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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The culturally traditional but non-extremist working class voters

The culturally traditional but non-extremist working class voters: who they are, how they think and what
Democrats Must Understand to regain their support.

Read the Memo.

American Business Has the Power to Stop the GOP Assault on Democracy – Here’s a Strategy to Make Them Do It.

America is now well on its way to creating an electoral system that functions like Mexico’s during its era of one-party rule.

The culturally traditional but non-extremist working class voters: who they are, how they think and what Democrats Must Understand to regain their support.

As the 2022 and 2024 elections approach Democrats have responded to their declining working class support by proposing variations on one or another of two strategies that they have advocated ever since the 1970’s.

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.

The culturally traditional but non-extremist working class voters: who they are, how they think and what Democrats Must Understand to regain their support.

By Andrew Levison

Read the Memo.

The Daily Strategist

June 26, 2022

Political Strategy Notes

In ‘know your adversary’ news, Matthew Sheffield reports in his Flux article that, “For decades, Republican consultants spent big to promote leftist candidates, now they’ve started creating fake ones: Instead of trying to build a majority, the American right has decided to divide and conquer.” Sheffield documents the sleazy history of GOP fronting fake and unelectable Democratic candidates, and writes, “It’s not currently known how large the GOP effort to put forward sham candidates in 2020 was, but the evidence from Florida and other states suggests that it is becoming an increasingly common tactic. A fourth ringer “independent” candidate, Leroy Sanchez, who ran in Florida’s House District 42 has been connected with the Senate candidate ring through a Republican lobbyist named Macy Harper. Sanchez, who is the brother of a top Florida Republican donor, received just under 7,500 votes for his non-candidacy, far greater than the 1,160 margin that enabled the GOP candidate in the race to win.” It appears Republican operatives are particularly interested in fronting g pro-weed candidates to siphon votes away from Democrats. As Sheffield writes, “Minnesota Republicans also tried the fake candidate tactic in 2020, according to Adam Weeks, a man who ran on the Legal Marijuana Now Party line. Shortly before he died in the September before the election, Weeks left a voicemail for a friend which said that he had been recruited to siphon away votes from Angie Craig, the Democratic candidate in the state’s 2nd U.S. House district. Despite his death, Weeks remained on the ballot and received nearly 25,000 votes. That was not enough to block Craig, but it made the race significantly closer than it would have been….Weeks was far from the only person apparently recruited by Minnesota Republicans to run on a pro-weed candidacy. In May of last year, Kevin Ne Se Shores, a blind and disabled veteran who ran in 2020 as a candidate on the Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party line in the state’s 7th U.S. House district, said that he had been recruited to run by Kip Christianson, an employee of the Republican National Committee at the time. Shores said that Christianson paid his $300 filing fee, in addition to helping him get into the pot party’s primary election.” But in light of Republicans’ increasing reliance on fake candidates and their long history of trying to manipulate Black Americans and other progressive voters, electoral reforms are necessary.”

However, Charlie Cook explains why “Even in a Great Year, Republicans’ Winnable Seats Are Limited,” and observes at The Cook Political Report that “after three consecutive cycles of very aggressive, even audacious gerrymandering by both parties, the number of competitive districts is much smaller, arguably reducing the volatility….Another reason is that Democrats lost a dozen House seats in 2020. Just as the ‘A’ seat on an airliner is always a window seat, a party cannot lose a seat they don’t have….In modern times, big wave elections have tended to come from a party well behind in seats. Republicans’ House gain of 54 seats in 1994 was from a starting point of just 174 seats; their 64-seat pickup in 2010 was from 178 seats. When Democrats gained 42 seats from Republicans in 2018, they started with just 194 seats. Allocating the currently vacant seats into the column they had come from (and will likely return), Democrats hold 222 seats and Republicans 213, well above the GOP levels going into 1994 and 2010 and Democrats in 2006….Most current estimates of likely GOP House gains range from as low as a dozen seats (seven more than necessary for the barest majority) to about three dozen. The current outlook from David Wasserman, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter’s expert on the House, is a Republican gain of between 20 and 35 seats….Then again, caution may be in order in applying historic patterns from a period before partisan polarization became as extreme as it is today, with defections among partisans quite rare and pure independents exceedingly fickle and prone to buyer’s remorse.”

Li Zhou reports on the “House Democrats’ sweeping gun control package” at Vox, and notes: “Although lawmakers are currently on recess, the House Judiciary Committee returned Thursday for an urgent session focused on multiple bills intended to address the age limit for purchasing guns, the sale of large-capacity magazines, and firearm storage. During the markup, committee members approved the package, setting it up for a floor vote as soon as next week….This legislation — which will inevitably be blocked in the Senate — is an acknowledgment of the importance of this issue, and a way for Democrats to show voters that they are trying to take action in the wake of recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma….As part of this week’s meeting, Democrats considered eight bills, which they’ve dubbed the Protect Our Kids Package. This legislation is in addition to votes the House will take on a federal red-flag law sponsored by Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), which enables law enforcement to confiscate weapons from an individual who’s seen as a threat to themselves or others, as well as a markup it will conduct on an assault weapons ban. House Democrats also previously voted on two bills that would strengthen background checks for guns….The House actions are occurring in parallel with bipartisan talks in the Senate that are expected to result in a much narrower bill, if any at all. Earlier this week, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) met via Zoom to continue discussions about a possible deal that’s likely to center on “red flag laws” or background checks.” Many Democrats worry, based on previous experience, that the Republicans are running another ‘Lucy holding the football’ scam. But running out the clock may not work this time, since mass shootings are increasing alarmingly. No matter what happens with the senate negotiations, good on House Dems for at least setting a high standard.

In her article, “These Data Nerds Think They’ve Found the Climate Silver Bullet: Nonvoting Environmentalists: The Environmental Voter Project wants to turn infrequent voters who care about the environment into a force that can swing elections” at The New Republic, Lisa Featherstone writes, “Voters don’t care enough about climate, according to conventional wisdom. The best way to address climate change is for Democrats to win elections by talking about other subjects, consultants say. The problem with this political advice is that Democratic politicians, acting on the insight that voters don’t care, get into office and then don’t set a high priority on climate policy—because they want to be reelected….Put this way, it sounds like we have an almost unsolvable problem on our hands, one that could lead us to believe that representative democracy was incompatible with human survival. Conversations with liberals and progressives these days, especially those engaged in climate issues, are unfailingly gloomy. The right seems to be on a winning streak; relatedly, we’re all doomed. But what if there was a way out of this existential cul-de-sac?…The data nerds and activists behind the Environmental Voter Project, or EVP, think there is. They’ve got extensive research and proven results to support this crazy bit of optimism, and they’re using it to try to sway the midterms, a looming political event that most liberals are hailing with unqualified despair….The big surprise of EVP’s research is that far more nonvoters list climate as their top priority. And what that means, Stinnett says, is that turning nonvoting environmentalists (and “drop off” voters, those who have voted in presidential years but not otherwise) into voters could swing elections….Lots of environmentalists don’t need their minds changed. They need a behavioral change.” These people don’t need to be told to care about the environment. They need to be organized into voting….This year, EVP argues that “drop off” environmental voters alone could easily swing the midterms in Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada, and New Hampshire; the number of drop-off voters in each of those states far surpasses the margins of victory in the 2018 midterms and, in Pennsylvania, in the 2020 presidential race.” Read Featherstone’s article for more insights into how Dems can mine this vein.

Gen Z Could Be Crucial For Abortion Rights

Public opinion on abortion hasn’t really changed much since the 1970s. But that could be about to change as I explained at New York:

There are some “culture war” issues, notably involving LGBTQ+ rights, in which public opinion shows really sharp generational divisions. To put it bluntly, homophobia appears largely to be a geriatric illness, born of inadequate experience with real live LGBTQ+ people and rigid views of acceptable conduct. Even among conservative Evangelical youth, hostility toward marriage equality has ebbed.

But until recently, there have been few persistent generational divisions on abortion rights. As Gallup noted in 2010, older and younger generations steadily converged in their views on legal access to abortion in the early years of this century. And the millennial generation has confounded expectations that it would lead a liberalizing trend on abortion like it has on same-sex marriage, as Daniel Cox explains at FiveThirtyEight:

“Over the past decade, one of the most confounding trends in public opinion has been why millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) who are less religiousmore educated and more liberal than previous generations — are not stronger supporters of abortion rights. Polls have generally shown that millennials express considerable ambivalence about abortion, views that do not distinguish them from the broader public.

Millennials’ attitudes on abortion rights stand in stark relief to the way they tend to approach other issues of sex and sexuality. For instance, they were among the strongest proponents of legalizing same-sex marriage at the height of debate in the mid-2000s, and they have generally liberal views on contraception, sex education and premarital sex. Abortion has always been the exception.”

As the steadily increasing fragility of abortion rights has raised the issue’s visibility in recent years, Generation Z (those born in or after 1997) looks likely to break the mold and lead a backlash to the impending revocation of a constitutional right to abortion by the U.S. Supreme Court. A new Pew survey released in May showed that 74 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 believe abortion should generally be legal, and that includes 30 percent who say it should be legal in all cases without exception. That’s a 12-point jump from the percentage of adults ages 30 to 49 taking the “generally legal” position and the difference between a solid majority and a supermajority.

This generational trend could solidify the anti-abortion movement’s isolation as an ideological group that is only dominant among white Evangelicals (who oppose legal abortion by a 74-24 margin, according to the same Pew survey). Pew shows Catholics now favoring legal abortion by a 56-42 margin (in sharp contrast to the largely monolithic official position of the Catholic Church in opposing legal abortion). Non-Evangelical white Protestants favor legal abortion by a 60-38 margin, and Black Protestants take the same position by a 66-28 margin. And among the religiously unaffiliated (an increasingly large group in both the millennial and Gen-Z cohorts), support for legal abortion soars to 84 percent.

According to Cox, there is an emerging gender gap in the overall ideological positioning of Gen Z that is less apparent in older generations:

“An analysis of Gallup surveys over the past decade conducted by the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life, which I lead, found a critical shift in political identity among young women. In 2021, we found that 44 percent of 18- to 29-year-old women identified as liberal, whereas only 30 percent of 18- to 29-year-old women identified as such a decade earlier. Among men in this age group, the share who identified as liberal was essentially unchanged during the same time period.”

In any event, the national divide over abortion isn’t as immutable as it has often seemed.  If the Supreme Court is indeed going to relegate abortion policy to the political realm to be fought out state by state in hand-to-hand legislative and electoral combat, there are some grounds for optimism about what might happen down the road.

Dems Should Prep for Intimidation at Polls

In her Politico article, “‘It’s going to be an army’: Tapes reveal GOP plan to contest elections: Placing operatives as poll workers and building a “hotline” to friendly attorneys are among the strategies to be deployed in Michigan and other swing states,” Heidi Przbyla reports on Republican plans for confrontations at the polls and for influencing midterm election results. As Przbyla writes:

“Video recordings of Republican Party operatives meeting with grassroots activists provide an inside look at a multi-pronged strategy to target and potentially overturn votes in Democratic precincts: Install trained recruits as regular poll workers and put them in direct contact with party attorneys.

The plan, as outlined by a Republican National Committee staffer in Michigan, includes utilizing rules designed to provide political balance among poll workers to install party-trained volunteers prepared to challenge voters at Democratic-majority polling places, developing a website to connect those workers to local lawyers and establishing a network of party-friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts at certain precincts.

“Being a poll worker, you just have so many more rights and things you can do to stop something than [as] a poll challenger,” said Matthew Seifried, the RNC’s election integrity director for Michigan, stressing the importance of obtaining official designations as poll workers in a meeting with GOP activists in Wayne County last Nov. 6. It is one of a series of recordings of GOP meetings between summer of 2021 and May of this year obtained by POLITICO.

Backing up those front-line workers, “it’s going to be an army,” Seifried promised at an Oct. 5 training session. “We’re going to have more lawyers than we’ve ever recruited, because let’s be honest, that’s where it’s going to be fought, right?”

Przbyla adds that “election watchdog groups and legal experts say many of these recruits are answering the RNC’s call because they falsely believe fraud was committed in the 2020 election, so installing them as the supposedly unbiased officials who oversee voting at the precinct level could create chaos in such heavily Democratic precincts.”

Przbyla notes further, “Democratic National Committee spokesperson Ammar Moussa said the DNC “trains poll watchers to help every eligible voter cast a ballot,” but neither the DNC nor the state party trains poll workers. The DNC did help recruit poll workers in 2020 due to a drop-off in older workers amid the pandemic; but he says it is not currently doing so and has never trained poll workers to contest votes.

One of the most chilling revelations of Przbyla’s article: ““Come election day you create massive failure of certification” in Democratic precincts, Penniman said. “The real hope is that you can throw the choosing of electors to state legislatures.”

Also, “Of all former President Donald Trump’s battleground-state allies, Republican operatives in the state of Michigan came the closest to throwing the 2020 election — and the nation — into a constitutional crisis. So many volunteer challengers overwhelmed Detroit’s TCF Center, where votes were being counted, that police intervened because Covid safety protocols had been breached.” The plan also includes directions for “How to challenge a voter,” with detailed instructions.

Przbyla’s article focused on Michigan. But it’s likely that similar plans are being made in other battleground states and districts.

Some things Dems or progressives can do to prepare for Republican challenges:

  1. Amp up early voting. Encourage more voters to bank their ballots as early as possible.

  2. Expand and enhance legal teams to confront Republican legal scams and intimidation at the polls.

  3. Run ads to make sure the public knows who is threatening violence at the polls.

  4. Mobilize cell phone squads to make videos of intimidation.

  5. Get some union members, who will not be intimidated by goons, to staff the polls.

Political Strategy Notes

E. J. Dionne, Jr. warns “If young voters sit out 2022, Democrats will be in a world of hurt” at The Washington Post: “President Biden and the Democrats would do well to spend a lot of time over the coming weeks talking with young Americans. It’s a matter of survival. If younger voters remain as turned off as they are now, Democrats will get clobbered in November.Generational differences don’t always play a major role in politics, but they do now. Democrats are unusually dependent on support among the young, and if youth turnout in 2022 regresses to levels closer to those in the 2014 midterms, a lot of Democratic incumbents will be looking for new jobs….The facts are plain. In five key swing states in 2020, Biden needed young voters to prevail. According to exit polls, Biden won voters under 30 years old by 31 points in Arizona, 27 points in Pennsylvania, 24 points in Michigan, 23 points in Wisconsin and 13 points in Georgia….According to Census Bureau figures, only 19.9 percent of voters 18- to 29-years old cast ballots in the 2014 midterms, which produced a GOP sweep. But, inspired in part by the anti-Trump movement, under-30 turnout soared to 35.6 percent in 2018, helping Democrats win control of the House. Turnout was also up substantially among 30- to-44-year-olds….[Democratic pollster Molly] Murphy said, “the glaring reality of what is at stake” if the Republicans win may prove to be the Democrats’ strongest card, especially if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade. The “idea that Republicans are very extreme,” McElwee said, is widely held among the younger voters Democrats need to bring to the polls….No doubt some older Democratic officeholders will wax impatient with the impatience of the young. After all, Biden and his party have had to deal with a wall of Republican obstruction, the president has made a big dent in judicial appointments, and he has pursued broadly progressive regulatory policies….But with their party facing a potential catastrophe this fall, Democrats don’t have the luxury of lecturing their younger supporters on the need for patience. They will either turn them out, or they’ll lose.”

Speaking of young voters, Daniel Cox writes in his FiveThirtyeight article, “There’s A New Age Gap On Abortion Rights” that “A new report from the Pew Research Center found that support for abortion rights is considerably higher among young Americans. Roughly three-quarters of 18- to 29-year-olds say abortion should generally be legal, including 30 percent who say it should be legal in all cases. Meanwhile, Americans 65 and older expressed much more tepid support — only 54 percent said abortion should be legal without exception (14 percent) or with some exceptions (40 percent)….This might not sound all that surprising since younger adults often see issuesdifferently from older adults, but this age gap on attitudes about abortion contradicts past polling on this issue. According to the General Social Survey,1young Americans’ views on obtaining an abortion have not been appreciably different from the public’s overall for much of the past 40-plus years. That changed fairly recently, though. On the question of whether someone should be able to get an abortion for any reason, 64 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds agreed in 2021, a 20-percentage-point increase from a decade earlier….In fact, over the past decade, one of the most confounding trends in public opinion has been why millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996)2 — who are less religious, more educated and more liberal than previous generations — are not stronger supporters of abortion rights. Polls have generally shown that millennialsexpress considerable ambivalence about abortion, views that do not distinguish them from the broader public.”

Cox continues, “Now, though, we’re left to solve another riddle: Why do Generation Z adults (born between 1997 and 2004) not share millennials’ more conservative perspectives on abortion? There are a few possible explanations worth considering…..Perhaps the simplest is that Gen Z adults, particularly women, are more liberal than previous generations when they were young adults — including millennials. While younger adults are typically more liberal than older ones, Gen Z women especially tend to be progressive. An analysis of Gallup surveys over the past decade conducted by the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life, which I lead, found a critical shift in political identity among young women. In 2021, we found that 44 percent of 18- to 29-year-old women identified as liberal, whereas only 30 percent of 18- to 29-year-old women identified as such a decade earlier. Among men in this age group, the share who identified as liberal was essentially unchanged during the same time period….a crucial difference between Gen Z and millennials on abortion rights may have to do with shifting perceptions of access. Millennials came of age at a time when abortion was perceived as generally available and subject to comparatively few restrictions. In a 2011 survey, a majority (55 percent) of millennials said it was not at all or not too difficult to get an abortion, a significantly higher share compared with other age groups’ responses. After a decade of state-level restrictions, though, and well-publicized efforts to reduce abortion access, views have changed significantly….Of course, research has long shown that younger Americans are generally less engaged in politics and spend less time talking about political issues than older Americans. But abortion may be an issue they care about more. According to results from Pew’s March survey, younger Americans spend as much time as Americans overall thinking about abortion, and for young women, the share is even higher. If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973, it is not difficult to believe that the large majority of Gen Zers who support abortion rights will see such a move as an infringement on rights once afforded to them. And if the past few years have shown us anything, it is that anxiety is a powerful political motivator.”

From “The Outlook for the 2022 Senate Elections: A State-by-State Analysis: What a predictive model tells us about the last decade of results, as well as 2022” by Alan I. Abramowitz at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Given the uncertainty of the overall results of the 2022 Senate elections, I decided to conduct a seat-by-seat analysis of all 174 Senate races since 2012 to see what factors have influenced the results of these contests. I then applied the findings from these earlier elections to the 35 contests taking place this year in order to predict their outcomes. The results of this seat-by-seat analysis were consistent with the national forecast from the generic ballot model. With neither party holding a clear advantage, control of the Senate will likely come down to a half dozen or so competitive contests in which the strengths and weaknesses of individual candidates could be crucial….Based on the results of my analysis of Senate contests between 2012 and 2020 in Table 2, I calculated the model’s expected results of all 35 Senate contests taking place this year. The results are displayed in Table 5….Based on the accuracy of the predictions for elections between 2012 and 2020, we can have a high degree of confidence in the outcomes of races in which the predicted margin is greater than 10 points but less confidence if the predicted margin is less than 10 points.”

Much As They Enjoyed It, Democrats Not to Blame for Trump’s Georgia Defeats

Was kind of amused at the latest blame game being directed to Democrats after the May 24 Georgia primary, so I wrote about it at New York:

Donald Trump isn’t known for owning up to his mistakes. So it’s natural that in the wake of the setbacks his 2022 Republican-primary endorsement program experienced in Georgia on May 24, the once-and-would-be-future president is looking for excuses. The most tempting to him surely involves blaming his candidates — particularly the feckless gubernatorial aspirant David Perdue and the even more feckless secretary of State challenger Jody Hice, who lost to Trump enemies Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger, respectively. But then that would reflect poorly on Trump’s own judgment in hand-picking them to begin with, wouldn’t it?

The website for Trump’s official statements has only one allusion to the Georgia fiasco: an “ICYMI” link to a deranged bit of MAGA conspiracy-mongering basically claiming that only fraud can explain a Trump defeat this severe. But at his Wyoming rally over the weekend, Trump “denounced crossover voting in Georgia, where all voters can choose which primary they want to vote in, by Democrats who opposed Perdue and Hice,” noted the Washington Post. Trump might have been engaging in a little preemptive spinning as well, since the candidate he is trying to purge in Wyoming, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, is openly seeking to pull Democrats and independents into her August 16 primary.

The 45th president isn’t the only one attracting attention to the participation of Democrats in the Georgia Republican primary; it received some serious buzz among election analysts with no particular stake in the outcome. In mid-May, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution estimated that about 7 percent of early voters in the GOP primary were Democratic primary voters in 2020. And after the voting was done, the Associated Press suggested around 9 percent of 2022 Republican-primary early voters in Georgia were 2020 Democrats. So is Trump right? Did those rascally socialist Democrats sneak over into the GOP primary to smite candidates endorsed by the Greatest President Ever?

Maybe and maybe not. First things first: There is absolutely nothing illegal or even mildly inappropriate about Georgia voters choosing to participate in either party’s primaries as they wish. Georgia is one of 15 “open primary” states with no party registration. Voters show up at the polls and are offered either a D or R primary ballot. And while there may be some truth in Trump’s self-centered assumption that crossover voters were seeking to thwart his will, there’s no way to distinguish them from strategic voters seeking to choose the weakest general-election candidate or simply from voters who changed their actual party affiliation for one reason or another (clearly the heavy ad spending on the Republican side could have drawn in previously Democratic voters in the absence of competitive Democratic primaries in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races). I personally know Democratic voters in Georgia who routinely vote in Republican primaries because they live in deep-red jurisdictions where all the local contests are resolved in the GOP primary (the same was true in reverse for the many decades in which Democratic primaries were tantamount to general elections in states like Georgia).

The other thing to keep in mind is the folly of trying to attribute close election victories to one of many potential causes. The AP story on crossover voting in Georgia noted that the margin by which Raffensperger avoided a potentially dangerous runoff contest was smaller than the estimated number of Democratic voters participating in the GOP primary. Does that mean Democrats decided the outcome? Perhaps, but only if you assume (a) that nearly all of them voted for Raffensperger and (b) that he might not have won a runoff anyway.

The bigger issue in Georgia for Trump at the moment isn’t figuring out why his candidates lost but whether his anger at the primary outcome will lead him to sabotage the GOP ticket in November. His chief Peach State vanquisher, Kemp, is reportedly reaching out to the camp of the ex-president in order to arrange a truce to keep the GOP more or less united going into a tough general election in which Kemp will face a rematch with Democratic voting-rights champion Stacey Abrams, and Trump’s guy Herschel Walker will confront incumbent senator Raphael Warnock. It’s unclear what will happen, as the Journal-Constitution notes:

“Two people close to Trump say the chances of reconciliation were worsened when former Vice President Mike Pence headlined a pre-primary rally for Kemp, furthering a split between the two former running-mates. Others remain hopeful they can at least minimize Trump’s potential harm in a race where even slight changes in voting patterns could have a significant effect on the results.”

Trump has several months to pout and whine before putting on the party harness and avoiding a replay of his destructive role in the 2021 runoffs in Georgia that gave control of the U.S. Senate to Democrats. But if he remains in a fantasyland in which even a 2022 Republican primary in a state controlled by his party was “rigged” against him, he may never make his way back to a presidential ticket.

Greenberg: After Ukraine, Voters Want Climate Solutions

The following article, “After Ukraine, Voters Want Climate Solutions: New polling shows a bolstered desire for a rapid transition to green energy” by Stanley B. Greenberg, is cross-posted from The American Prospect:

The Russian invasion of a democratic Ukraine, the disruption of Russian oil and natural gas, and an unimaginable spike in gasoline prices have disrupted both global and domestic energy politics. They have done so in completely surprising but understandable and reassuring ways.

Predictably, Russia is reviled in ways we have not seen since the hottest days of the Cold War. In polling, the proportion of respondents viewing Russia negatively reached 72 percent, including 63 percent who were very negative. That was also matched by the polarized and symmetric embrace of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In June, a plurality of 36 percent had warm feelings toward it, though a fifth was not sure. Not now. A 2-to-1 majority feels warmly about NATO. And people also feel significantly warmer about allies like France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

But the war has also brought a series of dramatic and surprising shifts in public thinking about energy and climate change, according to surveys I conducted in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States for the Climate Policy and Strategy project.

More from Stanley B. Greenberg

After the global COP26 conference in Scotland, the public debate moved to whether China and India were on the program of getting to net-zero carbon emissions, and how one dealt with the high cost of transitioning to renewable energy. Some conservatives in Britain, Germany, and the United States raised those issues. And in our January survey in Germany, the new government elected on a climate agenda was getting the most support for helping consumers with their energy bill when the country’s carbon tax came into force, by removing the climate surcharge and shifting the cost onto the federal government.

But now in the United States, the spike in gas prices has led people to believe fossil fuels are the most expensive option. Every day they stare at figures approaching $5.00 and $6.00 a gallon, the highest price ever at the pump, it deepens the consciousness of this cost equation. A majority in my April survey now believe the cost of the transition will not be unacceptably high.

When we asked which concept is “more fundamental,” the “climate crisis” or “energy crisis,” a majority of 52 percent said the former. Only 41 percent chose the “energy crisis.” A third answered with intense agreement that the climate crisis is fundamental, compared to only a quarter on the energy crisis.

Click here to read more of this article.

Democrats: Refusing to Appear on Fox News is a Mistake. We Must Send our Best Defenders Into ”the Lion’s Den.”

Isaac Wright is cofounder of the Rural Voter Institute and a founding partner at Terrain Media Group.  Previously, he served as Vice President of American Bridge and the Executive Director of the Correct the Record SuperPac. He appeared as a guest on Fox News Channel, CNN, POTUS Radio, Sky News, and other national and local programs.

Once, in the Fox News green room, a friendly Fox on-air personality kindly showed me a better way to place the pocket square in my jacket.  He was polite, friendly, professional, and on other days I could have envisioned saying, “Hey, let’s get a coffee and catch up soon.”

Fox was always a strange environment for me when I visited.  Having pleasant conversations with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, then the White House press secretary, discussing our mutual Arkansas roots and favorite places in the Natural State to get burgers or catfish before she went live on air, I followed up in the next segment to debunk her comments.  Or sitting in the green room adjacent to Kayleigh McEnaney trying to make awkward small talk, I then went on air opposite her to talk about the latest misdirection from the Trump White House.

Occasionally, I would run into a friendly face or catch an interesting conversation – like seeing another Democratic pundit I knew or just pleasantly listening as Republican pundits in the green room would open up to each other about their disdain for the Trump administration before going on air to discuss or defend Trump.

Tragically, my experience at and exposure to Fox sets me far apart from most of my Democratic colleagues, and it is not difficult to understand why. Most people don’t walk into the Lions’ Den willingly. I’m no Daniel, but it does beg the question of what Democrats can and should be doing to reach an audience otherwise – purposefully –  off-limits to them. The war in Ukraine and the growing prevalence of Putin propaganda on the network bring a heightened importance to the responsibilities of pundits willing to go on the network, to those Fox personalities and staffers who truly value journalism, and to media and information consumers.   

Admittedly, despite being a regular presence on Fox over the years, I’ve turned down lots of invitations from the programs of folks like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. Going into the Lions’ Den is one thing, going in when they’re rabid and unreasonable and spewing Kremlin talking points is something else. There’s a difference between spin and spreading disinformation – otherwise known as purposeful lying.

A respected colleague who regularly appeared on the Tucker Carlson show among others decided to go a different route and boycotted appearing on Fox News, referring to it as, “a cancerous propaganda organ doing lasting damage to our country,” which is not an unfounded view, and no one can fault him for his conclusions.  I certainly doubt I changed many minds, if any at all, but I at least tried to present a speed bump to the misinformation convoy rolling down the Fox highway. Candidates like then-mayor Pete Buttigieg, Democratic strategists like Hillary Clinton advisor Phillipe Reines and elected officials like Congressman Eric Swalwell have talked about the need for this approach in the past.

Democrats need to shift their thinking. First, recognizing that this is a consequential moment in American history and global history and that Fox News has remained in the number one spot for cable news viewership for 20 years consecutively, Democratic pundits and non-partisan military and diplomatic analysts must closely examine their responsibility to be available to slow the Putin train.  In the lead up to the 2020 campaign, this was the approach the Biden campaign took, and it is hard to argue against his success on Election Day.

Second, as Fox News fights its own war with the far fringes of the right-wing media ecosystem like Newsmax One America News Network or the Blaze, for both viewership and political support, Fox is staking its claim even further and further out of the pseudo-news business and deeper in the land of misleading propaganda with things like Tucker Carlson’s documentary of absurdity regarding the January 6 attack on America.  Even before the Ukraine invasion, Fox was staking out even more extreme ground than it had previously.

I believe there are individuals in the employ of Fox News who do care about journalism at some level.  They recognize their programs are supposed to be biased with a right-wing editorial perspective, but those individuals don’t believe in wholesale misinformation and disinformation especially from a foreign nation with a history of trying to destabilize our nation.  More Fox employees must examine themselves to find the courage of their colleague, national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin, who challenges the network’s prominent Putin propaganda on a regular basis.  Remember, even Fox’s own lawyers successfully made the case in court, in front of a Trump-appointed judge, that Carlson should not be taken seriously.

Third, we must work collectively as news consumers to respect the right to free speech while at the same time make wise decisions about what we consume as “news.”  If you are a loyal Fox primetime viewer, it is unlikely you read this far into this very column, so we must understand how people and society can realistically impact information hygiene in our media consumption at large without infringing on free speech.  For starters, if you have a small business restaurant with a TV on in the background, be conscious of what channels it plays.  If you are a patron, ask to change the channel from Fox.  If you are part of a corporation that advertises on Fox, look at images of intentionally targeted civilians, children, hospitals, and schools and ask yourself if you really want to fund the propaganda defending these war crimes.  If you are part of our government, a serious discussion needs to be had if our military bases and offices should have the propaganda from our military adversary playing as though it’s news on televisions in shared spaces.  If you know a Fox News viewer, read the great work that Media Matters does on a regularly basis debunking Fox and holding them accountable.  And if you don’t know a Fox News viewer, get to know one.  The partisan social self-segregation happening in society is part of the problem.

After examining these questions there is only one conclusion: Democrats, and non-partisan defense and diplomacy experts must rise to the occasion and meet the responsibility of carrying truth in a sincere and effective way on Fox.  To accomplish this, we must send our best surrogates, and specifically those who are best at handling the unique environment of Fox.  We may not directly move voters through this exercise, but we can reduce extremism and challenge false narratives in a way to at least keeps a dialogue going with some viewers who tune in with the earnest intent of finding news.

Teixeira: Will Abortion Politics Help Dems in November?

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

How Much Will the Abortion Issue Help the Democrats This Year?

Probably less than you think. I explain at The Liberal Patriot:

“The apparent intention of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade has handed the Democrats a big political opportunity. Most voters want to keep Roe v. Wade. Most voters think abortion should generally be legal and an overwhelming majority favor legal abortion in at least some circumstances.

Republicans on the other hand appear ready to take advantage of a Roe v. Wade overturn by pushing for stringent abortion restrictions in many states up to and including an outright ban on the procedure. So Democrats would appear to be on the right side of public opinion on the issue and well-positioned to generate considerable political advantage for themselves in a year when there’s been little of that to go around.

But will they? Unfortunately there are abundant indications that they could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on this one. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the response of the Democrats so far demonstrates in painful, almost crystalline detail much of what’s wrong with the party today.
Here is a (hardly exhaustive) list:

1. Median Voter? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Median Voter! Public opinion on abortion is quite complicated. It is true that voters oppose banning abortion. But it is also true that voters oppose making abortion legal in all circumstances. By about 2:1 the public favors at least some restrictions on abortion. Looked at by trimesters, the framework used in Roe v. Wade, Gallup found that 60 percent think abortion should be generally legal in the first three months of pregnancy. But that falls to 28 percent for the second three months and just 13 percent for the final trimester.”

Read the rest at The Liberal Patriot.

Political Strategy Notes

In their article, “Support For Gun Control Will Likely Rise After Uvalde. But History Suggests It Will Fade” at FiveThirty Eight, Geoffrey Skelley, Nathaniel Rakish and Elena Mejia write that “stricter gun laws have been Americans’ preference for most of the last 30 years. Back in 1990, when Gallup first asked this question, a whopping 78 percent of Americans wanted stricter gun-control laws. That number gradually fell to 43 percent by 2011, putting it in an approximate tie with the share of Americans who were satisfied with U.S. gun regulations. But the next year, in the immediate aftermath of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, support for more gun-sales restrictions increased to 58 percent, and it has remained around that high ever since — with some temporary spikes in response to major shootings like Parkland….The trend in public opinion over the last decade offers both good and bad signs for supporters of gun control. On the one hand, Sandy Hook — which is sometimes considered a tipping point that normalized debating gun policy in response to mass shootings — appears to have had a lasting impact on American public opinion on guns. While pro-gun-control sentiment did fade in the months following Sandy Hook, it did not fall all the way back to its 2011 low — instead, the shooting seems to have fundamentally shifted the debate toward more Americans wanting stricter gun laws. On the other hand, though, support for gun control has markedly decreased since the 2019 spike associated with the shootings that summer in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, to a point even lower than the pre-Parkland (2018), pre-Las Vegas (2017), pre-Orlando (2016) baseline. (Civiqs has also picked up on this trend.)…It’s possible that we’re about to see another large spike in support after what happened in Uvalde, but if history is any guide, it won’t last for long.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. tells it straight: “We don’t act because the Republican Party, with precious few dissenters, has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby and because the U.S. Senate, with a filibuster rule that gives veto power to the minority, vastly overrepresents rural states….The upshot? Majority rule is foiled on such broadly popular measures as universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And the Supreme Court, shaped in recent years by presidents who lost the popular vote, seems poised to make the task of legislating even harder….Tellingly, the data on gun laws and death rates overlap. The two states with the lowest rates of gun deaths, Hawaii and Massachusetts, are among those with the toughest gun measures. The two with the highest gun death rates, Mississippi and Louisiana, were ranked among those with the weakest firearms legislation….Those who now call themselves “originalists” and claim to be the true arbiters of what the Founders intended — on guns and everything else — willfully ignore the political brawls throughout our history over the meaning and spirit of the words put on paper in 1787….It is maddening and heartbreaking that our country is so deeply mired in the past that we are incapable of regulating weapons whose ferocity our Founders couldn’t have imagined. The fight for sane gun laws is, first, about the innocent lives extinguished by the failure of our politics. But it is also about moving, at last, into a more humane future.”

Voters Have Come To Accept, or Even Demand, the Unorthodox,” Charlie Cook explains at The Cook Political Report. V Cook adds, “Look no further than last week’s Democratic and Republican Senate primaries in Pennsylvania. Just six years ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beat the significantly more progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders handily in the state’s Democratic presidential primary by a dozen percentage points, a margin of just over 200,000 votes. But that was then, and this is now. Last week, progressive Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Sanders endorser in that 2016 race, not only trounced the more centrist Rep. Conor Lamb by 32 points, a margin of over 400,000 votes, but carried every one of the Keystone State’s counties. As former CBS anchor Dan Rather said about another candidate years ago, Lamb was “beaten like a rented mule.”…A Marine Corps officer for four years and later an assistant U.S. attorney, Lamb could have been dreamed up by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s recruiting office. The 6’8” Fetterman, on the other hand, made baggy basketball pants and a hooded sweatshirt his calling card on the campaign trail….So, what is going on? Like many other things in life, politics has many moving parts and often no single explanation will suffice. On one level, voters have grown so tired of and cynical about politics that they seem attracted to highly unconventional candidates, while those with more traditional résumés and profiles are eschewed as just more of the same….Then there is the actual makeup of the parties. With the ideological sorting that began in the 1980s and 1990s, liberals or left-tilting Republicans have almost all died off or abandoned their party, as did right-tilting Democrats. More aggressive gerrymandering also pulled each party’s primary electorate to the extremes. Cable television, talk radio, ideological websites, and social media have all contributed to group polarization, so that like-minded people discussing an issue will become even more extreme in their thinking, preexisting positions reinforced and amplified….The end result is two parties that have moved so far away from the center that they can’t even see the middle, or imagine who might be there or how they may see things. Increasingly exotic ideas and arguments flourish, getting little if any pushback within the parties. Swing voters listen to their proposals with bewilderment, ending up deciding their vote based on which party they seem to be most mad at, at the moment.”

If you’ve been wondering if Beto O’Rourke got any traction as a result of his crashing Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s press conference, Darragh Roche shares some observations about “Beto O’Rourke’s Odds of Winning Texas Governor’s Race After Uvalde Shooting” at Newsweek. Roche explains, “in deep red Texas, Abbott still enjoys a major advantage and bookmakers told Newsweek that the incumbent governor’s odds were still better than his Democratic challenger’s….Betfair, which operates the world’s largest online betting market, gave Republicansodds of 1/7 to win the 2022 governor’s race, while Democrats‘ odds stood at 9/2 and the bookmaker was offering 33/1 odds on any other candidate.,,,Irish bookmakers Paddy Power gave O’Rourke odds of 4/1 to win the race and Abbott’s odds stood at 1/7 in what may be seen as a good sign for the governor who’s seeking a third term…..”We haven’t seen any major changes in the last week, given opinions in Texas along party lines are pretty fixed at this stage,” a Paddy Power spokesperson told Newsweek….Recent polling also appears to show a difficult path to victory for the Democrat. A poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler published on May 15 found that Abbott had 46 percent support and O’Rourke had 39 percent….It remains to be seen if the tragic shooting will have a major impact on the gubernatorial race but Abbott has faced criticism in the wake of the killings. The governor caused controversy by briefly attending a fundraiser on Tuesday after being informed of the shootings, and he decided to cancel an in-person appearance at a National Rifle Association (NRA) event in Houston on Friday amid criticism from O’Rourke and others….O’Rourke narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in a 2018 U.S. Senate election in Texas.” For more details about polls in the O’Rourke-Abott race, check out “Polling For Beto More Hopeful Than It Looks” at reformaustin.org. No data yet, but I have a hunch O’Rourke may have gotten a nice bump in contributions.

Is Crossover Support for a Weaker Opponent in Primaries a Good Strategy?

From “Struggling Dems look to a risky strategy: Meddling in GOP primaries to boost ‘unelectable’ Republicans” by Andrew Romano at Yahoo News:

Fearing a loss in November, leading Republicans throughout the Keystone State had tried — and failed — to derail Mastriano’s bid. But at least one very prominent Pennsylvanian had been rooting for Mastriano all along, and spending like crazy to help him: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, the man Mastriano will now face on Election Day.

Call it the McCaskill Maneuver.

In the summer of 2012, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, also a Democrat, did something unprecedented, dropping nearly $2 million worth of ads designed to help an ultraconservative GOP congressman named Todd Akin secure his own party’s Senate nomination.

Why? Because McCaskill and her pollster had calculated that “Akin’s narrative could make him the winner among the people most likely to vote in the Republican primary — and maybe, just maybe, a loser among moderate Missourians,” McCaskill later explained.

Now, a decade later, the McCaskill Maneuver is making a comeback. In Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nevada and Oregon, Democratic gubernatorial candidates have been trying to boost Republicans they think they can beat— and weaken whoever they consider their biggest threat.

Next up could be Arizona, where “Democrats are doing something similar with Kari Lake” — the GOP’s Mastriano-like frontrunner — “by focusing their energies in the primary not on speaking to the base, but rather on painting her as too extreme for Arizona,” according to Arizona Republic columnist Elvia Díaz.

But there are serious problems, As Romano explains:

The problem, however, is that 2022 isn’t 2012, and the shift Democrats are trying to capitalize on — an ever more extreme GOP base — is also what makes McCaskill-style meddling much riskier than it was 10 years ago.

In McCaskill’s day, the gambit worked. Akin came from behind to win the GOP nomination. McCaskill celebrated by shotgunning a beer with her daughters. Then she clobbered him by more than 15 percentage points on Election Day.

“We needed to put Akin’s uber-conservative bona fides in an ad — and then, using reverse psychology, tell voters not to vote for him,” McCaskill wrote in 2015. “[So] we spent more money for Todd Akin in the last two weeks of the primary than he spent on his whole primary campaign.”

Fast forward to 2022 in the Keystone State.

That helps explain why Shapiro — the Pennsylvania attorney general who ran unopposed in that state’s Democratic primary for governor — has been following the exact same playbook. This spring, Shapiro spent more than $840,000 to air an ad all about Mastriano, a state senator who rose to prominence by falsely denying the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.

The script was pure McCaskill, emphasizing how Mastriano is “one of Donald Trump’s strongest supporters.”

“If Mastriano wins, it’s a win for what Donald Trump stands for,” the narrator intones. “Is that what we want in Pennsylvania?”

Romano, however, cites reasons why the McCaskill strategy could be a turkey in November:.

The first is that a midterm election year (like 2022) is different from a presidential election year (like 2012). In a midterm year, higher-propensity voters — voters who are likely to turn out every cycle, no matter what — have a disproportionate influence, and higher-propensity voters tend to be older, whiter and more Republican. In a presidential year, the scales tip toward lower-propensity voters, who tend to be younger, less white and more Democratic.

So McCaskill had a leg up in 2012 — when President Barack Obama was running for reelection and boosting down-ballot Democrats nationwide — that Shapiro won’t have in 2022.

Much the opposite, in fact. According to political analyst Harry Enten, Republicans enjoyed an average turnout advantage of 3 percentage points in midterms between 1978 and 2014 — an advantage that doubled to 6 points, on average, in the years when a Democrat occupied the White House. Demographics make midterms hard enough for Democrats. Backlash to Biden will only make this year’s midterms harder.

Turnout in last week’s Pennsylvania primary hints at the stubbornness of this pattern. Roughly 1.34 million people voted in the state’s marquee Republican contests for governor and Senate. But only 1.26 million voted in the state’s competitive Democratic Senate primary, with even fewer (1.2 million) bothering to cast a vote for Shapiro (who, again, ran unopposed).

The second reason the McCaskill Maneuver might be riskier now than in 2012 is that it relies on a phenomenon that’s become less and less common over the last decade: swing voting. It used to be that a significant number of Americans would vote for a Democrat in one cycle and a Republican the next time around, or vice versa. Many would even “split their ticket,” voting for a Democrat and a Republican in the same election.

But growing polarization and negative partisanship — the idea that voters are motivated more to defeat the other side than by any particular policy goals — have made such practices rarer.

McCaskill’s own career illustrates as much. In 2012, she won 15% of Missouri’s GOP vote and 22% of self-described conservatives, according to exit polls, even as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney easily carried the state. Six years later, in 2018, she won just 7% of the former and 8% of the latter — and lost reelection in what was otherwise a banner year for Democrats.

So while it’s possible that Mastriano’s far-right positions on hot-button topics like abortion and election integrity will push suburban moderates into Shapiro’s camp, it’s also possible that the same message will energize the GOP’s increasingly MAGA base and solidify the party’s natural turnout advantage. It’s unclear which effect will be bigger.

Mastriano is pretty extreme. But it’s still high stakes poker, considering the damage he could do if he is elected. As Romano notes, “Mastriano has implied that he could award the state’s electoral votes to Trump in 2024 with the “stroke of a pen” — and he just won the GOP primary not in spite of but rather because of that implication.” Of course, it’s also possible that Shapiro’s strategy could work as planned, delivering a victory of pivotal importance for Democrats and their future.