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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

In Deep Denial

Press reports of an official 2020 post-mortem by Georgia Republicans show how subscription to Trump’s lies enables a full whitewashing of what happened, and I wrote about it at New York.

Want a succinct illustration of the delusional nature of the Republican Party’s Trumpian reaction to the 2020 election cycle that lost them control of the White House and both houses of Congress? Check out the Georgia GOP’s official “2020-2021 After Action Report,” released recently by David Shafer, the state party chairman. Here’s the key claim:

“We completely retooled the Georgia Republican Party in 2020. We raised record amounts of money, recruited record numbers of volunteers and knocked on record numbers of doors. We turned out 372,733 more Republican votes in 2020 than in 2016 when Donald Trump won Georgia and 483,429 more votes than in 2018 when Brian Kemp was elected governor.”

So where’s the snake in this Garden of Eden? That’s easy:

“[I]n the top races, even this massive increase in Republican turnout was unable to overcome an electoral system rendered defenseless by foolish legal settlements and feckless ’emergency’ rules. The Georgia Republican Party, on three separate occasions, sued the Secretary of State to force him to obey the law and do his job [emphasis in the original].”

That would be the elected Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who spurned the Trump campaign’s incoherent blustering about “foolish legal settlements” (a consent decree that simply confirmed existing signature-authentication procedures for mail ballots) and “feckless emergency rules” (the mailing of absentee-ballot applications to registered voters), and also declined to obey Trump’s personal instruction to “find” enough missing or erroneous ballots to overturn Biden’s certified victory in Georgia.

The attribution of every defeat to Raffensperger usefully (if “fecklessly”) allowed Shafer to take a victory lap over an election cycle in which the Georgia GOP (a) lost the presidential race for the first time in 28 years); (b) lost not one but two U.S. Senate seats — the first Senate losses in Georgia for Republicans since sorta-Democrat Zell Miller’s win in 2000 — thereby giving Democrats control of the Senate and a governing trifecta, a development with enormous consequences; and (c) the loss of a long-Republican U.S. House seat for the second consecutive election year. Even if you buy half of the ludicrous “fraud” allegations that every judge in the state contemptuously rejected, this was a bad election cycle for the Georgia Republican Party, leading to a panic-stricken effort to restrict voting opportunities in hopes of bringing back the Peach State electorate of yore. So it’s not very smart to paper over the setbacks and pretend that once Raffensperger is purged (a task Georgia Republicans with Trump’s encouragement are well on their way to executing) everything will be hunky-dory for the GOP, as Greg Bluestein suggested in his analysis of the After Action Report:

“Typically, political parties use setbacks as a chance to learn from their mistakes, try out new messaging and offer advice for a future generation of candidates on how to wage a winning campaign in the next election cycle. But there was no introspection or soul-searching in the Georgia GOP’s high-gloss ‘After Action Report,’ even in a year following Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the state in November’s presidential election and the Democratic sweep of U.S. Senate runoffs in January. The publication distributed by the state party at district meetings across the state over the weekend, and obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, read as a manifesto about what the party did right.”

On the other hand, a political party that is willing to treat every defeat as a purloined victory has no particular incentive to fix anything. If, say, Republicans lose the governorship to a likely Stacey Abrams candidacy in 2022, it will be the easiest thing in the world to blame it on the imaginary “voter fraud” they are already inclined to accuse Abrams in particular and Democrats in general of fomenting. After all, it won’t be their fault, and in 2024, Donald Trump will come to the rescue of the GOP and of the America he once made great. It’s a closed feedback loop of unassailable strength and shocking mendacity.

New Rural Poll: Dems Not Getting Credit for Good Works

At Daily Kos, Aldous J. Pennyfarthing notes a new poll Democrats will find concerning, and comments:

Millions of people just live their lives, blissfully ignorant of the minutiae that go into spending bills meant to benefit them directly. They got their Biden Bucks, but they don’t necessarily know whom to credit.

To wit: $300 monthly child tax credits will start landing in people’s bank accounts in July, and most people have already gotten their $1,400 stimulus payments. While this much-needed relief is the work of Joe Biden and congressional Democrats (exclusively Democrats, in fact), not everyone in rural America has grokked what the Democratic Party has done for them.

Pennyfarthing quotes from a Washington Post report on the poll:

new poll of rural voters, commissioned by a super PAC that seeks to build support for Democrats in rural areas, underscores the point: It finds that a large percentage of rural voters in battleground states are not ascribing credit for stimulus payments to the Democratic Party.

The poll, which was conducted by YouGov for Rural Objective PAC, finds that only 50 percent of those rural voters associate “providing stimulus checks directly to families and workers” with the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, 32 percent of those rural voters associate this with the GOP, and another 11 percent associate it with neither party. That’s a total of 43 percent who don’t associate it with Democrats.
Pennyfarthing notes that “The poll was conducted in rural areas of nine 2022 Senate battlegrounds: Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. And while Trump and Republicans did support stimulus payments last year, at the height of the pandemic-related economic crisis (as did Democrats, proving that our party supports helping people all the time, even when a president from the other party is poised to take credit), they balked when it came to the last round of payments—payments we should really be calling BIDEN BUCKS every chance we get.” Further,
“We’re not connecting with these voters, even if we have great policy,” J.D. Scholten, executive director of Rural Objective PAC, told the Post.

The poll also found that 68% of the rural voters surveyed supported the stimulus checks, but they’re not necessarily crediting Democrats.

The messaging problems don’t end there, of course. Despite a consistent push from Democrats to get rural areas outfitted with broadband—an initiative that’s strongly reflected in Biden’s infrastructure proposals—only 42% of rural voters associate broadband investments with Democrats, whereas 25% credit Republicans.

How can this be? Well, there are at least two big reasons for it.

First of all, because they have no shame nor honor, Republicans have been scrambling to take credit for Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which every single one of them voted against.

Pennyfarthing cites some examples of Republicans actually claiming credit for Democratic reforms, and adds:

There are so many more. Since Republicans are rarely punished by their “traditional values” voters for lying (which, to be fair, is a longstanding Republican tradition), it appears that they’re getting away with it.

Circling back to reasons why rural voters are crediting the GOP for the American Rescue Plan, people tend to underestimate exactly how much government help they actually get….We need to keep reminding folks that Democrats are better for their pocketbooks—and that this advantage isn’t limited to stimulus payments and infrastructure proposals. The past several decades prove that Democratic presidents—and policies—are better for the economy than Republican presidents, no matter what measure you look at.

If we can convince enough rural voters in purple states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Arizona that Democrats are the ones who are actually on their side, maybe we can keep those states in the blue column for the foreseeable future.

Joe Biden’s policies are popular. We just have to make sure everyone knows they’re Democratic policies, or we’ll eventually cede control to a passel of lying scoundrels who want to spend the rest of their lives pissing on the heads of their constituents … while telling them it’s Trump Champagne.

Republicans have benefitted from messages du jour re-branding the Democratic Party in a negative light. With few exceptions, however, Democratic ads focus on candidates, but rarely on the differences between the two parties. It’s not enough for a party to have great policies. Democrats need to declare an all-out campaign to claim credit for their popular policies.

Political Strategy Notes

“The Biden administration has regularly signaled that it truly wants other forms of bipartisanship wherever it can find them,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column. “But the competition bill’s happy path will almost certainly be the exception, not the rule. Any illusions about bipartisanship ought to have been shattered by McCarthy and McConnell’s rejection of the Jan. 6 commission deal. The agreement between Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.) granted Republicans much of what they wanted on the inquiry. That included giving each party’s leadership five appointments. What could have been more bipartisan?…Let’s stipulate that bipartisanship is lovely when it happens. I’ll always salute Bob Dole and George McGovern for building the modern food stamp program and Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy for coming together behind the State Children’s Health Insurance Program….Those who would turn bipartisanship into a fetish need to understand that this Republican Party is not the party of Dole or Hatch, and a longer way still from the great progressive Republicans of times past. When it comes to doing big things, whether to reform the political system through the For the People Act or to expand access to child care, health care and education, Democrats must be willing to act on their own….And this Republican Party is not even sure what it thinks about democracy anymore, given the degree to which its main strategy involves cutting opponents out of the electorate rather than persuading them its way. No wonder the GOP would rather have us forget Jan. 6 altogether.”

The failure of GOP leadership and an overwhelming majority of their House members to support a bipartisan investigation of the January 6th thug riot in the capitol has to be one of the most shameful milestones in the history of the congress. Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan unloaded a welcome sense of outrage:

In “Republicans fear January 6 probe could undercut 2022 midterm message,” Manu Raja writes: “Senior Republicans are making clear they have little interest in moving forward with a sweeping January 6 investigation in part because a detailed probe could become politically damaging and amount to a distraction for their party just as control of Congress is at stake in next year’s midterm elections….Publicly and privately, Republicans are making that case, with Senate GOP Whip John Thune noting that there’s concern among some GOP members that the findings of the probe “could be weaponized politically and drug into next year.”…Sen. Gary Peters, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said there’s a reason why Republicans are battling the commission….”They’re afraid of the truth because it puts them on the wrong side of what is right,” Peters, a Michigan Democrat, said Wednesday.”

At Vox, Nicole Narea writes, “It was clear after the election that Trump had made gains among Latino voters in places like Florida’s Miami-Dade County and Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. The newest and most detailed data yet shows that the trend was nationwide. According to a recent report by the Democratic data firm Catalist, the number of Latinos who cast votes increased by 31 percent from 2016 to 2020, accounting for a 10th of the electorate. A comfortable majority of Latinos — an estimated 61 percent — supported President Joe Biden, but there was about an 8 percentage-point swing toward Trump, based on data on votes cast for either the Democratic or Republican nominees in 2016 and 2020….The data shows that many Latino voters, who represent the fastest-growing share of the electorate, are not firmly part of the Democratic base. Instead, they seem to be persuadable voters, presenting a potential opportunity for both Democrats and Republicans. This is especially true for voters who aren’t hyperpartisan: new and infrequent voters, as well as people who flipped their votes in 2020 or who decided to sit the election out entirely….Democratic losses among Latinos likely already lost the party congressional seats in 2020. If Democrats are to maintain control of Congress in the midterms, sustaining and growing their support among Latinos will be key.”

The Threat to Roe v. Wade

After the U.S. Supreme Court finally decided to deal with Mississippi’s sharply restrictive new abortion law, I wrote about the possible implications at New York:

After months of mysterious uncertainty, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade presented by a ban on abortions prior to 15 weeks of pregnancy, as enacted by the State of Mississippi. And the Court left no ambiguity about its willingness to get back to the basics of the constitutional law governing abortion by limiting its review to the question of “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” That’s the question that was answered affirmatively in 1973 in Roe and again in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Caseythe two Supreme Court precedents that have restrained eager Republican-controlled state legislatures and an increasingly conservative federal judiciary from eroding or abolishing reproductive rights.

Oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will occur in the next Court term this fall, which means a decision is likely in the spring or early summer of 2022. The early betting is that the six justices placed on the Court by the strongly anti-abortion presidents George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump will finally take the leap to seriously revise, if not reverse, a woman’s right to choose abortion prior to fetal viability. The chronically pessimistic progressive legal analyst Mark Joseph Stern may be right this time around:

“This action suggests that the conservative majority is no longer interested in gradually eroding abortion rights until they are, in reality, nonexistent. This strategy has guided the anti-abortion movement for decades. It has resulted in laws that shutter abortion clinics under a bogus pretext, compel doctors to read anti-abortion propaganda, force women to undergo ultrasounds and waiting periods, and forbid abortions for specific reasons, like fetal disability. After the confirmations of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, the conventional wisdom dictated that the Supreme Court would begin to uphold these laws, chipping away at Roe until it became a hollow promise. But the new conservative majority is not waiting for these half-measures to reach the court; with Dobbs, it has gone for the jugular. Roe itself is on the table.”

Under this reading, the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett flipped a Court that, as recently as 2020, was willing to invalidate a Louisiana law restricting access to abortion clinics on the grounds that it violated Casey’s standard prohibiting laws that placed an “undue burden” on women choosing pre-viability abortions. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch are almost certain votes to abandon Roe and Casey, while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh have appeared to be more cautious about defying so long-standing a set of precedents.

But with only three justices (Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan) being firmly committed to reproductive rights, and with virtually the entire Republican Party (not to mention its Federalist Society legal wing) opposing them, the time for a showdown may have now arrived. Indeed, among conservatives, the main difference of opinion is between those who favor a return to the pre-1973 status quo ante, in which the states (or, in theory, Congress) will determine abortion law, and those embracing the more radical doctrine of fetal “personhood” (which would have the effect of requiring a constitutional amendment to legalize abortion anywhere).

But before conceding defeat on the Court, reproductive-rights advocates should recall that we’ve been here before. In 1992, when SCOTUS accepted the Pennsylvania case that became Casey, it was widely expected that Roe was about to fall, in no small part because Thomas had just joined the Court. Indeed, we now know then–Chief Justice William Rehnquist circulated a draft opinion overturning Roe that was tentatively supported by five justices. But Justice Anthony Kennedy changed his mind and joined fellow Republican appointees Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter in affirming Roe’s viability standard, while replacing its trimester scheme with the “undue burden” test for pre-viability restrictions that is still in place.

Could that (i.e., a reframing rather than a reversal of the right to choose) happen again? It seems unlikely, but there is one straw in the wind that suggests it’s not necessarily a done deal. Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan did not choose to publish dissents to the order to hear Dobbs, which one might have expected if a conservative majority to reverse Roe is in place, given the unquestioned unconstitutionality of the Mississippi law under the existing precedents. It remains possible that Roberts and Kavanaugh, fearing an anti-Court outcry among women everywhere, could be persuaded to reaffirm the viability standard yet again, perhaps alongside some new leeway for less fundamental state restrictions. In other words, the 1992 saga could be replayed with a similar result. Short of a change of Court membership during the next year, that may be the abiding hope of reproductive-rights advocates. But they’d best focus most of their efforts on formulating a strategy for restoring the right to choose via intense political warfare in the states.

How Freezing the Number of U.S. House Reps at 435 Since 1929 Screws Democrats

You don’t have to look far to find articles about the pros and cons of adding states to the U.S., such as proposals for statehood for Washington, D.C.  Ditto for increasing the size of the U.S. Supreme Court. More rare, however, are thoughtful discussions about increasing the size of the U.S. House of Representatives.

But Dennis Negron has done exactly that in his article, “The Different Ways of Expanding the House: The number of House representatives has remained largely static for almost a century” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. As Negron explains:

With the 2020 census results out, we now know where the balance of power will be once the 118th Congress assembles in January 2023. Southern and western states generally gain power at the expense of Rust Belt and northeastern states. Because the House is arbitrarily capped at 435 members, it means that every time the census is taken, there’s a game of musical chairs that determines which states gain more representation in Congress and which lose, depending on how their populations grew relative to the nation in the previous decade. Texas, for example, has seen explosive growth and has been the top seat gainer since 2000, earning two seats in 2000, four seats in 2010, and two seats in 2020. But that growth has been at the expense of states like New York, which in the same Census years lost two seats in both 2000 and 2010, and one seat in 2020.

This means that states end up with more residents per representative than other states. Using the 2020 census results, Montana’s two House members will each represent about 543,000 people apiece; on the other side of the spectrum, Delaware’s single member will represent all 991,000 people. So how can the House truly represent the state populations?

First, it’s important to bear in mind that current House membership stands at 435 because of a law passed in 1929 (the Reapportionment Act of 1929), which caps the number at 435. There is no constitutional provision that dictates the maximum number of representatives that the House can hold. The other thing to remember is that states are meant to be equally represented in the Senate with each one sending two senators; in the House, however, the argument was to have the chamber represent the population in general. As states were admitted, new seats were gradually added to account for the population growth. The last time seats were added were for Alaska and Hawaii when they attained statehood and each had a single seat, increasing the House to 437. However, the House reverted to 435 after the 1960 census and has remained static ever since.

What is so good about fixing the number of House members at 435? Arguments that it facilitates political stability fall flat, when considering the founders’ intentions. They clearly meant for the number to increase as the population grew.

The way it is now, Democrats get screwed by “musical chairs” gerrymandering, not just in the House, but also in the Electoral College which reflects the 435 limit. Of course, Republicans like it a lot, since it feeds their ability to dominate

It wouldn’t be easy to change the number. As Negron notes, “The obvious solution is the simplest one, though in today’s polarized environment, it may not fly so well because it will require the Senate to pass it too: increase the size of the House by repealing the 1929 law and passing a different one that either sets a higher number or lets the total float.” But, as soon as Democrats win a real working majority — say 53 or more U.S. Senate seats — they should seriously consider such a reform.

Negron discusses other possible measures to rectify the 435 rip-off, some of them interesting, but likely more difficult than the repeal and replace reform noted above. Yes, correcting the injustice of the 435 limitation would serve Democrats in the short run. Over the longer range, however, it might serve Republicans as well. But it would certainly serve the cause of fairness, as well as representative democracy.

Political Strategy Notes

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall writes, “Jonathan Rodden, a political scientist at Stanford and the author of “Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide,” explained in an email how the geographic dispersion of Democratic voters may help slowly shift Republican and competitive districts in a leftward direction: Even before 2020, there was already a strong correlation between net county-level in-migration and increasing Democratic vote share. In 2020, this relationship was incredibly strong. All around the country, counties that experienced in-migration saw increases in Democratic vote share — in some cases very large increases — and places experiencing out-migration saw increases in the Republican vote share. These in-migration counties that trended Democratic were mostly suburban, and the out-migration counties that moved toward the Republicans were both urban core and rural counties….Democrats have been excessively concentrated in urban centers, which makes it difficult for them to transform their votes into commensurate legislative seats. But as cities lose population, most of the growing suburban counties are either red counties that are trending purple, or purple counties that are trending blue, and very few are overwhelmingly Democratic….Gerrymandering takes very little effort when your opponents are already geographically packed. As they spread out and mingle with your supporters, the job becomes more challenging…..Democratic suburban gains were already evident in the 2018 and 2020 elections in states like Georgia, Arizona, Texas and North Carolina….At the same time, the movement of Democratic voters from urban centers is very likely to moderate the agenda-setting strength of progressive urban voters. This process will lessen an ideological problem that plagued Democratic congressional candidates.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes that the chances of passing the For the People voting right legislation “hang largely on [Sen. Joe] Manchin’s willingness to acknowledge that there is no way that enough (or even any) Republicans will support comprehensive reform of our politics….This was made clear when the Senate Rules Committee deadlocked last week on reporting the bill: nine Democratic Yeses and nine Republican Nos. As a result, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) will have to bring the bill to the floor himself. He plans to because, as he told the Rules Committee, “we are witnessing an attempt at the greatest contraction of voting rights since the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of Jim Crow.”….We can lament that voting rights have become a partisan issue, but that’s the way things are. No amount of cajoling, compromising, begging, pleading or standing-on-your-head-and-holding-your-breath will change this. Polls showing that many rank-and-file Republicans support the S. 1 reform don’t make a difference, either….Which means that you can defend voting rights or you can defend the filibuster. You can’t do both. Manchin fears that passing a “partisan” bill on voting would further divide the country. Here’s what would divide the country even more: an election system that rolls back voting rights by endangering the ballot access of Black Americans, other minority groups and younger people.” Manchin, who knows the Republicans will not compromise on voting rights, could use his leverage to press the case for changes in the For the People Act that would make it less broad and more acceptable, at least, to him. Otherwise, Manchin will be chosing to empower Republicans and diminish his own future clout.

In his article, “Democrats Are Forgetting What’s Popular About Their Big Democracy Bill: Ditching the anti-corruption provisions of the For the People Act could turn a political winner into a partisan food fight” Kevin Robillard argues at HuffPo that “the most popular parts of the legislation have always been the provisions aimed at limiting the political influence of corporations and the ultra-wealthy. That issue has been a political winner for Democrats in each of the last two election cycles. Dozens of House candidates swore off corporate PAC money in 2018, helping the party win back control of the chamber. Then, Democrats hammered Georgia GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue with ads arguing they had used their positions to enrich themselves en route to winning Senate control in 2020….“Taking on corruption in Washington was an essential message for Democrats in taking back the House in 2018, and again in those Georgia Senate races in 2020,” said Meredith Kelly, a Democratic operative who was communications director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when the party flipped the House three years ago. “It created a trust that Democrats would be able to finally make progress on every other issue ― the rising costs of prescription drugs, climate change.” However, “When President Joe Biden called for the passage of HR 1 in his address to Congress last month, he mentioned the need to “protect the sacred right to vote,” but not the legislation’s anti-corruption components….Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, the lead sponsor of the House version of the legislation, noted the voting rights provisions were the “most animating on both sides” of the partisan divide. But the anti-corruption measures ― which include strengthening ethics requirements for executive appointees and judges, and forcing the disclosure of anonymous political spending ― test well across party lines….“Those parts of the bill are broadly supported, even by most Republicans out there in the country,” Sarbanes said. “When you lift those up, it puts McConnell and his allies on their back foot. They know that anti-corruption sentiment is very strong, even among their own constituents.”…Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas), who won her seat in 2018 thanks in part to anti-corruption messaging, said passing the legislation would boost her efforts to win reelection in what is likely to be a tough political cycle for Democrats.”

For a revealing look at unsavory political contributions, check out Isaac Arnsdorf’s “Trump Spawned a New Group of Mega-Donors Who Now Hold Sway Over the GOP’s Future,” which you can read at ProPublica and Talking Points Memo unveils a list of the former president’s most generous contributors, and notes “Over the last five years, it has become clear that former President Donald Trump has activated a new set of mega-donors who were not previously big spenders in national politics. Some of the donors appear to share the more extreme views of many Trump supporters, based on social media posts promoting falsehoods about election fraud or masks and vaccines. Whether they will deepen their involvement or step back, and whether their giving will extend to candidates beyond Trump, will have an outsized role in steering the future of the Republican Party and even American democracy….ProPublica identified 29 people and couples who increased their political contributions at least tenfold since 2015, based on an analysis of Federal Election Commission records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The donors in the table below gave at least $1 million to Trump and the GOP after previously having spent less than $1 million total. Most of the donations went to super PACs supporting Trump or to the Trump Victory joint fundraising vehicle that spread the money among his campaign and party committees….In the current system of porous campaign finance rules and lax enforcement, a handful of ultra-rich people can have dramatic influence on national campaigns.”

Dissident Republicans Form New Centrist Movement

Chris Vance, a former chair of the Washington State Republican Party, state representative and a Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center, reports on “A new movement to restore or replace the Republican party” at The Seattle Times:

The rise of Donald Trump and the transformation of the Republican party created a new American political movement as millions of formerly Republican leaning voters, and hundreds of prominent former Republican leaders, turned against Trump and his new authoritarian Republican party. Multiple organizations were formed to help defeat Trump and elect President Joe Biden and other Democrats in 2020, including the Lincoln Project, Republican Voters Against Trump and Stand Up Republic. Together, we were part of the coalition that won the 2020 election.

….This week, I joined with dozens of prominent current and former Republicans, including former U.S. Reps. Barbara Comstock of Virginia and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, former Gov. Bill Weld, of Massachusetts, Ambassador Jim Glassman, former Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, former Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele, and many more, to announce our support for a manifesto, “A Call for American Renewal,” and to pledge ourselves to “either reimagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative.” In other words, over time we seek to either restore or replace the current Republican party.

Vance, now a self-described ‘Independent’, explains further:

Millions of us are now politically homeless. We believe there is a demand for a third option, for a movement dedicated to core American principles. Specifically, a movement or party which:

·  Supports a free, open society in which everyone can go as far as their efforts and talents will take them in a free-market economy, while maintaining a robust safety net for those who need assistance.

·  Welcomes America’s growing diversity and stands for the protection of the rights of all Americans to live their lives as they choose, free from racism, sexism, homophobia, and all forms of hate and intolerance.

·  Is committed to energetic American leadership around the world to protect democracy and human rights.

·  Opposes voter suppression and supports common sense reforms to enhance democracy.

·  And first and foremost, stands for truth, democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law, and stands against nativist, isolationist authoritarianism.

Politically, we will work in partnership with others to elect candidates who share our goals, including moderate Democrats, courageous principled Republicans, or those running under a new party banner. As this movement takes shape, I will be working to explore the possibility of creating a Washington state chapter.

Vance adds,

The elections of 2016 and 2020 blew up our political system. The Republican party is shrinking, as record numbers of voters now call themselves independents. The number of Americans identifying as Republican is the lowest it has been in a decade, according to a recent Gallup poll. As I have written in these pages, and elsewhere, we live in an era of political realignment and instability as our party system is changing.

Could such a centrist movement play a pivotal role in the 2022 midterm elections, helping moderate Democrats win in swing districts and states? Anything that further divides the GOP is likely to be good for Democrats in the longer run. But 2022 is next year, and this group will have to move fast to have a significant impact on the midterm elections. If Republicans win Senate control and a House majority, they may not matter much.

Political Strategy Notes

Lauren Fox, Fredreka Schouten and Rachel Janfaza  report that “Sen. Joe Manchin won’t support For the People Act, says path forward is John Lewis Voting Rights Act” at CNN Politics: “Sen. Joe Manchin will not back the For the People Act, the sweeping elections and campaign finance overhaul sought by Democrats to blunt Republican state-level efforts to restrict voting access, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Democrat confirmed Wednesday….Manchin — who had previously expressed reservations about moving forward with a far-reaching measure without bipartisan support — suggested instead using the John Lewis Voting Rights Act as the path forward….Manchin’s proposal comes just one day after the Senate Rules Committee deadlocked 9-9 along partisan lines on passing the For the People Act out of committee Tuesday, revealing the tough path ahead for the Democratic legislation, which touches on everything from rules for early voting to public funding for Senate candidates….Manchin’s suggestion for voting rights legislation — the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — is a bill far less sweeping than the For the People Act, but brings back major pieces of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, including a provision that require states to consult with the federal government before making major changes to their voting rules.” If this means that the For the People Act is not going forward, should Democrats first enact the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, then try to pass the most popular provisions of For the People as separate bills?

Charlie Cook shares some data about the relationship of demographic and economic realities at the Cook Political Report: “Based on data compiled by Brookings Institution demographer William Frey and his Metropolitan Policy Program team, Cook Political Report House Editor David Wasserman calculates that of the 100 counties with the highest percentages of college graduates, Joe Biden won 87 last year, while Donald Trump won 94 of the 100 with the lowest percentages of college graduates, losing only the ones where racial minorities were in the majority….Frey’s Brookings colleagues Mark Muro, Eli Byerly Duke, Yang You, and Robert Maxim released a report just days after last November’s election (with data updated in February), showing that while Trump carried 2,564 counties to just 520 for Biden, the counties Biden won generated 71 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, to just 29 percent for the far more numerous Trump counties. That was up from four years earlier, when counties that backed Hillary Clinton represented 64 percent of GDP while those backing Trump accounted for 36 percent….The report continued: “Democrats represent voters who overwhelmingly reside in the nation’s diverse economic centers, and thus tend to prioritize housing affordability, an improved social safety net, transportation infrastructure, and racial justice. Jobs in blue America also disproportionately rely on national R&D investment, technology leadership, and services exports.” Closing the circle, the report said, “By contrast, Republicans represent an economic base situated in the nation’s struggling small towns and rural areas.”

‘Bipartisanship’ may be a political unicorn nowadays, but the public – and even many Republicans – say they want it. “One hundred percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration,” McConnell said at a press conference….According to a survey fielded by Vox and Data for Progress prior to McConnell’s comments,” Li Zhou writes at Vox, “some Republican voters don’t necessarily want lawmakers to do that. Instead, they maintain a focus on bipartisanship that’s consistent with past surveys — and one that looks increasingly untenable in the current Congress….Per that poll, 68 percent of all people, including 43 percent of Republicans, said they think it’s more important for GOP members of Congress to find ways to work with Biden rather than refusing to compromise. Meanwhile, 50 percent of Republicans said they were in favor of Republicans refusing to compromise, while 7 percent weren’t sure. That breakdown speaks to a general preference for bipartisanship that voters have expressed in polls in the past as well: In a Monmouth survey this past January, 71 percent of all voters also emphasized that they wanted Republicans to work with Biden, including 41 percent of Republicans.” Democratic Senator Joe Mancin currently has the loudest megaphone for bipartisanship. But so far he has used it to press the case for bipartisanship by Democrats only. Couldn’t he use at least some of his influence to push Republicans to embrace more bipartianship? Republicans are afraid he will change his position on filibuster reform. Surely he could use that fear to encourage a few of them to negotiate in good faith. That would be real bipartisan leadership.

If you are looking for bellwether political races this year, check out Virginia. As Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman write at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, “The Democratic primary is now less than a month away (June 8), and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) remains well ahead of a divided field of challengers….While there are other races to watch throughout 2021 for signs about the national political environment, such as U.S. House special elections, the upcoming Virginia state elections might be the best sign we’ll get this year as to which way the political winds are blowing. Specifically, Virginia is dotted with the kinds of highly educated and diverse suburban areas that have zoomed toward the Democrats in recent years. It also has a rural, white western region where Donald Trump performed very well even in defeat. If the GOP can make a comeback in the suburbs in 2022, the first signs may come in the November results this year, and Republican performance in the rurals also will help measure Trump Republican enthusiasm without the man himself on the ballot….Brood X cicadas are emerging in parts of Northern Virginia and elsewhere this spring. They’ve been out of sight and out of mind for 17 years. The Virginia Republicans have not won a statewide race in a dozen years. If Republicans don’t win something this year, they risk extending their dry spell to cicada-like lengths….We continue to rate the Virginia gubernatorial race as Leans Democratic.”

Walter: How New Voters Helped Biden Win

The state level data regarding the 2020 elections many political analysts have been waiting for is starting to roll in. Here’s some analysis from Amy Walter’s “New Voters Helped Propel Biden in 2020” at the Cook Political Report:

We know that 2020 produced the largest voter turnout in modern history. But, for a detailed understanding of who voted—and how they voted—we had to wait until state voter files were updated and analyzed. This week, Catalist, a Democratic data analytics firm, released their first deep dive into the 2020 election using their database, which, they note “includes 15 years of voter registration records, supplemented by large-scale polling, modeling and precinct-level geographic analysis.”

What they found was a national electorate more diverse than any in American history. Overall, they estimate that 72 percent of the electorate was white, a 2-point drop from 2016. As recently as 2008, 77 percent of the electorate was white. Turnout among Asian Americans was up 39 percent from 2016, while Latino turnout was up 31 percent. Even so, white voters continue to have the highest turnout rates of any group. Seventy-four percent of white voters turned out in 2020, compared to just 50 percent of eligible Latino voters, 63 percent of Black voters and 62 percent of Asian voters. In other words, even as turnout among voters of color increased, they are still punching below their weight. This was especially pronounced in fast-growing and diverse sunbelt states. A Catalist estimate of voters and non-voters across battleground states in the South and West — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas found “nearly as many non-voting people of color (11 million) as there are voters of color (13 million), mostly concentrated in Latino communities. The numbers look quite different among white people in these states, with only 9 million non-voters and 24 million voters.”

Despite the turnout increases, however, “Biden underperformed both Obama’s 2012 and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance with Latino and Black voters. How is that possible? After all, the conventional wisdom has long held that any surge in non-white turnout would benefit Democrats exclusively.” Walter explains,

Catalist estimates that “22% of Latino voters were first-time voters, who we haven’t seen in our entire database of general election voting going back to 2008. By contrast, just 14% of the national electorate was entirely new. When we take a more expansive view of new voters, including people who were new to voting in a given state compared to 2016, a full 40% of Latino voters were new presidential voters, while the national number is 29% of the overall electorate. With such a large number of new Latino voters in the electorate, it is plausible that they drove a big part of the change in Latino’s overall support numbers. As marginal voters enter into the electorate, their partisan preferences may move closer to a 50 / 50 split naturally.” In other words, these new voters were likely less ideological and less partisan than habitual voters, which helped boost Trump’s overall share of the Latino vote.

However, the overall surge in Black turnout (Catalist estimates that turnout went up 14 points among Black voters from 2016) helped Biden yield “more net Democratic votes from Black voters as a whole in 2020 compared to 2016.” For example, in Georgia, “higher black turnout yielded an additional 200,000 net votes for Biden, above and beyond the margin that Clinton got from Black voters in 2016. This was key to winning the state, as Trump would have handily won the state without the extra 200,000 net votes.” In other words, despite the fact that Biden’s margin among Black voters was smaller than Obama or Clinton’s, the overall increase in Black votes more than overcame that shrinking margin.

Overall, Catalist concludes that the unprecedented surge of new voters into the electorate — especially younger voters and voters of color, ultimately benefitted Biden more than Trump. They estimate that new voters “supported Biden at substantially higher rates overall (56%) than 2016 voters who returned in 2020 (51%).”

However, Walter adds, “Even so, some states with the highest percentages of new voters — like Texas and Florida — voted for Trump, while states with fewer new voters — like Pennsylvania and Minnesota- voted for Biden.” Walter also notes that Boomer political influence is on the wane, according to the catalyst data: “Those under the age of 40 made up one-third of the electorate, a seven-point jump from 2016, while the share of the electorate of Baby Boomer age dropped to 44 percent. As recently as 2008, Boomers made up 61 percent of the electorate.”

We will report more analysis of the Catalist study as it comes in. For now, it’s a safe bet that both major parties will be reconfiguring their demographic outreach strategies in light of the new data.