washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Rural Voter

The new book White Rural Rage employs a deeply misleading sensationalism to gain media attention. You should read The Rural Voter by Nicholas Jacobs and Daniel Shea instead.

Read the memo.

There is a sector of working class voters who can be persuaded to vote for Democrats in 2024 – but only if candidates understand how to win their support.

Read the memo.

The recently published book, Rust Belt Union Blues, by Lainey Newman and Theda Skocpol represents a profoundly important contribution to the debate over Democratic strategy.

Read the Memo.

Democrats should stop calling themselves a “coalition.”

They don’t think like a coalition, they don’t act like a coalition and they sure as hell don’t try to assemble a majority like a coalition.

Read the memo.

The American Establishment’s Betrayal of Democracy

The American Establishment’s Betrayal of Democracy The Fundamental but Generally Unacknowledged Cause of the Current Threat to America’s Democratic Institutions.

Read the Memo.

Democrats ignore the central fact about modern immigration – and it’s led them to political disaster.

Democrats ignore the central fact about modern immigration – and it’s led them to political disaster.

Read the memo.

 

The Daily Strategist

April 21, 2024

Political Strategy Notes

From  ‘The Converstion,’ via Fast Company: “Republicans in Congress use taxpayer-funded email messages to contact constituents more often, and perhaps more effectively, than their Democratic counterparts….That’s what I’ve found over 15 years of compiling and analyzing the archive that I call DCinbox, a free and open real-time archive of every official e-newsletter sent by sitting members of Congress to their constituents….The messages reveal fundamental differences in how each party seeks to connect with and inform their constituents: Republicans prefer visual elements and strategic timing, and Democrats prefer more text-heavy missives….Over the past 15 years, Republicans have won only slightly more seats in the House and Senate than Democrats. But once in office, Republicans use this email perk far more than Democrats….In every month I’ve been tracking these messages—except briefly in the middle of 2010, when Democrats held 59% of all the seats in Congress, and for 9 of the 11 months at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and early 2021—Republicans have sent many more official e-newsletters to constituents than Democrats have….Republicans also tend to be more attuned to the leisure reading habits of people. They send a greater number of their emails on weekendswhen people are likely to have weekend time to take them in. Democrats are more likely to send their messages during the workweek….Republicans in Congress are more consistent in using key terms and phrases than Democrats….By contrast, Democrats are far less likely to have overlapping term usage or phrasing. That suggests they are not as focused on coordinating constituent communications as Republicans….GOP legislators tend to adopt phrases that originate with policy oriented journalists, academics, and protesters on the left into a convenient, and dismissive, shorthand. Terms like Green New Deal, critical race theory, defund the police, and Bidenomics are all used commonly in official Republican e-newsletters railing against Democratic policy proposals….Democrats in Congress didn’t have a similar sort of concerted effort to use a Republican-originated word or phrase until 2022, when they began to use the term MAGA as a way to tell constituents about parts of the Republican agenda they disagree with. And even then, only 292 e-newsletters from Democrats have used MAGA, while Republicans have sent 1,531 messages deriding the Green New Deal, 496 about critical race theory, 824 with defund the police, and 330 saying Bidenomics….Republicans use more images than Democrats and tend to refer constituents to more media outlets, including those that support right-wing views.”

“Young progressive voters, the backbone and the future of the Democratic Party, are at an increasing risk of turning against the party wholescale each day the war in Gaza continues,” Yint Hmu writes in “Biden’s progressive voter strategy must include a Gaza cease-fire” at The Hill, “Foreign policy rarely tops the issues people rank when casting their votes unless something has gone horribly wrong. But this is one of those times when U.S. involvement in multiple wars abroad, especially in Gaza, is shifting more people to prioritize foreign policy in their 2024 issues of importance….Over the last few years, despite an onslaught of obstructionism by MAGA-supporting Republicans, the Biden administration and the Democrats have delivered or made concrete progress on a wide swath of issues that are important to young progressives: from climate actions to gun regulationsreproductive rights protectionsstudent loan cancellations and more….While the degree to whether what has been done has gone far enough or fast enough is debatable, the direction is undeniable. It is a complete turnaround from the years when Donald Trump and the Republicans were in charge….Despite the accomplishments of this administration, visceral opposition to the U.S. government’s support of the war in Gaza risks turning young progressives into single-issue voters. To be clear, young progressives are not likely to cross over to vote for Trump, they will simply opt out of the election or vote third-party even with the knowledge that Trump will be worse….The 18-34 age group has spent their lives living through the global war on terror, the Iraq War, the Great Recession, a global pandemic, routine mass shootings and massive wealth inequality. To see the party they support and elect to office pursue a policy of months-long unconditional support for the Israeli government’s invasion of Gaza is having devastating effects on voter enthusiasm…. And Democrats don’t just need young progressives to vote, they need them to knock on doors, phone bank and mobilize their friends and families offline and online. Social media platforms have fundamentally shifted how voters receive information and perceive politics. Young progressives, especially young progressive activists, serve as important leaders, messengers and validators in their respective social networks.'”

In “Democrats say they’re opening 30 campaign offices, tout ‘ground game‘,” Craig Mauger reports at The Detroit News.” Democrats plan to have 30 campaign offices open in Michigan by mid-April, a strategy they say shows the strength of their ground game in a battleground state that could be key to President Joe Biden’s reelection bid….The offices will serve as organizing hubs for volunteers, according to a Friday morning announcement from the Michigan Democratic Party and Biden’s campaign….There will be three offices in Detroit, Michigan’s largest city, and others spread throughout the rest of the state, including places such as Gladwin, Grand Rapids, Marquette and Benton Harbor….In an interview, Lavora Barnes, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said Democrats learned from Hillary Clinton’s loss to Republican Donald Trump in 2016. Getting campaign operations going early and refusing to sit back and wait are the right things to do, Barnes said….”When a race is as close as we had it in 2016 and 2020, the ground game is the difference,” Barnes said.”But in announcing the Democrats’ plans for 30 offices in Michigan, Mike Frosolone, Biden’s Michigan campaign manager, said Trump has “no visible strategy in Michigan. Democrats also said in their Friday announcement that Republicans “have yet to open a single campaign office” in the state.”

At Vox, Nicole Narea provides an update assessment of RFK, Jr.’s presidential candidacy, and she shares these observations:  “Kennedy is currently averaging about 12 percent in the polls, according to RealClearPolling. Celinda Lake, a pollster for President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign who continues to work with the Democratic National Committee, said that’s a worrying signal for Biden, based on polling and focus groups her firm has been conducting that suggest Kennedy will pull voters from Biden. Clifford Young, who leads Ipsos’s global election and political polling risk practice, said it’s too early to be certain whether Biden or Trump stands to lose the most from Kennedy’s rise, but if he actually received such a large share of the vote, he has real potential to be a spoiler….Kennedy’s supporters span the race, age, and income spectrums, according to Ipsos’s polling. They are slightly more likely to be women and to identify as independents, leaning a bit more right than left and embracing more conservative economic policies but centrist stances on social issues, Young said….Lake said that in her polling and focus groups, about half of Kennedy’s supporters back him because they associate him with his father. Other Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents, particularly young voters, embrace his credentials as an activist environmental lawyer….Young said it’s difficult to tell at this point whether that suggests that Biden or Trump is more likely to benefit from his presence in the race….“It’s going to confuse things. Things are going to get cloudy. I don’t think it’s so easy to say that he’s gonna hurt one or the other,” he said, citing Ipsos polling showing how his supporters aren’t strong partisans and how their views on particular issues are scattered….But Lake said that “it would take a real jiujitsu of people’s thinking” for Kennedy to hurt Trump….Accordingly, Democrats have sought to hamper Kennedy’s independent bid. The party recently established a team of lawyers dedicated to ensuring that he won’t make it on more state ballots if he violates complicated ballot access rules….But Democrats may also have to work to better define him as a candidate. Democratic primary voters’ initially net-positive impression of him became net-negative once they learned more about his positions through the primary process, and that could serve as a model, Lake said.”


Trump Will Need Some New Tricks If He Wants to Steal the 2024 Election

As someone who warned for months that Trump would try to steal the presidency in 2020 if he lost, I’m worried about the possibility of it happening again, and took a close look at New York at what has changed since then:

Hanging over the 2024 presidential rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is the possibility of another contested result. Aside from a handful of liberal pundits who have fantasized about Congress refusing to certify a Trump victory on grounds that the 14th Amendment bans high federal office for past “insurrectionists,” the major reason for worry emanates from the horrible example set by Trump in 2020 and by his ever-more-adamant if still unsubstantiated claims that the race was “rigged.” There’s no reason to assume he’ll accept defeat in 2024, particularly now that he’s beginning to repeat some of his 2020 hogwash about voting by mail being inherently fraudulent and his even older fabrications about Democrats relying on illegal votes from noncitizens.

Even more basically, the central message of Trump’s 2024 campaign is that he represents an overwhelming majority of Americans who long for his brand of American greatness, against the self-perpetuating power of corrupt elites who illegally denied them a second Trump term. A graceful acceptance of defeat seems extremely unlikely. Rolling Stone is reporting that the Biden campaign is examining a “comically long” list of “nightmare scenarios” that might develop.

But while Trump remains entirely capable of trying to steal the presidency, his options have narrowed. Several of the tactics he used four years ago are now more or less off the table.

Most obviously, Trump will not have the office of the presidency or its powers at his disposal, and he’ll be trying to conquer, not retain, the White House. That’s a handicap that should not be underestimated. When he claimed a grossly premature victory on Election Night in 2020, it was from the East Room of the White House, which may have enhanced the authenticity of this banana-republic move. More importantly, throughout his effort to overturn his defeat, he had access to the resources of the U.S. Justice Department (although its operatives cooperated with him to widely varying extents). All that will be lost to him in 2024. Also beyond his reach is an option he considered but was reportedly talked out of taking in 2020: ordering the U.S. military to seize voting machines in the search for phantom voter fraud. So too is the more drastic step some feared of Trump invoking the Insurrection Act and deploying military units to suppress protests against his election thievery.

More generally, if some sort of institutional paralysis grips Congress or the U.S. government in implementing a 2024 election defeat for Trump, inertia will favor the incumbent. It’s easier to hold power than to seize it.

One particular byproduct of not being in power makes Trump’s planned maneuver in Congress on January 6 a nonstarter: The vice-president who will count electoral votes is Kamala Harris, not Mike Pence. So there will be no gavel-wielding president of the Senate “sending it back to the states” for an unconstitutional redo of election certification. Pence wouldn’t do Trump this favor; Harris won’t either, of course.

Other options available to Trump in 2020 have been removed or at least limited by the Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022, enacted by Congress with significant bipartisan support to address the events of January 6 and some of the confusion that preceded it. That new law makes it clear the vice-president who presides over the electoral vote count is acting simply as a clerk, not a judge. But more importantly, the ECRA provides clear direction on who has the power to certify electors at the state level, heading off the “fake electors” gambit the Trump campaign attempted via friendly legislators in 2020. It also provides for expedited federal judicial review of disputes over certification of electors so that they are resolved long before Congress confirms the results. And it strengthens the presumption that each state will only certify electors pledged to the candidate who wins its popular vote.

Overall, it appears the joint session of Congress to confirm the presidential results will be a less fruitful avenue for MAGA mischief in 2025, though we don’t know which party will control Congress at that time (Democrats controlled both chambers in 2021).

An even bigger legal change since 2020 has been the relatively more restrictive attitude of the states toward voting by mail now that the COVID-19 pandemic has more or less ended. The 2020 Trump campaign constantly claimed that the institution of temporary no-excuse absentee ballots or unsolicited distribution of mail ballots to all registered voters either constituted or encouraged voter fraud; their challenges typically failed as federal and state courts deferred to determinations by state and local election officials on public-safety needs. Now, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states that temporarily relaxed excuse requirements for voting by mail have reinstated them. That means fewer mail ballots and fewer grounds for lawsuits alleging ballot fraud. Similarly, most states that sent unsolicited mail ballots to all registered voters in 2020 have stopped doing that; the only battleground-state exception is Nevada.

One mail-ballot issue that bears watching in 2024 is the practice in 17 states of allowing mail ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted. While in 2020 the federal courts generally dismissed complaints against this procedure on grounds of COVID-related delays in mail-delivery service, there hasn’t been a definitive ruling on the argument that allowing late receipt of mail ballots represents an unconstitutional extension of Election Day. There are only, however, two battleground states (Nevada and North Carolina) that have a post–Election Day cutoff for mail ballots.

It’s worth noting that due to Democrats’ remarkably good performance in 2022, election deniers had less opportunity to monkey with election laws in the last two years. As New York’s Eric Levitz noted after the midterms:

“Democrats … gained four new trifectas, won bitterly contested governors’ races (in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and deep-red Kansas), fought off Republican supermajorities in the North Carolina House and the Badger State’s assembly, defeated every single election denier campaigning for secretary of State in an Electoral College battleground, and did not lose control of a single state legislative chamber. That last feat is especially noteworthy: In every midterm election since 1934, the president’s party has forfeited at least one statehouse to the opposition.”

So what new election-coup tactics could Trump pursue in 2024? There is one terrifying possibility: the deployment of MAGA shock troops to disrupt the casting or counting of Election Day votes in order to justify nondemocratic methods of determining the presidency. To put it another way, the more legislators and judges close off nefarious legal methods of subverting an adverse election result, the more Trump and his supporters may be tempted to resort to good old-fashioned ballot-box-stuffing violence. It would be immensely helpful to secure as many pledges against this lurch into open authoritarianism as possible among Republican elected officials and party leaders. And as an added safeguard, Joe Biden might want to win by a landslide.


Abramowitz: Black Voters and the 2024 Presidential Election

The following excerpt of “Black Voters and the 2024 Presidential Election: A Breakthrough for Trump?” by Alan I. Abramowitz, is cross-posted from the conclusion of the article at Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

“Recent national and swing state polls have shown surprisingly strong support for Donald Trump among Black voters. In the most recent New York Times/Siena national poll, for example, 23% of Black voters supported Trump over Joe Biden. If Trump actually receives 20% or more of the Black vote in the presidential election, this would represent a major breakthrough for the GOP. No Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon in 1960 has received anything approaching this level of support among Black voters.

The evidence presented in this article suggests that there are reasons to be skeptical about claims of an impending breakthrough for Trump and the Republican Party among Black voters. Based on evidence from the 2020 American National Election Study, there was no increase in the Republican share of the Black vote. Nor did the 2020 ANES show any significant divisions in the preferences of Black voters based on characteristics such as education, age, and gender. There was no evidence of a surge in working class support for the GOP among Black voters similar to that seen in recent elections among white voters.

Evidence from the 2022 elections also showed little evidence of any surge in Black support for Republican candidates. According to exit poll data from the 2022 House, Senate, and gubernatorial elections, the level of Black support for Republican candidates, approximately 10% on average, was similar to that seen in elections over the past few decades. In addition, evidence from exit polls on participation in the 2024 Republican presidential primaries also shows no evidence of any surge in support for the GOP among black voters. Even in states with open primaries with large Black electorates such as South Carolina and Virginia, the Republican primary electorate remained overwhelmingly white. Finally, an analysis of official data from the Georgia Secretary of State by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that only 5% of Black voters participating in the Georgia presidential primary chose a Republican ballot while 95% chose a Democratic ballot. Once again, the data show no evidence of a surge in support for the Republican Party among Black voters.

Of course, none of this evidence proves that there will not be a dramatic increase in Black support for Donald Trump and other Republican candidates in 2024—and even a small increase could be important given how close the key swing states could be in November. It is possible that recent national and swing state polls are picking up a trend that has only begun since the 2022 midterm election. Moreover, low rates of Black participation in this year’s GOP presidential primaries do not necessarily mean that Black voters will not support Donald Trump and other Republican candidates at increased levels in November. However, the evidence presented in this article does provide grounds for skepticism about claims of a dramatic surge in Black support for Donald Trump and the GOP in 2024. Acceptance of such claims should at least await better evidence from well-designed surveys with large sub-samples of Black voters or data from actual election results.”

Democrats may have more reason to worry about Black voters not turning out, rather than from a significant shift to their voting for Republicans. Read the rest of the article right here.


RIP Joe Lieberman, a Democrat Who Lost His Way

I was sorry to learn of the sudden death of 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman. But his long and stormy career did offer some important lessons about party loyalty, which I wrote about at New York:

Joe Lieberman was active in politics right up to the end. The former senator was the founding co-chair of the nonpartisan group No Labels, which is laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign on behalf of a yet-to-be-identified bipartisan “unity ticket.” Lieberman did not live to see whether No Labels will run a candidate. He died on Wednesday at 82 due to complications from a fall. But this last political venture was entirely in keeping with his long career as a self-styled politician of the pragmatic center, which often took him across party boundaries.

Lieberman’s first years in Connecticut Democratic politics as a state legislator and then state attorney general were reasonably conventional. He was known for a particular interest in civil rights and environmental protection, and his identity as an observant Orthodox Jew also drew attention. But in 1988, the Democrat used unconventional tactics in his challenge to Republican U.S. senator Lowell Weicker. Lieberman positioned himself to the incumbent’s right on selected issues, like Ronald Reagan’s military operations against Libya and Grenada. He also capitalized on longtime conservative resentment of his moderate opponent, winning prized endorsements from William F. and James Buckley, icons of the right. Lieberman won the race narrowly in an upset.

Almost immediately, Senator Lieberman became closely associated with the Democratic Leadership Council. The group of mostly moderate elected officials focused on restoring the national political viability of a party that had lost five of the six previous presidential elections; it soon produced a president in Bill Clinton. Lieberman became probably the most systematically pro-Clinton (or in the parlance of the time, “New Democrat”) member of Congress. This gave his 1998 Senate speech condemning the then-president’s behavior in the Monica Lewinsky scandal as “immoral” and “harmful” a special bite. He probably did Clinton a favor by setting the table for a reprimand that fell short of impeachment and removal, but without question, the narrative was born of Lieberman being disloyal to his party.

Perhaps it was his public scolding of Clinton that convinced Al Gore, who was struggling to separate himself from his boss’s misconduct, to lift Lieberman to the summit of his career. Gore tapped the senator to be his running mate in the 2000 election, making him the first Jewish vice-presidential candidate of a major party. He was by all accounts a disciplined and loyal running mate, at least until that moment during the Florida recount saga when he publicly disclaimed interest in challenging late-arriving overseas military ballots against the advice of the Gore campaign. You could argue plausibly that the ticket would have never been in a position to potentially win the state without Lieberman’s appeal in South Florida to Jewish voters thrilled by his nomination to become vice-president. But many Democrats bitter about the loss blamed Lieberman.

As one of the leaders of the “Clintonian” wing of his party, Lieberman was an early front-runner for the 2004 presidential nomination. A longtime supporter of efforts to topple Saddam Hussein, Lieberman had voted to authorize the 2003 invasion of Iraq, like his campaign rivals John Kerry and John Edwards and other notable senators including Hillary Clinton. Unlike most other Democrats, though, Lieberman did not back off this position when the Iraq War became a deadly quagmire. Ill-aligned with his party to an extent he did not seem to perceive, his presidential campaign quickly flamed out, but not before he gained enduring mockery for claiming “Joe-mentum” from a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire.

Returning to the Senate, Lieberman continued his increasingly lonely support for the Iraq War (alongside other heresies to liberalism, such as his support for private-school education vouchers in the District of Columbia). In 2006, Lieberman drew a wealthy primary challenger, Ned Lamont, who soon had a large antiwar following in Connecticut and nationally. As the campaign grew heated, President George W. Bush gave his Democratic war ally a deadly gift by embracing him and kissing his cheek after the State of the Union Address. This moment, memorialized as “The Kiss,” became central to the Lamont campaign’s claim that Lieberman had left his party behind, and the challenger narrowly won the primary. However, Lieberman ran against him in the general election as an independent, with significant back-channel encouragement from the Bush White House (which helped prevent any strong Republican candidacy). Lieberman won a fourth and final term in the Senate with mostly GOP and independent votes. He was publicly endorsed by Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, among others from what had been the enemy camp.

The 2006 repudiation by his party appeared to break something in Lieberman. This once-happiest of happy political warriors, incapable of holding a grudge, seemed bitter, or at the very least gravely offended, even as he remained in the Senate Democratic Caucus (albeit as formally independent). When his old friend and Iraq War ally John McCain ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, Lieberman committed a partisan sin by endorsing him. His positioning between the two parties, however, still cost him dearly: McCain wanted to choose him as his running mate, before the Arizonan’s staff convinced him that Lieberman’s longtime pro-choice views and support for LGBTQ rights would lead to a convention revolt. The GOP nominee instead went with a different “high-risk, high-reward” choice: Sarah Palin.

After Barack Obama’s victory over Lieberman’s candidate, the new Democratic president needed every Democratic senator to enact the centerpiece of his agenda, the Affordable Care Act. He got Lieberman’s vote — but only after the senator, who represented many of the country’s major private-insurance companies, forced the elimination of the “public option” in the new system. It was a bitter pill for many progressives, who favored a more robust government role in health insurance than Obama had proposed.

By the time Lieberman chose to retire from the Senate in 2012, he was very near to being a man without a party, and he reflected that status by refusing to endorse either Obama or Mitt Romney that year. By then, he was already involved in the last great project of his political career, No Labels. He did, with some hesitation, endorse Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. But his long odyssey away from the yoke of the Democratic Party had largely landed him in a nonpartisan limbo. Right up until his death, he was often the public face of No Labels, particularly after the group’s decision to sponsor a presidential ticket alienated many early supporters of its more quotidian efforts to encourage bipartisan “problem-solving” in Congress.

Some will view Lieberman as a victim of partisan polarization, and others as an anachronistic member of a pro-corporate, pro-war bipartisan elite who made polarization necessary. Personally, I will remember him as a politician who followed — sometimes courageously, sometimes foolishly — a path that made him blind to the singular extremism that one party has exhibited throughout the 21st century, a development he tried to ignore to his eventual marginalization. But for all his flaws, I have no doubt Joe Lieberman remained until his last breath committed to the task he often cited via the Hebrew term tikkun olam: repairing a broken world.


Political Strategy Notes

In “Who is Marilyn Lands? Dem running on abortion platform wins Alabama house seat by 25 points,” Karissa Waddick and Kinsey Crowley report at USA Today, “A Democrat won a contentious special election Tuesday for a state house seat in Alabama, in win that could signal the dominant role of abortion and in-vitro fertilization in elections across the country in 2024….Marilyn Lands beat Republican Teddy Powell in a race for the seat that was left vacant after former Republican Rep. David Cole who pleaded guilty to voter fraud….Alabama has been in the reproductive rights spotlight after the state Supreme Court ruled that embryos created during IVF should be legally treated as children. The decision halted IVF treatments at many clinics in the state, until the state legislature passed measures to protect the treatment….Lands made abortion and IVF access a central point of her campaign. Her win could be a testament to the salience of those issues for voters in 2024….Marilyn Lands is a licensed professional counselor who previously worked in banking and aerospace, according to her website….Abortion was one of her top issues as a candidate, along with economic development and education….In a TV ad, Lands shared her experience getting an abortion for a “nonviable” pregnancy years ago. She appeared with an Alabama woman who faced a similar situation but had to travel out of state to receive the procedure because of the state’s abortion ban after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision….Lands also argued that a law passed in response to the state Supreme Court’s IVF ruling, which aimed to protect IVF providers and patients from prosecution, fell short and did not address the root concerns with the court’s decision….According to unofficial results on the Alabama Secretary of State website, Lands won 62.31% of the vote, with 100% of votes counted. Powell, a local city council member, lost earning only 37.5% of the vote. Just 1.85% of voters turned out….Lands ran against her predecessor in 2022, and lost by seven points.”

At Politico, Alice Miranda Ollstein reports that “Democrats are counting on abortion rights to carry them to victory this fall in races across the country. But nowhere more so than in Arizona….Abortion-rights activists are gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to put a measure on the ballot enshrining protections in the state’s constitution. Doing so, Democrats believe, will juice turnout on the left, giving them a chance to break the GOP’s narrow majority in the state legislature, win a pivotal Senate seat and deliver the state — and possibly the election — to President Joe Biden….Some Arizona conservatives acknowledge that a referendum on abortion rights could dim their electoral chances, and are working to keep the issue off the November ballot. Others are backpedaling on previous hardline anti-abortion stances as they court independents and moderates….The parties’ scramble in the battleground state eight months ahead of the election is a model for how the issue is shaping competitive races nationwide. And while Democrats are nervous about progressive rage over the war in Gaza and slipping support among communities of color, they remain confident after a string of victories over the last two years that championing abortion rights will help them clinch key contests in November….“Even though this is a purple state, this is not a swing issue for us,” said Senate hopeful Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), sitting inside Lola, a dimly lit coffee shop on Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row. “It is solidly a pro-abortion-rights state….While Gallego pitches himself as a champion for abortion access — helping collect signatures to put the measure on the ballot, holding events with abortion-rights groups and pledging to abolish the Senate filibuster to help pass national protections if elected — his likely GOP opponent is backing away from the issue….Republican Kari Lake, the front-runner in the GOP Senate primary, said during her failed bid for governor in 2022 that she would enforce Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban if elected, calling it a “great law.” She has also expressed support for a state ban on abortion pills and the forced closure of abortion clinics. But the MAGA firebrand has of late tried to sidestep questions about her plans on abortion, telling POLITICO “it’s ultimately going to be up to the voters of Arizona to decide” before changing the subject….Both sides are bracing for a nailbiter. Biden won Arizona by just over 10,000 votes in 2020, and the state’s Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes won her 2022 race by just a couple hundred votes — a victory she attributes almost entirely to voter outrage over the fall of Roe v. Wade and the rise of state abortion bans.”

“While still negative, Americans’ view of the U.S. economy remains improved in 2024 from last year,” Mary Clare Evans reports at Gallup. “Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is at -20 in March, similar to the -22 found in February but sharply higher than the readings near -50 measured last fall. The index is currently at its highest point since a -12 reading in August 2021….Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index summarizes Americans’ evaluations of current economic conditions (as excellent, good, only fair or poor) and their outlook for the economy (whether they believe it is getting better or worse)….The index has a theoretical range of +100 (if all Americans rate current conditions as excellent or good and say the economy is getting better) to -100 (if all Americans rate the economy as poor and say it is getting worse). In Gallup’s trend of these measures since 1992, the highest ECI score has been +56, in January 2000, and the lowest has been -72, in October 2008….The latest results are from a March 1-20, 2024, Gallup poll. This month, President Joe Biden has touted indicators of strong economic performance in his State of the Union address and on the campaign trail. These include record stock values, easing inflation, job creation and low unemployment. Yet, Americans still feel the cumulative effects of rising prices from the past two years….Thirty percent of U.S. adults now say economic conditions are excellent or good, while 30% call them only fair and 39% poor. This results in a -9 score on the current conditions component of the index, which is improved from -15 in March and -31 in November. The last time the current conditions score was better than now was in October 2021 (-8)….The percentage of Americans rating economic conditions as excellent or good increased by four percentage points in March, pushing the figure to 30%. This is the highest proportion giving positive evaluations of the economy since June 2021….When asked about the economy’s direction, 33% of Americans say conditions are getting better, while 63% say they’re getting worse. Although economic optimism is about the same as last month’s 32%, it has been slowly expanding since October, when 21% said the economy was getting better….Democrats’ current economic attitudes result in an Economic Confidence Index score of +35, while independents stand at -28 and Republicans at -62. All three partisan groups, but particularly Democrats, have shown improved confidence since October. Since then, Democrats’ ECI score has increased by 35 points, from 0 to +35, while independents’ score has risen by 15 points (from -43 to -28) and Republicans’ by 10 points (from -72 to -62).”

Evans continues, “The economy is a major issue in presidential elections, particularly when an incumbent is seeking reelection. In the five elections since 1992 involving a sitting president in which Gallup has measured economic confidence, economic confidence has conformed with the election outcome in two elections when confidence was relatively high or low.

  • George H.W. Bush lost reelection in 1992 at a time when the ECI was at -37.
  • Bill Clinton won a second term in 1996 when the ECI was at +23.

However, when economic attitudes have been mixed, with the index near the zero midpoint of its range, election outcomes have varied.

  • In 2004 and 2012, the index was at +1 and -1, respectively — and both incumbents (George W. Bush and Barack Obama) won.
  • On the other hand, in 2020, Donald Trump was defeated at a time when the ECI was at -4, perhaps because the coronavirus pandemic overshadowed the economy.

Evans adds, “While the current ECI score is not promising for Biden, Gallup trends show it has the capacity to change in the span of a few months.

    • In 2020, confidence plummeted from a 20-year high in February to a deeply negative -32 at the start of the pandemic, before climbing back to neutral territory (-4) by the time of the election.
    • In 2012, the index score rose by a total of 13 points between March and October, likely aiding Obama’s reelection.
    • In contrast, during the global financial crisis in 2008, the index experienced a decline of 21 points over the same period and remained low for months.”

Biden Gets a Bit of Traction in Latest Polls

Hold the High Fives for a bit longer, but it does appear that Biden is seeing some improvement in the most recent polls. As Kerry Eleveld explains at Daily Kos:

“Last week, The Economist’s presidential polling average set in motion a reevaluation of the general election when President Joe Biden pulled ahead of Donald Trump for the first time since September 2023….To be clear, Biden isn’t suddenly the odds-on favorite to win in November, but the fundamentals of the Biden-Trump contest do appear to be shifting in a slightly more favorable direction for Biden.

In the 18 Biden-Trump head-to-head matchups conducted by reputable pollsters (1.8 stars or higher-plus in 538’s pollster ratings) since the March 7 State of the Union address, Trump led in nine surveys, Biden led in seven, and they were even in two. This is a modest improvement from the 18 comparable surveys leading up to Biden’s speech. In those surveys, Trump led in 10, Biden in six, and two found the candidates evenly matched. Better yet, the average of these polls shows Biden improving overall, from 1.1 percentage points underwater before the State of the Union, to 0.8 points underwater afterward—which may seem like a negligible shift but is meaningful where averages are concerned. (Note: None of the polls used here account for how third-party candidates affect the outcome.)

….But truth be told, the horse-race polling is among the least of Biden’s gains in the contest. The Biden campaign’s fundraising in February combined with that of the Democratic National Committee eclipsed the totals of Trump and the RNC.

Perhaps more significantly, “Other underlying fundamentals are also moving in a positive direction for Biden and Democrats. While Republicans led Democrats in 538’s generic congressional ballot aggregate throughout most of January, February, and much of March, Democrats have now pulled even with Republicans, at roughly 44.5% each….In Civiqs’ tracking polls, the public opinion of Biden’s efforts to create jobs are better than they have ever been, with 42% agreeing that he’s doing enough and 48% disagreeing.” Eleveld adds,

And while voters’ views on the condition of the economy remain well underwater, they are trending in the right direction since falling in the first half of 2022, during the throes of inflation. At net -24 points “good,” the numbers now are on par with how voters viewed the economy in late September 2021….And voters’ estimation of their family finances are the best they’ve been in roughly two years, since early March 2022.

Current public opinion about the economy and personal finances are double-digits better than they were during the final month of the 2022 midterms, when Democrats turned back the vaunted red wave that historical norms foretold. In fact, voters’ view of the economy is 22 points better now than it was on Election Day 2022.

….But what is most fascinating is the shift among independents, who favored Trump by 11 points in January. But this month, Biden cut Trump’s lead among independent voters to just a handful of points, 37% to 42%.

Eleveld concludes, “November is still many months away, but Democrats have reason to like the way things are trending as they work to build momentum heading into the August convention.”


Political Strategy Notes

In “Biden campaign launches national strategy to reach Latino voters,” Maddie Gannon observes at NY1 News: “This year, an estimated more than 36 million Latino voters will be eligible to cast a ballot in the general election, according to the Pew Research Center, an increase of nearly 4 million since 2020…. While statistics from the most recent elections show Democrats still have a firm grip when it comes to the support of Latino voters, the margin by which Democrats have won among such communities has shrunk….In 2020, former President Donald Trump – who, along with Biden already received enough delegates to earn his party’s nomination for president – got the support of 38% of Latino voters to Biden’s 59%, according to the Pew Research Center. By contrast, Hillary Clinton won Latino voters 66% over Trump (28%) in 2016…. And looking at the two most recent midterm elections head-to-head, the GOP’s 25% support from Hispanic voters in 2018 grew to 39% in 2022, according to the Pew Research Center….Meanwhile, the Biden team’s Tuesday program launch also comes with a new ad aiming to connect with Hispanic voters, recorded in English, Spanish and Spanglish, according to the campaign…. The 30-second spot focuses on Biden capping insulin costs at $35 a month and his efforts to protect abortion access, seeking to use the two issues to draw a contrast with his former rival and likely 2024 opponent Trump…. “For women, the freedom to control our own bodies or doctors going to jail for an abortion,” the ad says. “This is the difference between Joe Biden or Donald Trump.”….The video – which is part of the campaign’s $30 million six-week ad buy announced following the president’s State of the Union address earlier this month – will air on news and lifestyle programming, such as CNN en Español and Galavisión, the campaign said….In January, the incumbent president’s reelection team said the campaign has already launched six ads targeting Latino voters between August and December, both in Spanish as well as English.”

A presidential campaign update from. “Biden’s Campaign Is In Trouble. Will the Turnaround Plan Work?” at Time magazine by Charlotte Alter, Brian Bennett and Philip Elliott: “As a fog of dread descends on Democrats, Biden’s inner circle is defiantly sanguine. They see a candidate with a strong economy, a sizable cash advantage, and a record of accomplishments on infrastructure, climate change, industrial policy, and consumer protections that will register for more voters as the campaign ramps up. They see a pattern of Democrats overperforming their polling in recent years, from the 2022 midterms to a spate of special elections and abortion referendums. Most of all, they see a historically unpopular opponent. And in the end, they believe, voters dissatisfied with the President will tally the stakes—from reproductive rights to the prospect of mass immigration roundups to the future of U.S. democracy—and pull the lever for Biden again. “Our biggest strength is that 80 million people sent him to the White House before,” says Quentin Fulks, Biden’s principal deputy campaign manager, who notes that Trump needs to find new voters to win. “Our challenge is winning people who have already cast a ballot for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris once.” ….Yet that may be a tall order in what’s shaping up to be a contest of which candidate America dislikes less. After a slow start, Biden’s campaign is charging forward, opening field offices, hiring staff, and launching an ad blitz painting Trump as a dangerous autocrat. But even if the President’s sputtering bid finds a new gear, allies say, the country is so bitterly divided that his ability to affect the outcome in November may be limited. Both sides are digging in for a gloomy slugfest, marked by depressed turnout and apocalyptic warnings about the fate that awaits the nation should the other guy win. Publicly, Biden’s brain trust is confident in their turnaround plan. Privately, even some White House insiders admit that they’re scared….Up next: a six-week, $30 million blitz of TV ads in battleground states that aim to define Trump as a threat to democracy and reproductive rights, while tackling the delicate issue of Biden’s age. The campaign has also begun rolling out its field operation; in addition to the new staffers, it plans to open 100 campaign offices in states like Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. “It’s about getting the boots on the ground,” Chavez Rodriguez says, “and building the ground game that we need to in all of our battleground states.”

Alter, Bennett and Elliott continue, “The campaign is gaming out different paths to the 270 Electoral College votes it needs to win. One is to rebuild the Blue Wall, which includes the traditional Democratic strongholds of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and then capture another toss-up state. A second route cuts through the Sun Belt—Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina. Democrats are pushing to add an abortion-access measure to the ballot in Arizona that they believe would drive up turnout for Biden. The same may be said for a polarizing GOP nominee for governor in North Carolina. Some Democrats aren’t ready to abandon hopes of Biden’s putting Trump’s current home state of Florida within reach. The paths to a win are varied enough that a major Democratic PAC is spending almost $4 million in the Omaha TV ad market, where Harris’ husband Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff hosted political events in March in hopes of shaving off a single Electoral College vote in Nebraska’s Second District….But for Biden to beat the 77-year-old Trump, some allies believe it’s time to remove the bubble wrap. After campaigning successfully in 2020 on promises to restore the “soul of the nation,” Biden still clings to a self-image as a champion of comity. It is a pitch calibrated for an idealized electorate, not the one he has to win over. “People say, ‘I’m not going to vote for Trump, but I don’t know if I can vote for Biden.’ And everything they say has to do with his style: ‘He doesn’t seem to be fighting for us,’” says Representative Jim Clyburn, the former House Democratic whip, who has stepped away from his caucus leadership role to help Biden sharpen his message, urging the campaign to underscore the direct economic benefits of the Biden presidency….Recent flashes of fight have cheered the President’s supporters. After the boisterous State of the Union speech, he hit the road for a two-week swing through seven battleground states. The first event was at a middle-school gym in the Philadelphia suburbs, where Biden said Trump “got his wish” when the Supreme Court overturned Roe and states installed abortion restrictions. The President ticked through highlights of his record: limiting monthly insulin costs for seniors to $35; capping all Medicare prescription-drug costs at $2,000 a year; cutting credit-card late fees from $32 to $8; requiring corporations to pay a minimum of 15% in tax. When Biden called for an assault-weapons ban and stripping liability protections for gunmakers, the room erupted in cheers. After stepping off the stage, he shook hands and posed for selfies for 30 minutes, ignoring multiple announcements from his staff that it was time to leave.”

Sasha Abramsky addresses a question of concern for Democrats at The Nation, “Can Nevada Democrats Beat the Odds?,’ and writes: “Despite the energy in Trumpland, however, Nevada opinion pollsters and longtime observers of its politics tend to argue that the state, which went for the Democratic candidate in the past four elections, is still Biden’s to lose. They’re deeply suspicious of the early polls showing Trump considerably ahead and believe that Nevada, with its growing number of independent voters, has become increasingly difficult to poll accurately. Union organizing efforts in the Las Vegas area—the Culinary Workers, aware of the notoriously anti-union positions that Trump has taken over the years, knocked on more than 1 million doors statewide in 2022 and are likely to launch a similarly impressive effort this year—may still give the Democrats an edge as the election nears. “We knocked on the doors of over half the Black and over half the Latinx and over one-third of Asian voters” in the state in 2022, says Bethany Khan, a spokesperson for Local 226. In 2024, fresh off its successful negotiations with the largest casino-owning companies—which resulted in a new contract that increases workers’ starting pay and benefits from $28 to $37 an hour over the next five years—the union plans to lead the largest field effort in the state, Khan says….By most measures, Nevada these days is a blue state. Most of its senior elected officials, with the exception of the governor, are Democrats, and the party’s supermajority in the Assembly, combined with its near-supermajority in the Senate, has allowed it to push a raft of progressive reforms, from increased education spending to investments in electric vehicle infrastructure. A majority of Nevada’s population, propelled by liberal voting blocs in Las Vegas and Reno, is firmly on the side of reproductive rights. Las Vegas has embraced some of the country’s most innovative environmental sustainability policies, and demographically the city, which now has more residents than Boston, is increasingly diverse….the Harry Reid machine—resurrected after its brief toppling by the DSA—has a storied history of snatching narrow victories from the jaws of defeat. But the Democrats would be fooling themselves if they didn’t think they had a brutal fight on their hands in the Silver State.”


Teixeira: Revisiting the Three Point Plan to Fix the Democrats and Their Coalition

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, politics editor of The Liberal Patriot newsletter and co-author with John B. Judis of the new Book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?,” is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

In October of 2022, I wrote a widely-circulated post on “A Three Point Plan to Fix the Democrats and Their Coalition.” I argued:

The Democratic coalition today is not fit for purpose. It cannot beat Republicans consistently in enough areas of the country to achieve dominance and implement its agenda at scale. The Democratic Party may be the party of blue America, especially deep blue metro America, but its bid to be the party of the ordinary American, the common man and woman, is falling short.

There is a simple—and painful—reason for this. The Democrats really are no longer the party of the common man and woman. The priorities and values that dominate the party today are instead those of educated, liberal America which only partially overlap—and sometimes not at all—with those of ordinary Americans.

I revisited the three point plan last year right after Biden’s 2023 State of the Union (SOTU) address, which he gave in the wake of surprisingly good election results in November, 2022 and the passage of two big bills, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, shortly before that election. In the 2023 SOTU address, Biden struck a distinctly populist pose and claimed the Democrats’ policies were nothing less than a “blue collar blueprint to rebuild America.” The address was widely-lauded in Democratic circles; Biden was credited with stealing Trump’s populism, displaying the political savvy of Bill Clinton and practicing the class politics of FDR.

At the time I noted it was difficult to detect such enthusiasm among ordinary voters, particularly working-class voters. The 538 rolling average of Biden’s approval rating had Biden’s approval rating static both in the months before and right after his 2023 SOTU address generally in the the 42-43 percent range with 52-53 percent disapproval. And in trial heats against Trump, Biden was essentially tied and couldn’t seem to open up a real lead.

Here we are a year and a month later, in the wake of yet another widely-lauded (by Democrats) SOTU address by Biden. Has the situation improved for Democrats? No, it has not. Biden’s approval rating now typically is in the 39-41 percent approval range with 55-57 percent disapproval. As Harry Enten points out “Biden is the least popular elected incumbent at this point in his reelection bid since World War II.”

And Biden’s trial heats vs. Trump have only gotten worse. Trump is currently up by two points; Biden hasn’t had a lead of any kind in the RCP running average since September of last year. That compares to a Biden lead of over seven points at this point in the cycle four years ago. As Enten also notes:

[A] lead of any margin for Trump was unheard of during the 2020 campaign – not a single poll that met CNN’s standards for publication showed Trump leading Biden nationally.

It’s worth considering what a two point national lead for Trump could mean for Biden in key states relative to 2020. Biden won the national popular vote for President by 4.4 points in 2020; if he’s now trailing by two points, that’s a 6.4 point swing toward Trump. We can apply that national 6.4 point swing to key states to see where we might expect them to wind up in such a scenario. Unsurprisingly, that swing would put each of the six generally accepted key swing states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—in Trump’s 2024 column. But what’s really interesting here is how closely applying that swing gets you to current polling averages in four of these states—Arizona (Trump +5.4), Georgia (+5), Michigan (+3.5) and Nevada (+4.3). The other two states—Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—are underperforming the national swing giving Trump current leads of only about a point.

In addition, Democratic party identification has been declining throughout Biden’s presidency and is now at its lowest level since 1988. Looming over this trend and all the other rough results for the Democrats cited here is the indisputable fact that Democratic poor performance is being driven by defections among working-class (noncollege) voters of all races. Education polarization of the electorate is just getting worse and Democrats are on the wrong end of the stick, especially for a party that fancies itself the natural party of America’s working class.

Perhaps it is time to admit that, despite the peppy talk from the Democrats’ amen corner, the Democratic party brand is still in deep, deep trouble. With that in mind, I’ll review the bidding from my earlier three point plan.


Ex-Democrat Tulsi Gabbard Can’t Decide Which Bad Ticket She Wants to Join

One of the odder phenomena of the 2024 presidential election is a certain 2020 Democratic candidate who has strayed very far since then. I took a look at her options at New York:

A month ago, when ex-Democratic congresswoman and 2020 presidential wannabe Tulsi Gabbard showed up at a Mar-a-Lago event, I wrote about the logic that could make her a highly unconventional but not entirely implausible 2024 running mate for Donald Trump. Once a major backer of Bernie Sanders, Gabbard’s trajectory toward MAGA-land has been steady since she left the Democratic Party in the fall of 2022, a main course she served up with a side dish of jarring candidate endorsements (e.g., of J.D. Vance). Even when she was still a Democrat running for president, though, her orientation was more MAGA-adjacent than you might expect, as Geoffrey Skelley explained in 2019:

“Gabbard’s supporters … are more likely to have backed President Trump in 2016, hold conservative views or identify as Republican compared to voters backing the other candidates. …

“In fact, Gabbard has become a bit of a conservative media darling in the primary, with conservative commentators like Ann Coulter and pro-Trump social media personalities like Mike Cernovich complimenting her for her foreign policy views. In a primary in which some 2020 Democratic contenders have boycotted Fox NewsGabbard has regularly appeared on the network. Just last week, Gabbard even did an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, a far-right political outlet. She’s also made appeals outside the political mainstream by going on The Joe Rogan Experience — one of the most popular podcasts in the country and a favored outlet for members of the Intellectual Dark Web, whose purveyors don’t fit neatly into political camps but generally criticize concepts such as political correctness and identity politics.”

So her parting blast at Democrats as controlled by an “elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness” didn’t come out of nowhere.

But much as Gabbard might be an outside-the-box running mate for the 45th president, it does seem there is another 2024 presidential candidate whose extreme hostility to mainstream institutions and difficult-to-categorize views might make him a better match for her: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. And sure enough, according to NBC News, the wiggy anti-vaxxer is interested in Gabbard:

“The four-term former member of Congress from Hawaii is now getting consideration for both former President Donald Trump’s and independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s tickets, two sources familiar with the candidates’ deliberations told NBC News.”

The prospect of choosing between these two politicians appears to have left Gabbard feeling she’s in the catbird seat:

“As one source said, Gabbard would be more likely to seriously consider running as Kennedy’s vice presidential nominee had she not been swept up by the possibility of serving with Trump. This person said Gabbard ‘was enticed’ by the chance of serving on Kennedy’s ticket but is now focused on the possibility that Trump will select her.

“’My understanding is that Tulsi is convinced that Trump is going to pick her,’ this person said. ‘Had that not been the case, she probably would have gone with Kennedy.’”

Since Kennedy has scheduled a running-mate reveal for March 26 in Oakland, we’ll know soon enough whether he chose Gabbard and Gabbard chose him. Others rumored to be on his short list include New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, and California entrepreneur and major RFK Jr. donor Nicole Shanahan.

As NBC notes, it’s more than a bit unusual for people to be considered for multiple presidential tickets:

“[I]t’s exceedingly rare for a politician to attract interest from more than one presidential ticket or party. (Ahead of the 1952 election, Democrats and Republicans led dueling efforts to draft another politically ambiguous veteran, Dwight Eisenhower, the former supreme Allied commander in Europe during World War II, for the presidential race.)”

It’s hard to say what Tulsi Gabbard would think of this comparison. After all, Ike was a bit of a warmonger.


House GOP Still Trying to Weaken Social Security, Medicare

If you hoped the Republican House leaders were going to govern like responsible elected officials who care about their constituents’ well-being, you should probably think again.

As Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling reports in “House Republicans Resurrect Plan to Gut Social Security and Medicare: A new budget from House Republicans clearly states they’ll raise the retirement age—if given the chance” at The New Republic:

While progressive politicians and unions are fighting to grant Americans four-day workweeks, Republicans are looking to achieve the complete opposite.

On Wednesday, the Republican Study Committee (made up of more than 170 House Republicans) proposed a 2025 budget with an eyebrow-raising revision of Social Security and Medicare, increasing the retirement age to qualify for Social Security and lowering benefits for the highest-earning beneficiaries.

But don’t worry, Republicans want you to know that this will not take effect immediately, and will only impact everyone who isn’t already of age to acquire their earned benefits.

“Again, the RSC Budget does not cut or delay retirement benefits for any senior in or near retirement,” the caucus underlined.

Under the proposed plan, Medicare would operate as a “premium support model,” competing with private companies, giving subsidies to beneficiaries to pick the private plan of their choice. That stratagem is straight from former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s playbook, who proposed the policy while campaigning as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick in the 2012 election. At the time, President Barack Obama argued that the plan would “end Medicare as we know it.”

Outside of fiscal policy, the proposed budget also endorsed the controversial Life at Conception Act, which would grant rights to embryos and likely gut in vitro fertilization nationwide—despite a Republican press run last month to fake support for the procedure.

The budget is unlikely to pass through Congress, but its drafting still hints at the party’s follow-through on an age-old threat—and offers a glimpse into what kind of future it wants if it wins reelection, and if Donald Trump retakes the White House.

As Houghtaling concludes, “The whole thing is, notably, an odd choice during an election year.” Nothing new to see here — just the Republicans once again trying to trim your retirement benefits, diddle with your health security and meddle with your reproductive freedom.