those saddled with debt against the annoyance of those who either never attended college or who had already repaid their debts in full….Biden needs to embrace a broad agenda of generational justice for the young. A young adult today pursuing upward mobility is not only saddled with student debt. Many are unable to buy a house, or afford rent without multiple roommates. The young have difficulty finding a stable payroll job with benefits and career prospects that are more than a gig. The calculus is even worse for African Americans and for those who did not complete college and are still stuck with debt….My generation—and Biden’s—faced nothing like this. Student debt hadn’t even been invented; college and housing were affordable; and there were plenty of career-track jobs….Young people are precisely the segment of the electorate who are somewhat skeptical of Biden’s geezer-hood and who need to be motivated to vote, big-time. The youth vote turned out big and broke heavily for Democrats in 2018, allowing a takeback of the House….We need that in 2024, and more. The old guy needs to be a radical champion of the young….Go big again, Joe.”

‘Trump Drag’ a Worry of GOP Candidates….and a Boon for Dems

Republican 2024 candidates will be interested in “Can Republicans Hope To Outrun Trump In 2024 House Races?” by Amy Walter at The Cook Political Report. But Democrats should also give it a read, and flip the question into “Can Democrats Make Sure Republican 2024 candidates are branded as Trump’s lapdogs?” Of course, there is no guarantee Trump will win the GOP. But that is the most likely scenario at this juncture.

Here’s an excerpt from Walter’s article:

Last week, POLITICO’s Ally Mutnick and Holly Otterbein reported on how former President Donald Trump’s “early dominance” in the GOP presidential primary has “spooked some potential down-ballot candidates” and made the job of recruiting top-tier talent into key swing seat contests difficult. I’ve heard similar hand-wringing from GOP strategists, including the polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, which released the results of a swing-state survey they conducted showing a ticket led by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis produced a generic ballot advantage of one point for Republicans, while a Trump-led ticket produced a down-ballot advantage to Democrats of three points.

So, how worried should GOP candidates be about the “Trump drag” in 2024?

Walter reviews the history of Trump drag for both times he has been on the ballot and the midterms during his presidency and she sees some significant ‘Trump Drag.’  Further,

In 2022, Republicans narrowly won control of the House thanks to the fact that 18 Republicans won in districts Biden had carried in 2020. However, Republicans’ failure to flip other high-profile seats that Biden narrowly carried two years earlier (like MI-08, MI-07, PA-07, CO-08, NM-02 and OH-13) cost them a more robust majority.

To hold the House in 2024, Republicans first have to limit their losses in Biden-held districts. The most vulnerable Republicans are the five freshmen who outperformed Trump’s 2020 showing in their districts by double digits: John Duarte (CA-13), George Santos (NY-03), Anthony D’Esposito (NY-04), Mike Lawler (NY-17) and Lori Chavez DeRemer (OR-05). For example, Biden won the Central Valley-based 13th District by 11 points. Freshman Rep. John Duarte carried it by just under one point.

Walter concludes, “To hold the House, Republicans are going to need to beat Democrats in districts where Trump will likely lose.” Also,

In 2016, when Trump was a novelty, 23 Republican candidates won in districts Trump lost. Four years later, only nine Republicans were able to do the same thing. In 2022, Democrats effectively branded the GOP as the party of MAGA and Trump, helping them to pick up a Senate seat and hold down their losses in the House.

This is why many Republicans are correctly worried that Trump on the top of the ticket could risk their majority.

So, in the event of Trump’s winning the GOP nomination, Democrats should get out their branding irons and make sure GOP candidates have “Trump lapdog” emblazoned their foreheads. But save a little room for “anti-choice puppet,” which could come in handy, — especially if Trump tanks, and some other extremist gets the Republican nod.

It’s true that the ‘Trump Lapdog’ brand has not hurt some of his most obsequious minions, like Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham in the recent past. But keep in mind that demographic transformations, though modest from year to year, favor Democrats in many states and congressional districts. Graham does not have to run in 2024. But Cruz is facing a charismatic Democrat, Colin Allred. A good Democratic branding effort in Texas, for example, could help flip a couple of points – and win an Allred victory – for Dems.

Political Strategy Notes

In his latest Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne, Jr. provides a succinct as you are going to find description of GOP strategy: “The playbook is quite consistent: Harvest votes from less affluent social conservatives and pursue policies that benefit well-off economic conservatives.” Dionne adds, “This weekend is surprisingly instructive about how these two brands of politics overlap and reinforce each other.” Dionne digs into the history of Memorial Day (“Decoration Day), going back to the Civil War, and then writes, “The arguments around the budget and the debt ceiling in 2023 reflect a similar interaction of fiscal issues and questions of social and political equality (with the two parties largely switching sides)….One of the thorniest issues in the negotiations between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) involved so-called work requirements for the recipients of various public benefits….Because such requirements don’t get anyone a job and mostly create bureaucratic obstacles for working people entitled to benefits, Biden sought and won sharply narrower provisions affecting fewer programs and individuals while increasing help for veterans and the homeless. The work requirements shouldn’t have survived at all. The fact that McCarthy made them a bottom line speaks to the power of the signal they send about who is “worthy” of public help and who is not, with racial stereotypes lurking in the background….At the same time, said Johns Hopkins political scientist Lilliana Mason, author of “Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity,” the rhetorical strategies of Trump and DeSantis move attention away from “broadly unpopular cuts” to “extremely popular programs.”….Under these circumstances, it’s easier to advance a general attack on government spending, thereby evading debate on the merits of particular government benefits and investments….The good news about the debt ceiling deal is that the country will not default on its debt (avoiding a fight of this sort for the remainder of Biden’s presidency) and will escape the extreme cuts right-wing Republicans originally hoped for. This is balanced by the reality that divided control of Congress will foil social advances through 2024.”

“Defying the adage among practitioners and scholars of politics that voters become more conservative as they age,” writes Thomas B. Edsall in his New York Times column, “— millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Z (those born in 1997 and afterward) have in fact become decidedly more Democratic over time, according to data compiled by the Cooperative Election Study.“….“I think it’s a real shift,” [Tufts political scientists Brian] Schaffner wrote in an email, quoting an analysis from December 2022 by John Burn-Murdoch of The Financial Times, “Millennials Are Shattering the Oldest Rule in Politics”:

If millennials’ liberal inclinations are merely a result of this age effect, then at age 35 they too should be around five points less conservative than the national average and can be relied upon to gradually become more conservative. In fact, they’re more like 15 points less conservative and in both Britain and the U.S. are by far the least conservative 35-year-olds in recorded history.

Schaffner noted that Burn-Murdoch’s article “is pretty convincing and focuses on not just vote share but also issue positions, so I don’t think it is just a Trump thing.” However, Schaffner explains, “Because the population is very big and turnout rates tend to be much higher for older adults, these trends can be slow to lead to significant gains. For example, in 2018, I applied a life expectancy model to our C.E.S. data and using that model I calculated that it would take more than 20 years for Democrats to gain just 3 percentage points on their vote share from differential mortality….Those gains could easily be offset by Republicans doing a bit better among other groups. For example, part of what has helped them in recent elections is that even while the share of the population who are non-college white people is in decline, it is still a large group that (1) has come to vote more Republican in the past decade and (2) has seen its turnout rate increase during the same period.”

Edsall adds, “In a report published this month, “What Happened in 2022,” Catalist, a progressive data analysis firm, found more developments among young voters that favor Democrats: “Gen Z and millennial voters had exceptional levels of turnout, with young voters in heavily contested states exceeding their 2018 turnout by 6 percent among those who were eligible in both elections.”….What’s more, as the Catalist report noted,

65 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 supported Democrats, cementing their role as a key part of a winning coalition for the party. While young voters were historically evenly split between the parties, they are increasingly voting for Democrats. Many young voters who showed up in 2018 and 2020 to elect Democrats continued to do the same in 2022….Women voters pushed Democrats over the top in heavily contested races, where abortion rights were often their top issue. Democratic performance improved over 2020 among women in highly contested races, going from 55 percent to 57 percent support. The biggest improvement was among white non-college women (+4 percent support).

Edsall also quotes Notre Dame political scientist Geoffrey Layman, who “cited 2000 and 2020 data from American National Election Studies to prove his point:”

White working-class people, white evangelicals, white Catholics and white Christians in general all voted significantly more Republican in 2020 than in 2000. White people with no college education: 56 percent for Bush in 2000, 68 percent for Trump in 2020. White evangelicals who regularly attend church: 75 percent for Bush in 2000, 89 percent for Trump in 2020. White Catholics who regularly attend church: 56 percent for Bush in 2000, 67 percent for Trump in 2020….Those countervailing trends have left the two parties in about the same competitive balance as in 2000. However, as the pro-Democratic sociodemographic trends continue, it will become increasingly difficult for the G.O.P. to stay nationally competitive with a base of just white working-class people, devout white Christians and older white people. The Republicans are starting to max out their support among these groups.

Edsall writes further, “The white backlash to the growing strength of liberal constituencies not only prompted conservative voters to back Republicans by higher margins; they also turned out to vote at exceptionally high rates to make up for their falling share of the electorate.” Unfortunately, “The Catalist report points to gains by Trump and Republican candidates among racial and ethnic minorities. The level of Hispanic support for Republican House candidates rose from 29 percent in 2016 to 38 percent in 2020, where it stayed in 2022. In a separate report on the 2020 election, Catalist found Black support for Republican candidates rose by three points from 7 percent in 2016 to 10 percent in 2020.”

Political Strategy Notes

Mike Lillis reports that “Democrats unanimously back debt ceiling discharge petition” at The Hill. Lillie explains that “Every House Democrat has endorsed the discharge petition to force a vote on legislation to hike the debt ceiling and prevent a default, party leaders announced Wednesday….The signatures of the last final holdouts — Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine) and Ed Case (D-Hawaii) — puts the total number at 213, meaning Democratic leaders still need to find five Republicans if the petition is to be successful….That’s a heavy lift, since it would require GOP lawmakers to buck the wishes of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is in tense negotiations with the White House over a debt-ceiling package and is opposed to a vote on the “clean” debt-limit hike preferred by Democrats….The procedural gambit is a long-shot: Only two discharge petitions have been successful in the last two decades. Still, Democratic leaders are hoping their party’s unanimity on the document will pressure moderate Republicans to sign on, particularly if the talks between President Biden and McCarthy don’t yield fruit and the threat of default is imminent….“We’re five signatures away,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “So for our Republican colleagues who give interviews and go back home and talk about how they want to work together, and talk about how they’re not extreme like Marjorie Taylor Greene, and how she doesn’t speak for them — this is their opportunity.” Long shot or not, the discharge petition vote is important for two reasons: It puts 100 percent of Democrats solidly on record for a solution, in  stark contrast to the Republicans;  it also underscores the fact that just five Republican congress members could end the crisis and protect America’s credibility – if they so choose.

Luke Goldstein has an eye-opener article, “How Washington Bargained Away Rural America” at The American Prospect. Among his observations: “Liberal Democrats may be hesitant about lavishing subsidies on powerful corporations, but their main priority is to make sure poor people can afford food. Conservative Republicans have often fulminated against so-called welfare queens, but they want to keep farm interests happy. And so a corrupt bargain is struck every half-decade, where neither side does much to really challenge the other’s prized possession. The bundling of rural and urban interests ensures the farm bill’s passage, but it comes at a steep cost: a status quo bill full of endless logrolling and backroom deals, which stacks the deck against family farmers….This leaves only a narrow window for progress. A reform movement, composed of independent farmers and ranchers, environmental advocates, and anti-monopolists from both parties, may be more organized than it’s been since the 1980s farm crisis. But it will square up against the might of Big Ag, which spends more on lobbying in Washington than the defense industry. Ag lobbyists are so enmeshed in congressional dealings that in 2014 one of the largest trade groups, the North American Meat Association, held a barbecue with House Agriculture Committee lawmakers inside the very hearing room where the lobbyists’ clients testified the next day.” As with needed reforms across the board, our highly-polarized, angry politics makes bipartisan legislation a fading hope. Meanwhile Democrats have plenty of room for doing more to support family farms, which have been all but deserted by Big Ag’s lapdog Republicans. That’s a strategy worth exploring.

If you were wondering about the shelf-life of abortion politics with respect to he 2024 elections, consider Natalie Jackson’s observations, quoted here from “The Red Ripple Excerpts: Five Takeaways from 2022” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “The mixed outcome from the election mostly supported the idea that the combination of salience and competitive races meant that abortion mattered in some places more than the others,” she wrote, highlighting Michigan, where Democrats did well as voters approved a constitutional amendment in support of abortion rights as a prime example of a competitive state where abortion was a highly salient issue.”….As legislatures and health officials across the country struggle to adjust to the new post-Roe normal—in which there is no federal guidance, and state-level laws, exceptions, and conditions vary tremendously—it is likely that reproductive rights and restrictions will remain a significant part of electoral politics. The 2022 midterms did not show that the issue was a substantial determinant of the national mood, but it did show that it can matter for close contests, and it can produce some surprising results when on the ballot in the form of a referendum in Republican-led states….The public opinion landscape is still shifting, however. Late 2022 survey results showed that even most Republicans were against the harshest restrictions, including not allowing abortions in cases of incest and rape (70 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats oppose), and about two-thirds of Republicans (and more than eight in ten Americans overall) oppose allowing private citizens to sue those who seek abortions or criminalizing seeking an abortion. And, tracking data shows that Republicans went from about 20 percent saying abortion should be illegal in all cases to just 11 percent holding that view in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision….Looking toward 2024, reproductive rights are likely to play a similar role as they did in 2022. In the shadow of a presidential election that might include former president Donald Trump, there is little reason to think reproductive rights will be the top issue on Americans’ minds. But there is every reason to think the fluctuating state laws and associated court cases will keep the issue on the map as one that matters in some areas and for some competitive elections.”

The integrity and nonpartisan credibility of the U.S. Supreme Court ought to be higher priorities in all races for the U.S. Senate. and among all voters Yet, Devan Cole reports that the “Supreme Court approval rating declines amid controversy over ethics and transparency: Marquette poll” at CNN Politics. As Cole writes: “Americans’ approval of the Supreme Court has fallen since the start of the year, according to a new poll released Wednesday, with 41% of the country saying it approves of the nine justices amid a barrage of media reports and watchdog complaints concerning ethics and transparency at the nation’s highest court….The Marquette Law School poll provides fresh insight into how the public is reacting to a court that has become engulfed in controversy that, for the most part, is unrelated to its decisions in high-profile, politically fraught cases that typically shape the nation’s view of the court….Conducted between May 8 and May 18, the survey is the first to be completed by the school since ProPublica published an explosive report in early April about years of lavish trips and gifts Justice Clarence Thomas accepted from a GOP megadonor, the first in a series of stories concerning the conservative jurist’s lack of transparency on his financial disclosure forms….Since 2020, Marquette finds, approval of the court has frequently “oscillated” between surveys, but with declining high points in each cycle. The results of the new poll – which found that 59% of US adults disapproved of the court – are similar to those found in a July 2022 iteration of the survey taken days after the court overturned Roe v. Wade, but represent a downtick from more recent versions of the poll. In January, the same poll found that 47% of American approved of the court, while 53% disapproved….Democrats and Republicans were deeply divided in their view of the court, according to the new poll, which found that the court had a 24% approval rating among Democrats and a 60% approval rating among Republicans.” Every day the case for expanding the Supreme Court as soon as possible grows stronger.

Political Strategy Notes

“The NAACP issued a formal travel advisory for Florida on Saturday in response to what the organization described as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools” Eliza Chasan writes at cbshews.com. “The civil rights organization is the latest to caution travelers against visiting Florida; the League of United Latin American Citizens and LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida previously issued travel advisories…..”Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon,” NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson said. “He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We’re not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the battle for the soul of our nation.”….The advisory comes just days before DeSantis is expected to launch his presidential campaign….The DeSantis administration in January blocked the introduction of an Advanced Placement course for high school students that focuses on African American studies….”Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP travel notice states. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”….Tourism is a massive industry in Florida. Around 137.6 million people visited the state in 2022, according to tourism agency Visit Florida. Visitors contributed $101.9 billion to the state’s economy and supported more than 1.7 million jobs in 2021.” In addition, Chasan writes, “The League of United Latin American Citizens [LULAC] advisory cited strict Florida laws dealing with immigrants. Organization president Domingo Garcia called the new immigration laws “hostile and dangerous,” saying they presented a clear and present danger to Latinos….”Florida is a dangerous, hostile environment for law-abiding Americans and immigrants,” Garcia said.”  Although neither LULAC or the NAACP expressly called for a boycott of Florida, as the largest organizations representing Hispanic and African Americans, respectively, it is likely that Florida will experience a significant decline in tourist revenues, which translates into lost jobs for Florida – in addition to the estimated 2,000 jobs  Florida is losing as a result of the Republican Governor’s war on Disney. All of which gives Democrats a potentially-powerful new talking point regarding the destructive effects of Republican leadership in the ‘Sunshine State.’

Not to pile on poor Gov. DeSantis, but at Newsweek, Thomas Kika reports “The conflict has, by the reckoning of many, gone poorly for the governor, with Disney outmaneuvering him legally and filing a lawsuit against the state government, alleging that it has been politically targeted for exercising its First Amendment rights. On Thursday, Disney canceled its plans to build a new $1 billion office complex in Lake Nona, Florida, citing “new leadership and changing business conditions.” The project would have brought around 2,000 new jobs to the state….With the economic impact of DeSantis’s war with Disney continuing to grow, Florida’s Republican senators in Washington, D.C., have spoken out, urging caution for the governor moving forward. Senator Rick Scott, who previously held the governorship from 2011 to 2019, noted in an interview how vital Disney is to the state’s economy, according to The Hill….”This is the biggest or second-biggest employer in the state,” Scott said. “Half the tourism that comes to our state comes to visit Disney. It’s a reason people come to our state. After they come there, people move there. So I think cooler heads need to prevail. My view is we have to do everything to help our businesses grow.”….Senator Marco Rubio, meanwhile had similar comments on the situation during an interview with Fox News last month….”I think where it gets problematic in the eyes of some people is when you start creating the idea—and I’m not saying we’re there yet as a state—but the idea that somehow if you run crossways with us politically, whoever’s in charge, then you may wind up in the crosshairs of the legislature for political purposes to make a statement at you,” Rubio said….”If it starts to be perceived that any corporate entity that’s operating directly or indirectly in furtherance of a political agenda that the powers that be don’t agree with, therefore we’re going to use the power of government to target you, you get concerned,” Rubio added.” When two Republican U.S. Senators scold their fellow Republican state governor/presidential candidate for his foolish anti-business policies, just after Democrats recapture the Mayorship of Florida’s largest city, it begins to look like the pivot point state Democrats have been seeking.

There is lots more to report about the DeSantis mess in Florida. In his article, “Biden bets DeSantis’ ‘Florida blueprint’ will help him flip the Sunshine State and win reelection” Edward-Isaac Dovere writes at CNN Politics: “Biden advisers believe they can hold up what the GOP governor calls his “Florida blueprint” as a warning to the country about what would happen if DeSantis or any other Republican wins the White House in 2024 – a human embodiment, essentially, of Biden’s argument that “MAGA extremism” goes beyond Donald Trump….And along the way, they believe the Florida governor’s record may give them a chance at the state’s 30 electoral votes….The Biden campaign has quietly started putting campaign cash and efforts into Florida – and will decide in the coming months whether to put more – as it gauges the president’s chances of reversing the reddening of a state he lost by a wider-than-expected margin in 2020….A dozen top Biden and Democratic officials, several of whom asked not speak by name in order to discuss internal plans, told CNN they’re raring to dig in on DeSantis’ championing of abortion restrictions, his ongoing fight with Disney stemming from the company’s opposition to what critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, his lifting of concealed weapons permitting, his crackdown on unlawful immigration and his consistent railing over “woke” politics….Shevrin Jones, a Florida state senator and member of the Biden campaign’s advisory board of elected officials, said he’s eager to tell the country the story of what he’s seen under DeSantis’ leadership. “Freedom is not free in Florida. Businesses are not free in Florida. People are not free in Florida. No one is free in Florida. And it’s evidence of the policies that have gone forth,” the Democrat said….On a national level, Jones said, “if you want to see that again, elect Ron DeSantis.”….As DeSantis has traveled the country in the run-up to his planned campaign launch this week, Democrats have been road-testing attack lines. A mobile billboard about his onetime support for Medicare and Social Security privatization trailed the governor on his trip to Iowa in March.”

Of course, Trump also has some kindling to add to the DeSantis dumpster fire: “On the same day he was indicted by the Manhattan district attorney, Trump attacked DeSantis for signing what he called the “worst insurance scam in the entire country, with the highest rates in the entire country. That’s Florida,” Dovere writes. Naturally, “The Biden orbit has been privately cheering on every stage of the ongoing Trump-DeSantis grudge match, eager to see them cut each other down.”….The Biden campaign has started to spend. Cable and online ads in Florida were part of a multistate purchase shortly after the campaign kick-off. And the DNC leaned into Biden’s volunteer network to have what it says were over 130,000 contacts with voters ahead of last week’s Jacksonville runoff that saw Donna Deegan become just the second Democrat elected mayor in the past 30 years….A person close to the Biden campaign said that Deegan’s win was encouraging because she “ran a campaign on a platform that is a lot like the one Biden ran to build his coalition – a focus on kitchen table issues, unity over division and culture wars” and that the city going Democratic after turning out strongly for DeSantis last November “sends a strong signal to folks who count Democrats out of Florida.”….Biden aides are also hoping the president will benefit in Florida not just from the contrast with Republicans, but from his own agenda: the reduction in prescription drug costs and an insulin price cap to appeal to the state’s senior population; the climate change mitigation to appeal to young people in a state that has seen significant storms; and infrastructure investments that have poured into Florida from the federal legislation….Meanwhile, abortion rights supporters in Florida are working to put a measure on the ballot to allow abortions up until a fetus is deemed viable and have begun to collect the nearly 900,000 signatures needed by next February. There are other hurdles the effort would need to clear, but as in other states, many involved believe this will be a huge turnout booster for Democratic voters – especially in the wake of DeSantis signing a bill banning most abortions after six weeks.”