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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

TDS Strategy White Papers

Why Democrats Should Ignore Swing Voters and Focus on Voter Registration and Mobilization

(Editor’s Note: We are extremely pleased to publish this significant strategic analysis by noted political analyst and TDS contributor Alan Abramowitz, the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University)
With five months to go until Election Day 2012, all indications are that the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is going to go down to the wire and that the outcome will ultimately be decided by voters in 10-15 battleground states where neither candidate has a significant advantage.
Read the entire memo.


Progressives and Democrats Cannot Possibly Match the Vast Financial Resources of Business and the Wealthy and Must Turn to Building Powerful, Long-Term Grass-roots Organizations. That Makes “Working America” The Most Important Political Project in America

by Andrew Levison
In a May 7th New York Times article Nicholas Confessore dramatically described the profound change in progressive and Democratic strategy that is now being debated among donors, campaign managers and political strategists–a change driven by the overwhelming financial advantage that Citizen’s United has now given business and the wealthy in political advertising.
Read the entire memo.


Obama’s recent State of the Union speech can provide a solution to progressives’ most difficult dilemma in the 2012 election – how to combine legitimate criticism of Obama with active, passionate opposition to Republican extremism.

by James Vega
As progressives face the 2012 elections, they find themselves struggling with a profoundly difficult dilemma.
On the one hand, progressives clearly recognize the extraordinary danger presented by Republican extremism. The possibility of additional conservatives being added to the supreme court is, by itself, more than sufficient reason to conclude that the GOP must not be allowed to win in 2012 but there are equally serious threats to the survival of the New Deal social safety net, to basic worker and citizen rights and, for millions of Americans, to the continued right to vote itself. Both opinion data and progressive commentary show that only a very small fraction of 2008 Democratic voters are willing to sit out the 2012 election or support a Nader-style third party.
Read the entire memo.


Thomas Jefferson’s Religious Philosophy: A Profound and Inspiring Progressive Response to Rick Santorum and the Religious Right

A note from Ed Kilgore:
Rick Santorum’s recent comments on religion have elevated a number of core ideas of the religious right to a central place in the current national debate and have presented progressives and Democrats with a formidable challenge to their views.
In response to this challenge I am pleased to offer the following thought-provoking study of Thomas Jefferson’s religious philosophy as well as a companion communications campaign that illustrates how to put the study’s conclusions into action.
Read the entire memo.


After the primaries Democrats will be on receiving end of a propaganda campaign of a scope and ferocity unparalleled in American history. Dems must anticipate this onslaught and begin now to plan how best to respond.

by Andrew Levison
The Republican primary campaign has provided a foretaste of the bitter and divisive
super-PAC driven media tactics that will be used against Obama in the fall. The fundamental and inescapable fact is that Democrats will be on the receiving end of a propaganda campaign of a scope and ferocity unparalleled in American history. Democrats must begin planning now how they will respond.
Read the entire memo.


The Civil Rights Movement’s success was based on a coordinated three-prong strategy of civil disobedience, grass-roots organizing and mass boycotts. To achieve similar victories, a national “We are the 99%” movement must adopt and apply that same approach

by Andrew Levison
In the coming days the Occupy Wall Street movement faces an extremely complex and difficult series of decisions about its strategy and tactics. It cannot simply repeat the initial tactic of occupying public spaces that it has employed up to now but it has not yet developed any clear alternative strategy for the future.
In debating their next steps the protesters — and the massive numbers of Americans who support them — will turn again and again to the history and example of the civil rights movement for guidance.
Read the entire memo.


Progressives: let’s not lose perspective. Occupy Wall Street is indeed very popular, but not as wildly popular as recent polling makes it seem. The polls provide a basis for realistic optimism but not for euphoria or premature declarations of victory.

by Andrew Levison
A number of recent national polls have shown remarkable levels of public support for the Occupy Wall Street protests. In two recent surveys, solid majorities have said that they either “agree” with the protesters or “view them favorably.” Perhaps even more striking are the results for groups who would ordinarily be expected to react with hostility. As Greg Sargent has noted, a majority of the non-college educated, working class whites in these surveys expressed clear support for the Wall Street protests. Adding icing to the cake, these same polls show that Occupy Wall Street is substantially more popular than the Tea Party.
Read the entire memo.


Wake up, commentators. The most dangerous group of “right-wing extremists” today is not the grass-roots tea party. It is the financial and ideological leaders in the Republican coalition who have embraced the extremist philosophy of “politics as warfare.”

by Ed Kilgore, James Vega and J. P. Green
In recent days the mainstream media has been rapidly converging on a new common wisdom — a set of clichés that they will use to frame the rest of the campaign for the Republican nomination and the election of 2012. This new common wisdom portrays the intra-Republican struggle as one between more moderate and extreme wings of the party, with “pragmatic” Republican elites seeking a candidate who can beat Obama in opposition to the more “extremist” fringe elements and candidates of the grass-roots Tea Party.
Read the entire memo.


Progressives, let’s face the fact: the “bully pulpit” is not a magic wand. It’s time to stop reciting those two words as if they were a magical incantation that can transform public opinion.

by James Vega
As progressive frustration with Obama has mounted, the plaintive assertion that “If Obama had just used the “bully pulpit” of the presidency he could have transformed the national debate” has become one of the most widely repeated criticisms of his administration. In hundreds of op-ed pieces, articles, blog posts, comment threads and e-mail letters to the editor his failure to use the bully pulpit to dominate the airwaves with a full-throated progressive position on issue after issue is cited as the major and indeed single most important reason for the increased influence of Republican views.
Read the entire memo.


Progressives: there are two profoundly condescending assumptions that will inevitably undermine all attempts to build an independent social movement that reaches ordinary Americans. Democracy Corps’ new methodology points the way to a superior approach.

by Andrew Levison
Recent events ranging from the massive recall and repeal campaigns in Wisconsin and Ohio, the protests in the streets of downtown New York and the broad progressive coalition meeting in Washington to jump-start the “American Dream” movement have all dramatically raised progressives’ hopes that a new independent progressive movement might be emerging – one that will be able to successfully challenge the hold of Fox News and the Tea Party on ordinary Americans.
The hard and inescapable reality, however, is that any progressive organizing effort will quickly find itself grinding to a halt if it does not honestly and immediately confront a critical problem – the existence of two profoundly condescending and deeply destructive assumptions about ordinary working Americans that are widespread in the progressive world.
Read the entire memo here