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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ruy Teixeira’s Donkey Rising

Rural Youth Trending Blue

Mike Connery has some good news for Dems in his MyDD report on “Capturing the Rural Vote.” Connery Highlights some data the Youth Voter Strategies newsletter culled from crosstabs in a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey, conducted 5/31-6/5. Connery reports that the 18-29 age group of rural youth who voted for Bush over Kerry by a 20 point margin in 2004 now self-identifies 46 percent Republican 43 percent Democratic and and 11 percent independent.
Even better:

When asked to pick between generic Republican and Democratic presidential candidates for 2008, 48% chose the Democrat and 40% the Republican.

Of course, there is a cautionary flag:

Conversely, when asked to choose between unnamed Republican and Democratic presidential candidates as described by two issues/values statements, 53% chose the Republican and 46% the Democrat.

Natch, the GOP will play the ‘values’ card big time in rural communities in battleground states. Fortunately, the same survey also shows that Iraq is the paramount issue with young rural voters, likely to be an even greater concern this time next year. For a more in-depth look at youth political attitudes, Connery also flags an important New Politics Institute study “The Progressive Politics of the Millenial Generation” by Peter Leyden, Ruy Teixeira and Eric Greenberg.

Early Horse-Race Polls: How Relevant?

Is all the time, expense and energy that goes into early political horse race polls and poll analysis justified? Maybe not, if Robin Toner’s article in today’s New York Times is right. Toner pulls together interesting examples and observations from political insiders to make her case. Mark Blumenthal’s Pollster.com article “The Merits of the Horse Race” agrees with Toner that early polls have little value in predicting election outcomes. But he sees value in monitoring polls to assess campaign progress and in polls in early primary states. Blumenthal has a round-up review of recent articles on the relevance of early horse-race polls here.

TBA Lights Path for Progressive Dems

The progressive blogosphere and even the MSM has plenty of coverage of the Take Back America Conference, sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future. Rightly so, because it is not only a unique gathering of America’s top progressive activists and leaders, but also a wellspring from which Dems can draw to create an inspiring vision that can win the white house and a stronger congressional majority next year.
By all means read the MSM articles and blogosphere posts about the conference. But the primary source for keeping up with TBA doings is CAF’s website. There you will find gateway links to video and articles about speeches by presidential candidates Kucinich, Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Gravel and Richardson, as well as a “kitchen table” discussion with fighting Senate newcomers Brown, Klobuchar and Sanders. The web pages also feature reports on a presidential straw poll of conference participants and insightful interviews with top bloggers and activists.

Dems Close Ranks Behind EFCA

The battle for EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act, will come to a head this week, perhaps today when the U.S. Senate takes up the bill. EFCA authorizes employees to unionize as soon as a majority signs cards saying they want a union. Under existing law, employers can require a secret-ballot election, even after a majority sign the cards.
Although it has passed the House of Reps, EFCA faces an all-out GOP effort to kill the legislation, and perhaps even prevent an up or down vote in the Senate. Win or lose, EFCA has become a defining issue for Democrats of all factions, and they have rallied behind the legislation in a remarkable display of unity, winning the support of all Democratic Presidential candidates, as well as all House members and 14 Democratic governors.
To get up to speed on EFCA, there is no place better to go than the AFL-CIO’s EFCA web pages, featuring lots of links covering every aspect of the legislation and the effort to secure its enactment.

DCorps First ‘Battleground’ Survey Sees Huge Dem Opportunity

DCorps has just released “On the Offensive: First Survey of the 2008 Battleground Districts,” and the findings envision an “immense opportunity” for Democratic congressional candidates to win more seats in 2008. The survey, which included a large interview sample of 1,600 respondents, covered 70 “in-play” congressional districts “half Democratic and half Republican,” and found:

Democratic congressional candidates in this named ballot hold an average 9-point lead in these districts that actually supported the Republican candidate by 1 point in 2006 and President Bush by 8 points in 2004. This means the center of the battlefield has shifted as much since 2006 as it did in the lead up to it.

Even more striking, Dem incumbents are ahead by 20 points, 56-36 percent, and the strength extends to districts held by freshmen elected in ’06, and to rural-small town and exurban areas, as well as to more traditional Democratic constituencies.
The survey also found that “Iraq is central to the changing battlefield,” and the public wants congressional Dems to provide leadership “that will force the President to change policies and reduce the number of troops in Iraq.” The survey includes other interesting findings about voters beliefs and priorities regarding health insurance for children, energy independence, student loans, stem cell research and immigration.

Dem-Controlled State Legs Lead in Health Care

Business Week‘s Catherine Arnst reports on a new Commonwealth Fund survey comparing and rating health care services in the 50 states. Her overall conclusions are less than encouraging as evidenced by her article’s subtitle “A state-by-state study shows who has the best and worst grades on 32 health indicators, and even the best are none too good.”
However, a look at the state legislatures of the top ten rated states should offer a measure of encouragement for Democrats hoping to benefit by the public clamor for better health care. In the ten highest-ranking states, HA; IA; NH; VT; ME; RI; CT; MA; WI; and SD, Democrats have majority control of 17 of 20 state legislatures. Of the top 8 ranking states, Republicans have majority control in none of the 16 state houses. (Data on party control of state legs here)
Bragging rights are limited by the fact that the Dems also have majorities of a healthy share of the state houses of the bottom ten ranking states. But the fact that Dems have majorities in 85 percent of the state houses of top-performing states is nonetheless impressive — and should be of interest to voters who care about health care reform.

How the GOP Leverages the Net

Political bloggers of all stripes, and Dem oppo researchers in particular, have an interesting post to read over at The Politico. The post, “Excerpts from the NRSC Campaign Internet Guide” includes a wealth of tips for campaigns interested in leveraging the internet, both strategic and technical. For example:

Shadow TV/TVEyes/Critical Mention. These services can be purchased by campaigns to monitor television programs 24 hours a day. If you subscribe to this service your campaign can request a specific clip as well as a transcript via email. Some of these clips can be used in web ads or nposted directly to your site through YouTube (See Copyrightsection below for more deatil) However these clips must be purchased and can be expensive.


Rapid Response to Attacks: If candidates are more or less continuously monitored via blog search engines, with the use of websites, such as technorati.com, blogs can often be used as “am early warning system to help discern if an opponent’s attacks are gaining traction….”


To achieve successful blog outreach, we recommend the following: Develop a national and local blog outreach plan. The primary focus of the campaign’s national efforts should be the top five conservative political blogs: Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Captain’s Quarters, Powerline and Hugh Hewitt.

There’s quite a bit more of interest to Dem bloggers and campaigns. This one may not be up too long. Might be a good idea to print it out.

Political Strategy Links Illuminate, Amuse

Are conservatives or progressives a majority in America? You won’t find a stronger case for the progressive majority, on the internet at least , than Media Matters‘ footnote and link rich “The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America is a Myth.”
Ezra Klein, usually skeptical about advice books for Dems, has a plug for Drew Westen’s forthcoming book, The Political Brain, an excerpt of which is posted at The American Prospect. Klein likes the way Westen’s book focuses on “how voters experience politics, and how Democrats all too often speak on another plane entirely.”
The “amuse” part of this article’s headline comes from Michael Falcone’s “A Gamer’s Guide to Redstricting” at The New York Times. Falcone links to a way cool new interactive game which “simulates many of the challenges involved in the redistricting process, from drawing district maps to winning the support of state and party leadership.” You can play “The Redistricting Game” right here.

Poll Report on Congressional Approval Distorts Reality

Charles at Political Arithmetik shows how poll reporting can distort political reality in his post on the latest LA Times/Bloomberg poll on approval/disapproval of congress. He explains that the LA Times headline “Approval of Congress Lowest in a Decade” overstates the case by tracking only one pollster, a fairly common practice in MSM poll reporting. To get a full picture, he points out, all polls should be tracked.
In this case the headline gives the false impression that congressional Democrats, as the majority, are in trouble. And some writers have even anchored their reporting on this and other misconceptions based on “trends” reflected by just one pollster. Charles explains:

My problem with this story is a common one. What it says is exactly true, but it ignores all polling not conducted by the LATimes and Bloomberg. This IS the lowest LA Times Poll reading of Congressional approval in a decade.
But what is not reported is that since January 2006, 42 of 146 national polls have found approval below 27%. That is 29% of the recent polls, so a congressional approval rating of 27% is by no means unique in the last decade. (If we include 27% approval then 56 of the last 146 have been this low or lower– 38% of polls in the last year and a half.)

Charles does his own analysis of a much broader selection of polls and finds that the current congress is about 4 points higher in net approval than the low points of the 2006 (GOP majority) congress. This is not to say that congressional Dems don’t have to worry about the public’s view of their performance — there has been a decline in approval since January, as the author notes. But Dems should keep in mind that trend reporting that ignores all but one pollster provides a muddled reflection of political reality.

Rural Voters Give Dems Edge

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner’s e-alert brings this good news about Dem inroads into one of the GOP’s more supportive constituencies:

Rural voters deliver a narrow plurality to a generic Democratic candidate for President: 46 – 43 percent. In contrast, President Bush won the rural vote in 2004 by 19 points. At the Congressional level, voters prefer Democrats in named trial heats 46 – 44 percent.

For more details, see this just-released bipartisan poll of LVs.