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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

‘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.”

Political Strategy Notes

From Ronald Brownstein’s “The demographic makeup of the country’s voters continues to shift. That creates headwinds for Republicans” at CNN Politics: “Demographic change continued to chip away at the cornerstone of the Republican electoral coalition in 2022, a new analysis of Census data has found….White voters without a four-year college degree, the indispensable core of the modern GOP coalition, declined in 2022 as a share of both actual and eligible voters, according to a study of Census results by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who specializes in electoral turnout….McDonald’s finding, provided exclusively to CNN, shows that the 2022 election continued the long-term trend dating back at least to the 1970s of a sustained fall in the share of the votes cast by working-class White voters who once constituted the brawny backbone of the Democratic coalition, but have since become the absolute foundation of Republican campaign fortunes….As non-college Whites have receded in the electorate over that long arc, non-White adults and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Whites with at least a four-year college degree, have steadily increased their influence. “This is a trend that is baked into the demographic change of the country, so [it] is likely going to accelerate over the next ten years,” says McDonald, author of the recent book “From Pandemic to Insurrection: Voting in the 2020 Presidential Election.”….these non-college voters remain a larger share of the electorate in many of the key states that will likely decide the 2024 presidential race (particularly Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and control of the Senate (including seats Democrats are defending in Montana, Ohio and West Virginia.)….But even across those states, these voters are shrinking as a share of the electorate. And McDonald’s analysis of the 2022 results shows that the non-college White share of the total vote is highly likely to decline again in 2024, while the combined share of non-Whites and Whites with a college degree, groups much more favorable to Democrats, is virtually certain to increase….Especially ominous for Republicans is that the share of the vote cast by these blue-collar Whites declined slightly in 2022 even though turnout among those voters was relatively strong, while minority turnout fell sharply, according to McDonald’s analysis. The reason for those seemingly incongruous trends is that even solid turnout among the non-college Whites could not offset the fact that they are continuing to shrink in the total pool of eligible voters, as American society grows better-educated and more racially diverse.”

Brownstein notes further, “Ruy Teixeira, a long-time Democratic electoral analyst who has become a staunch critic of his party, argues exactly that kind of shift in voting preferences could offset the change in the electorate’s composition – and create a real threat for Biden. Even though Biden is aggressively highlighting his efforts to create blue-collar jobs through “manufacturing and infrastructure projects that are starting to get off the ground,” Teixiera recently wrote, a “sharp swing against the incumbent administration by White working-class voters seems like a very real possibility.”….Teixeira, now a nonresident senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, also maintains Democrats face the risk Republicans can extend the unexpected gains Trump registered in 2020 with non-White voters without a college degree, especially Hispanics….As Teixeira has forcefully argued in recent years, such demographic change doesn’t ensure doom for Republicans or success for Democrats. Among other things, that change is unevenly distributed around the country, and the small state bias of both the Electoral College and the two-senators-per-state rule magnifies the influence of sparsely populated interior states where these shifts have been felt much more lightly….Yet, even so, the long-term change in the electorate’s composition, along with the Democrats’ growing strength among white-collar suburban voters, largely explains why the party has won the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential elections – something no party has done since the formation of the modern party system in 1828….And even though Whites without a college degree exceed their share of the national vote in the key Rust Belt battlegrounds of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, their share of the vote is shrinking along the same trajectory of about 2-3 points every four years in those states too, according to analysis by Frey. Meanwhile, in the Sun Belt battlegrounds of Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, more rapid growth in the minority population means that blue-collar Whites will likely comprise a smaller portion of the eligible voter pool than they do nationally….Trump, with the exception of his beachhead among blue-collar minorities, has now largely locked the GOP into a position of needing to squeeze bigger margins out of shrinking groups, particularly non-college Whites. It’s entirely possible that Trump or another Republican nominee can meet that test well enough to win back the White House in 2024, especially given the persistent public disenchantment with Biden’s performance. But McDonald’s 2022 data shows why relying on a coalition tilted so heavily toward those non-college Whites becomes just a little tougher for the GOP in each presidential race.”

Democratic moderates and centrists are much encouraged by the results of Tuesday’s elections, especially the results in the mayoral races in Jacksonville, FL (11th largest city in the U.S.) and Colorado Springs, CO (38th largest U.S. city). In Jax, voters elected Democrat Donna Deegan, who defeated former Republican state Rep. Daniel Davis, who was endorsed by Republican Presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis. Jax was the largest city that had a Republican Mayor. Deegan campaigned as a moderate Democrat, who stressed the need for transparency in government. In Colorado Springs, Yemi Mobolade, who is not affiliated with any party, defeated Republican Wayne Williams in a run-off by about 15 percentage points, becoming the city’s first elected Black mayor and the first Colorado Springs mayor who isn’t a registered Republican in more than four decades. Mobolade ran as a “Business-friendly moderate.” In Philadelphia (6th largest U.S. city), former City Council Member Cherelle Parker won the Democratic nomination. She “had the support of the city’s Black establishment and a number of influential unions,” and beat a progressive favorite, Helen Gym. Parker will likely be Philly’s first Black female Mayor. The victories of Deegan, Mobolade and Parker are sort of a moderate/centrist answer to the recent wins of progressives Brandon Johnson in Chicago, Michelle Wu in Boston and Karen Bass in Los Angeles. But what they all have in common is that they are strongly opposed to Republicans. For news regarding other Tuesday elections, check out “7 takeaways from Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Florida elections” at CNN Politics, “Republicans keep having bad elections” at The Washington Post and “Winners, losers and lessons from Tuesday’s elections” at nbcnews.com.

Unfortunately, Tuesday’s political news also included the override of North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the Republican abortion restriction bill. The question now is whether or not NC Democrats can use the Republican override as a cudgel to help defeat NC GOP candidates next year. As Stephen Wolf reports in “Blame GOP gerrymandering for North Carolina’s new abortion restrictions” at Daily Kos: “North Carolina Republicans successfully overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of their new abortion restrictions on Tuesday, but they were only able to do so for two reasons, neither of them good: partisan gerrymandering and an inexplicable recent party switch by a previously pro-choice lawmaker….That new law will ban most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy and also add significant other restrictions on abortions even before then, tightening the state’s previous 20-week limit and undermining its status as an oasis in a region with severe restraints on abortion access. But perpetually swingy North Carolina didn’t get here by accident….North Carolina’s legislative districts have been gerrymandered to favor Republicans to varying degrees ever since the GOP swept into power in the 2010 midterms. Because the governor lacks veto power over redistricting, the courts have been the only bulwark against Republican gerrymandering, leading to an endless cycle of litigation as the GOP’s maps would get struck down, replaced, and challenged once again….While gerrymandering was also crucial in the state House, it wasn’t enough by itself, since Republicans came one seat short in November when they won a 71-49 majority. But last month, Democratic state Rep. Tricia Cotham unexpectedly switched her allegiance to the Republican Party, despite having won a solidly blue open seat in the Charlotte suburbs last year….Going forward, gerrymandering will play a key role in insulating Republicans from any popular backlash for passing unpopular laws, including their new abortion ban. Cotham herself could be just such an example if she seeks reelection because, while her current district supported Biden 61-38 in 2020, Republicans could make it considerably redder. That would still leave her vulnerable in a general election but would also provide her with a path to victory that no longer exists in her current district….With GOP legislative dominance likely to grow ever more entrenched, the most plausible way forward for progressives in North Carolina will be for Democrats to regain control of the state Supreme Court. The soonest Democrats could flip the court, however, would likely be in 2028, which would require winning next year’s election for governor and several court races between 2024 and 2028.”

Political Strategy Notes

In “Democrats have a huge opportunity to win back rural voters,” Christian Paz writes at Vox: “In last year’s midterms, when Democrats narrowly held on to control of the Senate and won crucial elections in battleground states, they did so in part by reversing one of Donald Trump’s biggest 2020 accomplishments: They won more voters from rural and exurban communities than anyone expected….From Arizona and Nevada, across the Midwest, and into North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Democratic Senate and gubernatorial candidates improved on President Joe Biden’s 2020 showing among this swath of the electorate, and persuaded tens of thousands of rural voters who voted for Trump to switch parties….Now, as the 2024 campaign map begins to take shape, Democratic candidates, the state and national parties, and their outside partners will have to make a choice about how seriously to invest in outreach and persuasion operations in these communities. Democrats have long struggled in rural communities, but their decline in support has only accelerated in recent years, cementing the idea for many that the party caters to highly educated and primarily urban voters. That narrative has only entrenched itself since the ’90s, when former President Bill Clinton essentially split rural voters with his Republican opponents in his two presidential campaigns and won over 1,100 rural counties in 1996. Since then, Democratic presidential candidates have endured dramatic losses in rural areas: in 2008, Barack Obama won 455 rural counties; in 2020, Joe Biden won only 194….That crumbling of rural support has led some in the party to write off this section of voters entirely. Biden’s 2020 victory is illustrative of this dynamic: He won the presidency despite winning just 33 percent of rural voters. (Trump won 65 percent, up from the 59 percent he won in 2016.)….But the 2022 midterms reversed that slide.”

“The brightest spots for Democrats came in Michigan and Pennsylvania,” Paz continues, “where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Gov. Josh Shapiro, respectively, improved on Biden’s performance in rural counties by 10 and 15 percentage points. Candidates like Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) improved by more than 6 points — and even candidates who lost, like former Rep. Tim Ryan in Ohio’s Senate race, still improved on Biden’s numbers (winning 4 percent more support from these counties).” Paz shares the following chart:

Some troubling data points from “The End Of Title 42 Could Be A Big Problem For Biden” by Nathaniel Rakich at FiveThirrtyEight: “President Biden’s administration has been bracing itself for Title 42’s expiration by building more facilities for migrants, making it easier for people to apply to come to the U.S. legally rather than risk an illegal border crossing and even sending 1,500 troops to the border. And politically, taking such aggressive action is probably smart: Polling suggests not only that Americans want to keep Title 42 in place, but also that another border crisis could be a political disaster for Biden….According to a May 6-7 poll from Morning Consult, 51 percent of registered voters opposed ending Title 42, and only 37 percent supported ending it. While that’s the only recent poll we have on the subject, its findings were similar to those of a May 2022 poll from Politico/Harvard in which American adults opposed ending the program 55 percent to 45 percent….These numbers aren’t too surprising when you consider that a plurality of Americans thought too many immigrants were coming to the U.S. even before Title 42 expired. According to a February 2023 poll from the Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 44 percent of U.S. adults thought the number of immigrants to the U.S. should be reduced. An additional 34 percent wanted the number of immigrants to remain the same, and only 20 percent thought it should be increased….In an average of six polls taken since April 18,2 only 35 percent of Americans said they approved of Biden’s handling of the issue of immigration, while 57 percent disapproved. That issue-specific net approval rating of -22 percentage points was 13 points worse than Biden’s average overall approval rating in those same polls….According to a Morning Consult poll from March, 47 percent of registered voters also felt that the U.S. immigration system had gotten worse under Biden’s presidency, while only 20 percent thought it had gotten better (24 percent said it had stayed the same).”

Rakich observes in “Other Polling Bites,” also at FiveThirtyEight, that “Americans may finally be coming to understand what the debt ceiling finally means, after more than a decade of high-profile fights over it. A new YouGov survey explained the debt ceiling to half of its sample and then asked them their opinion on raising it, while it just asked the other half about raising it without any context. In both cases, roughly 40 percent said that the debt ceiling should be raised and roughly 40 percent said that it should not. In addition, 52 percent correctly identified the debt ceiling as a limit on the government’s borrowing to finance spending that already has been approved, while only 25 percent incorrectly said it was a limit on government spending. Compare this to a similar YouGov poll from 2013, when 42 percent said raising the debt ceiling would allow the U.S. to pay interest on its debt and for spending that it has already authorized, and 39 percent said it would directly increase government spending and debt.” There may be a bit of a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” trope regarding the public’s tendency to yawn about the debt ceiling fight, which has always seemed to get resolved at the last minute. That doesn’t make it any less of a problem for president Biden. Indeed, it may make it more dangerous. In any case, it’s not a good look for either party, and a permanent fix would serve them both well.

Political Strategy Notes

In his New York Times column, “When Their Idea of Liberty Is Your Idea of Death,” Thomas B. Edsall discusses the “partisan battle to claim ownership of the ideal of freedom,” and shares insights Democrats can use in their talking points, but also a couple of warnings for Democrats and President Biden. Edsall writes, ” Isabel V. Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, proposed in an email that Biden and the Democratic Party are well positioned to claim the freedom mantle:

I want to suggest two reasons why this focus may not only be warranted but also have great appeal. The first is the battle over abortion rights. The second is the new attitude of Republicans toward the business community.

On abortion, she continued, “I would argue that the ability to choose whether or not to have a child is a fundamental right,” adding her belief that:

Before the Dobbs decision, we had found a workable compromise on this issue: no or limited abortions after fetal viability around 24 weeks. But the kind of six-week limit that is now the law in Florida and Georgia, not to mention the total ban in 14 other states, is an almost complete abrogation of the rights of women.

On the treatment of business, Sawhill wrote: “Republicans have always been the party of corporate America, dedicated to limiting regulation and keeping taxes low. Gov. DeSantis’s attack on Disney and other so-called ‘woke’ companies is beginning to undermine the party’s reputation.”….The bottom line, she concluded, was that “when Democrats talk about freedom, it’s not just rhetoric. There is substance behind the message.”

However, Edsall also quotes William A. Galston, who warns, ““for much of the 20th century, progressives took the lead in both defining freedom and advancing its borders.”….From Teddy Roosevelt’s expansion of “the 19th-century laissez-faire conception of freedom to include the liberties of workers and entrepreneurs to get ahead in the world” to F.D.R.’s redefinition “to include social protection from the ills of want and fear,” to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s appeal to a “civil and political freedom that included all Americans,” Galston maintains that liberals have successfully argued that freedom often can “be advanced only through the vigorous actions of government.”….Liberals began to lose command of freedom in the 1960s, Galston concludes:

What began honorably in the early 1960s as the effort to expand freedom of speech and self-fulfillment was transformed just a decade later into an antinomian conception of freedom as liberation from all restraint. Enthusiasts could no longer distinguish between liberty and license, and so lost touch with the moral concerns of average citizens, especially parents struggling to raise their children in what they saw as a culture increasingly inhospitable to decency and self-restraint.

“As progressives abandoned the discourse of freedom,” Galston writes, “conservatives were more than ready to claim it.”….I asked Galston whether he stood by what he wrote 18 years ago. He replied by email:

Mostly, but some of it is dated. I did not anticipate that a commitment to fairness and equality of results would morph into a culture of intolerance on college campuses and other areas where a critical mass of progressives has been reached.

Regarding the much-cited ABC-Washington Post poll showing President Biden in deep doo-doo, Ed Kilgore has an insightful critique of the poll at New York magazine. Also check out “What the New Poll Favoring Trump Got Wrong and the Pundits Missed” by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Steven Tian  at Time magazine, who write: “Of course, political professional point out, polls done this far out have little value, and much can and will change in eighteen months by November 2024. In fact, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama are just three recent presidents who rebounded from comparable sagging public polls to ultimately win 18 months later. We acknowledge the polling around 40 percent favorability is nothing for the Biden Administration to gloat over, however, according to the Gallup Poll, it is consistent with almost all the seven prior presidents at this time except for President H.W. Bush following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and President George W. Bush following the 9/11 attack on the U.S. In fact, George H.W. Bush enjoyed a 73% favorability in September 1990 but then went on to lose his reelection to Bill Clinton….In fact, there are piles of contrasting polls. There are some polls where Trump beats Biden – such as the right-leaning Rasmussen polls and Stagwell’s Harris Poll. Trump has consistently dominated across both polls dating back years. But most major opinion polls, on average, Biden leads Trump by 2 percent, including recent polls done by Yahoo News, The Wall Street Journal, Quinnipiac University, and Morning Consult among many others. Even Rupert Murdoch’s right-leaning New York Post grudgingly concedes that “Biden beats Trump big” across early polling….Pollster Cornel Belcher commented “The poll really is trash, and I don’t say that lightly because I’ve had respect for their polling in the past.”

From “Not Biden vs. Trump Again! The Disgruntled Voters Who Could Decide the 2024 Election” by Alan I. Abramowitz at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Most Americans do not want to see a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in 2024. Both Biden and Trump are viewed unfavorably by a majority of voters. Nevertheless, there is a strong likelihood that Biden and Trump will be the Democratic and Republican candidates in 2024. In that case, a group of voters who currently favor “someone else” in 2024 may decide the outcome of the presidential election. These voters make up close to one-fifth of the electorate according to data from the 2022 ANES Pilot Study….According to the data from the ANES Pilot Study, Joe Biden would appear to have a small advantage over Donald Trump in a two-way contest: 51% of registered voters rated Biden more favorably than Trump while 47% rated Trump more favorably than Biden on a feeling thermometer scale. Among those who preferred “someone else” in 2024, 49% rated Biden more favorably while 44% rated Trump more favorably….A plurality of voters who prefer someone other than Trump or Biden in 2024 identify as conservative and identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. The key factor driving these voters toward Biden appears to be their concern about the events of Jan. 6, 2021 and the former president’s role in inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol….Given the unpopularity of both Biden and Trump, there would appear to be an opening for a third party or independent candidate in 2024 who would appeal to the substantial minority of voters, 15% in the ANES Pilot Study, who dislike both major-party candidates. In 2020, however, third party and independent candidates won less than 2% of the national popular vote. Whether any strong third party or independent candidates emerge in 2024 and, if so, which major party candidate’s support they cut into, may well decide the outcome of the presidential election.”

Will Trump’s Sexual Assault Verdict Secure His Defeat?

Norman L Eisen and Ryan Goodman explain “Why the Sexual Assault Verdict Is Actually Bad News for Trump Politically” at Slate:

The unanimous jury verdict on Tuesday that has turned Donald Trump from an alleged sexual assaulter into a proven one may create political shock waves if recent history is any guide. As numerous empirical studies have shown, the American public has come to view sexual assault as a form of abusing power that can disqualify a perpetrator from holding public office. Trump may suffer significant political damage from this new majoritarian understanding.

In November 2017, 61 percent of voters—including 56 percent of men and a nontrivial margin of white men (50–43) and white women (55–37)—said President Trump should be impeached and removed from office if he were proven to have engaged in “sexual harassment,” according to a Quinnipiac poll. That overall support—the eye-popping number of 61 percent—was higher than any poll tracking public support for impeachment and removal from office for the scandalous conduct in Trump’s first and second impeachments. (See FiveThirtyEight’s complete collection of surveys for the first and second impeachment.) What’s more, Quinnipiac asked only about sexual harassment, not sexual assault, in the case of Trump. The latter, which is also the core crime in the E. Jean Carroll verdict, would have presumably produced even greater levels of support for removal from office.

The Quinnipiac poll was not alone.

A December 2017 Public Policy Polling survey found that 53 percent of voters thought Trump should resign because of the “allegations” of sexual harassment against him, and another Quinnipiac poll in December 2017 found that 50 percent of voters already thought Trump should resign because he had “been accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault by multiple women.”

These results are no surprise when taken in context of recent social science studies. Rigorous empirical research shows that Americans generally consider sexual assault incompatible with serving in elected office or positions of public trust (see, e.g., Savani and Collignon, 2023Stark and Collignon, 2022Masuoka, Grose & Junn, 2021Craig and Cossette, 2020). A 2020 study in the journal Political Behavior found that “(1) a significant electoral penalty is likely to be assessed against politicians accused of sexual harassment; (2) the size of that penalty (in terms of lost votes and lower favorability) … is concentrated among co-partisans and, to a lesser extent, Independents.” That study, like many others, concerned “accusations” and “allegations” of misbehavior; the results are likely to be even more pronounced in the event of allegations being proveb—especially in a court and especially by a unanimous verdict.

Eisen and Goodman cite several “caveats and qualifications.” and then write that “It is notable, however, that a candidate’s having engaged in sexual assault has in many instances proven fatal to their holding public office.” According to the aforementioned source:

In the most exhaustive accounting of its kind to date, this study shows that a total of at least 138 government officials in both elected and appointed positions, have been publicly reported for sexual harassment, assault, misconduct, or violence against women since the 2016 election. These include all allegations of sex-related misconduct reported in national, state, and local media.

A large majority of these officials – 104 of them, or 75 percent — have left or been ousted from their positions. After this week’s midterm election, 34, at most, will remain in office by January 2019. One elected official’s close race is pending a recount.

So, the question arises, is Trump an exception who can be elected, following a verdict holding him responsible for sexual assault? Time and again, Trump has demonstrated a shocking immunity from public condemnation for behavior that would ruin the careers of most people. But a jury verdict is more of a problem than a host of allegations.

At the very least, however, it’s another dollop of kerosene on the Republican dumpster fire, and with all of Trump’s legal problems still to come, it can get a lot worse.

Florida Dems Look to Place Big Bet on Senate Race

Matt Dixon and Jonathan Allen report “Democratic donors hope to recruit NBA legends Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade to run for Senate in Florida” at nbcnews.com. But their article is about more than these two former NBA stars potential senate candidacies; it’s really an update on Democratic prospects for taking away Republican Rick Scott’s senate seat next year.

As for the idea of running popular “NBA legends” as a shortcut to making Florida a purple state once again, why not? The Florida Democratic Party needs help, and a NBA celebrity candidacy just might help to juice turnout, particularly among black voters. I’ve long believed Democrats could benefit for running more jocks and entertainers. Republicans did alright with Reagan, Sen. George Murphy and Schwartzeneggar. Professional sports brings together voters of all races and athletic stars can help do the same for Democrats running in elections.

Sure, it’s a gimmicky substitute for the hard work of party-building. But consider that famous jocks come with name recognition, a ready-made fan/donor base, charisma and lotsa money. Ditto for big name entertainers. Given the importance of black voters as a pivotal constituency for Democrats, NBA stars like Hill and Wade would also bring significant buzz to a senate candidacy.

African Americans are more than 15 percent of Florida’s population, and nearly a third of the residents of Jacksonville, Florida’s largest city. Concentrated in Florida’s major cities, they can be more cost-effectively mobilized for voter turnout than many other Florida constituencies. It’s not hard to imagine Democratic Hispanic and white stars also boosting voter turnout in Florida.

Dixon and Allen write, ““Grant Hill has great name ID. He would raise a boatload of money and is one of the smartest guys you will ever meet,” said John Morgan, an Orlando-based trial attorney and national Democratic donor, who has spoken directly with Hill about his desire for him to run. “Grant Hill would beat the s— out of Rick Scott.”

“Dwyane Wade is a Florida legend, whose leadership past and present has a lot of folks in our state sending feelers out,” said Ray Paultre, the executive director of the Florida Alliance, a progressive donor group that plays a significant role in Florida Democratic politics. “We have seen former athletes, in both parties, bring something special to the political landscape. He hasn’t been officially approached, but he is on the list of four or five dream candidates to challenge Rick Scott.

Incumbency is always an asset. But it’s not like the Republican Senator Rick Scott is Mr. Popularity. “Everything Rick Scott has done while he was trying to make a name for himself in Washington has made him more vulnerable back in Florida,” DSCC Communications Director David Bergstein said. “His agenda to cut — and to cut programs like Social Security and Medicare — is toxic with the voters that decide a general election in a state like Florida.”

The rest of the article discusses the possible candidacies of five other lesser-known Democratic Floridians from more conventional political backgrounds. Certainly, one of them could emerge as a credible, or even popular candidate. Regardless, Democrats should begin to more actively recruit well-known athletes and entertainers to run for the U.S. Senate and House districts, not just in Florida, but nation-wide.

Political Strategy Notes

According to polling data, many people want to move on from the endless legal fallout of January 6th. That’s both understandable and unavoidable. It’s unavoidable because there has to be accountability for those who violate American democracy — if we want to keep it. No doubt many voters have simply tuned out from the coverage of the legal deliberations and decisions. But that doesn’t mean Democrats shouldn’t occasionally remind voters of the tally of legal consequences leading up to the election. After all it’s a Republican mess, which really speaks to the moral decay of their party. Zachary B. Wolf rolls it out in his post, “How 2020 election accountability could hit a 2024 roadblock” at CNN Politics. As Wolf notes, “I asked CNN’s Marshall Cohen what we know about the universe of people charged and convicted for involvement in January 6. Combining data from the Justice Department and CNN, he offered this:

  • 1,020-plus rioters have been charged (this includes around 339 charged with assaulting police).
  • 590-plus rioters have been convicted.
  • 235-plus have been sentenced to jail or prison.
  • Around 55 have been charged with conspiracy of some kind.”

Of course these numbers will be updated until the last sentence is meted out. Democratic campaigns should keep the running tab and share it briefly from time to time. It’s harder to argue with numbers than long lectures. And it’s harder to argue with multiple jury decisions than high-horse pundit rants.

At the state and local level, Republicans have another gift for Democrats —  GOP campaigns to defund libraries. It works like this, according to “The rising Republican movement to defund public libraries: Libraries bolster democracy. Republicans want to get rid of them” by Fabiola Cineas at Vox: “And as fights over banning books or removing them from shelves continue, libraries could be an increasing target of lawmakers’ displeasure. Experts monitoring Republican efforts to shut down public libraries told Vox that the threat is often the last step in a series of escalations. Usually, lawmakers start with book bans. If the bans aren’t as effective as they’d hope, they escalate to threatening to defund local libraries. The threats tend to occur in states where lawmakers want to restrict health care for trans people, limit drag performances and curb how teachers discuss gender, sexuality, race, and history at school.” The thing is, libraries are popular. Not just with liberals, but even conservatives who value individual initiative love libraries as places where anyone can educate themselves and lift up their prospects. Cineas reviews the Republican war against libraries in Missouri, Iowa, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Tennessee, Michigan, Montana and Idaho. But it’s happening all across the country and the list of cities, counties and states facing Republican-lead assaults grows daily. ““Having free access to information is important in a democracy, so it has frightened a lot of people that our state would want to make that more difficult,” said Otter Bowman, the president of the Missouri Library Association and a staffer at the Daniel Boone Regional Library in Columbia, Missouri. “It’s disturbing that the House’s decision to defund our libraries has become this political message. It discounts the needs of library patrons all over the state. It’s a real concern that they took so lightly.”

It turns out the GOP also has a war on voting rights for college kids. As Rotime Adeoye writes in “The GOP Can’t Beat Gen Z, But It Can Stifle Its Vote” at The Daily Beast:  “Republicans in state legislatures are working around the clock to make it harder for students to vote….Earlier this month, Florida politicians rushed a bill through committeethat would stop people from voting by mail if they don’t have a verified Social Security number, a valid state-issued driver’s license, or a FloridaID card. These new rules could deter thousands of college students who attend school in Florida from voting by mail….This February, a bill in the Texas legislature was introduced by a Republican member that would forbid polling locations on college campuses throughout the state. Then in March, Idaho lawmakers used their power to ban voting with student IDs….And in Georgia since 2006, the state has only accepted student IDs from public colleges and universities, meaning students at several historically black universities in the state must use another form of identification….Earlier this month at a Republican retreat, conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell—who advised former President Donald Trump on his plans to overturn the 2020 election—shared her strategy to suppress the youth vote. Mitchell launched into an extensive diatribe, complete with a 50-slide Powerpoint presentation, telling conference attendees that they needed greater scrutiny of “these college campus locations and polling. They basically put the polling place next to the student dorm,” said Mitchell. “And we need to build strong election integrity task forces in these counties.”….

Adeoye continues, “Take a look at the last midterm election, where exit polling showedstrong youth support for Democrats, typically on issues like climate change, reproductive rights, and gun control. Voters aged 18-24 voted 61 percent for Democrats, while the 25-29 age group voted 65 percent blue….In the wake of the recent state Supreme Court election in his home state, where Republicans lost, even former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker acknowledged the GOP’s disconnect with Gen Z voters in an interview with Fox News. “To me the larger issue here—we’ve seen it particularly in Wisconsin but across the country—is younger voters. In Wisconsin, last fall, we saw about a 40-point margin that younger voters gave to the Democrats running for Senate and governor. We saw similar margins in Pennsylvania,” said Walker….With a presidential election on the horizon, Republicans are hyper-aware of Gen Z’s voting power. Although young voters in past elections have been inconsistent, Gen Z in the last midterm election put Republicans on notice. And since the GOP can’t win young voters on the issues they care about, so voter suppression strategies used for decades to suppress minority voters are now being copied and pasted to suppress Gen Z voting….But this can’t last forever. Republicans are well aware that their archaic policy ideas alone won’t bring in new voters. That’s why they’re scrambling to enforce these oppressive voting laws. They know that this new breed of Americans could boot them out of their cushy seats of power in a heartbeat….And if members of Gen Z continue to exercise their democratic rights with the same zeal they demonstrated in 2020 and 2022, those politicians who support voter suppression laws will soon be kicked to the curb. The future belongs to Gen Z, sooner than later.”