washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

“As President Joe Biden casts the race for the White House as a fight to save democracy, state-level Democrats say that battle is already well underway in what they’re calling “the year of the states,” CNN Politics. “The party committee dedicated to state legislative races raised more than $21 million, a record-breaking sum ahead of the 2024 on-year, and is laying out a roadmap for the year ahead in battleground states as well as red states where it sees an opportunity to break Republican legislative supermajorities, according to a memo released Wednesday and shared first with CNN….Amid a high-stakes presidential election and a tight race for control of Congress, state-level races will be far down the 2024 ballot. But their relevance, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Heather Williams argues, is becoming more widely recognized – especially in the wake of the 2022 Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade that made abortion an issue decided by states….“We’re seeing in a post-Dobbs world, without question, we are seeing voters show up for these elections,” Williams said, noting that Democrats picked up legislative chambers in 2022 and 2023 and overperformed in special elections last year, even in some red territory. The DLCC’s grassroots fundraising is also a bright spot, despite what the memo calls “downward industry trends” – which Williams chalked up to their message about state-level politics having a direct impact on people’s lives. “If you care about access to abortion, it is state legislators who are the ones who can protect it,” she said….The group’s priorities for 2024 are protecting majorities in the Michigan House, the Minnesota House and the Pennsylvania House – the latter of which they had to defend in five special elections just in 2023 alone. They’re also trying to flip the Arizona House and Senate, the New Hampshire House and Senate, and the Pennsylvania Senate.”

A couple of takeaways from the Haley-DeSantis debate last night: “DeSantis was lobbed a softball question on the topic of Trump’s legal troubles — and whiffed. While there are plenty of complicated theories and laws at play, CNN’s moderators went easy on the two candidates Wednesday night, asking only whether they agreed with Team Trump’s latest presidential immunity argument….This should have been an easy answer, even for DeSantis. Of course an American president does not have carte blanche to assassinate a political opponent. This is not just common sense — many legal experts agree. Instead, the Floridian timidly demurred: “I’m not exactly sure what the outer limits are.” It was an uncomfortably cowardly — and cringeworthy — response.” (Bryan Tyler Cohen at MSNBC.com). Haley did an artful flip-flop on the topic of the 2020 election, stating that Trump lost in 2020, which makes her potential selection by Trump as his running mate a bit more problematic. Overall, I thought Haley did significantly better than DeSantis. But Iowa evangelicals dominate the state’s GOP rank and file, so the Monday outcome is still hard to predict. It pains me to admit that both Haley and DeSantis were alert and focused debaters. But DeSantis seemed to have more to hide, and looked like a deer caught in the headlights at several points. My big take-away is that the Biden campaign should be glad Trump is the GOP front-runner. Also, both Haley and DeSantis could be formidable contenders for their party’s presidential nomination in 2028.

Paul Starr writes in “The Life-and-Death Cost of Conservative Power” at The American Prospect: “In a 2020 paper, a team of researchers led by Jennifer Karas Montez assembled annual data from 1970 through 2014 on both life expectancy and state policies in 18 different policy domains, including health, labor, the environment, and taxation. In previous work, one of the collaborating scholars, Jacob M. Grumbach, had shown that state-level policies over that period had polarized on a liberal-to-conservative spectrum. According to the new Montez study, which controlled for differences in state populations, the polarized shifts in state policy were associated with changes in life expectancy. States that adopted liberal policies were more likely to experience larger gains in life expectancy (and in recent years to avoid an outright decline). Connecticut and Oklahoma were the two states whose policies shifted the most, Connecticut toward the liberal side and Oklahoma toward the conservative side. In 1959, life expectancy in both states was 71.1 years; by 2017, it had increased to 80.7 years in Connecticut but only to 75.8 years in Oklahoma….Couldn’t the explanation for such changes lie in changes in education, income, and other characteristics of the states? Montez and her co-authors estimated the association of life expectancy with state policy liberalism, net of other factors such as the composition of the state’s population. Taking those factors into account, their model indicated that if all states’ policies were the same as Connecticut’s in 2014, U.S. life expectancy would have been two years longer for women and 1.3 years longer for men—and if all states’ policies were like Oklahoma’s, Americans’ lives would have been shorter….In one of the rare studies that tracks long-term effects of policy, Andrew Goodman-Bacon used state-by-state variations in the original introduction of Medicaid coverage for children between 1966 and 1970 to estimate health and economic effects in adulthood. He found that early childhood eligibility for Medicaid reduced death and disability and increased employment up to 50 years later. In fact, it saved the government more than its original cost because the recipients later received less in public benefits and paid more in taxes.”

At Daily Kos, Kos explains why “Taylor Swift is conservatism’s greatest foe” and really, why Democrats should be glad about her enormous popularity. As Kos notes, “Following her second Time “person of the year” cover, the right erupted in hysterical outrage. Conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer ranted about Swift being in cahoots with liberal donor George Soros, claiming her efforts to register young voters were meant to “interfere” in the 2024 elections.” Kos notes that “she has a gap in her tour schedule between Aug. 20 and Oct. 18. The Democratic National Convention will run Aug. 19-22. Would be something to have her play and speak on the final day of the convention….The more right-wingers go after her, the more likely her fans are to heed her calls for voter registration and participation. The GOP’s war on democracy and personal liberties (and in particular, abortion and contraception) provides ample motivation to further motivate them….There’s plenty of time for her to amp up her political activism, registering millions of otherwise inactive voters and ensuring they turn out and vote. And Republicans, by hysterically attacking Swift’s very existence, could very well motivate her to do so….the ideal Republican voter is a white, married male with no college education. And their biggest nemesis? A single, college-educated young woman….And who does Swift speak to? Young, single women. And what does she preach? Personal empowerment and political participation….In one of her first forays into political activism, she went after Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn in 2018. She has publicly called Donald Trump an autocrat and advocated for his defeat in 2020. And a single Instagram post in September drove tens of thousands of her fans to a voter registration website. And on Election Day 2022, she publicly encouraged her fans to vote. It really does feel like she’s just getting started, and conservatives are terrified.” Hey, how about a tag-team ad, or series of ads, spotlighting Taylor Swift and Beyonce together urging American women to vote in the 2024 elections to defend their reproductive rights, protect children from gun violence and save democracy?

Political Strategy Notes

From “Biden wants to be democracy’s candidate. Trump makes that easy” by E. J. Dionne, Jr. at The Washington Post: “In placing democracy, political violence and right-wing extremism on the 2024 ballot, President Biden is playing jujitsu with Donald Trump, but also with Republicans in Congress….In a campaign speech near Valley Forge in Pennsylvania on Friday, the president moved the election’s stakes above run-of-the-mill politics to the very survival of democratic government. In doing so, he challenged voters — and the media — to see the alternative to his reelection as capitulation to the darkest forces in American life and around the globe….Jujitsu is defined as using the strength of an adversary against him. If Trump’s ability to dominate American political conversation has made it impossible for Biden to keep his promise of a more civil and peaceful politics, the president intends to make clear where the blame lies for the country’s distemper….a conversation centered on democracy’s future at home and abroad has the potential to shift the debate’s spotlight back to where it belongs: Away from migrant issues that have paralyzed Congress for two decades and toward the “sacred cause” of democracy that Biden lifted up on Friday….Biden’s case is against not only the man himself, but also an extremism that Trump has cultivated and helped to thrive in the Republican Party….A senior Biden adviser who briefed journalists before the president’s speech noted that “political violence is on display in a way that really unsettles the country.” Encouraging an extremism of deed as well as word is part of Trump’s political legacy. Calling it out will be central to the next 10 months. “When there’s an extremist threat in the country,” the aide said, “you have to name it, you have to say what it is.” Naming the violence that is part of its repertoire is key to this task….For Biden, democracy is now the foundation of his campaign. He needs to make it a centerpiece of the arguments that will roil Washington in the coming weeks.

At Forbes, Sara Dorn reports: “The Democratic party plans to focus its 2024 messaging on attacking Republicans who have supported former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud, according to a memo shared Wednesday—as President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign also announced he will cast Trump as a threat to democracy in a major campaign speech Saturday….Calling election denialism “the defining litmus test for the GOP presidential field,” the memo also rebukes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for campaigning on behalf of GOP midterm candidates who denied the results of the 2020 presidential election and DeSantis for refusing to say Jan. 6 was an insurrection….While Trump has continued to wield outsize power over the Republican party since losing the 2020 election, there are some signs Trump has negatively impacted the party as his preferred candidates have lost a series of high-stakes congressional races in recent years. The losses cost Republicans the Senate and a wider majority in the House in the 2022 midterms….It’s unclear how a [Trump] conviction in any of the cases could sway voters or whether the cases will even reach a trial before November. Some surveys show the majority of voters, 58%, according to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll, believe Trump committed serious federal crimes, 62% of Republicans also believe he should remain the party’s nominee, if he wins the primary and is subsequently convicted of a crime….Whether Democrats’ plans to cast Republicans as a threat to democracy will sway voters. The economy is consistently ranked as the top issue for voters, with 75% of survey respondents in a December Associated Press/NORC poll naming it as extremely or very important, compared to 67% who said the same about the future of democracy in the U.S….62%. That’s the share of Americans who said they believe Biden was legitimately elected, down from 69% in December 2021, according to a December Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, indicating growing Republican loyalty to Trump.” The “democracy vs. chaos” strategy has resonance now, thanks to the media coverage surrounding the anniversary of January 6th insurrection. But it is unclear how well it will play in 10 months in context of other issues.

“The deep voter dissatisfaction with the economy is a broader high-stakes puzzle going into an election year,” K. Sabeel Rahman writes in “Saving Bidenomics” at The Boston Review. “But even in the context of these spending bills, the political upside has yet to materialize. In some cases, where new jobs were created and investments have been made, local political leaders have resisted giving the President or the new policies credit. The bigger challenge, though, may be that for all the vast sums of money authorized by Congress, many of these programs have yet to be designed and the dollars yet to be spent. Many communities will not see immediate benefits. And many of the economic pain points that households face—from housing to care to food prices—remain underaddressed….The debate over how to implement industrial policy is not simply technocratic. What makes this otherwise wonky debate so fraught is the understanding that failure to make the most of this burst of public spending could be catastrophic. In a divided country where vast swaths of undermobilized and apathetic voters could make the difference in the survival of American democracy itself, these questions of political strategy—how to activate public support by delivering tangible benefits broadly—loom large. Indeed, as we head into the 2024 presidential primaries, where Trump and Trumpism has further taken hold in the conservative ecosystem, the dangers of an electoral loss for progressives are increasingly existential—for these new industrial policy initiatives, for the survival of the administrative agencies charged with executing them, and for democracy itself.”

In “Biden Begins 2024 With Better Poll Numbers Than His Foes—and Fans—Recognize” by John Nichols writes at The Nation: “If Biden gets his disjointed reelection campaign together and starts to deliver a coherent and consistent message, it’s a good bet that 2024 will turn out similarly or, perhaps, even better for Democrats than 2020. Biden’s message will focus on Trump’s many scandals and the increasingly authoritarian rhetoric of his desperate candidacy. But what may be president’s greatest strength going into the 2024 race was summed up by Steven Rattner in an end-of-2023 New York Times opinion piece that used multiple charts to convey the point that the US economy “beat the odds in 2023, coming in with far lower unemployment, far higher growth, and far better stock performance than projected.”….The economy is not, by a long shot, the only issue that will matter in 2024. Abortion rights concerns will undoubtedly turn out voters who favor Biden. By the same token, the president’s flawed response to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and especially to the Israeli assault on Gaza, could depress enthusiasm among young voters and Muslim Americans in swing states such as Michigan. And even if the economy were the only issue, Biden’s approach still leaves plenty to be desired in the eyes of many voters….But as veteran pollster and commentator Cornell Belcher said after reviewing Rattner’s upbeat assessment of the numbers, “Maybe, just maybe, Democrats should say this over and over and over again to voters at every turn and on every platform—kinda like a coordinated message or something, while taking credit for it.”….If the president and his partisan allies take that advice and the economy remains strong, there’s a compelling case Biden’s polling position will improve as the 2024 race unfolds.”

Political Strategy Notes

On New Year’s Day I noted a post from USA Today that spotlighted five counties across the U.S. that may be pivotal in in the 2024 elections. , and The seven counties that will help explain the 2024 election” at nbcnews.com,” and note:

Maricopa County, Arizona: Home to Phoenix, it’s the biggest and swingiest county in battleground Arizona. Former President Donald Trump won it in 2016, 48% to 45%, while Joe Biden won it in 2020, 50% to 48%.

Miami-Dade County, Florida: With Latinos making up a majority of its residents, this county was once reliably Democratic — with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton winning it by more than 20 percentage points in 2012 and 2016. But Biden won it by just 7 points in 2020, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won it by 11 points in his 2022 gubernatorial re-election.

Gwinnett County, Georgia: This diverse county (30% Black, 20% Latino, 14% Asian) is where the Democratic Party has had one of its biggest increases in its vote share from 2008 to 2020. In 2016, Clinton won the county by 6 points; in 2020, Biden won it by 18 — a significant reason how he was able to flip the state in that election.

Kent County, Michigan: Home to Grand Rapids, this once-reliable Republican county started breaking the Democrats’ way in the Trump era. Mitt Romney won it 53% to 45% in 2012; Trump won it by 3 points in 2016, 48% to 45%; but Biden carried it by 6 points in 2020, 52% to 46%.

Washoe County, Nevada: Representing Reno, it’s the swingiest county in Nevada, and it’s where Republicans have to win if they want to flip this battleground in 2024. Clinton carried it by 1 point in 2016, while Biden won it by 5 in 2020.

Erie County, Pennsylvania: As close to Buffalo and Cleveland as it is to Pittsburgh, this is the ultimate blue-collar swing county, NBC’s Steve Kornacki said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. Obama won it by 16 points in 2012; Trump carried it by 2 points in 2016; and Biden won it by 1 point in 2020.

Dane County, Wisconsin: Home to Madison and the University of Wisconsin, this county is all about the Democratic intensity in highly educated college towns. Biden netted 181,327 votes over Trump here in 2020 — up from Clinton’s 146,422 in 2016. And that Dem gain helped the party flip battleground Wisconsin in ‘20, given that Biden won the state by just 20,000 votes.

Anybody have some other swing counties that Dems should focus on?

In “Which 2024 elections are flying under the radar?,” Cooper Burton reports at abcnews.com, via 538, that “This year could see a record-breaking number of states vote on referendums to implement or repeal ranked-choice voting, a system that lets voters rank their candidate choices rather than choosing just one. While 21 states currently use ranked-choice voting in limited or local instances, only two presently use the process as a major part of statewide and/or federal elections — Alaska and Maine. In 2024, that number could double … or decline, depending on the fate of three ballot measures likely to go before voters this year….Nevada and Oregon could pass ranked-choice voting this year….Over in Nevada, voters will head to the polls for the second time to vote on implementing a ranked-choice system in the state. Voters already approvedsuch a ballot measure in 2022, but the state constitution requires citizen-initiated amendments to pass twice before they are enacted, which means the measure will be up again in 2024….The Nevada referendum has an interesting coalition of opponents from across the political spectrum, ranging from both of the state’s Democratic U.S. Senators and the influential state culinary union,…Oregonians will also weigh in on a ballot measure this year that would enact ranked-choice voting in statewide and federal elections. This measure differs from the ones in Alaska and Nevada in that it was put on the ballot by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, rather than through a citizen initiative. That could signal stronger support for the amendment among the state’s Democratic Party establishment — although almost all Republicans opposed the measure in the legislature. Additionally, some cities and counties in Oregon already use ranked-choice voting, meaning that some voters in the state are already familiar with the process and might be less intimidated by it. That may boost the measure’s prospects in a year where the future of ranked-choice voting in other states faces a more challenging outlook.”

Some  thoughts from “How death threats get Republicans to fall in line behind Trump: The insidious way violence is changing American politics — and shaping the 2024 election” by Zack Beauchamp at Vox: “Across the board and around the country, data reveals that threats against public officials have risen to unprecedented numbers — to the point where 83 percent of Americans are now concerned about risks of political violence in their country. The threats are coming from across the political spectrum, but the most important ones in this regard emanate from the MAGA faithful….Trump’s most fanatical followers have created a situation where challenging him carries not only political risks but also personal ones. Elected officials who dare defy the former president face serious threats to their well-being and to that of their families — raising the cost of taking an already difficult stand….As a result, the threat of violence is now a part of the American political system, to the point where Republican officials are — by their own admissions — changing the way they behave because they fear it….“Violence and threats against elected leaders are suppressing the emergence of a pro-democracy faction of the GOP,” writes Rachel Kleinfeld, an expert on political violence at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Absent threats, Kleinfeld argues, a move to Trump from inside the party — perhaps a more serious challenge in the presidential primary — might have had a better chance of getting off the ground….In 2016, the Capitol Police recorded fewer than 900 threats against members of Congress. In 2017, that figure more than quadrupled, per data provided by the Capitol Police….The numbers continued to increase in every year of the Trump presidency, peaking at 9,700 in 2021. In 2022, the first full year of Biden’s term, the numbers went down to a still-high 7,500. The 2023 data has not yet been released, but a spike in threats against legislators during the House Republican speaker fight and Israel-Hamas conflict suggests an increase over the 2022 numbers is plausible….“It’s not even accurate to say [threatening election workers] was rare prior to 2020. It was so rare as to be virtually nonexistent,” David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, told me in 2021. “This is beyond anything that we’ve ever seen.”….Beauchamp provides examples of recent violence and threats and cites “something that’s raising the temperature of American politics, making people feel more angry, afraid, and feeling like they need to take political matters into their own hands….That “something” is Donald Trump.”

Democrats certainly have enough to work on for this year’s presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections. But looking ahead just a bit further, David Wildstein reports at the New Jersey Globe on U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s GOTV tour of six swing counties in New Jersey, in which she is said to be exploring a possible run for Governor in 2025. The former Navy pilot and Georgetown Law grad is frequently cited as a young ‘up and coming’ progressive centrist on the Democratic political spectrum, who would brighten up the top of the ticket in future presidential elections. As Wildstein notes; “In a bid to raise her statewide profile for a possible gubernatorial bid in 2025, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) spent the weekend crisscrossing the state with appearances in six counties on Saturday and Sunday….Sherrill was in Bergen, Morris, Mercer, Hunterdon, Union, and Somerset, headlining GOTV events….“This weekend, I rallied with local Democratic parties in support of our great candidates up and down the line,” said Sherrill.  “Republicans have made it clear that abortion is on the ballot in the upcoming election, and it’s crucial that New Jersey Democrats turn out to protect the gains we’ve made in our state….Her stop in Bergen County was in the political base of a congressional colleague, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), who is also mulling a run for governor.  She led a canvass launch for Jodi Murphy, a former Westwood councilwoman who is challenging State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) in the 39th district….Last week, Gottheimer was in Sherill’s district to headline a fundraiser for Morris County Democrats and to attend an Essex County Democratic fundraising event….“New Jersey is a strong, progressive leader on issues from reproductive rights, to gun safety, to growing the middle class because we have a strong Democratic Party – not despite that,” said Sherrill. “

Are Dems Ready for 2024 Political Ad Wars?

You should not be shocked to learn that “The advertising dollars spent on U.S. elections and advocacy issues will grow to roughly $16 billion next year, up 31.2% compared to the last presidential election in 2020, according to a new forecast” by  GroupM, one of the world’s largest paid advertising agencies, Sara Fischer reports at Axios.

OK, ad expenditures up nearly a third from the last presidential election is a pretty big hike, but not a huge shock, considering inflation and the persistence of political polarization.

Every American who looks at images on a screen, either on TV, the internet and even cell phones, should expect an historically-unprecedented deluge of political ads. Oh, and print is not quite dead yet, so there will be more political ads in your mailbox.

Fischer notes further that “A majority of political advertising spend in the U.S. goes to local broadcast TV, but an increasing amount is moving toward digital channels.”  Further, “One of the fastest-growing segments is Connected TV (CTV) advertising, or video ads that run on digital TV sets connected to the internet. They offer campaigns the ability to target their ads more narrowly to voters with certain interests, instead of just age and gender demographics.”

Democrats should hope that the party’s ad gurus are on top of the trend toward Connected TV advertising, so they can better target key constituencies with appropriate ads. And let’s hope that Dems are already busy placing their ads in the most important swing county markets, like Erie County, Pa, as I noted on January 1. And would it be too much to ask that Democrats at least try to reduce the tremendous advantage they have ceded to Republicans on the nation’s radio networks, which penetrate into rural areas?

Of course, it’s not just about ads. Democratic campaigns must improve their game in terms of getting more “earned” media coverage. It’s a tough challenge when the other side has all the bomb throwers. But, as infrastructure projects  enacted by Democrats kick in during the next year, let no Republican who voted against them escape unscathed, especially those who have the temerity to show up for the ribbon-cutting.

The thing to keep in mind about political ads is that they are important for both persuasion and boosting turnout. If we have learned anything about “low information” voters in recent years, it is that there is a lot of room for improved outreach to them. The stakes couldn’t be much higher for both Democrats, and for the future of democracy in the U.S.

Political Strategy Notes

In “Why 2024’s vibes are so perplexing: ‘Everybody thinks they’re losing’,” Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes: “Gross domestic product grew at an astonishing annual rate of 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2023…Inflation was tamed without any sign of a widely predicted recession. Unemployment is at 3.7 percent, and real incomes are 2.7 percent above their January 2021 levels, meaning wage increases are outpacing price increases. If someone had shown you these numbers on the day Biden was inaugurated, you might have predicted he would be cruising into a Ronald Reagan-style “Morning in America” reelection campaign….Explaining why he’s not has spawned a growing subspecialty in the world of commentary — and a new word: “vibecession.” Coined by economics educator Kyla Scanlon, it refers to how people feel the country is in recession despite all that good data….If you wonder why there is so much political discontent, look no further than a year-end YouGov survey, which found that both liberals and conservatives believe the country is moving the wrong way — meaning away from their own views. Forty-four percent of liberals said U.S. politics had moved further to the right over the past decade; only 16 percent said things had moved leftward. Among conservatives, 55 percent said politics had moved to the left, while only 15 percent saw a move rightward. (Moderates, appropriately, were split about evenly.)…Democratic pollster Guy Molyneux captured the mood. “Everybody thinks they’re losing,” he told me….For Biden, there is still hope that interest rates will start coming down and the good economic news will finally sink in. He and his party will need to neutralize the issues of crime and immigration without splitting themselves asunder or feeding the worries they are seeking to quell.”

At Brookings, Dionne explains why “For Biden, youth vote polling is a warning, not the apocalypse,” and observes: “An analysis of the 2022 exit polls by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University found that in 2022 U.S. Senate races, Democrats got 70% of the youth vote or more in Arizona, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania and 60% or more in Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin….Commenting on this year’s off-year elections, Semafor’s Jordan Weissman offered a pithy take on X underscoring the same point: “At the moment, young people hate the Democratic party, except on election day.”….None of this means that Biden and the Democrats should ignore recent polls suggesting trouble for Biden among young voters in matchups against Donald Trump….Daniel Cox, director of the Survey Center on American Life and a senior fellow in polling and public opinion at the American Enterprise Institute, pointed to basic reasons for a certain skepticism toward presidential polls this far out from Election Day, especially among young voters “who mostly do not pay attention to politics at this early stage.” Many of these surveys, moreover, have relatively small samples of young Americans. Cox observed that some of the surveys might reflect the likelihood that “young conservatives were more committed to Trump than young liberals were to Biden.”….The difficulty of gauging exactly where young voters stand was underscored in the fall 2023 Harvard Youth Poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School. It is one of the best ongoing surveys of young voters. Conducted between late October and early November, it found that Biden enjoyed a 10-point lead among all adults under 30, a 15-point lead among young people who said they were registered to vote, and a 24-point lead among the most likely voters. This advantage matched Biden’s lead over Trump in the 2020 exit polls. Your view of where Biden stands might depend on which of these numbers you focus on….Cox’s conclusion is that some of the recent findings are not “apocalyptic” but should “alarm” the Biden campaign, nonetheless. That’s the right attitude: The Biden campaign should not panic, but it should be worried — and act on that worry….I agree with my colleague Bill Galston that economic concerns are a major part of this story, and the Biden campaign needs to deal especially with prices to win back support both among the young and in the broader electorate. Its economic messaging needs a lot of improvement….I have been pushing for some time for what we’ll update as the Next Generation Act of 2023. It could include job training for a rapidly transforming economy; new stabs at student loan forgiveness and wider access to higher education, including community college; comprehensive childcare and early education; and seed money, similar to provisions of the GI Bill, for young people to buy homes and start their own businesses. This could be linked to a much larger national service program.”

Steven Shepard explains “Why a Trump conviction might not save Biden’s reelection” at Politico: “Take last week’s Wall Street Journal poll. Trump led Biden by 4 percentage points in a head-to-head matchup, 47 percent to 43 percent. The race shifted only slightly, to a 1-point Biden lead, among respondents who were also asked what they would do if Trump were convicted in either of the two federal cases, either for unlawfully possessing classified documents or conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election….Since only about half of the respondents were asked about a hypothetical Trump conviction, the two results aren’t directly comparable. But they suggest a massive swing against Trump is unlikely. And the margins are small: With just a 1-point lead in a hypothetical Trump conviction scenario, Democrats can’t rely on a small post-conviction swing tipping the race….And that’s if he’s even convicted before the election. Though Trump’s 2024 calendar is littered with planned trial dates up and down the Eastern Seaboard, there’s no guarantee that those cases won’t be pushed until after Election Day….Last month’s New York Times/Siena College poll asked likely voters in six Biden-won swing states who said they weren’t supporting him — a collection of Trump voters and those who said they were undecided — what they would do if Trump “were convicted and sentenced to prison but were still the Republican nominee.”….Most of them would still vote for Trump, but 5 percent of the likely electorate across those swing states said they would vote for Biden under that circumstance. That’s potentially enough to tilt the race to the Democratic incumbent — but it’s not guaranteed, especially with Biden already trailing….Most of that 5-point shift came from voters who were undecided or preferred another candidate in the initial Biden-Trump contest. The New York Times/Siena crosstabs also suggest young voters and independents who hadn’t picked Biden before were slightly more likely to say they would vote for him if Trump were convicted….There are a few polls that suggest a Trump conviction could be more significant, but they mostly gloss over the polarization of the electorate. In a Reuters/Ipsos poll this month, 64 percent of Americans said they would at least somewhat agree with the statement that Trump “should not run for president” if he’s convicted of a crime. But saying he shouldn’t run is a far cry from saying they wouldn’t vote for him with only a limited number of choices on the ballot.”

Political commentators talk a lot about “swing states.” But what puts the ‘swing’ in states very often comes down to particular counties. In “Where is the competition in 2024? Here are the places to watch in next year’s race for the White House” at USA Today, Savannah Kuchar spotlights five counties across the U.S. which could decide the 2024 presidential election. Her list includes: Maricopa County, AZ; Erie County, PA; Kent County, MI; Miami-Dade, FL; and Dane County, WI. She probably should have added Gwinnett or Cherokee County, GA. But here’s her take on Erie County, PA, which could be the most important county for swinging the most electoral votes: “Located in the northwestern tip of Pennsylvania, Erie County has swung back and forth for Democrats and Republicans in recent elections, leaving the question of who voters there will go for in 2024…. Four years after former President Barack Obama won the county with a commanding lead, Trump secured a victory in the state in 2016 by less than a point and in the blue-collar county by 2 points….Erie County flipped yet again, though, in 2020, going for Biden 50% to 49%….As many expect a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024, Americans may have to stay up for the outcome in Erie next election night.” Whatever the outcome of the 2024 elections, we can be sure that TV stations in these counties, especially Erie, are going to rake in some huge political ad revenues.

Maine’s Removal of Trump from Ballot Helps Case for Biden

Stephen Collinson notes in “Risks of US electoral chaos deepen after Trump is barred from another state ballot” at CNN Politics:

Maine’s decision only deepened the unprecedented legal and political tangle surrounding the 2024 campaign – all of which stems from Trump’s refusal to accept defeat and his historic challenge to the fabled US transfer of power. After all, two states have now found that a former president engaged in an insurrection against the US government – an unheard of state of affairs at any other moment in history.

The controversy, however, also raises new questions over whether efforts to make Trump pay for January 6 are justified on the grounds of protecting America’s democracy from a uniquely pernicious challenge or could backfire politically against President Joe Biden and Democrats next fall. The multiple criminal charges Trump is facing have tended to hike his popularity among base voters even if his wild anti-democratic conduct in 2020 could be a major general election liability.

So the political risk is that cascading disqualifications of Trump from various state ballots will “energize” his supporters, making it more likely that they will turn out in greater numbers. But that value added for his campaign could be offset to some extent by energizing turnout of Americans who are disgusted by Trump’s glaring disrespect for free and fair elections.

The moral risk in giving Trump a free ride on state ballots, despite compelling evidence that he has in fact participated in attempting to invalidate free elections with force is further deterioration in American democracy. It is hard to understand how any reasonable and honest person can say that he is innocent of inciting insurrection. As Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows explained her decision,

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” Bellows said. “Democracy is sacred … I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”

Colllinson adds that “Bellows wrote that the challengers presented compelling evidence that the January 6 insurrection “occurred at the behest of” Trump – and that the US Constitution “does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government.” The case would be stronger after Trump is found guilty. But time is running out as his legal team seizes every opportunity to stall adjudication of his 91 indictments, which is sadly a real possibility in our glacially-paced legal system. Trump’s campaign is a dumpster fire. But it is a slow-burning one, thanks to the legal stalling.

Meanwhile the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that Trump gets to stay on the GOP primary ballot, despite new evidence of Trump trying to prevent certification of Biden’s Michigan victory.  As William Brangham reports at pbsnews.org:

A report from Michigan further peels back the curtain on Trump’s efforts to nullify the results of the 2020 election. The Detroit News listened to a partial recording of Trump and RNC chair Ronna McDaniel reportedly pressuring the Republican chair and another member of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers not to certify the results there despite no evidence of fraud. William Brangham reports.

Hey, when are Americans going to get to hear that recording?

Cody Williams and Nicholas Riccardi of A.P. report that “The Michigan and Colorado cases are among dozens hoping to keep Trump’s name off state ballots.” Yes, dozens. Consider for a moment the level of denial required among Trump supporters to believe that they are all wrong.

Even so, prospects for the disqualifications being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court are not good, owing in no small part to Republicans having packed the High Court.

But Democrats at least have a potent talking point to raise during the next ten months in reminding swing voters that Democracy is very much on the 2024 ballot. They should use it again and again.

Political Strategy Notes

Steven Greenhouse, who covered the labor beat for the New York Times for more than three decades, has a new article, “Broken’ US labor laws could hamper union wins for workers, experts warn: Strikes by autoworkers, actors and writers brought wins in 2023, but analysts worry labor laws could undo progress” at The Guardian. It is a must-read for Dems who want to understand is going on in the labor movement. Greenhouse writes: “Strikes by autoworkers, writers, actors and nurses and a threatened strike by UPS workers all led to significant wins in 2023. “The big challenge for labor in 2024 will be to take that momentum and turn it into new organizing and getting first contracts where workers have organized,” said Ken Jacobs, the co-director of the UC Berkeley Labor Center. “That’s going to be a real challenge because labor law in the US is broken.”….Among the big tests that labor faces is whether the United Auto Workers (UAW) will succeed in using the impressive contracts it won with Detroit’s automakers to organize Toyota, Tesla and other non-union auto plants, especially in the anti-union south. Another challenge is whether the Starbucks, Amazon, Trader Joe’s, Apple, Chipotle and REI workers who have unionized over the past two years will finally get first contracts that deliver improved wages and benefits….During 2023, there were several major contract disputes, including ones involving 340,000 Teamsters at UPS, 150,000 screen and television actors, 140,000 autoworkers and 85,000 Kaiser Permanente workers. In each of those negotiations, unions came away boasting of record contracts, although only after the actors, autoworkers and Kaiser workers went on strike. “2023 has been huge for labor, both the extraordinary increase in large strikes beyond and the success of workers through those strikes,” Jacobs said. “That’s a really a turnaround from where we had been.”….“Strike activity might not reach the same level next year but it’s still an opportune time to go on strike,” said Johnnie Kallas, director of the ILR Labor Action Tracker, which keeps a tally of strikes across the US. Many labor experts say it’s a favorable time to go on strike because the labor market is tight, public approval for unions is at its highest level in decades, and there’s a vigorously pro-union president in the White House….The UAW hopes its record contracts with Detroit’s automakers will set up organizing victories at auto and battery plants across the south. It has announced plans to seek to unionize Toyota, Tesla, Mercedes and BMW, and its effort to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is racing ahead of the others, with more than 1,000 VW workers signing pro-union cards. But some auto executives, most notably Tesla’s Elon Musk, have served notice that the UAW is unwelcome. “I disagree with the idea of unions,” Musk said recently. ”

Greenhouse continues, “The UAW hopes its record contracts with Detroit’s automakers will set up organizing victories at auto and battery plants across the south. It has announced plans to seek to unionize Toyota, Tesla, Mercedes and BMW, and its effort to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is racing ahead of the others, with more than 1,000 VW workers signing pro-union cards. But some auto executives, most notably Tesla’s Elon Musk, have served notice that the UAW is unwelcome. “I disagree with the idea of unions,” Musk said recently….Joseph McCartin, a labor historian at Georgetown University, voiced relative optimism for the UAW. “They’re in a better position to make a move on these companies than they have ever been,” he said. “They not only have a great contract to show what they’ve accomplished, but they have the will to wage the campaign in a way that the union has not for a long time. It’s bound to be a really important campaign. There’s going to be a furious struggle.”….Many labor leaders see another important challenge for 2024: to help ensure that Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee for president. McCartin said the 2024 election is reminiscent of 1948. “If you think about Harry Truman – he was not doing well in the polls, he was struggling, his party was divided,” with rival candidates Strom Thurmond and Henry Wallace, McCartin said. “When Truman won, he said that labor did it.”….McCartin said Biden is also facing a “situation of how to hold together: Biden has a youth problem. People under 35 are not enthused about him. In my view, labor is well-positioned to be an engine for the re-election of Biden. But it’s hard to prognosticate.”….Jones of the University of Minnesota said: “Labor has to play a big role. I think it’s going to be a make or break. Biden has talked a lot about turning out working-class voters, particularly white men. He’s been fairly successful at that. There’s a lot of talk of him losing support among Black and Latino voters. So the degree that Biden can turn out white, working-class voters is really critical. That’s something the UAW and other unions can really help with.” Jones said unions could make a pivotal difference in industrial states such as Michigan and Ohio….Arguably the biggest challenge labor faces is whether unions can finally begin to reverse the decline in union membership and in the percentage of workers in unions. Just 10% of workers are in unions, down from more than 20% during the 1980s ….Reversing the decline in union membership “is the big test”, Jacobs said, adding: “The UAW demonstrated what a union can do when its members are fully engaged and taking on the boss. Can unions turn that into new organizing and expanding and increasing union density? In the context of our very broken labor law, none of this is easy. But I’m the most optimistic I’ve been since I began doing this work.”

In “What issues will matter most to Hispanic voters in 2024?,” Monica Potts and Holly Fuong write at 538 that their  “analysis of data from the Cooperative Election Study, a Harvard University survey of at least 60,000 Americans taken before the 2020 elections and the 2022 midterms, shows that Hispanic voters remain to the left of the general electorate on key issues like immigration and environmental policy. In other areas, Hispanic voters are largely similar to the general electorate….”Most [Hispanic voters] are not single-issue voters,” said Melissa Morales, the president and founder of Somos Votantes and Somos PAC, an independent outreach group that has endorsed Democratic candidates. “There’s a bunch of things that are going to come in to affect how they vote.”….Overall, Hispanic voters* made up about 11 percent of the electorate in 2020. That’s relatively low compared to an estimated 19 percent of the total U.S. population. But they’re also the fastest-growing demographic group in the country. And while the share of this group that’s eligible to vote and turning out to vote is low compared to other groups, it’s growing every year….CES data shows that Hispanic voters are more likely to be young, with more than 30 percent of those voters under 30, compared with 21 percent of the general electorate. That means many of them are squarely in a generation that’s already more diverse and further to the left on many issues than the general electorate. And only 13 percent are 65 or older, compared to 22 percent of the general electorate….Hispanic Americans are less educated on average than the electorate as a whole: Based on 2020 CES data, about half have only a high school education, while 19 percent are college graduates, compared with 37 percent and 31 percent of the general electorate, respectively. What will happen within the huge group of Hispanic voters without college degrees, and why, is one of the big unanswered questions both parties are facing as we head into the 2024 presidential election….In the 2020 CES, Hispanic voters were 14 points more likely than the general electorate to support giving legal status to immigrants who have held jobs and not been convicted of a crime. They were also less likely to support increasing border security measures like hiring more border patrol officers and building a wall than the general electorate, and less supportive of measures to curb legal immigration. Their stances on immigration questions differed from the general electorate by 9 to 13 points, showing that the group was significantly more liberal. The differences were similar in 2022.”

Potts and Fuong note further, “In 2016, when Trump ran a campaign focused on anti-immigration policies, he lost Hispanic voters to the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, two to one….But his anti-immigration rhetoric didn’t turn out a record wave of Hispanic voters to vote against him and become solidly loyal Democrats, as some had predicted. Instead, his base of support among the group was on par with or even better than that shown for previous nominees Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain. That led observers to conclude that a significant and steady minority of Hispanic voters, around a third, were probably conservative and unlikely to abandon Republicans….In 2020, Trump made gains among Hispanic voters. Immigration was a less important issue that year, when voters were much more focused on COVID-19 and the economic wreckage surrounding the pandemic. Biden won the group overall, 59 percent to 38 percent, but Trump made gains among a specific group: those without college degrees….Immigration has been rising in salience among voters and continues to be a losing issue for Biden. Whether it’s a winning issue for either party among Hispanic voters remains to be seen, however. Republican front-runner Trump has made overtly racist and fascist remarks about immigration, while Biden has signaled he’s willing to deal with Republicans on immigration policy in order to pass aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia — a stance that could turn off some Hispanic voters. “The Democratic Party needs to make sure that they’re not bargaining away the rights of immigrants in this country, because it is still a very, very important issue to the Latino community,” Tzintzún Ramirez said….On issues of policing, like decreasing the number of police officers on the street or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, Hispanics were not consistently further to the left or right of the overall electorate, and the differences were small. On a wide range of other issues included in the CES, ranging from banning assault rifles to allowing abortions as a matter of choice, Hispanics also did not vary significantly or predictably from the general electorate….One area that did stand out was policies related to health care access. Hispanics in 2020 were more likely to support expanding Medicare to cover all Americans than the general electorate was by 14 points, and they were more likely to support lowering the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 50 by the same margin….Analysis from Equis Research showed that, in 2022, Hispanic voters, like most voters, were concerned about the economy and cost of living, and that those who rated that as their top concern were more likely to support Republican candidates.”

High Court Wild Card Looms Over 2024 Elections

There are plenty of potentially-pivotal wild cards still looming in the 2024 election deck: Trump’s indictments; Biden’s age; RFK, Jr.; other 3rd party candidates; abortion; Gaza; Ukraine; inflation; etc. etc. Ed Pilkington notes another in his article, “‘Did you just hear John Roberts scream?’: US supreme court to have outsized influence in 2024 election” in The Guardian. Among his observations:

The US supreme court, stacked with rightwing justices appointed by Donald Trump and facing a crisis of public confidence in its impartiality, has been thrust into the thick of the 2024 presidential election through a number of highly charged and critical cases.

Last week’s dynamite ruling from the Colorado supreme court disqualifying Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot on grounds that he engaged in insurrection on 6 January 2021 is almost certain to end up before the country’s highest court. Trump’s legal team has indicated it will appeal, and the nine supreme court justices will be under pressure to take the case or risk legal confusion spreading as the election year unfolds.

In addition to the Colorado ruling, the top court was also asked to step into the legal battle between Trump and the department of justice’s special counsel Jack Smith in the criminal prosecution of the former president over his attempt to subvert the 2020 election. At issue was whether Trump could claim presidential immunity even though he is no longer in the White House.

Earlier this month Smith asked the supreme court to expedite a decision to avoid delaying a criminal trial in Washington DC scheduled to begin on 4 March. On Friday the court issued a one-sentence denial, which returns the case back to a Washington DC-based federal appeals court, though it is likely to be only a matter of time before such a fundamental question wends its way back to the highest court for final adjudication.

All of which “comes at an awkward time for the court, which is already reeling from its own internal ethical scandals and plummeting public approval ratings,” according to Pilkington., who adds,

To be shoved into the heart of the election battle is likely to be a deeply uncomfortable experience for all the justices, three of whom – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – were appointed by Trump. The prospect is especially fraught for the chief justice, John Roberts, who is known to be sensitive about public opinion and keen to keep the court above the political ruckus.

As the Colorado ruling was announced Mike Sacks, a writer on law and politics, quipped on social media: “Did you all just hear John Roberts scream too because I def did”.

Legal pundits agree that the supreme court is almost duty bound to take the Colorado case and hear it expeditiously. David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, said “it’s crucial for all Americans that the issue of Trump’s eligibility be resolved as soon as possible. The Republican party needs to know if it has a qualified nominee, election officials need to know who to name on the ballot, and the voters need to know who they can vote for.”

Colorado’s primary is slated for Super Tuesday, March 5th – one of 17 states that will count presidential primary ballots that day. And there will be loud weeping and gnashing of teeth, no matter what the Supremes, who have a 41 percent approval rate, decide to do. The implications for Democratic strategy are iffy too, depending on the decision.

It may be that the Biden campaign would rather run against Trump than several other GOP presidential candidates. So there are undoubtedly Democratic strategists who are hoping Trump prevails in the Supreme Court ruling. No doubt many other Democrats would prefer not to gamble on allowing Trump to win the GOP nomination and risk empowering him to further degrade American democracy.

The 14th amendment, section 3 is not one of the more well-written parts of the Constitution. But for any interpretation to say that it is OK for the President of the U.S. to not only advocate, but also take part in a plot to shred a fair presidential election is a pretty ugly stretch, even for a court with three Trump appointees. Don’t bet on Justice Thomas recusing himself. But if he does, a 4-4 tie becomes possible, in which case the Colorado decision stands.

Regardless, however, the  upcoming Supreme Court decision underscores the enormous importance of restoring integrity in the composition of the High Court, as well as reforms in its rules. As soon as Democrats win the necessary seats in the Senate and House, they should increase the size of the Supreme Court, which was last set at 9 seats back in 1869, when the U.S. had less than 40 million people, compared to about 332 millions now. In all, the number of seats on the Supreme Court has been changed six times by congress, so let’s have no whining about upholding the founders’ intentions.

And no bellyaching, please, about ‘packing the court.’ The Republicans have already done that. Dems must WTFU and play their best hole card at the first opportunity, if they want to play on a level table in the coming years.

Political Strategy Notes

An excerpt from “Landmark Trump ruling gives Supreme Court an unexpected New Year’s agenda” by Noah Bressner and Justin Green at Axios: “A little over two decades after the landmark Bush v. Gore ruling decided one messy presidential election, the Supreme Court will have a chance to rescue former President Trump’s political ambitions — or leave him out in the cold….Why it matters: A decision from Colorado on Tuesday will likely force the court to decide — very quickly by SCOTUS standards — if states can ban Trump from the ballot using the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause….Driving the news: The Colorado Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, removed Trump from the state’s primary ballot, concluding that he “incited and encouraged the use of violence and lawless action to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”….It stayed the ruling until Jan. 4, with the option to keep the stay in place if the Supreme Court takes up the case before then….The state’s primary is set for Super Tuesday in early March….The Colorado decision marks the first time a court has found that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — which bans insurrectionists who once swore to uphold the Constitution from holding office — applies to Trump….Between the lines: There’s already a budding campaign to pressure Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from any ruling because of his wife’s connections to the Trump White House before Jan. 6….Ginni Thomas was involved in Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election….State of play: Trump likely wouldn’t lose much by staying off the ballot: He lost the state by a double-digit margin in 2020. No Republican has won it since 2004….Courts have so far rejected similar lawsuits in other states. Minnesota’s top court rejected an attempt to push Trump off the ballot last month. A judge ruled against another effort in Michigan that’s now being appealed….What to watch: The Supreme Court has an extremely narrow window to take up the case and issue a ruling….Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said the court would need to decide within weeks for her office to meet a Jan. 5 deadline to certify and print ballots….If the Supreme Court doesn’t decide in time, Trump’s name could remain on the ballot.”

It’s a BFD, alright. Trump supporters and some of the GOP’s hidebound traditionalists are tripping over each other, arguing that the text of the relevant section of the 14th amendment to the Constitution does not precisely specify that it applies to the President. Here’s the relevant text, so you can decide: “Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.” The Republicans, including candidates running against Trump, are reduced to arguing in essence that it’s OK for the President to participate in “insurrection and rebellion” and only the smaller fry have to pay a penalty for doing so. Check out Republican renegade George Conway III’s Atlantic article, “The Colorado Ruling Changed My Mind: The strongest argument for throwing Trump off the ballot is the weakness of the counterarguments” for other equivocations. The Supreme Court may indulge such nitpicking, and it will certainly be an outrage, if Clarence Thomas doesn’t recuse himself, since his wife, Ginni Thomas, was was involved in Trump’s project to overturn the 2020 election. Yes, Trump will use the controversy to do some fund-raising and it may energize some of his more unhinged supporters for a while. But I doubt he will gain many new supporters because of it, regardless of what the Supreme Court will do.

“We’ll see what the U.S. Supreme Court thinks. But in the meantime, one question that is dancing around in my mind right now is this: Why stop with Trump?,” Editor Michael Tomasky writes in The New Republic. “There are other officeholders, in Congress and at the state level, who are alleged or known to have participated in the planning of January 6. Should they not receive the same scrutiny as Trump?….Back in October 2021, Rolling Stone published a blockbuster reportalleging direct involvement in the planning of the insurrection by six Republican members of Congress: Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks, Louie Gohmert, and Madison Cawthorn (Gohmert and Cawthorn are no longer serving, if you can describe what the other four are perpetrating as “service”)….Reporter Hunter Walker spoke extensively with two sources who alleged to him that these members “were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.”….Beyond this report, we know of many other allegations of conniving with the White House in the run-up to the riot by other House members—Scott Perry, Jim Jordan, and even Mike Johnson, the man who is now the speaker and second in line to the presidency. All we know about Johnson right now is that he organized an amicus brief, signed by many GOP members of Congress, to some bogus election fraud lawsuit. But what else might he have done?….The word “conspiracy” has been used many times—but I don’t think promiscuously—with respect to what happened on January 6, 2021. A conspiracy by definition involves a lot of people. If these or other Republican House members conspired just to have Congress vote against the certification of Joe Biden as president, would that rise to the level of engaging in “insurrection or rebellion,” to use the amendment’s language? Maybe, maybe not. But if they encouraged violence as a means of pressuring members to vote that way? It would seem pretty hard to deny that that would count as insurrection or rebellion.”

“Red states are dominating migration trends among U.S. states, according to new population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau,” according to Timothy H. J. Nerozzi at, gulp, foxnews.com. ” The Census Bureau released a report Tuesday outlining population trends in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico….”The increasing number of states with population growth reflects both the broad national trends of deaths and net international migration returning to pre-COVID levels as well as reduced net domestic outmigration for some of the states,” the report reads….Texas experienced the largest numeric population growth of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the data….The Texas population grew from 30,029,848 on July 1, 2022, to 30,503,301 on the same day in 2023….Florida was directly behind Texas in second place, experiencing a growth from 22,245,521 in 2022 to 22,610,726 in 2023….In descending rank, the rest of the top 10 states for population growth between 2022 and 2023 are: North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Virginia, Colorado and Utah….South Carolina and Florida led the way as the two fastest-growing states by percentage last year, growing by 1.7% and 1.6%, respectively, the report found….Eight states experienced a fall in population between 2022 and 2023: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia….California experienced the highest gross population decrease by far, losing 75,423 residents.” Of course, Fox sees the migration stats as an indication  of dislike for “blue state” politics. But it is entirely possible that it could be driven more by a desire to live in warmer climates, since the top 8 in-migration states are all in the southeast — which may eventually become less conservative as a result.

Can Dems Leverage Radio’s Power?

At Current Affairs, Nathan Robinson has an interview with Thom Hartmann, who reaches more Americans via radio every day than any other liberal political commentator. Some of Hartmann’s observations about the potential of radio for helping to build a pro-Democratic majority include:

….The number one talk radio show in America, in fact, prior to Limbaugh, was Alan Berg out of Denver. And he was doing a show that you could hear in 27 states. It was on a giant station, it was blowing a huge signal across the western states. And he was assassinated by a couple of skinheads in the parking lot of the radio station. And they made a movie out of it: Talk Radio….The number one show in America before he was assassinated was left-wing. And with the Alan Berg assassination, there was just this collective, oh my God, across America, where for several years nobody wanted to do talk radio. And then Limbaugh rolled out his show in, whenever it was—‘86, I think—and then there was this herd mentality that kicked in across broadcasting.

….when Air America [progressive talk radio network from 2004-2010] rolled out, I wrote the original business plan for Air America and when Air America rolled out, we leased stations, we leased time on—I think—54 Clear Channel stations around the country. And as I recall, when Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital took over Clear Channel, suddenly we started losing stations until basically it just bankrupted Air America.

On another occasion, there’s a another very large radio network with over 900 stations, and I met with the one of the two billionaires who owned that network in the offices of a United States Senator, and said “Why don’t you put”—and he had hundreds of right wing stations—and I said “Why don’t you put some left-wingers on?” I would offer myself, but just generically. And he simply said straight up, he said, “I’m never gonna put somebody on the air who’s gonna argue for raising my taxes.” This is a guy who owned 900 radio stations.

….we were on 54 Clear Channel stations. Clear Channel also had probably at that time 400 or 500 right-wing stations…..Every single one of the stations that we were on was part of a pod of stations owned by Clear Channel that also had a right-wing show. The right-wing shows had been on for years and years. So their sales guys had developed networks that were right-wing show friendly. They had gotten to know the movers and shakers in the local Republican Party. They had gotten in tight with the Chamber of Commerce. They’d gotten to know the car dealers who were big Republican donors. They even hired people out of that universe. So we were suddenly on 50 radio stations across the country. And every single one of those radio stations had a sales team that was almost entirely either made up of right-wingers or had a customer base that was largely right-wing friendly.”

Hartmann adds that “Half of America is Democrat, half are Republicans. It’s not like we’re wired differently in really major substantial ways. I realize there are arguments about authoritarianism and all that kind of stuff, but still, left-wing talk radio works. It worked before Limbaugh; it’s worked since Limbaugh.” Further

….what really made Limbaugh and what really made right-wing talk radio was the Bill Clinton presidency, when Bill Clinton got elected in 1992….They’re preaching a message of tax cuts and deregulation. And so, of course, the very, very wealthy and very powerful are going to be pouring money down their throats. And I’m preaching a message of “raise taxes on rich people.” And I don’t know how many rich people are therefore going to go out and buy a radio station to put me on.

That’s when they really took off. That’s when it became a multi, multi, you know, $100 million business rather than just a million dollar business. And left-wing talk radio never successfully went through that curve. It got halfway down the road. But when Air America started out, the guy who started it said that he had millions of dollars in funding and he had lied. The very first, you know, he was a con man. I did not know him. But it was a mess. And nobody has ever properly funded a progressive network in the United States.

….There are, at any given moment in the United States, hundreds of radio stations for sale, and they don’t sell for huge amounts of money, hundreds of 1000s to low millions at the very most. There’s also low-power FM, and there are increasing numbers of folks who are starting low-power FM stations. I’m on probably a dozen of them around the country right now….you can put together a low-power FM station for $25,000 and run it out of your basement for that matter, if somebody can get a decent antenna and tower location. So there is the possibility of growing a progressive network. It’s actually happening. We’ve been adding a couple of stations, four or five, six, or eight stations a year, every year steadily for four years.

Back around what must have been 2006 or thereabouts, Randi Rhodes and me and a bunch of other people from Air America went to DC to talk with a bunch of Senators, Democratic Senators, about talk radio, and we tried to convince them that that, you know, they’re raising billions of dollars every four years for elections, and with a fraction of that money, they could buy 400 or 500 radio stations or even 50 radio stations around the country. And it’s much more politically effective to have somebody 24/7 singing your praises on the radio in a way that has high credibility because people feel like they’ve built a relationship with you, than it is to buy ads every advertising cycle. And outside of Bernie Sanders, who totally understood what I was talking about, because for 11 years he had been on my show every Friday for an hour taking calls from listeners—outside of Bernie, we just got blown off, including by somebody who later became a candidate for president of the United States and lost. And I think they lost because right-wing talk radio just destroyed that candidacy.

….The Democratic Party constantly underestimated talk radio. And what’s happening right now is even more alarming. And I don’t recall if I got into that in the Nation article or not. But this is a phenomenon that has just been going on in the last four or five years. At any given moment there are a couple hundred radio stations around the country for sale, but there are also, at any given moment, probably 1,000 radio stations available for lease, where you just go in and say, I’ll rent your station for a year. This is how Air America did it with all the stations we leased from Clear Channel. And typically, on the lease stations, what you’ll hear is religious content or polka music or music that serves niche communities with niche advertisers just kind of hanging on. And what’s happening is that a group of deep-pocketed Hispanic right-wingers, mostly Cuban exiles, have been renting radio stations around the country, the best estimate is there might be 200 or 300 of them now, where they’re running some syndicated and some local Spanish language, right-wing talk radio, and in some cases, they’re playing music, but they’re hiring DJs who are delivering right-wing political messages, you know, snarky comments and things between songs. I saw an article like two weeks ago saying Democrats can’t figure out why the Hispanic vote has moved 7% towards the Republican Party in the last two years. And I’m yelling at the web page going, It’s the freakin’ radio, you know?

….You know, guys working on construction sites, listening to the music with the DJ coming on and going, “Oh my god, do you see what Joe Biden just did?” Well, here’s a new song in Spanish. The people listening are Spanish speakers. I’m telling you, you’re going to see by the 2024 election, you’re going to see Spanish language radio stations in every community in America with a significant Spanish-speaking population, pushing right-wing politics, and they’re already halfway there.

As regards the reach of conservative talk radio, Hartmann notes that there are “1,500 right-wing radio stations in this country, and probably fewer than 100 left-wing stations” and “what political radio there is, is entirely right-wing. It’s not healthy.”

Hartmann adds, “if you live in Wyoming, I mean, you might drive an hour to work, what are you gonna do, you’re gonna listen to the radio. And podcasts are great, and they’re growing rapidly, but they’re also growing rapidly in the 40 and under demographic. If you look at the 50 and over demographic, they still very, very heavily use radio. And those folks are more likely to be voting.”