washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

What Will Trump Loyalists’ Sensed Powerlessness Mean For Politics?

Donald Trump’s influence on the Republican Party continues to shape America’s politics, even as the Democrats have taken control of the federal government and Congress.

Read the Report

From Democracy Corps

 

5 Practical Strategies for Moderate Candidates

Trump loyalists are not just completely committed to a Fox News’ right-wing political perspective but to an extreme alternative ideology that requires the denial of even patently evident facts

Strategies based on Democracy Corps new study.

Most Profoundly Sinister Provision in the New GOP Voter Suppression Laws

All of the GOP measures are designed to make voting harder and reduce the turnout of minorities and other pro-Democratic groups but one key strategy is quite literally designed to turn American elections into meaningless, completely empty rituals like they are in police state dictatorships like Russia.

Read the Article

Plausible Strategy for Surge of Immigrants

Democratic officeholders and candidates who plan to run in 2022 and 2024 need to face a simple, brutal fact – many will lose their next elections and will return control of government to the GOP if they do not offer a more plausible strategy for reducing the surge of immigrants at the border

Democrats in 2022 and 2024 will lose elections without a strategy.

Strategy for Separating Extremist from Non-extremist White Workers

The grotesque events since the election finally forced a limited section of the Republican coalition to take a stand against the extremists who gained essentially complete domination over the GOP after the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

Prevent the Triumph of GOP Extremism.

The Daily Strategist

June 24, 2021

Berman and Surgey: GOP’s Dark Money Group Gains Traction in State Legislatures

At Mother Jones, Ari Berman and Nick Surgey report on the growing influence of Heritage Action for America in spearheading voter suppression laws in state legislatures across America. As Berman and Surgey note,

“In a private meeting last month with big-money donors, the head of a top conservative group boasted that her outfit had crafted the new voter suppression law in Georgia and was doing the same with similar bills for Republican state legislators across the country. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”

The Georgia law had “eight key provisions that Heritage recommended,” Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation, told the foundation’s donors at an April 22 gathering in Tucson, in a recording obtained by the watchdog group Documented and shared with Mother Jones. Those included policies severely restricting mail ballot drop boxes, preventing election officials from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters, making it easier for partisan workers to monitor the polls, preventing the collection of mail ballots, and restricting the ability of counties to accept donations from nonprofit groups seeking to aid in election administration.

All of these recommendations came straight from Heritage’s list of “best practices” drafted in February. With Heritage’s help, Anderson said, Georgia became “the example for the rest of the country.”

The leaked video reveals the extent to which Heritage is leading a massive campaign to draft and pass model legislation restricting voting access, which has been swiftly adopted this year in the battleground states of Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Iowa. It’s no coincidence that so many GOP-controlled states are rushing to pass similar pieces of legislation in such a short period of time.”

Berman and Surgey have a lot more to say – read on here.


Teixeira: How Can the Biden Administration Deliver Good Jobs?

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

Perhaps It Takes a European Observer To See the Democrats’ Fundamental Political-Economic Problem Clearly

Jean Pisani-Ferry is at the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel. In an article on Project Syndicate he observes:

“The Biden administration’s promises to “think big” and rebuild the country seem like a major historical departure from decades of policy orthodoxy. And yet, insofar as its agenda will merely help the United States catch up to other advanced economies, its main components amount to necessary but insufficient reforms.”

He focuses particularly on the Democrats’ fundamental political problem and links it to the difficulties of the left in other advanced countries:

“[S]uch reforms are unlikely to suffice to address the Democrats’ political problem. Their challenge is that white voters without a college degree – who formed the backbone of Trump’s support – still make up 41% of the electorate. Even assuming that new voting laws in many Republican-led states do not overly suppress black turnout, the Democratic coalition of black voters and educated elites remains at the mercy of a shift in public sentiment, leaving the party without a strong enough majority in the right places to guarantee victory in the Electoral College in 2024.

The Democrats’ imperative is to recapture the white working-class voters who backed Trump in 2016 and 2020. But since Bill Clinton’s presidency in the 1990s, the party has offered left-behind workers only two solutions: education and social benefits. As The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein recounts, Clinton’s mantra was that, “What you learn is what you earn.” He and Barack Obama strongly believed that more and better education was the best way to deal with the labor-market upheavals brought about by digitalization and globalization. (Europeans mostly shared this philosophy, though they placed a greater emphasis on social transfers.)

But workers do not agree. They do not want to live on welfare, but nor do they want to be sent back to school. Rather, they want to keep the good jobs that have long provided them with incomes and a sense of pride. Trump won in 2016 because he understood this sentiment and exploited it to win the working-class vote in key swing states.

And it’s not just America. Everywhere one looks, the left has lost the working-class vote. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has conquered Labour’s “Red Wall”; in France, far-right leader Marine Le Pen has emerged as the candidate of choice for a growing share of workers; and in Germany, the Social Democrats seem likely to be crushed in the September elections. As Amory Gethin, Clara Martínez-Toledano, and Thomas Piketty show in a fascinating comparative paper, the traditional cleavages that structured postwar politics have collapsed across Western democracies.

Biden clearly understands this political shift. Last month, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, he made a point of noting that nearly 90% of the jobs created by his infrastructure plan will not require a college degree. But how can his administration actually deliver good jobs?”

That’s the question. And it’s not at all clear the Biden administration has a good answer to this and, therefore, to its fundamental political problem.


Political Strategy Notes

“After hopes for a bipartisan January 6 commission went down in flames on Friday, Democrats may have a new plan to investigate the attack on the Capitol: A select House committee, which would not require Republican support to establish….Such a committee would differ from the proposed bipartisan commission in several key ways, but it could still take steps to ensure accountability for those involved in the insurrection. Notably, a select committee would be composed of members of Congress rather than outside experts, and the subpoena power would function differently — but, crucially, it could also be created with only a simple majority vote in the House.” Rep. Ted Lieu tweeted, “Mitch McConnell thinks he can stop the full truth from coming out. He cannot. The House can empower a bipartisan select congressional committee to investigate the insurrection. The select committee would also have stronger subpoena power because GOP Members can’t block subpoenas.” Peters adds, “there could be fewer prospects for GOP obstruction in a select committee. In contrast to the defeated plan for an independent investigative commission, where use of the subpoena power would have required either majority support or agreement between the chair and vice chair — in other words, bipartisan agreement — Democrats on a select committee would be perfectly able to wield unilateral subpoena power.” — from “A bipartisan January 6 commission is probably dead. Democrats have a backup plan” by Cameron Peters at Vox.

Ronald Brownstein writes at The Atlantic that a “wide range of activists…have become more and more uncertain that Democratic leaders have a strategy to overcome Manchin’s hesitance, not to mention his (and other Democrats’) refusal to pare back the filibuster, which Republicans are certain to employ against any voting-rights legislation. What’s more, these activists fear that by focusing relatively little attention on red states’ actions, Democrats aren’t doing enough to create a climate of public opinion in which Manchin and others could feel pressure to act on the issue of voting rights if and when Senate Republicans filibuster against it.” However, notes Brownstein, “Celinda Lake, a longtime Democratic strategist who served as one of Biden’s chief pollsters in the 2020 campaign, seconds the argument that Biden should prioritize producing results, particularly on the economy, over raising alarms. “Right now, that’s not his job,” Lake told me. “His job is to provide the Democratic alternative and to show what we can get done,” so that voters will “say to themselves, ‘I don’t want to lose this; I don’t want to go back’” to Republican control of Congress.” Yet, “In their private conversations, activists fear that Biden, by constantly stressing his determination to work across party lines, is normalizing Republicans’ behavior even as many in the party are radicalizing. And they worry that he is so focused on producing kitchen-table results—through his big infrastructure and education and families packages—that the voting-rights agenda will slip on the Senate priority list….“We are dealing with one senator here, and the question is what do you do to persuade Senator Manchin that it is his role to protect, if not save, the democratic process?” [president of the reform group Democracy 21Fred] Wertheimer told me.”

Kerry Eleveld explains why “Biden’s clean-energy initiatives are total winners with the public and central to his jobs plan” at Daily Kos: “Fresh polling released Thursday from Navigator Research shows that fricking 78% of registered voters agree with the statement, “America should make significant investments in clean energy as part of our efforts to rebuild the economy.” That even gets majority support from GOP voters. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Democrats: 98% agree
  • Independents: 87% agree
  • Republicans: 55% agree

Even as the questioning grows more specific and Biden’s name is attached to several clean-energy initiatives within his jobs plan, nearly 70% still express support for the climate proposals….The exact question asks, “As you may know, President Biden has proposed including a number of climate-related initiatives in the ‘American Jobs Plan,’ such as investing in clean energy, like wind energy and solar power, modernizing our electric grid, increasing electric vehicle production, and ensuring everyone has access to clean air and water. Do you support or oppose including these policies in the ‘American Jobs Plan’?”….Overall, 69% of registered voters said they supported the policies, including 95% of Democrats, 76% of independents, and 39% of Republicans….This is what’s known as overwhelming public support. The drop among Republicans was predictable as soon as Biden’s name was inserted into the mix. Nonetheless, nearly 40% of GOP voters still support the initiatives.”

“Bipartisanship” still gets a lot of good press from commentators who long for a return to the “I’d like like to buy the world a Coke” days of the 1960s and ’70s when there were Republican senators who were every bit as ardent in their support of civil rights, environmental protection, and robust social investment as most of their Democratic colleagues,” John Nichols writes in ‘Bipartisan’ Is How Republicans Say ‘Sucker!’ at The Nation. “But those days, and those Republicans, are long gone….The idea that there could be positive cross-party collaboration on so definitional a measure as Biden’s American Jobs Plan is a ridiculously outdated and dangerous fantasy. It may still be true that Congress can pull together in an emergency, as it did on some measures during the worst stages of the pandemic. But when it comes to forging the future, Republicans have taken cooperation for the common good off the table….If the president and Senate Democrats think they can cut deals with Senate Republicans on the existential issues of the 2020s, they are no wiser than Charlie Brown as he prepares to make one more attempt to kick the football Lucy is about to pull out from under him….For Senate Republicans, negotiating with a Democratic president is no longer an exercise in governing. It is a political strategy designed to distract, delay, and ultimately defeat Democrats….Noting that “Biden has a once in a generation opportunity to make change in this country, which is why he was elected on a bold climate mandate and began his administration with a sweeping Covid relief bill,” Sunrise’s Ellen Sciales said Thursda….“Not a single Republican senator voted for the popular and vital Covid relief package and Democrats passed it anyway,” she explains. “That’s what Democrats must do now—they must use the power vested in them by voters to do what’s needed with or without the GOP. Do not cower to Republicans. Ceding to Republicans and accepting any GOP proposal will only lead to the death of more people from extreme weather, continue the persistent under and unemployment Americans are facing, and will put in jeopardy the Democratic majority in 2022 and 2024.”


Trump Bringing Back Contract With America…And Its Author

This news I discussed at New York was mostly of interest to those of us who were politically active in the 1990s, though then again, some gimmicks never die.

We all understand that Donald Trump wants to maintain control over the Republican Party for the foreseeable future, which means he has to find some way to keep himself in the spotlight during the 2022 midterm elections.  For assistance with this effort, he is consulting the all-time reigning huckster of such symbolic endeavors, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose 1994 “Contract With America” earned all sorts of undeserved credit for the GOP conquest of the House that year. Politico has the eye-rolling story:

“With an eye toward winning back the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, former President Donald Trump has begun crafting a policy agenda outlining a MAGA doctrine for the party. His template is the 1994 ‘Contract with America,’ a legislative agenda released ahead of the midterm elections in the middle of President Bill Clinton’s first term. And, as a cherry on top, he’s teaming up with its main architect — Gingrich — to do it.”

Apparently, two other veteran hucksters, Lindsey Graham and Mark Meadows, are in on the project. But for the moment, words like “agenda,” “policy,” and even “document” should be put in quotes, and anything suggesting that Trump is working on actionable ideas should be rigorously fact-checked. After all, the 45th president knows as much about policy thinking as a three-toed sloth knows about the Critique of Pure Reason. And I suspect he’s reaching out to Gingrich not because of the former speaker’s thin reputation for intellectualism but precisely because Newt won that reputation by skillful packaging and marketing of poll-tested slogans that were policy adjacent.

Yes, the Contract With America included some specifics like Congress applying its laws to its own operations, a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, and congressional term limits. But it excluded plenty of top-tier Republican legislative proposals that weren’t terribly popular, and it batched loosely connected policy bites under catchy headlines like “The Take Back the Streets Act” (random provisions conveying a get-tough-on-crime attitude) and “The Senior Citizens Fairness Act” (really just eliminating taxes on Social Security benefits).

The alleged genius of the contract (and of Gingrich) was also refuted more than a bit by the travails of the GOP in power. Newt’s great nemesis Bill Clinton was easily reelected two years later, and four years later Republicans became the first non–White House party since 1934 to lose House seats in a midterm election, leading to Gingrich’s forced resignation as speaker (and as a House member).

But at this stage of their careers, neither Gingrich nor Trump is likely thinking long-term. Both men went off the rails into extremism during the past decade: Gingrich in preparation for a failed 2012 presidential bid and Trump more successfully in 2016 and 2020. You do wonder how savage and culture-war-centric the new contract, which will supposedly have America First thematics, could wind up being. Gingrich offered some thoughts:

“’It should be positive,’ Gingrich said. ‘School choice, teaching American history for real, abolishing the 1619 Project, eliminating critical race theory and what the Texas legislature is doing. We should say, ‘Bring it on.’”

“Gingrich said it shouldn’t be expected until closer to the midterm elections because ‘the world keeps changing and evolving.'”

Yeah, and so do polls. But hey, there’s nothing more substantive, is there, than “abolishing the 1619 project”? Unless it’s combating “voter fraud,” which I am sure Trump will insist upon.

Expect the worst when these two frauds get together.


Should Democratic Messaging Toughen Up for the Midterms?

At Gallup, Jeffrey M. Jones reports, “In Gallup polling throughout the first quarter of 2021, an average of 49% of U.S. adults identified with the Democratic Party or said they are independents who lean toward the Democratic Party. That compares with 40% who identified as Republicans or Republican leaners. The nine-percentage-point Democratic advantage is the largest Gallup has measured since the fourth quarter of 2012. In recent years, Democratic advantages have typically been between four and six percentage points.” Further,

Gallup routinely measures U.S. adults’ party identification and the political leanings of independents. In the first quarter, 30% of Americans identified as Democrats and 19% were Democratic-leaning independents, while 25% were Republican identifiers and 15% Republican-leaning independents. The vast majority of the remaining 11% were independents with no partisan leanings.

The latest figures were measured as President Joe Biden was inaugurated despite rioters’ attempts on Jan. 6 to disrupt the certification of his victory in the 2020 election. The first quarter also saw a steady decline in U.S. coronavirus deaths and infections from its early January peak, a great expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations, and the passage of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Jones notes that Democrats have enjoyed an even larger advantage during the Bush II and Clinton presidencies. Jones adds that “The 44% of Americans who identify as political independents, whether they subsequently express a party leaning or not, is up from 38% in the fourth quarter of 2020 and is above 40% for the first time since 2019.”

In light of the Democratic edge in party identification, Republicans did very well in U.S. House elections, as well as state legislatures. A new study “Way to Win” found that “Republicans spent a lot more money on casting Democrats as extremists than Democrats did in making the case against Republican extremism, as Greg Sargent reports. “Republicans spent more than 10 times more on ads with the words “extremist” and “radical” than Democrats did. Republicans spent $51 million on such ads, while Democrats spent $3.4 million….Overall, Republicans spent more than $87 million on ads with one or more of the following words in it: “AOC,” “Ocasio,” “Pelosi,” “socialism,” “socialist,” “defund,” “radical,” “extremist,” “extreme.”….GOP ads were more likely to use words with “emotional punch,” such as “taxes,” “radical” and “jobs,” while Democratic ads featured words like “insurance,” “voted” and “work.”

Talking up bipartisanship may have served Democrats well in electing Biden, and possibly Biden’s coattails helped Democratic senate candidates Ossoff and Warnock in GA. But the softer tone may be a liability for Dems in 2022 House and Senate races.

In his article “GOP Image Slides Giving Democrats Strong Advantage” back in February, Jones reported on an earlier Gallup poll and observed that “The tumultuous end to the Trump presidency appears to have harmed the image of the Republican Party. The GOP now faces a double-digit deficit in favorable ratings compared with the Democratic Party.”

Clearly, Democrats are on the right track in pressing the case for a thorough investigation of the January 6th riot, which Trump encouraged and all but a few Republican leaders refuse to condemn. Democrats have a wealth of video showing Trump supporters committing violence, destroying taxpayer-owned property, and leveraging it to remind midterm voters about the GOP’s grotesque hypocrisy regarding law, the Constitution and democracy should give Dems a big edge in branding their adversries.


Disturbing Evidence That Presidential Popularity Is All About Party

The more we look at Joe Biden’s job approval ratings, the more it looks like the continuation of a pattern, as I explained at New York:

One of the regular themes of poll watchers during the Trump presidency was the remarkable stability of this very unstable man’s job-approval ratings compared with every available precedent. Two days after he left office, an NBC News analysis put it all into perspective:

“Former President Donald Trump’s time in office is over. He’s been impeached twice and banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. But if his presidency was a roller coaster, his approval ratings were not.

“Trump left office with steadier approval ratings than his most recent predecessors, an analysis of NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling data from January 1993 to this January shows. Trump’s approval rating remained within the same 9-point range for his entire presidency: 47 percent at its highest in October 2018, and 38 percent at its lowest in October 2017.”

Barack Obama, by contrast, had a 21-point “band” of approval ratings, which in turn was vastly less volatile than George W. Bush’s 62-point variation between highest and lowest ratings. Trump’s numbers were so uncannily consistent that every time we all wondered if they were finally about to change for better or for worse, instead they lapsed back into moderately underwater territory. It adds to the weirdness that this politician — who was elected president in 2016 despite a terrible favorability ratio (significantly exceeding in disfavor his unpopular opponent) — came very close to winning a second term despite never posting a net-positive job-approval rating in the polling averages.

Now we are five months into the Biden presidency, and guess what? The new president’s job approval ratings, while higher than Trump’s, are also very — in fact, historically — stable, as Harry Enten observes:

“A lot has happened since Biden took office: We’ve seen a failed impeachment trial, a major economic and coronavirus relief package signed into law and the continuation of a mass vaccination campaign leading to more than 60% of adults with at least one a Covid-19 shot nationwide.

“All of this has happened — and the national political environment has remained stagnant. It’s almost as if no event seems to really change public opinion.”

Biden’s approval rating today is pretty much the same as it was a month ago (54%). It’s the exact same as it was at the beginning of his presidency (53%). Any movements can be ascribed to statistical noise.

Some of us (myself included) have wondered if the contrast between the fairly dramatic real-world developments that occurred early in Biden’s presidency and his virtually unchanging approval ratings reflected his deliberately low-profile approach to governing. But it was pretty hard to ignore the fact that partisan polarization best explained the actual numbers, as I noted last month:

“The most striking thing about Biden’s approval ratings is the degree of partisan polarization. It’s off the charts, according to Gallup data. When I wrote about this a couple of months ago, the partisan gap in Biden job approval was a record 87 percent (98 percent approval among Democrats, 11 percent among Republicans). The March Gallup numbers put the gap at 86 percent (94 percent approval among Democrats, and 8 percent among Republicans). These are more extreme splits than we saw under the exceptionally polarizing Trump, and they make the partisan atmosphere under George W. Bush and Barack Obama look like Edens of consensus.”

At some point, you wind up wondering with Enten if no event seems to really change public opinion. That would suggest that Americans have become so tribal in their partisan preferences that neither the turbulent Trump nor the placid Biden — nor anything either of them is doing or undoing — can shake people out of their allegiances. Indeed, I expressed a similar suspicion back in 2019 that wound up predicting the outcome of the 2020 race more than any of my election forecasting:

“My guess is that the narrow band of favorability and job approval numbers for Trump is just another testament to the partisan polarization that made it possible for him to win in 2016, despite his unpopularity. He cannot fall too far, even when he’s behaving in his signature beastly manner, because Republicans will sustain him …

“There are circumstances under which he can transcend his many handicaps by demonizing his opponent, revving up the MAGA people, and taking advantage of an Electoral College system which does not weigh popular votes equally.”

The events of January 6 finally created a bit of a drop in Trump’s popularity among Republicans, but he seems to have quickly recovered that ground and reestablished himself as the boss of his party at both the rank-and-file and elite levels. What matters most, in the long run, is not whether Republicans remain loyal to Trump personally, but whether the partisanship and extremism he represents remain politically cost-free to those emulating his example. There’s abundant evidence it is.

So the temptation for today’s and tomorrow’s Republicans is to let no demagogic opportunity to “energize the base” go unexploited in order to goose partisan turnout the way Trump clearly did. The natural anti–White House trend in midterm elections, reinforced by the Republican advantage in redistricting, is extremely likely to award the GOP with control of the U.S. House in 2022, and with more than its share of battleground state victories in gubernatorial, secretary of state, and legislative contests, leaving the party in good shape for a 2024 comeback with or without Trump as the vengeful candidate of a militant and happily extremist MAGA base.

There are still some swing voters out there to be captured. But as both the 2016 and 2020 Trump campaigns illustrated, a strategy of demonizing the opposition can simultaneously energize the base and sway the undecided with a lesser-of-two-evils appeal.

There are obviously reciprocal lessens for Democrats in this tale. Any fears that pursuit of a too-ambitious agenda by Biden and congressional Democrats will hurt the party in 2022 are probably misplaced; Democrats are likely to lose some ground in the midterms with either a timid or an audacious governing strategy, so they might as well get as much done as possible. And, ironically, the fact that Joe Biden the Fighting Liberal has the same exact level of popularity as Joe Biden the determined bipartisan centrist may show that a more progressive successor would do just fine, or perhaps better, if she or he could mobilize the Democratic base more effectively.

It appears more and more likely that America is in a perilous moment at which the zeal of our two warring tribes matters more in determining the nation’s fate than the identity of its leaders or even the consequences of their policies. That’s not the “new normal” of the Biden presidency most observers had in mind, but it explains a lot.


Political Strategy Notes

At FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley writes, “Despite the importance of COVID-19 to voters, Biden’s overall job approval rating has never come close to his approval rating for dealing with the pandemic, which suggests that some segments of the public approve of his work on the coronavirus but not of his job performance in the aggregate….Biden’s topline rating sits at about 55 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s approval tracker,2 about 8 percentage points lower than his approval on handling the coronavirus. And that gap has mostly widened since February….Biden is getting some credit for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, and if those good marks last, that could help Democrats in the 2022 midterms. Partisanship notwithstanding, handling a big issue well in the eyes of most voters still helps. It helps in terms of overall popularity and electorally. But the effect is greatly muted — by partisanship and by other issues.” There we have it, Democrats. The message for the last month leading up to the 2022 midterm elections should be that Democrats under Biden’s leadership did a remarkable job of cleaning up the Republican Covid-19 mess. Hit it every day, and hit it hard. Put as a question to the electorate,” Do you really want to return leadership control of congress to the party that has proved its ineptitude by mismanaging the worst public health crisis in a hundred years, and gotten hundreds of thousands of Americans killed?” It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Democrats to commission a 1/2 hour film that drives home the point: It’s less about the individual candidates, than which party is best for your family in light of America’s experience with the pandemic tragedy.

That’s not to say all of the other issues should be ignored. For example, Democrats should also remind the voting public that Republicans showed their cowardice, lack of respect for law and police, and indeed, Democracy itself, in supporting the January 6th riot in the U.S. capitol. Work the hell out of  video footage of violent thugs in the red hats, Confederate and Nazi regalia. Make Sens. Hawley, Groveling Graham and Cancun Cruz poster boys for the G.O.P., even though none of them are up for re-election in 2022. Show video of Republican candidates who are running in swing districts squirming when asked about their views of the 2006 riot. Gladys Sicknick, mother of officer Brian Sicknick, who died because of the riot, recently put it in terms Dems should emulate. As Melanie Zanona and Nicholas Wu report at Politico,  “Not having a January 6 Commission to look into exactly what occurred is a slap in the faces of all the officers who did their jobs that day,” Gladys Sicknick said in a statement provided to POLITICO. “I suggest that all Congressmen and Senators who are against this Bill visit my son’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward….Putting politics aside, wouldn’t they want to know the truth of what happened on January 6? If not, they do not deserve to have the jobs they were elected to do,” she added.”

NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall probes the political ramifications of “wokeness” and shares a couple of salient observations, including this from TDS editor Ed Kilgore: “In a piece in New York magazine, “Is ‘Anti-Wokeness’ the New Ideology of the Republican Party?” Ed Kilgore makes the case that for Republicans Casting a really wide range of ideas and policies as too woke and anyone who is critical of them as being canceled by out-of-control liberals is becoming an important strategy and tool on the right — in fact, this cancel culture/woke discourse could become the organizing idea of the post-Trump-presidency Republican Party. This approach is particularly attractive to conservative politicians and strategists, Kilgore continued, because It allows them and their supporters to pose as innocent victims of persecution rather than as aggressive culture warriors seeking to defend their privileges and reverse social change.” Edsall also quotes NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt: “Wokeness is kryptonite for the Democrats. Most people hate it, other than the progressive activists. If you just look at Americans’ policy preferences, Dems should be winning big majorities. But we have strong negative partisanship, and when people are faced with a party that seems to want to defund the police and rename schools, rather than open them, all while crime is rising and kids’ welfare is falling, the left flank of the party is just so easy for Republicans to run against.”

Amid all of the hand-wringing about the tough political landscape Dems will face in the 2022 mideterms, Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman limn “a silver lining for Democrats” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Last week’s Crystal Ball, which featured hypothetical ratings of the House that did not take looming redistricting into account, painted a relatively bleak picture for Democrats. We rated 19 Democratic seats as Toss-ups if no district lines changed, and just two Republican ones. Republicans need to net just five additional seats to win the House next year….However, there is at least one reason to think Democrats could be able to limit their losses next year or even hold on to the majority: The Democrats are not that overextended into hostile, Republican territory….Part of the reason why Democrats are not very overextended is that they only won 222 House seats in 2020. Democrats won 257 in 2008, and Republicans won 241 in 2016. The bigger your majority, the likelier it is that you are cutting into unfavorable turf. As such, Democrats don’t hold a lot of Trump-won territory, which could insulate them from significant losses if the political environment cooperates to at least some degree.” However, Kondik continues, “There’s one major caveat here: These numbers will change because of redistricting. Some current Democrats in Biden-won seats may find themselves in Trump-won seats, or vice versa, next year. It may also be that some current crossover district members might find themselves no longer in crossover seats, as friendly map-drawers alter their districts in ways that help them win reelection.”


Brownstein: Asian American Voters Could Be Key for Dems in Upcoming Elections

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein explains why the Asian American vote could be pivotal for Democratic victories in the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential elections:

Even amid soaring participation from all major racial groups, Asian Americans increased their turnout by more than any other cohort, according to recently released studies by the Census Bureau and Catalist, a Democratic voter-targeting firm. In fact, no major demographic group in recent decades has increased its turnout from one election to the next as much as Asian Americans did from 2016 to 2020, the census found; not even Black voters grew that much from 2004 through to Barack Obama’s first election four years later.

Why the surge? It reflected both long-term investments from grassroots groups in organizing and the immediate threat that many Asian Americans felt from former President Donald Trump—including his policies to slash legal immigration and his racist labeling of the coronavirus as the “China virus” and even “kung flu.” Although Republicans retain pockets of strength in Asian communities, the party now faces the prospect that Trump’s words—and the link many experts see between them and the rising wave of anti-Asian hate crimes—could lastingly alienate many of the thousands of Asian Americans who voted for the first time last year.

“It’s become a defining moment for the Asian American community,” says Karthick Ramakrishnan, a political scientist at UC Riverside who studies Asian American political influence. “What you saw in 2020 was a forging of political consciousness among the younger generation that could carry [Democrats] through for years, if not decades, to come.”

Brownstein notes that “Asian Americans still represent a small sliver of the population in all but a few states. But census figures show that from 2010 to 2019, the group grew rapidly, increasing its population nationwide by nearly 30 percent, or just over 5 million people. In percentage terms, that was by far the biggest increase over the past decade for any major racial group. Among adult citizens eligible to vote, Asian Americans have doubled their share, from 2.5 percent in 2000 to 5 percent in 2020, according to calculations by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.”

And Asian American voters are showing some clout in unexpected places:

The states with the largest populations of eligible Asian American and Pacific Islander voters, Hawaii and California, are safely blue. But the groups’ numbers have also increased in Sun Belt states that are becoming tipping points in American elections. “Think about where we are growing the fastest: It’s Texas, it’s Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada,”  AAPI Victory Alliance Executive Director Varun Nikore told me.

The Asian American population isn’t nearly large enough to decide those states on its own. Although Asian Americans represent almost 9 percent of eligible voters in Nevada, they represent only about 3 percent in Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina, Frey shared with me. Yet the rise in voter participation has proved crucial for Democrats in several closely balanced states. A growing number of Asian American voters—mostly in the Washington, D.C., suburbs—were central to tilting Virginia blue over roughly the past 15 years. They played a comparable tipping-point role in Democrats’ victories in Georgia last year, at both the presidential and senatorial level. TargetSmart, a Democratic voter-targeting firm, calculates that some 60,000 more Asian Americans voted in the state in November than had in 2016—an increase that far exceeded Joe Biden’s narrow margin of victory there… “

And the turnout trendlines are in the right direction for Democrats. As Brownstein notes, “Nationwide, Asian Americans increased their turnout at an astounding pace last year—soaring from about 49 percent in 2016 to just over 59 percent, the census found…. In its recently released analysis of voter files nationwide, Catalist calculated that the total number of votes cast by Asian Americans grew from 2016 to 2020 by almost 40 percent, reaching about 7 million. TargetSmart, in its analysis, put the increase even higher, at about 47 percent.”

In a close race – national or local – any smaller demographic group can be decisive. It appears that Republicans have blown whatever hopes they had for gaining traction with Asian American voters, and that’s a good thing for Democrats, who now have even reasons for insuring that GOTV programs for them are well-funded.


Teixeira: Message Discipline Needed for Dems to Survive Midterm Elections

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

Right Now, You Should Be Asking Yourself: What Can I Do to Help Insulate Democrats in Competitive Districts from Blowback?

No, not even an economic revival, covid containment and some good legislation can guarantee, or even make it likely, that Democratic control of the House can survive the next election. Far from it. Democrats need not just a good record to run on but all the help they can get defusing the now predictable lines of attack that the GOP will wield. Sure, Republicans will make these attacks anyway. But the less real world referents for these attacks they have, the better off the Democrats will be.

Message discipline comrades, message discipline. All elections are now national! Kyle Kondik at Sabato’s Crystal Ball runs down just how dicey the situation is for the Democrats in the House.

“Every state with more than one U.S. House district will be redrawing their district lines this cycle to account for population changes, and that process is on hold because of delays in the U.S. Census. The Census Bureau won’t be releasing the granular data states need to draw new maps until later this year. While some states are trying to get a head start — Oklahoma, for instance, drew new state legislative districts using older data — we likely will not get a good handle on what new maps will look like until the fall. Among those delayed by the stalled census is us: We have not released House ratings yet as we await the new districts.

On balance, we expect the reapportionment of House seats — which we analyzed late last month — to benefit Republicans to a small extent. Redistricting seems likely to also help Republicans. Given that the Democrats only won a 222-213 edge in the House last year, Republicans only need to net five seats to win the House. That kind of small gain could come from reapportionment and redistricting alone.

This doesn’t even take into account the usual advantages that the party that does not control the White House typically has in midterm House elections: Since the end of World War II, the average seat loss by the presidential party in midterms is 27 seats. In those 19 midterm elections, the presidential party has lost seats 17 times. The exceptions were 1998 and 2002, when the president’s party made small gains.

House Democrats are facing twin challenges next year: The overall consequences of reapportionment and redistricting, as well as midterm history. The combination of the two will be difficult for Democrats to overcome. But what if they only had to overcome one of these challenges? What if no district lines were changing? Could Democrats hold the House under the current map?….

The larger point of this exercise is that we would start many more Democratic-held seats as Toss-ups than Republican-held ones even if no district lines were changing.

Overall, these ratings show 211 districts at least leaning to the Republicans, 203 at least leaning to the Democrats, and 21 Toss-ups (19 held by Democrats, two held by Republicans). Splitting the Toss-ups roughly down the middle — let’s say 11-10 Republican — would result in a 222-213 Republican majority, good for a nine-seat Republican net gain and a narrow majority the same size as the one Democrats elected in November.

In other words, Republicans already appear set up to significantly threaten the Democratic House majority, and the net impact of reapportionment and redistricting may make their task easier. Republicans are not guaranteed to win the House next year, but the majority is clearly there for the taking.”

This may not be what people want to hear. But it is the reality we live in. Act accordingly.


Political Strategy Notes

Charlie Cook notes at The Cook Political Report: “This column last week analyzed an April NBC News national poll conducted by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies—top Democratic and Republican survey firms, respectively. The data showed that, since an October poll that the two firms conducted for NBC and The Wall Street Journal, the share of Republicans who identify themselves as more loyal to Trump than to the party had declined from 54 percent to 44 percent; meanwhile, the share of those professing more loyalty to the party than to the personality had increased from 38 percent to 50 percent. Equally importantly, among those who continue to be more loyal to Trump than to the party, the share who rated their feelings for him as “very positive” declined from 91 to 75 percent, reflecting a shift toward somewhat positive or neutral feelings rather than negative. The share among those more loyal to the party than to Trump who still saw him very positively declined from 50 percent to just 31 percent, again shifting more to neutral and, to a lesser extent, to somewhat negative….Sifting through a mountain of recent data measuring the intensity of Republicans’ feelings toward Trump drew me to Economist/YouGov polling (not one of my favorite surveys, but they do ask the question I was looking for more regularly than any other). Among all Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, the share rating him “very favorable” through dozens of polls last year normally landed in the mid-60s to mid-70s, reaching as high as 78 percent. Since late February, however, that number landed in the 50s in seven out of eight polls—with the lowest at 55 percent and the highest at 61 percent. The share of Republicans viewing him negatively increased only a little; the shift was primarily from very favorable to somewhat favorable….The decline of GOP enthusiasm and intensity for Trump, even while Republicans have not totally turned against him, suggests that he is increasingly seen as a quirky personality—a flawed vehicle for a powerful message that is showing no signs of abatement—and that a post-Trump Trumpism is on the horizon….I suspect you will see a party that embraced much of what Trump said but will be looking for a less-flawed candidate to push that agenda, something that Democrats might not want to see. Most Republicans, and even many of Trump’s backers, acknowledge that he was often his own worst enemy….That does not mean that the GOP is going back to what it was. It’s more likely to just go with someone new.”

The Guardian has a reader’s forum on “what do the terms ‘working class’ and ‘middle class’ actually mean?” Some of the responses reference the U.K.’s unique class consciousness; others are more brqodly applicable: “The best description I heard: the middle class shower before work, the working class shower after work. SeedAgnew“….When I see the labels working and middle class in articles, I know it means that we are usually being misled. We are too complicated, too nuanced to be pigeonholed so conveniently. That there is a ruling elite is undeniable, the rest of us are just arguing over the crumbs. WeallneedThneads….Many years ago now, it was notes and queries that provided my favourite definitions of these terms: upper class: your name on the building; middle class: your name on your desk; working class: your name on your uniform. NonDairyCanary….My (working class) husband says whether you have white pepper at home (working class) or black pepper (other) is the dividing line. This was news to me! areyoutheremoriarty….The working class worry about paying for dinner, the middle class worry about paying for the kitchen. HaveYouFedTheFish….Since you asked about coffee: working class pour the coffee; middle class drink the coffee; upper class own the plantation. Teemytooks….Jobs, wealth etc are no longer relevant to the distinction. The closest I can come is that middle class means coming from a background/family home where getting a higher education is the default expectation. HairApparent.”

The Guardian continues, “You’re working class if you get paid weekly, typically in cash. You’re middle class if you get paid monthly, as a salaried employee with benefits and a pension. This simple definition holds true over the decades as people overall, including the working class, get wealthier. You’re working poor if you’re working class but can’t ever seem to save any money for a rainy day or a holiday. MaxineMQ….I was told that working-class people keep their ketchup in the fridge, the middle classes in the larder and the upper classes don’t even know what ketchup is. beckiboo….The defining characteristic of being middle class is the presence of a safety net. You can be a middle-class bin man or van driver if you have friends or family who can help you out when things go wrong or you can be a working-class doctor or lawyer if you have no one behind you to catch you when you fall. The upper class live above a permanent safety net. Losing a job or a failed business makes no difference to your life outcome. The trust fund sees to that. Emma Rhodes….Educational status, job, where you live … all these things matter, but I think what matters most in the 21st century is a group in society defined by Paul Mason and others as the “precariat”. The key question is: if you lose your main source of earned income, are you three months or less away from destitution? If the answer is yes, you are a member of the 21st-century working class. If the answer is no, because you have savings, assets or other resources to fall back upon, you are middle class. James Atkinson.”

At FiveThirtyEight, Dhrumil Mehta shares this guide for assessing the quality of political opinion polls: