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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Popular “Moderates versus the Left” narrative about Democrats’ struggle to regain the support of working class voters is the “Night of the Living Dead” of American political commentary.

No matter how many times it is buried by the weight of events it keeps on coming back.

To Regain the Support of “Culturally Traditional but Not Extremist” Working Class Voters Democrats Need to Understand the Compelling Political Narrative That Leads Them to Vote for the GOP.

Read the Memo

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.

The Popular “Moderates versus the Left” narrative about Democrats’ struggle to regain the support of working class voters is the “Night of the Living Dead” of American political commentary.

No matter how many times it is buried by the weight of events it keeps on coming back.

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 Report.

The Daily Strategist

August 9, 2022

Political Strategy Notes

E. J. Dionne, Jr.s “Why racism is bad for White people” at The Washington Post provides some useful strategy analysis for Democratic campaigns: “Racism is bad for all of us, White people included….Racism is immoral and has, again and again, led to deadly violence toward our fellow human beings. It is also a dysfunctional force in our polity. It has been used to divide those who should be allies. It casts politics as a zero-sum struggle. It blocks us from seizing shared opportunities. Racism advantages demagoguery over thoughtfulness and hostility over empathy….Perhaps because the term is thrown around so freely, I’d insist that those who condemn racism should not be accused of “virtue signaling.” I’m not fond of the phrase because, in principle, advancing virtue is an absolute necessity in a democratic republic. The idea that free societies depend on public and private virtue is no less true for being ancient — and condemning racism is always the right thing to do….Nonetheless, the popular meaning of the term speaks to an understandable impatience with those who appear to be casting themselves as morally superior and flaunting a more elevated consciousness….Those who would defeat racism need to promote the urgency of solidarity across racial lines without conveying self-satisfied arrogance. In particular, othering White working-class Americans as an undifferentiated mass of unenlightened souls is about the worst strategy imaginable for promoting greater harmony….White working-class racism exists and needs to be confronted. But as a moral matter, White working-class grievances created by economic injustice deserve a response. As a practical matter, the imperatives of coalition politics in a diverse nation require advocates of equal rights and social justice to build alliances across the lines of race that include all Americans facing forms of marginalization….This is why I appreciated Heather McGhee’s argument in her important book “The Sum of Us,” summarized in its subtitle: “What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.” Zero-sum thinking, she wrote, “has always optimally benefited only the few while limiting the potential of the rest of us, and therefore the whole.”….As McGhee told Vox’s Sean Illing, “The zero-sum story is the idea that there’s this massive dividing line between Black people and white people, that they’re on opposite teams, and that progress for people of color has to come at white people’s expense.”…Fighting this idea is central to overcoming racism. The possibility of shared advancement helps explain the finding of political scientists Paul Frymer and Jacob M. Grumbach that “white union members have lower racial resentment and greater support for policies that benefit African Americans.”…Unions, they note, need to recruit diverse memberships and are in the business of selling and realizing the idea that workers, no matter their backgrounds, can move forward together. It’s no accident that provoking ethnic and racial division has long been an instrument in the toolbox of union busting.”

Adam Wollner notes at CNN Politics that tomorrow, ” five states will hold primary elections. But it’s Georgia that will be at the center of the spotlight, hosting high-profile races up and down the ballot…. “710,137: That’s how many people have voted early in the state through Thursday, which is a record, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office. It marks a 180% increase from the same point in the early voting period in 2018 and a 149% increase compared to 2020. Early voting in Georgia ends Friday.”….Manu Raju and Alex Rodgers explain “How Herschel Walker united the right and has Democrats plotting for a fight,” also at CNN Politics: “Walker has had a cakewalk of a primary, skipping a handful of debates or forums, avoiding getting pinned down on policy positions and mostly limiting press appearances to the safe spaces of conservative media. In mid-May, a Fox News poll showed Walker with 66% support from Georgia Republican primary voters — unchanged since March….But after his expected blowout victory in Tuesday’s primary, the scrutiny is only bound to intensify. Democrats are privately planning an aggressive campaign spotlighting Walker’s vulnerabilities, business record, policy views and dirty laundry about the candidate’s past, including his violent behavior with his ex-wife, according to a source familiar with the matter….Walker has said he has dissociative identity disorder, which was previously known as multiple personality disorder, and has sought to advise people with mental health problems….” In “The high-stakes Georgia primaries, by the numbers,…In 2008, his ex-wife claimed that he threatened her life, pointing a gun to her head a handful of times and a straight razor to her throat; Walker said in an interview that year that he didn’t remember being violent toward her, but he didn’t deny it and noted that one of the symptoms of his disorder was blackouts….In 2012, an ex-girlfriend told authorities that Walker had also threatened to kill her and “blow her head off” and then “blow his head off.” After the allegation was reported last year, Walker’s spokesman said the candidate “emphatically denies these false claims.”…And a third woman also said Walker threatened and stalked her in 2002. Walker’s campaign previously declined to respond to the woman’s allegations or discuss the police report….Top Democrats believe that Walker will collapse as the fight between freshman Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Walker intensifies.”

From “Is the center shrinking in the Democratic primaries? Democratic voters are moving their party to the left — and dragging candidates with them” by Christian Paz at Vox: “This year’s Democratic primaries are being largely framed as an ideological struggle between the national party’s moderate and progressive wings. But voting patterns over the last few weeks have complicated that narrative….In marquee contests in Pennsylvania and Oregon, progressive wins led to proclamations that the left wing of the party is gaining influence, while some moderate victories defied that thinking. What’s becoming clear as votes are counted, however, is that Democratic primary voters seem to care less about who the “progressive candidate” is and more about if candidates are campaigning on progressive goals. What many of the Democrats who won this week have in common is that they all embraced progressive priorities tailored to where they were running….Perhaps nowhere encapsulated this reality better than swing-state Pennsylvania, where a relatively progressive and locally trusted candidate who repeatedly rejected the progressive label — Lt. Gov. John Fetterman — trounced the more moderate, Washington favorite, Rep. Conor Lamb, in the primary race for the US Senate….Around the state, candidates who delivered digestible versions of progressive messages did well, from the left-leaning candidates who won races in heavily Democratic areas for state and federal legislatures to the moderate incumbents who survived tough challenges from the left. In nearly all of these races, a general shift to the left was apparent among the party’s base and candidates….This trend isn’t necessarily universal: Plenty of more traditional moderate Democrats won their races in Ohio and North Carolina. And it’s possible upcoming races in California, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas may upset this narrative. But for the most part, the primaries so far appear to show that progressive activism and ideas have changed what primary voters want and what their candidates are offering….What does tie a lot of Tuesday’s races together, though, is how few moderates ran openly down the middle of the ideological spectrum without co-opting at least some of the issues and language progressives have used in previous races. That includes things like advocating for a higher minimum wage, expanding health care access and coverage, more openly embracing gun control and abortion rights, and at least addressing climate change….The general election may in turn change the way these candidates talk about their priorities. The citizens who typically turn out to vote in November tend to be less ideological and party-affiliated than the voters who participate in primary elections. And the progressive ideals beloved by hardcore Democrats may not be as well received by moderates and centrists in competitive general election seats….If progressives — and progressive ideas — do win uphill battles in these swing districts, however, Democrats may end up with a newly empowered left flank, catalyzing the political polarization Americans have come to expect from their government.”

At Daily Kos, check out “Democrats can’t take working-class Black and Latino voters for granted. Data shows they have been” by Ian Reifowitz.” Reifowitz, author of “The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh’s Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump ,” writes: “What else do working-class voters who are gettable for Democrats have to say on the specific question of how progressives can win their votes? After conducting a survey specifically of these voters (those surveyed did not have a four-year college degree, and did not identify as Republicans), Jacobin, YouGov, and the Center for Working-Class Politics presented the answers these voters provided:

  1. Focus on “bread-and-butter economic issues (jobs, health care, the economy)” framed in “plainspoken, universal terms.” This was especially important in rural/small-town regions.
  2. Specifically name “elites as a major cause of America’s problems” and “celebrate the working class.”
  3. Don’t “surrender questions of social justice to win working-class voters,” but refrain from using “highly specialized, identity-focused language” to express those positions. The full report gave examples of these kinds of terms, as tested in the survey: “systemic injustice,” “cultural appropriation,” “equity,” “Latinx,” and “BIPOC.” This language garnered less support than other Democratic messages. This disparity in terms of support was especially acute among blue-collar as opposed to white-collar working-class voters.

The authors added that working-class voters also responded much more positively overall to working-class candidates than wealthier ones, whereas a candidate’s race and gender were not a factor. Finally, the surveys indicated that few “low-propensity voters” decide to not vote because candidates aren’t progressive enough….Maybe altering the messaging—along with other crucial steps like remaining consistently engaged with marginalized communities, not just in election season—to address this gap will help campaigns pick up a point, or two, or three overall in this fall’s races. And maybe that would be enough to move a dozen—hey, we’ll take even a handful—of House races from the red column to the blue. Or to flip the result of U.S. Senate races in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin, or Nevada. Turning even a small number of losses into victories could make the difference in control of one or both houses of Congress. The same goes for state legislatures and races for governor.”


Amy Walter: Can Dems Turn it Around?

Amy Walter pops the question at Cook Political Report? “Can Democrats Turn Things Around,” and responds:

Earlier this cycle, we posited that there were a few things that could help boost Democrats’ prospects:

  1. An improving political/economic climate
  2. Unexpected gains from redistricting
  3. A big event that would shift the focus of the election onto topics more favorable to Democrats.
  4. Contentions Republican primaries that produced flawed and bruised nominees

Already we know that option two is a no-go. Earlier this spring, it looked as if Democrats might come out of the decennial process with a gain of up to 4 seats. That rosy scenario has since been dashed by the courts in states like New York and Kansas. Instead, as my colleague David Wasserman has expertly documented, Republicans are poised to pick up two seats from redistricting.

So, what about the other three possibilities? As of now, they aren’t looking all that promising either.

Walter continues.

In the last week or so, there’s been some discussion about whether inflation has ‘peaked’ (i.e., it won’t worsen from here on out). But, the bigger challenge for the Biden White House and Democrats is whether they can do anything to ease inflationary pressures.

That doesn’t look realistic.

To be fair, when it comes to reducing inflation, it’s up to the Fed, not Congress or the White House, to solve it.

Moreover, the sorts of things the White House and Congress could do to fight inflation — like lifting tariffs on China — are politically perilous. And, things that may be politically popular with the base — like forgiving student loan debt — will actually make things worse. As columnist Matt Yglesias writes, “resuming payments fights inflation, and outright forgiveness fuels it.”

There’s also no easy cure for stubbornly high gasoline prices. Releasing more oil from the strategic reserves, jawboning oil companies about ‘gouging’, and allowing for biofuel use in the summer, as the administration has done and says it will continue to do, isn’t going to make much of a dent in the cost of filling up the gas tank.

Noting that polls indicate that the public is pessimistic, she sees an opening for Democratic candidates in some states:

 The NBC poll released last week showed the issue of abortion jumped 16 points in importance for voters. In the March survey, just 6 percent of voters picked abortion as the ‘most important issue facing the country; today it’s at 20 percent. The poll also showed evidence that the issue is animating Democratic voters, with abortion now ranked as their second most important issue (after climate change and just slightly ahead of the cost of living). The likelihood of Roe v. Wade being overturned may also be responsible for narrowing the “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans. In the March NBC survey, Republican voters’ interest in the election was 17 points higher than that of Democrats. This month, that gap shrank by 9 points, to a GOP advantage of just eight points.

In listening to two focus groups of Democratic-leaning voters the other week, it’s clear that Roe v. Wade being dismantled is an animating issue for them. “It’s a motivator,” said one woman. “I hope we can remove the people trying to turn these states red and ban abortion completely.”

However, the issue still ranks far behind economic issues among swing voters and independents. The NBC poll found that issues like the cost of living were 17 to 18 points were more salient to independent and swing-state voters than the issue of abortion. In other words, abortion may be an energizing force for Democratic base voters, but it’s not eclipsed concerns about the economy among every other group of voters. One GOP pollster doing a bunch of work in suburban areas told me the other day: “I have seen no evidence of abortion breaking through. Economy, inflation, gas prices, border, Ukraine all more important topics. Hell, even baby formula is more newsy than abortion.

Ultimately, I think abortion could impact individual races, especially in blue or purple/blue states or districts where a GOP candidate takes positions on the issue that are portrayed as well-outside the mainstream opinion. But, abortion isn’t going to change the overall trajectory of the midterm elections.

Also, there may be some hope for Dems in weak Republican candidates that have emerged. In PA, for example,

In Pennsylvania, Republicans dodged a worst-case scenario as the most controversial candidate in the field, commentator Kathy Barnette, failed to win the primary. Even so, the bruising primary campaign has taken a toll on Republicans Dr. Oz and David McCormick. This is especially true for the Trump-endorsed Oz who polls showed with very high negatives among GOP voters. A drawn-out (and potentially contentious) recount process between Oz and McCormick could also delay the healing process. Meanwhile, Democratic nominee John Fetterman cruised through his primary without anyone laying a glove to him.

But, while Fetterman may have had an easier road to the nomination, the next few months are likely to be quite bumpy for the Lt. Governor as we should expect to see a bunch of negative ads against him start to fill the airwaves.

All in all, still not a pretty picture for Dems. But it’s a bit better than a week ago, at least in the Keystone State.


Will Abandoned Pro-Choice Republican Voters Flip?

Amidst all the talk about the impact of a likely reversal of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, I thought a history lesson was in order, so I wrote one at New York:

Last week, the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have codified abortion rights, died in in the Senate by a vote of 51 to 49. All 210 House Republicans and all 50 Senate Republicans voted against the legislation. This surprised no one, but it’s actually odd in several ways. While Republican elected officials are almost monolithically opposed to abortion rights, pro-choice Republican voters didn’t entirely cease to exist, and this could become a problem for the party if, as expected, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the right to abortion at the end of this term.

Though polling on the issue is notoriously slippery, our best guess is that a little over a third of Republicans disagree with their party on whether to outlaw abortion (while about one-quarter of Democrats disagree with their party on the topic). These Americans have virtually no representation in Congress with the limited exceptions of Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski (both GOP senators support some abortion rights, but they are still opposed the WHPA and are against dropping the filibuster to preserve abortion rights).

Ironically, abortion rights as we know them are, to a considerable extent, the product of Republican lawmaking at every level of government. The most obvious examples are the two Supreme Court decisions that established and reaffirmed a constitutional right to abortion. Of the seven justices who supported Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that struck down pre-viability-abortion bans, five were appointed by Republican presidents, including the author of the majority opinion, Harry Blackmun, and then–Chief Justice Warren Burger. All five justices who voted to confirm the constitutional right to pre-viability abortions in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey were appointed by Republican presidents as well.

These pro-choice Republicans weren’t just rogue jurists (though their alleged perfidy has become a deep grievance in the anti-abortion movement). Today’s lock-step opposition to abortion rights among GOP elected officials took a long time to develop. Indeed, before Roe, Republicans were more likely to favor legal abortion than Democrats. In New York and Washington, two of the four states that fully legalized pre-viability abortions in 1970, Republican governors Nelson Rockefeller and Daniel Evans were at the forefront of abortion-rights efforts. They weren’t fringe figures; Rockefeller went on to become vice-president of the United States under Gerald Ford. Pre-Roe, various other Republican officials supported more modest efforts to ease abortion bans; among them was then–California governor Ronald Reagan, who signed a bill significantly liberalizing exceptions to an abortion ban in 1967.

The anti-abortion movement’s strength in the Republican Party grew steadily after Roe in part because of a more general ideological sorting out of the two major parties as liberals drifted into the Democratic Party and conservatives were drawn into the GOP. To put it another way, there has always been ideological polarization in American politics, but only in recent decades has it been reflected in parallel party polarization. But that doesn’t fully explain the GOP’s shift on abortion policy.

Beginning in 1972 with Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, Republicans began actively trying to recruit historically Democratic Roman Catholic voters. Soon thereafter, they started working to mobilize conservative Evangelical voters. This effort coincided with the Evangelicals’ conversion into strident abortion opponents, though they were generally in favor of the modest liberalization of abortion laws until the late 1970s. All these trends culminated in the adoption of a militantly anti-abortion platform plank in the 1980 Republican National Convention that nominated Reagan for president. The Gipper said he regretted his earlier openness to relaxed abortion laws. Reagan’s strongest intraparty rival was George H.W. Bush, the scion of a family with a powerful multigenerational connection to Planned Parenthood. He found it expedient to renounce any support for abortion rights before launching his campaign.

Still, there remained a significant pro-choice faction among Republican elected officials until quite recently. In 1992, the year Republican Supreme Court appointees saved abortion rights in Casey, there was a healthy number of pro-choice Republicans serving in the Senate: Ted Stevens of Alaska, John Seymour of California, Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, William Cohen of Maine, Bob Packwood of Oregon, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, John Chafee of Rhode Island, Jim Jeffords of Vermont, John Warner of Virginia, and Alan Simpson and Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming. Another, John Heinz of Pennsylvania, had recently died.

Partisan polarization on abortion (which, of course, was taking place among Democrats as well) has been slow but steady, as Aaron Blake of the Washington Post recently observed:

“In a 1997 study, Carnegie Mellon University professor Greg D. Adams sought to track abortion votes in Congress over time. His finding: In the Senate, there was almost no daylight between the two parties in 1973, with both parties voting for ‘pro-choice’ positions about 40 percent of the time.

“But that quickly changed.

“There was more of a difference in the House in 1973, with Republicans significantly more opposed to abortion rights than both House Democrats and senators of both parties. But there, too, the gap soon widened.

“Including votes in both chambers, Adams found that a 22 percentage- point gap between the two parties’ votes in 1973 expanded to nearly 65 points two decades later, after Casey was decided.”

By 2018, every pro-choice House Republican had been defeated or had retired. The rigidity of the party line on abortion was perhaps best reflected in late 2019, when a House Democrat with a record of strong support for abortion rights, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, switched parties. Almost instantly, Van Drew switched sides on reproductive rights and was hailed by the hard-core anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List for voting “consistently to defend the lives of the unborn and infants.”

With the 2020 primary loss by Illinois Democratic representative Dan Lipinski, a staunch opponent of abortion rights, there’s now just one House member whose abortion stance is out of step with his party: Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar, who is very vulnerable to defeat in a May 24 runoff.

If the Supreme Court does fully reverse Roe in the coming weeks, making abortion a more highly salient 2022 campaign issue, the one-third of pro-choice Republican voters may take issue with their lack of congressional representation. Will the first big threat to abortion rights in nearly a half-century make them change their priorities? Or will they still care more about party loyalty and issues like inflation? Perhaps nothing will change for most of these voters. But in close races, the abandoned tradition of pro-choice Republicanism could make a comeback to the detriment of the GOP’s ambitious plans for major midterm gains.


Political Strategy Notes

Democrats should be cautiously optimistic about the results of the Pennsylvania primary. But columnist Paul Muschick, writing in Allentown’s The Morning Call, observes, “Gov. Doug Mastriano….If that has you rummaging for your Tums, you have plenty of company. Save some for me….The Republican establishment did all it could to prevent Mastriano, a 2020 election conspiracy champion and friend of the QAnon crowd, from winning Tuesday. It doesn’t think he has a prayer of beating well-financed Democrat Josh Shapiro in November….Right-leaning Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs refused to endorse Mastriano, saying in a statement that he “would not be able to win the swing voters necessary to win in November.”….It seems as if Shapiro wanted Mastriano to be his opponent, too. He was running attack ads against him before the primary. But don’t count Mastriano out….It would be easy to predict the November gubernatorial election will be a repeat of 2018, when even-keeled, borderline boring Democrat Tom Wolf trounced Scott Wagner, a brash-talking Trump clone….I wouldn’t make that bet. The Mastriano-Shapiro race will be tight.” At Sabagto’s Crystal Ball, J. Miles Coleman writes, “Republicans are concerned about their chances in the open Pennsylvania gubernatorial race after far-right state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) won the party’s nomination. We’re moving that race from Toss-up to Leans Democratic.”

Those following center vs. left trendlines in the Democratic miderm campaigns should read “‘Success begets success’: Progressives look for big boost from key primary wins” by Elena Schneider and Ally Mutnick at Politico. Some excerpts: “Progressives had a big night in their drive to remake the Democratic Party — when their candidates weren’t getting washed away in a flood of super PAC money….There was more outside spending in Tuesday’s Democratic House primaries than in all of their 2020 primaries combined, much of it used to boost moderate Democrats or bash progressive ones. But progressive candidates in several key races showed they could survive the deluge….Summer Lee, who rallied with Sen. Bernie Sanders last week, is hanging on to a narrow Democratic primary lead for a deep-blue seat based in Pittsburgh, where she faced $2 million in negative spending against her. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), one of only two incumbents endorsed so far in 2022 by President Joe Biden, is trailing badly in his redrawn district to Jamie McLeod-Skinner, an Elizabeth Warren-backed challenger who was outspent on TV 11-to-1 by Schrader and his allies, according to AdImpact, a media tracking firm….And this week’s marquee Senate contest was a crowning achievement for the left: John Fetterman, a Sanders supporter who shuns intra-party labels altogether, beat out moderate Rep. Conor Lamb for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania….There were notable losses for the progressive wing, as well, in North Carolina and Kentucky, where a trio of more moderate Democratic House candidates won primaries — with significant super PAC support. But overall, the results represented a step forward in progressives’ bid to reshape the Democratic congressional caucuses with new faces and more left-leaning policy views….“Success begets success, so moderates were emboldened by Shontel Brown’s victory [in Ohio earlier this month], and Summer Lee will embolden Jessica Cisneros and Kina Collins,” Shahid continued, citing a pair of progressive challengers running against incumbents in the upcoming Texas and Illinois primaries.” Looking ahead, however, Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, said that Tuesday’s primaries were “an indication that our strategy is working … but we can also do math, and we understand what it means when people are making seven-digit buys” against progressive candidates….Even more of that type of race is on the horizon, including member-versus-member primaries and open-seat battles in Illinois, California, New York and Florida.”

In “The Battle for State Legislatures” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Louis Jaobson explains “Given the longstanding polarization and gridlock in Washington, D.C., state lawmakers will decide many key policies state-by-state — particularly on reproductive health issues if the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade this year. Legislatures could also try to meddle in presidential elections, as then-President Donald Trump asked some to do after the 2020 election….When all the ballots were counted [in 2020], Democrats failed to flip a single GOP-held chamber; the GOP flipped 2, both in New Hampshire. Today, the playing field looks likely to be considerably smaller….This is my first handicapping of state legislative control for the 2022 election cycle….Our analysis is based on interviews with dozens of state and national political sources….At this point, we see 4 chambers as Toss-ups. Of these, 3 of 4 are held by Democrats and are considered prime GOP targets of opportunity: the Maine Senate and House, and the Minnesota House. Meanwhile, the fourth Toss-up is the Democrats’ best target: the Republican-held Michigan Senate….Meanwhile, 3 chambers rate as Lean Republican. One is Democratic-held, and thus leans toward a flip: the Alaska House….The other 2 Lean Republican chambers are the Michigan House and the Minnesota Senate. Both are currently held by the GOP. (Not counting Alaska, Minnesota is the only state that has elections scheduled this year that has its 2 chambers under divergent partisan control — Virginia is another, but it holds legislative elections in odd-numbered years.)…Finally, we rate 3 chambers Lean Democratic: the Colorado Senate, Nevada Senate, and Oregon Senate….All told, that’s 10 chambers that rate as competitive — a relatively small number for recent cycles. Most of them are held by Democrats, putting the party on defense.”

Jacobson shares this map showing current party control of the state legislatures:


Highlights of Tuesday Democratic Primary Results

In the marquee race of Tuesday’s primaries, Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman won an impressive victory in the Democratic primary for the open U.S. Senate seat. New York Times writer Michael Sokolove has the most revealing take on Fetterman’s victory. Some excerpts:

Conor Lamb, 37, a Pittsburgh-area congressman, would have been a more conventional choice. His House voting record tracks to the center, and he has been compared to the state’s three-term Democratic senator, Bob Casey, a moderate and the son of a former Pennsylvania governor….Mr. Fetterman, 52, offers something different, a new model for Pennsylvania. It is built on quirky personal and political appeal rather than the caution of a traditional Democrat in the Keystone State. With over 80 percent of the votes counted, Mr. Fetterman was more than doubling the total of Mr. Lamb, whose campaign, despite winning many more endorsements from party leaders, never gained momentum.

….Mr. Fetterman’s one glaring departure from progressive causes, and a nod to Pennsylvania realpolitik, is that he does not support a ban on fracking, the environmentally questionable hydraulic extraction of natural gas. Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians have benefited financially from it by selling drilling rights on their land, working in the industry or both.

….In the fall, Mr. Fetterman will need to pile up huge winning margins in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and win by healthy margins in their suburbs and the state’s few other pockets of blue in order to withstand the lopsided totals that Republicans win nearly everywhere else….In less populous counties, as recently as 2008, Barack Obama took 40 percent of the vote or more, but as polarization has increased, Democrats have struggled to get even 25 percent…..Mr. Fetterman’s background, his attention to the state’s rural communities and his manner — the work clothes, a straightforward speaking style — could make some difference….

Some choice observations about Democratic votes in other states from “May 17 Primary Elections: Updates And Results” at FiveThirtyEight:

  • The Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District remains too close to call. There, progressive state Rep. Summer Lee holds a tiny 523-vote lead over establishment-backed Steve Irwin. Since this is an open, solidly blue seat, Lee was seen as one of progressives’ best chances to add to their numbers tonight. She looks like she’s in good shape, but we don’t know how many ballots are outstanding and it’s possible Irwin could close the gap.
  • In Oregon’s 5th District, progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner leads incumbent Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader by 18 points, 59 percent to 41 percent, but only a third of the vote is counted and an issue with ballots in Schrader’s home county could keep the race in suspense for a while. At the very least, though, the fractious Democratic primary has Republicans thinking they can make a play for this seat in the fall; former Happy Valley mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer leads businessman Jimmy Crumpacker 41 percent to 32 percent in the GOP primary.
  • One bright spot for House Democrats this cycle, however, has been North Carolina, and the good news continued tonight. In both of the state’s two most competitive districts — the 1st and the 13th — Republicans nominated candidates that could cause them difficulties in the fall. In the 1st, 2020 Republican nominee Sandy Smith narrowly cleared the runoff threshold with 31.4 percent, but she is a candidate with a troubled track record as she has been accused of domestic violence and financial impropriety. Meanwhile, in the 13th, the winner was Bo Hines, a 26-year-old first-time candidate who spent much of the last year jumping from district to district before settling on this one. Biden would have narrowly carried the suburban district, which is trending in Democrats’ direction, so Hines’s relatively untested profile and lack of ties to the area could pose a problem for him in the general. Democrats nominated state Sens. Don Davis and Wiley Nickel in the 1st and 13th, respectively.
  • It’s not all good news for Democrats in North Carolina, though. Notably, Rep. Ted Budd easily topped former Gov. Pat McCrory by more than 30 points in the GOP primary — McCrory managed to lose reelection in 2016 despite Trump winning the state at the top of the ticket. Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley easily won the Democratic nomination on the other side, but given that North Carolina is a red-leaning state and the electoral environment is shaping up to be favorable for Republicans, this will be a challenging race for Democrats. Inside Elections, the Cook Political Report, and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball all rate the race as Lean Republican.

The FiveThirtyEight panel has a lot more to say about the Republican primaries, as well as the Democratic contests. Read it all at this link.


Teixeira: The Great Tune-Out

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

The Reverse Timothy Leary: They’re Not Tuning In, They’re Tuning Out!

And with the state of today’s politics, you can hardly blame them. John Halpin explains at The Liberal Patriot:

“A foul wind blows across the political landscape. You won’t read much about it in the pages of America’s newspapers or see many segments about it on 24-hour cable news or scroll through much about it on amped-up social media feeds. That’s because the most important if unrecognized trend in American life today is the widespread tuning out of politics by huge numbers of Americans who—with good reason—are disappointed, fed up, or just plain uninterested with what passes for democratic discourse today…

It’s an open question whether either Democrats or Republicans can figure out how to reach and represent this tuned-out generation of Americans. “Our nutters will beat your nutters” is not a smart strategy for winning the hearts and minds of the disaffected masses. As the ideological extremes take over both parties, the tuned-out middle sits by waiting to be courted and listened to in politics. To do so, however, the people running the leading political and media institutions in America will first have to make a conscious decision to end the endless culture wars and start focusing on the economic and social needs of the nation as a whole without constantly badgering other Americans to believe things they don’t want to believe.”

Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot!


Political Strategy Notes

Some perspective from “Go Local, Young Democrat: How nationalization of everything is widening the urban-rural divide, and what Democrats can do about it” by Robert Saldin and Kal Munis at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas: “The results of the 2020 election solidified the urban-rural divide as the defining heuristic of contemporary American electoral politics. But just when it seemed that things couldn’t get any worse for rural Democrats, the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election demonstrated that it was still somehow possible for Democrats to perform worse in rural areas than they had done during the previous five years, both in the commonwealth and beyond. Nationally, the Democrats’ density woes have hamstrung their ability to pursue their legislative agenda, as their now routine majorities in terms of raw vote totals are rarely distributed in such a way as to produce a governing majority. Democrats must find a way to disrupt the nationalized political narrative both for their own sake as well as that of American democracy more broadly….Many Democrats would prefer to ignore their rural problem since making a play for rural voters might require compromises in the pursuit of their progressive agenda….it’s not only dubious as a matter of civics to write off the nation’s rural voters—it’s a serious strategic error that imperils Democrats’ ability to hold the Senate, let alone dominate it. Democrats should also keep in mind that states are not uniformly “rural” or “urban”: Competitiveness in rural areas would enhance the party’s prospects in more populous states, too. If Democrats could avoid handing over so much of the rural vote to Republicans in key battlegrounds like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, they would have a near-lock on the Electoral College….There are two core approaches that they must take simultaneously to mitigate the nationalization that has rendered them noncompetitive in rural areas, one defensive and one offensive. First, Democrats running in these areas need to play a little defense in obvious ways, like actively rebranding themselves on mainstay political issues like the Second Amendment and abortion….The second and more important key is to go on the offensive to creatively localize their races by adopting popular positions on issues that don’t cleanly map onto national partisan cleavages. This offensive strategy allows candidates to offer tangible help to rural communities while also carrying the pleasant upside of facing far less intraparty pushback since focusing on these issues would not conflict with national Democratic priorities.” Read the article for more details.

Also at Democracy, Sarah Miller and Faiz Shakir write in “Politics: The Democrats Progress” that “The problem is that Democrats’ approach to politics has yet to adjust to its evolving embrace of populist policies. Our politics is largely stuck in a cautious, corporate-friendly frame that too often projects weakness and deference to bureaucracy instead of muscularity and confident leadership….On paper, Democrats offer much-needed policy prescriptions to tackle soaring drug prices, remediate the existential threats of climate change, and demand greater taxation of the wealthy and enforcement against tax cheats. In rhetoric and political action, though, Democrats have not animated those policies with corresponding fights against the corporate lobbyists and special interests who stand in their way. Whereas FDR proclaimed of his opponents, “I welcome their hatred,” the modern Democratic Party seems to intone, “Can’t we all just get along?”….It’s becoming clearer that, for some traditional Democrats, embracing the progressive populist direction—and the requisite political battles it entails—is like wearing an ill-fitting suit….There is an ongoing battle for the soul of the party. The good news is that it’s still possible for Democrats to revive their populist core and put up a fight. The bad news is that Donald Trump’s brand of faux populism has a head start. Democrats need to come to terms with the fact that the question voters in the coming years will resolve is not whether they will embrace populism—the question is whose version of populism will triumph?….Both the political and policy weaknesses of the party can be ameliorated by focusing on the economic interests of the working peoples’ votes we most need. Three critical course corrections are needed: 1) stand proudly and visibly on the side of a broad diversity of working people; 2) demonstrate that Democrats are boldly taking on political and economic concentrations of corporate power that abuse and control both workers and smaller businesses; 3) wield government power with a fervent desire for both competence and disruption.”

Nathan Robinson explains why “The Left Must Be Ruthlessly Strategic” at Current Affairs: “We are trying to achieve things that have never been done before, and there’s no playbook for how a leftist movement in this country can win….Nevertheless: we need to be aware of the dangers of symbolic or performative politics—that is, taking political actions because of what they mean or say rather than because of what they achieve. We have to adopt a strategic mindset, to think of political activity as an effort to secure particular outcomes, rather than an arena for the mere expression of our desires.” Robinson notes, further “it’s quite common to see people simply not asking basic questions like: “What are the predicted consequences of this action? How will the other side react? Will it have the ultimate effect of advancing or inhibiting our cause?”….We need to always check to make sure we’re asking the “consequences” questions. Why are we doing this? What will it cause others to do in response? How does it get us closer to or further away from the goal? Union organizers already think this way, because they have to: they’ll never win an election unless they take actions that change workers’ minds, so the effect of any action on the relevant desired outcome has to be considered. But elsewhere, the organizing mentality is often lacking….“What do we want?” and “When do we want it?” are questions that we have never struggled with the answers to. “How do we get it?” is a much tricker question, but the first step to finding the answer is to make sure we’re actually asking it.”

So, “Are We Overestimating Roe’s Impact on Politics?” At The Cook Political Report, Charlie Cook answers, “Everyone has their own take on what impact a reversal of Roe v. Wade will have on November’s midterm elections. Here’s mine: To the extent that overturning the 49-year old decision benefits Democrats at all, it won’t be nearly enough to make up for the substantial headwinds they were already facing. In short, it will help out less than they hope and far less than they need.” Cook cites data from polls by CNN, The Washington Post/ABC News and Fox News and writes, “As CNN polling director Jennifer Agiesta and polling and analytics editor Ariel Edwards-Levy wrote, “comparing the results of the new poll to one conducted immediately before the revelation of the draft opinion, the impact on the political landscape heading into the 2022 midterms appears fairly muted.”….They noted: “The share of registered voters who say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall rose 6 points between the first survey and the second, but that increase is about even across party lines. Among Democrats, 43% now say they are extremely or very enthusiastic, up 7 points. Among Republicans, it’s 56%, up 9 points. And voters who say overturning Roe would make them ‘happy’ are nearly twice as enthusiastic about voting this fall as those who say such a ruling would leave them ‘angry’ (38% extremely enthusiastic among those happy, 20% among those angry).”….Another consideration is timing….When dramatic events occur in politics, it is human nature to assume that their significance will endure through the election. In reality, such events tend to dwindle in importance….Finally, this election will not be held in a vacuum. Other issues—the direction of the economy, the situation along the U.S.-Mexico border, the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and climate change—will compete for voters’ attentions and concerns, to say nothing of any October surprises that may roll down the pike….Bottom line: The political system will have plenty of time to process the developments surrounding Roe, leaving its impact falling short of expectations.”


Why Everybody’s Talking About MAGA

Noting a shift in some of the rhetoric we are hearing from both parties, I tried to explain it at New York:

Earlier this week, I got an unusual communication from a member of the White House press corps who wondered if I had inspired Joe Biden’s use of the term ultra-MAGA for Rick Scott’s wildly right-wing 2022 agenda for Republicans. I owned up to contriving the term in an effort to describe Scott’s combination of Trumpian rhetoric with Goldwater-era policy extremism. But I had no idea if Biden or someone in his circle read my piece and decided to borrow the neologism or (more likely) came up with it independently for parallel reasons.

Biden hasn’t just hit Scott with “ultra-MAGA”; in the same speech, he also referred to Trump himself as “the great MAGA king.” And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has taken to railing against “MAGA Republicans” as well.

So Democratic leaders are now saying “MAGA” (Make America Great Again) where they would have once used “right wing” or “ultraconservative” or even “wingnut.” This appeared to be a strategic decision, not just a verbal tic or a tossed-off insult. And indeed, on Friday, the Washington Post reported that the rhetorical shift is the result of a six-month research project led by Biden adviser Anita Dunn and the Center for American Progress Action Fund:

“The polling and focus group research by Hart Research and the Global Strategy Group found that “MAGA” was already viewed negatively by voters — more negatively than other phrases like ‘Trump Republicans.’

“In battleground areas, more than twice as many voters said they would be less likely to vote for someone called a ‘MAGA Republican’ than would be more likely. The research also found that the description tapped into the broad agreement among voters that the Republican Party had become more extreme and power-hungry in recent years.”

Despite the potential liabilities, usage of “MAGA” and its variants has been spreading in Republican ranks as well — and the trend began even before Trump decided he liked Biden’s insult and started posting MAGA King memes on Truth Social. For example, Steve Bannon referred to Pennsylvania Senate candidate Kathy Barnette’s rivalry with the Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz as “MAGA vs. ULTRA-MAGA.” The former Trump adviser was using “ULTRA-MAGA” as a compliment; in his eyes, Barnette is deeply devoted to The Cause, while the TV doctor is most palpably devoted to self-promotion.

So why is this happening now? And is the greater embrace of the term on both the right and the left just a coincidence? I don’t think so.

Democrats really need to make the 2022 midterm elections comparative rather than the usual referendum on the current occupant of the White House, who is held responsible for whatever unhappiness afflicts the electorate, which is reflected in Biden’s chronically low job-approval ratings. They also need to find a way to motivate elements of the Democratic base to vote in November, which isn’t easy because (a) Democratic constituencies (particularly young people) rarely vote in proportional numbers in non-presidential elections without extreme provocation, and (b) many base voters are “unenthusiastic” about voting thanks to disappointment over the limited accomplishments Biden and his congressional allies have chalked up since taking control of Washington.

The tried-and-true bogeyman who could help make 2022 comparative because he continues to meddle in politics and threaten a comeback is, of course, Trump. The specter of his return could be especially scary to young voters, whose unusually high 2018 turnout was attributable to their loathing for the 45th president. So it behooves Democrats to remind voters as often as possible that the Republican candidates who are on the ballot this November are surrogates for the Great Orange Tyrant. And invoking the red-hat symbolism of MAGA is an efficient way to do that. “Ultra-MAGA” suggests there are Republicans who are Trumpier than Trump, like Scott. The whole GOP, we can expect Biden to regularly suggest between now and November, is crazier than a sack of rats and getting crazier by the minute. That’s more important than the price of gasoline at any given moment.

For similar reasons, in intra-Republican politics, the MAGA brand is legal tender among the majority of GOP voters who turn to Mar-a-Lago for direction the way that flowers turn toward the sun. Wearing the red hat or referring to themselves as “MAGA warriors” is a way for Republican politicians to show a particular attachment to Trump. And ultra-MAGA is essential for candidates like Barnette who follow the Trump agenda slavishly but don’t have the Boss’s actual endorsement for whatever reason. It’s also a handy way for ambitious right-wing politicians to suggest there is a cause that will survive Trump’s own career and will indeed flourish under their own leadership. MAGA works a lot better as a symbol of Trumpism Without Trump than such debatable and obscure terms as national conservatism or conservative populism. When he goes after Mickey Mouse with a claw hammer, Ron DeSantis is definitely ultra-MAGA, especially compared to such damaged goods as Mike Pence, who is merely MAGA or even ex-MAGA.

So get used to it. Until we get a better fix on how to describe the ideology of the followers of Donald Trump, both they and their political opponents are likely to keep relying on the MAGA brand, which now means more than the nostalgia for the white patriarchy of yore that Team Trump probably had in mind when it came up with the slogan to begin with. If Trump runs for president in 2024, he’ll have to decide whether his slogan will be “Make America Great Again, Again” (as he has already redubbed his super-PAC) or something else. But for now, everybody pretty much knows it means one person’s dream and another’s nightmare.


Following the Money in Midterm Senate Races

One way to monitor trends in midterm election campaigns is to ‘follow the money.’ For a good update on where the two parties perceive their best opportunities and biggest liabilities in senate races, read Adam Wollner’s “Here’s where the battle for Senate control will be won – or lost” at CNN Politics. As Wollner reports:

In the battle for the evenly divided Senate, the major Democratic and Republican committees and groups have now all announced their first round of advertising reservations for the general election. Where party leaders and strategists decide to commit a major chunk of their campaign budgets provides the clearest look yet at which races are the most important to determining Senate control.

Here is how much money each group initially plans to spend on ads by state:

*National Republican Senatorial Committee: Georgia ($9.5 million); Wisconsin ($9 million); New Hampshire ($9 million); Arizona ($8 million); Pennsylvania ($8 million); North Carolina ($6.5 million); Nevada ($3 million)

*Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: Nevada ($8.4 million); Arizona ($7.5 million); Georgia ($7 million); New Hampshire ($4 million); Pennsylvania ($3 million); Wisconsin ($3 million)

*Senate Leadership Fund (Republican super PAC): Georgia ($37.1 million); North Carolina ($27.6 million); Pennsylvania ($24.6 million); Wisconsin ($15.2 million); Nevada ($15.1 million); Arizona ($14.4 million); Alaska ($7.4 million)

*Senate Majority PAC (Democratic super PAC): Pennsylvania ($26 million); Georgia ($24.7 million); Arizona ($22.3 million); Nevada ($21 million); Wisconsin ($12.6 million)

Let’s break down that one-third of a billion dollars (!) in ad spending a bit.

There are five states that appear on the list for all four groups: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Those are all states Joe Biden carried in the 2020 presidential election – and by some of his narrowest margins.

Democratic incumbents are running in Arizona (Sen. Mark Kelly), Georgia (Sen. Raphael Warnock) and Nevada (Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto). Pennsylvania, where Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring, and Wisconsin, where Sen. Ron Johnson is running for reelection, are the only two Republican-held seats the Democratic groups have on their initial target list.

Sure, spending priorities will change as more polls come in over the next six months. At the moment, however, this campaign investment snapshot provides a peek at what party strategists see as their best candidates and weakest incumbents. As Wollner concludes, “given that Republicans need only a net gain of one seat to flip the chamber, and that the states listed here have also been key battlegrounds in recent elections, these are the races that will be at the core of the fight for the Senate majority.”


Political Strategy Notes

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall quotes Harvard political scientist Ryan Enos on the political fallout of the anticipated overturning of Roe v. Wade: “At first blush, the overturning of Roe certainly seems like it could be a mobilizing event: it involves a medical procedure that is extremely common and has been experienced by a large portion of women in the United States and could materially affect the lives of millions of people. In some states, it will be the rare instance of the state taking away a right that people have previously enjoyed. To my knowledge, this has not happened since Southern states moved to strip voting rights after the end of Reconstruction….Your typical voter has only a vague notion of the ideological composition of the court, let alone how it got that way. While the Republican hijacking of the court to push an ideological agenda seems like a grave injustice to many of us, understanding why this is an injustice takes a level of engagement with politics that most voters simply don’t have….A more likely way for Roe to matter is that the most active Democrats, those who donate money and volunteer, will be animated for the midterm. Democrats were so animated by Donald Trump that they brought an energy to the election in 2020 that was impossible for them to sustain. While this might return in 2024 if Trump is on the ballot, it was not going to be there in 2022 without a catalyzing force — overturning Roe might be that force.”

At The Daily Beast, Sam Brodey notes, “In the absence of tangible results, Democrats are attempting to turn the conversation to the hardline actions Republicans would take on abortion if they control Congress….Republican leaders and campaign organizations have largely been reluctant to amplify their anti-abortion views in the last week, Democrats believe they have more than enough material to work with in persuading voters that the GOP would embrace extreme measures….One Democratic aide said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s remark that a national abortion ban would be “possible” under a GOP majority was “a gift for us.”…The party’s nominee for Senate in Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan, ran Facebook ads saying that his “extremist opponent”—J.D. Vance—“supports the end of Roe.” Vance has gone so far as to state he does not believe there should be abortion access even in cases of rape or incest….A Roe rollback “gives us the opportunity to show the stakes of holding the House in a way we’ve struggled to do so far this cycle,” said one swing-district campaign aide….Regardless of how Democratic voters and donors respond to that pitch, the biggest fundraising shift brought about by the Roe news could be an unprecedented level of focus, and dollars, to often overlooked state-level races.”

“To suggest that the collapse of Roe could effectively inspire the sort of movement-building for the broader left that it has for the right is to misunderstand at once the class politics of abortion and the role it’s played within both parties, Natalie Shure writes in “The End of Roe v. Wade Won’t Motivate Democrats” in The New Republic. “As much as we might wish otherwise, the most plausible impact the end of Roe v. Wade will have on electoral politics is little to none at all….In short, the anti-abortion movement is class war disguised as culture war, and reproductive justice must entail not just the right to abortion but resource redistribution and funding of the sorts of universal programs that the far right has used issues like abortion to block. (Compare a comprehensive reproductive justice demand to the pro-choice movement’s political strategy, which in no small part amounts to giving money to corporate Democrats.)….Once you reframe abortion as a top-down class war, it’s easy to see why the fall of Roe won’t amp people up the way some expect it to. While higher-class women understandably see Roe as a powerful guarantor of their personhood and equal status with men, poorer women have already lacked Roe’s protections for a long time—and it’s unclear whether an oppressed population already long under political siege and less likely to vote will be thrust toward an epiphany by a SCOTUS ruling. In polls, the people who report caring most about abortion relative to other issues are young, progressive, educated, concentrated in cities, and of higher income—already one of the Democratic Party’s strongest bases. The moderate suburban voters some analysis predicted could be brought into the Democratic fold have largely already entered, in 2018 and 2020—and even if they disapprove of overturning Roe, polls suggest they may not care quite enough to prioritize it over other issues.”

From “The Truth About Inflation: Saudi Arabia and Russia fueled inflation, but Biden’s relief plan probably didn’t, and there are hopeful signs even with high prices likely to continue into 2023” by Robert Shapiro at The Washington Monthly: “While consumer prices rose 8.2 percent from April 2021 to April 2022, prices for energy commodities (mainly oil, natural gas, and coal) jumped 45 percent, fuel oil prices soared 81 percent, and gasoline prices increased 44 percent. Unsurprisingly, inflation is much higher for goods that need lots of energy to produce and transport, so prices have jumped 17.3 percent for cars and trucks, 9.4 percent for food, and 12.1 percent for large appliances. But services need much less energy, and over the past year, prices increased only 1.2 percent for doctors’ services, 1.7 percent for prescription drugs, and 2.1 percent for college tuition….The current inflation is not only about energy. Many economists emphasize the strong demand from the 2021 boom colliding with global supply chain problems in China and at American ports. The pandemic shook up the economy, and those effects have contributed to inflation….The bad news is that energy markets expect Russia and the Saudis to keep oil prices high well into 2023. Those oil prices will keep inflation relatively high in the energy-dependent goods that everyone uses every day, here and in much of the world—including European countries that provided much less pandemic-related relief. And fortunately, the recent jump in oil prices is likely a one-time event that may dog us for another year or so.” If Shapiro is right, Democrats shouldn’t waste too much time trying to fix inflation or justify Biden’s economic policies. Time is short anyway. Better to instensify Democratic attacks on their Republican opponents, who have coddled Russia and Saudi Arabia, as well as price gouging corporations. A good mantra for Democratic midterm candidates going forward: “Don’t defend, attack fiercely and frequently.”