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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


A Path for Dems to Leverage Abortion Opinion for the Midterms

Harold Meyerson explains “How Democrats Can Now Defeat Anti-Choice Republicans” at The American Prospect:

Yesterday, The New York Times posted both a map and a table showing the polling on how each of the 50 states comes down on the question of abortion. That table offers a guide to how Democrats can actualize various states’ sentiments to elect more pro-choice Democrats in November.

Consider Florida, where 56 percent of residents want to keep abortion, in the Times’ phrase, “mostly legal,” while just 38 percent want it to be “mostly illegal.” Republican Gov. (and presidential wannabe) Ron DeSantis recently signed a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and anti-choice zealots in the legislature will likely now want a new law making it illegal after six weeks or just plain altogether. If he wants the party’s presidential nod in 2024, DeSantis should probably go along with them; if he wants to be re-elected this November, he should try to duck the issue altogether. The Democrats running against him should do all they can to highlight his anti-choice stance, and if there’s still time to put an initiative on the ballot, they should force the question by letting voters decide abortion’s post-Roe legality—a question DeSantis won’t be able to duck without the kind of contortions that would in themselves weaken his prospects.

In the swing states of Wisconsin, Arizona, and Pennsylvania—in all three of which both senatorial and gubernatorial seats are up for grabs—the supporters of abortion outnumber its opponents by 13 percentage points. In Michigan, where Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will face a right-wing Republican challenger, abortion supporters outnumber opponents by 16 percentage points. In largely libertarian Nevada, where the incumbent Democratic senator and governor both face what have been thought to be strong Republican challenges, abortion backers outnumber its opponents by a whopping 32 percentage point margin.

If the pro-choice Democrats can’t figure out a way to win those elections, shame on them.

The pro-choice sentiment of the majority of Americans can play a role in numerous House contests as well. In California, where pro-choicers outnumber anti-choicers by 20 percentage points, the legislature is now planning to place a referendum on the November ballot that would enshrine the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution. The debate around that referendum puts the three anti-choice Republican House members from the outskirts of the L.A. metropolitan area in even more serious peril of being unseated than they already are, and it could do the same to some of the Republicans now representing inland California as well. (By the way, the law that legalized abortions in California, without putting that right into the state’s constitution, was signed in 1967 by the state’s Republican governor—Ronald Reagan—before his party succumbed to fundamentalist Christianity.)

Speaking of which, the Times map of the individual states’ views on abortion illustrates that the opposition is centered not in heavily Catholic states, such as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New Mexico, all of which strongly support abortion rights, but in the fundamentalist Protestant evangelical belt that runs from West Virginia to Mississippi and Arkansas. Historically, evangelicals had no particular position on abortion until the 1970s, when they began to see it as a feminist cause célèbre. Which is one reason why the Republican opposition to abortion can be quantified as less of a “pro-life” concern and much more as a rage against uppity women.

At The Cook Political Report, however, Amy Walter warns that the way the abortion issue’s ‘salience’ interacts with Democratic voter ‘enthusiasm’ 6 months from now is in question:

Can abortion dislodge the economy as a top issue this fall?

That, of course, is the million-dollar question.

Historically, according to 20 years of Gallup polling, about 25 percent of Americans see the issue of abortion as critical to their vote choice, another 25 percent think it’s “not a major issue,” while the other 50 percent see it as “one of many important factors” determining their vote choice.

One place to look for the impact of big changes to abortion law would be a state like Texas, which put into place legislation that bans abortion after 6 weeks. But, a Texas Lyceum survey from March found that just 5 percent of Texans believe that abortion is “the most important issue facing the state of Texas” compared to 20 percent who see border/immigration as a top issue and 26 percent who identified inflation, the economy and/or rising gas and energy costs as their top concern.

Of course, Texas is a much redder state than Georgia or Arizona or Wisconsin (where key Senate and gubernatorial contests are taking place). And, the impact of this laws takes on new significance if Roe is indeed overturned.

But, what about a blue state, like Virginia. In the 2021 gubernatorial contest, Democrat Terry McAuliffe spent more than $2 million on ads like this one accusing his GOP opponent, Glenn Youngkin of wanting to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood. Even so, that was less than half the amount that the McAuliffe campaign on ads trying to link Youngkin with Donald Trump. This suggests that the abortion issue, even in a state as blue as this one, wasn’t moving the needle for the voters the McAuliffe campaign was targeting. Exit polls in that race found that Youngkin did better among the 54 percent of Virginia voters who fall in the middle of the spectrum on the issue of abortion.  Youngkin took 37 percent of the vote among those who want abortion to be “legal in most cases,” while McAuliffe took just 12 percent of the vote among those who want abortion to be “illegal in most cases.”

Bottom Line: We are in the very early stages of what could be the first major change to abortion laws in 50 years. As such, we need to watch the above benchmarks like salience and enthusiasm about the issue very closely. And, given that these battles will take place at the state level, we’ll also need to get more state by state data to make any projections on the impact it could have on individual statewide races.

Democrats have to seize the opportunity to motivate pro-choice voters and urge them to help turn out eligible voters in their families and friendship circles. But President Biden and Democratic leaders must also take every possible opportunity to take action against inflation and also to blame price gouging companies and the Republicans they fund for rising prices at the gas pump and supermarket.

Teixeira: The Complicated Views of Young Voters

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

I think it’s fair to say that neither party and most pundits do not have a particularly nuanced or accurate view of young voters’ inclinations. John Halpin has the data at The Liberal Patriot:

“All Americans would like their political leaders to listen to them and take their views into serious consideration when making policy decisions. This is the democratic way. Unfortunately for America’s young people, political elites today grossly misunderstand and distort their views in ways that undermine young people’s impact on the decisions of government and the direction of politics.

The stereotypes of young people run wide and deep. According to left-wing activists, young people primarily care about issues like student debt, climate change, and racial justice and will only support parties or leaders who take maximalist positions on these issues. In turn, this reductive conception of young people suits right-wing activists just fine, making it easier for them to decry the supposed radicalism of young people and tar their politics as hopelessly out of touch with more mainstream Americans.

But looking at the great new Harvard Youth Poll conducted with more than 2000 Americans ages 18-29, it turns out that much of this conventional and ideologically convenient wisdom is untrue. Young people are far more diverse in their political views than generally acknowledged, and the issues that tend to unify young people across educational lines—things like health care and fighting poverty—are not the same ones that the nation’s political elites are fighting about all the time. Most importantly, young people face serious economic challenges that contribute to an overwhelming sense of fear about the future, rising mental health challenges, and political disengagement.

Consider these findings:

Young people are not overwhelmingly liberal or Democratic—most are moderates and many are Independents with big divides by education level……”

Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot!

Levison: How Dems Can Reach Culturally Traditional, Non-Extremist Working Class Voters

From the introduction to a new TDS Strategy Report: “The Culturally Traditional but Non-extremist Working Class Voters: Who They Are, How They Think and What Democrats Must Understand to Regain their Support” by Andrew Levison:

Democrats are making two fundamental mistakes in the strategic debate about how to regain lost working class support.

First, they discuss “working class voters who support the GOP” as if they were a single, homogeneous social group. In fact, however, there are two very distinct groups of white working class Republicans and only one of them can be persuaded, Democrats need to develop strategies that are specifically designed to appeal to the persuadable group

Second, the current discussion treats Democrat’s problems as being entirely about how candidates should present and popularize Democratic policies and positions – should Democratic candidates limit themselves to emphasizing the most popular Democratic programs or should they explicitly reject the most unpopular? Should they try to refute GOP attacks or stay strictly on the offensive?

In contrast, while the profound cultural and sociological gap that exists between many Democratic candidates and the working class voters in their districts is admitted to be a major problem, the advice that is offered is painfully basic: “don’t be condescending,” “show empathy,” “spend time in working class communities,” “explain how Democratic policies are in working people’s interests.”

Democratic candidates need strategies that specifically focus on the persuadable sector of the working class and which provide sufficient understanding of that distinct culture to allow democratic candidates to persuade working class voters that they are genuinely “on their side,” “care about them,” and “will fight for them.”

The Democratic Strategist is therefore pleased to present the following TDS Strategy Paper.

The Culturally Traditional but Non-extremist Working Class Voters: Who They Are, How They Think and What Democrats Must Understand to Regain their Support.

To Read the Report, Click Here:

The analysis cannot provide a simple “magic bullet” solution for Democrats’ problems with working class voters. But it provides the indispensable basis upon which any successful Democratic strategy must be designed.

Will Threat to Roe v. Wade Decision Affect Midterm Turnout?

Chris Cillizza explains why “The Supreme Court may have just fundamentally altered the 2022 election” at CNN Politics:

The draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would overturn the right to an abortion is a massive story with a myriad of implications for the American public. It also may be exactly what Democrats need to solve their passion problem heading into the 2022 midterm elections.

At issue for Democrats is that, with less than 200 days before the midterms, their base is significantly less motivated to vote than the Republicans.
Two numbers from a recently released Washington Post/ABC News poll make that disparity plain.
1. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents were 10 points more likely than their Democratic counterparts to say they are certain to vote in the fall.
2. 42% of Americans surveyed said they strongly disapproved of the job President Joe Biden is doing, while only 21% strongly approved.
Cillizza adds, “The Supreme Court’s looming decision on Roe v. Wade is one of those external factors that does have the ability to fundamentally alter how the parties — and their bases — see the coming election.
Sensing that, Democrats immediately began to cast the 2022 midterms as a straight referendum on the decision.

“If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Biden said in a statement Tuesday. “And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.”

“Republicans just gutted Roe v Wade, the Constitution’s guarantee of reproductive freedom, and will ban abortion in all 50 states, if they take over Congress,” tweeted New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who runs the Democrats’ House campaign arm. “Only Democrats will protect our freedoms. That is now the central choice in the 2022 election.”

“Women are going to go to vote in numbers we have never seen before,” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said on CBS. “If they want to protect their fundamental rights to reproductive choice or their fundamental rights to anything, they had better go vote in the fall.”

Cillizza notes further, “Polling suggests that the issue could absolutely be a galvanizing one — for Democrats and even independents. In a January CNN poll, almost 7 in 10 Americans (69%) said they opposed the Supreme Court overturning Roe. That includes 86% of Democrats and 72% of independents….More than 1 in 3 said they would be “angry” if the court overturned the decision, while another quarter said the decision would leave them “dissatisfied.” Just 14% said the decision would make them “happy.” Among Democrats, a majority — 51% — said the decision would make them “angry” while 29% of Republicans said it would make them “happy.”

As Cillizza concludes, “Simply put: There are very few issues that can make a claim to upend or fundamentally alter the trajectory of an election. But overturning Roe may well be one of them. Judging by the initial reaction to the draft opinion — and how Democrats sought to seize on it as the issue of the 2022 midterms — Democrats have at least some reason to believe that their base’s lethargy problem has been solved (or at least changed in a very real way).”

Teixeira: How Dems Can Leverage Public Opinion on Abortion

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Public Opinion on Abortion
Time to get re-acquainted with the data, now that it looks the Supremes are going to strike down Roe v. .Wade! This is a complicated issue–more complicated than many Democrats think–but, handled carefully, this is an issue on which Democrats can potentially make real gains even in the current dreadful political environment.
Click thru the link for lots more charts and tables from Gallup.

One Way Dems Could Keep Their Senate Majority in November

Andrew Prokop explains “Why Republicans are favored to win the Senate — and how Democrats could stop them” at Vox:

In the past decade, there have been 20 individual Senate elections where a seat ended up flipping to the other party. The vast majority of those races (16 of 20) had the same partisan outcome as either the presidential race that year or, in midterm years without a presidential contest, the most recent one. Senate races have been falling in line with the state’s presidential party preference. “Mismatched” senators, who represent a state their party’s presidential nominee lost, are becoming rarer.

From that perspective, Democrats have a pretty okay map in 2022. In the two most recent midterm cycles, they were badly exposed, with several incumbents in states the Republican presidential candidate just won. This year, they have none at all. (They do have three such seats coming up in 2024, which will be a major challenge, but that’s a problem for another time.) Meanwhile, there are two GOP-held seats in states Biden narrowly won, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, on the ballot.

But that’s likely too optimistic for Democrats. Another way to think about the map is that there are six true swing states with races this cycle. At least once in either 2016 or 2020, Trump either won or came quite close to winning Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, and New Hampshire. Nevada, meanwhile, trended right relative to the country between 2016 and 2020, though Biden still won it….Senate seats in these states are in great danger of slipping out of Democrats’ grasp.

But while Senate race outcomes have become more correlated with national partisanship, individual candidates do frequently overperform or underperform the overall trend. Democrats’ Senate chances likely hinge on whether enough of their candidates can escape this partisan gravity, arguing either that they’re not just another Democrat, or that their opponent is a uniquely unfit Republican.

Prokop shares some indepth analysis of races in the six states, and provides this chart to illustrate Democratic hopes for picking up Senate seats:

History, as well as current polls, indicate that Democrats are facing an unusually tough combination of Biden’s lagging approvals numbers and a deteriorating party image. As Prokop writes, Democratic hopes require that “unique dynamics among candidates in individual races break in their favor.”

How Dems Can Win More Young Voters – Without Congress

Ed Burmilla shares some creative ideas for “How Biden Can Save Democracy From the GOP” at The Nation.

Experience indicates that, with few exceptions, midterm election outcomes are reliably linked to the incumbent President’s approval rate. Noting that “Biden’s approval rating has plummeted among younger voters more than among any other group. Sanctimonious lectures about the obligation to Vote Blue No Matter Who seem unlikely to motivate young people to the polls,” Burmilla advises:

“Federally reschedule marijuana and expunge federal marijuana-related convictions. Pitch it to timid moderates as boosting tax revenue and freeing up police resources to deal with serious crimes, if you must. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service conservatively concluded that “the President cannot directly remove marijuana from control under federal controlled substances law, [but] he might order executive agencies to consider either altering the scheduling of marijuana or changing their enforcement approach.” Surely all the Ivy League brainpower that makes up modern Democratic administrations can construct a plausible case for doing even more than the CRS is willing to advise. This is low-hanging fruit; the House has passed a bill along these lines. Yet Biden remains coy. Younger voters and communities most directly affected by the woefully unequal ways “justice” is doled out in this country are overwhelmingly opposed to our antiquated federal drug laws. Democrats have no path to victory without those votes. This doesn’t even rise to the standard of a tough choice; it’s an easy call, and long overdue.”

Also, strengthening worker leverage in collective bargaining could help Biden’s image and the Democratic brand with all workers, including the young. As Burmilla writes,

“Keep pushing with the National Labor Relations Board. The recent organizing success in the service industry signals the direction of the wind among the younger, mostly non-college-educated voters we’ve heard so very much about Democrats’ struggling to woo. The NLRB just recently called for an end to employer-mandated anti-union sessions. Keep going. Do more than give Amazon warehouse workers a pat on the back for their organizing efforts. Redefine the Reagan-era Meyers Industries standard of “concerted activities” that gives workers the right under the National Labor Relations Act to “engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” Interpretations of this vague phrase were narrowed to employers’ advantage in 2019; the current administration has the same powers today that the Trump NLRB had then. Close the numerous and embarrassingly obvious loopholes in Duty to Bargain, the fundamental concept that gives workers input into decisions made on their behalf by an employer. Currently, management can shutter a workplace and relocate it by fiat simply by claiming that work at the new location “varies significantly from the work performed at the former plant.” Upsetting the Chamber of Commerce by revising employer wish-list fodder like that is a risk worth taking today. Anti-labor sentiment exists in the electorate, but how many voters for whom that is a deal-breaker are not already voting Republican?”

In addition,

“Act on student debt. You’re tired of hearing it. You’ve heard all the arguments. A president staring down a 34 percent youth approval rating needs to suck it up and do it already. We are creeping toward de facto loan forgiveness anyway with the repeatedly extended deadlines for restarting federal student loan repayment. Even the person Trump put in charge of the issue calls for loan forgiveness, admitting that the overwhelming majority of student debt is never, ever being repaid and serves only to burden and discipline borrowers. And even the noted Marxist-Leninists at… Forbes note that Biden not only has the power to do this unilaterally but there are multiple ways he could do it. A choice between standing before young voters cajoling “C’mon, vote, man!” and “Look at what I just did for you, like I promised… Now it’s on you,” is no choice at all.”

Burmilla writes in his conclusion, “This isn’t guaranteed to work. But the strategy in which the threat is enormous and the response is timid is—historically, even logically—bound to fail. If the stakes are as high as we are regularly told, leaving bold options on the table makes no sense.”

Teixeira: Are Democrats Fiddling While Rome Burns?

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Are Democrats Fiddling While Rome Burns?

That’s been more or less my point of view and that of a few others like David Shor. It’s a positive step though that more and more left-leaning analysts are coming to share that viewpoint. The latest is G. Elliott Morris, as expressed in a recent commentary on his substack newsletter.

“[M]any Democrats do not seem to be taking the prospect of being locked out of power for the short- to medium-term seriously enough. If Republicans win back the House in 2022, take back the White House in 2024, and defend a very favorable map in 2026, Democrats may not regain full control of the federal government until 2028 or 2030. To quote [Ross] Douthat: “The political landscape after 2024, however, might look more like liberalism’s depictions of its Trump-era plight.”…

I have to say [that progressives’ current strategy]…. sounds like more of the same strategy that got Democrats where they are today. That is not to say [their policies are] not the normatively or morally right thing to do. If I had my way, Democrats (including Joe Manchin) would immediately expand universal child care, pass a public option for government-subsidized health care, and dramatically radicalize their approach to climate policy. As a bonus, most of those things in isolation are popular with a majority of voters.

Instead, my argument is that this unified progressive agenda does nothing to bring back into the fold the conservative working-class voters — mainly white, but growing significantly more Latino recently — who have abandoned the Democrats and caused the structural disadvantages that are dragging them down today. The party needs a renewed identity as a pro-worker party, not one where coastal elites control the party line on policy and messaging. And it needs to be substantially more diverse in its approach to talking to voters in different areas of the country; messages that work in young, diverse urban cores do not work in educated white suburbs or shrinking exurbs.”

Ah but how to do that? That is what every Democrat should be thinking hard about instead of acting like they live in a different country than they do.

Greenfield: How Orwell Presaged the Democrats’ Problems with the Working-Class

At Politico, Jeff Greenfield gives George Orwell’s “Road to Wigan Pier” a fresh read, finds parts of it to be highly relevant to our recent experience in the U.S. and uses it as a springboard for some well-stated observations about the Democratic Party’s failure to rally the working-class. As Greenfield sets the stage:

“Why are we Democrats losing the working class? Why do they like our policies but vote for the party that comforts the comfortable? What’s wrong with our messaging? What’s wrong with our candidates?”….Odd as it may seem, a partial answer can be found in the works of a writer who never set foot in the United States and who has been dead for more than 70 years. When George Orwell traveled to the Depression-ravaged north of England in 1936, his intention was to chronicle the horrific conditions in the mines, the towns and the homes of the people who lived and worked there. (His account of the near starvation, the hellish conditions in the mines, the sights, sounds and smells of life are still riveting all these decades later).

“It is in the second half of his book, “The Road to Wigan Pier,” where Orwell deals with a broader question: If socialism is the way toward providing a fairer, more decent life for those with the least, why has it not succeeded politically? His answer — one that unsettled his Left Book Club’s publisher — was that there was a deep cultural chasm between the advocates of socialism and those they were seeking to persuade….“I am,” Orwell wrote, “making out a case for the sort of person who is in sympathy with the fundamental aims of Socialism … but who in practice always takes flight when Socialism is mentioned.

Nowhere is this ‘deep cultural chasm’ wider than in the gap between the language of workers and upper middle-class lefties:

“Orwell, himself a socialist, argues first that “Socialism in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the [relatively well-off] middle class.” In its language, it is formal, stilted, wholly distant from the language of ordinary citizens, spoken by people who are several rungs above their audience, and with no intention of giving up that status….“It is doubtful whether anything describable as proletarian literature now exists … but a good music hall comedian comes nearer to producing it than any Socialist writer I can think of.”

Might that help explain why George Bush II and Trump connected to white working-class voters better than did Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton? Bush II and Trump were arguably America’s worst presidents. But their language sounded more ‘real’ than that of their adversaries. True, Gore and Clinton won the overall popular vote. But their share of white working-class votes declined in relation to that of  previous Democratic presidential nominees.

Greenfield adds that “Democrats have not found a way to draw clear, convincing lines separating the most militant voices in their party from the beliefs of a large majority of their base. Consider Orwell’s argument that the language of the left is “wholly distant from the language of ordinary citizens.” Many of today’s Democrats seem intimidated by the preferred phrases of the week, even if few of them embrace or recognize such language. (A recent survey revealed that only 2 percent of Hispanics prefer the term “Latinx” to describe themselves.)” Greenfield writes further,

We saw how clearly the extremes can drag down the party after the disappointing results of the 2020 down-ballot elections, and again after last November’s Democratic loses in Virginia, Long Island and local races across the country. Most Democrats, including President Joe Biden, do not support defunding the police. But a failure to make that argument repeatedly, in the bluntest of terms, permitted that notion to take root. As House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn noted, “defunding the police” comes across a lot like the “burn, baby, burn!” chants of the 1960s riots. Most Democrats are not proponents of teaching critical race theory in public schools. But the broader argument that the United States is fundamentally a nation conceived in white supremacy, where skin color is the essential aspect of a citizen’s life, has in fact been on display in some of the redoubts of the left’s political power. It’s instructive that San Francisco Mayor London Breed helped lead the successful fight to recall three school board members who were pushing for the renaming of local schools named after, among others, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Breed more recently declared a “state of emergency” in her city’s Tenderloin District where random acts of violence against property and people have become endemic.

In her blunt comments, Breed seemed to align herself with New York City Mayor Eric Adams who has promised a “crackdown” on lawlessness and a return to some of the policing tactics that former Mayor Bill de Blasio had rejected. (It’s an intriguing political possibility for Democrats that two of the voices most in sync with a more “working class” perspective on crime are the Black Mayors of two famously liberal cities.)

Greenfield notes “one of the more striking shifts within the Democratic Party: the loss of effective political figures that speak to working- and middle-class voters.” Also,

Democrats have another problem that Orwell might have recognized; its “messaging” is increasingly crafted by people who are too much like me: born and raised in the big city, product of an elite law school, a working life whose tools are words, ideas — not hammers and nails. To say that my friends, colleagues and I are distant from the life of “regular” Americans is a significant understatement.

Former Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has described the image of his party this way: “coastal, overly educated, elitist, judgmental, socialist — a bundle of identity groups and interests lacking any shared principles. The problem isn’t the candidates we nominate. It’s the perception of the party we belong to.”

It is of course painfully obvious that in turning to Donald Trump and his Republican acolytes, voters are rewarding a party awash in hypocrisy that barely disguises its own elite roots and its own coddling of the privileged. It is, in fact, a measure of the Democrats’ failure that so many ordinary Americans embrace a figure whose father illicitly supplied the money that enabled his rise, who repeatedly imported undocumented immigrants to work on his properties, who reputedly stiffed those who worked for him, whose father’s doctor helped him evade the draft, and whose tax cuts flatly violated his campaign pledge to make the rich pay more.

Greenfield adds that “The economic core of Democrats’ arguments — a higher minimum wage, lower prescription drug costs, a better chance for college education, with programs paid for by higher taxes on the affluent and mega-rich — enjoy broad public support.” He concludes “But the danger to the left that Orwell described remains, as Democratic polling warns, “alarmingly potent.” An electorate where many find the party “preachy” and “judgmental” will falter on this side of the Atlantic now, just as it did thousands of miles away and decades ago.”

Read the rest of Greenfield’s Politico article.

Teixeira: Teachable Moment Incoming for Democrats

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is excerpted from The Liberal Patriot:

In my latest at The Liberal Patriot, I look at Democratic prospects for the 2022 election, what, if anything, they can do to improve those prospects and what they need to learn from the likely election outcome.

“How bad will the 2022 election be for the Democrats? In all likelihood, quite bad. Biden’s approval rating is bad, his rating is worse on the most important issue, the economy, and it is truly terrible on high profile, contentious issues like crime and immigration. Democrats are behind on the generic Congressional ballot, despite the tendency of this measure to overestimate
Democratic strength. The results of special and off-cycle elections indicate a very pro-GOP electoral environment. And midterm elections are typically bad for the incumbent party anyway.

So there are not a lot of good signs here. In fact, hardly any. The prospect of a very serious wipeout does seem plausible. A case along these lines for the Senate was made by Simon Bazelon on Matt Yglesias’ substack newsletter. His approach was very simple. Estimate what the Democratic disadvantage on the Congressional ballot is likely to be at the election (-4.5) and compare that to Biden’s advantage in 2020 (+4.5). That suggests a 9 point pro-GOP shift in the national electoral environment which, applied across states would imply no Senate pickups for the Democrats from the Republicans and the loss of their on-cycle Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire Senate seats (and control of the Senate) to the GOP. The outlook for 2024 is even worse, implying that even good Democratic performance in the Presidential contest could still leave the Democrats with only about 42 Senate seats.

As for the House, variants of the same approach by Amy Walter and Henry Olsen suggest Democratic losses could reach 25-40 or so seats. That of course is much, much more than the Republicans need to flip control of the House.

What passes for optimism here can be gleaned from Alan Abramowitz’ 2022 election forecasting model, presented on Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Abramowitz uses a very simple model, predicting House and Senate seat swings from generic Congressional polling and seat exposure in each body for the incumbent party. Walking in Bazelon’s estimate for the future Congressional ballot margin, Abramowitz’ model predicts a loss of around 23 House seats and little, and perhaps no change, in the Senate.

What can the Democrats do to avoid their apparent upper bound of losses and wind up closer to Abramowitz’ prediction? One approach it to emphasize the “roaring” economy with strong growth and historically low joblessness. The problem here is that inflation has eaten up workers’ wage gains from the hot economy so that real wages have actually gone down in the last year by 2.7 percent. And people just generally hate inflation and encounter it constantly in their daily lives. That and continued supply chain difficulties account for voters’ sour outlook on the economy. It is unlikely that Democrats can talk people out of these views by emphasizing something they already know (the job market is good!)”

Read the rest at The Liberal Patriot!