washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Democratic Strategists Are Asking the Wrong Question About the White Working Class

If you were a Democratic political strategist with a multi-million dollar budget for opinion research about the white working class, which question would you want to investigate?

Read the Memo.

Democrats: Let’s Face Reality – The Term “People of Color” Doesn’t Describe a Political Coalition That Actually Exists.

The term “People of Color” is now playing a central role in the Democratic discussion of political strategy.

Read the memo.

Democratic Candidates: The Whole Debate about “Critical Race Theory” is a Cynical GOP propaganda trap – Here’s What you Should Say Instead

The latest example of this extremely effective GOP exploitation of language is the current debate over “Critical Race Theory” – a perspective about race that is supposedly being foisted on children in classrooms around the country.

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.

Let’s Face It: The Democratic Party is Not a “Big Tent” Political Coalition – But it Desperately Needs to Become One.

Democrats routinely describe the Democratic Party as a “coalition” or even a “big tent coalition.” But in reality Dems know that this is not the case.

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

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

The Daily Strategist

November 29, 2021

Net Gains on TV as Political News Source

A new Associated Press/America Online poll indicates that 43 percent of likely voters “check the Internet for political updates about campaigns and candidates.” According to Will Lester’s AP report on the poll:

The most popular destinations are the news sites, such as those run by newspapers, networks and newsmagazines, with nine of 10 in the online political audience saying they go there. Just over one-third go to candidate’s sites and almost half check out political sites.

According to Lester, the poll also found that the political web-surfers tended to be more male (40 percent of males vs. 30 percent of females); younger (40 percent of those under age 50, vs. less than 20 percent of those over 65); and more educated (over half of those with college degrees, vs. one-third of those with some college and one out of six with a h.s. education.)
Despite the growing influence of the internet as a source for political information, TV still gets the overwhelming share of political ad dollars, and likely has more influence with working class voters. A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted April 7-9 found that 45 percent of respondents watched TV news every day, and another 19 percent said they watched news program several times a week.


Ad-Buyer’s Chess Game Key to Home Stretch Campaigns

Few considerations generate more concern in the final days of political campaigns than decisions made about buying TV ads. And if you thought ad-buys were largely determined by poll-margins in particular races, you would be wrong.
For example, the cost of ads is a major factor in ad-buys. In their WaPo article “As Elections Near, Dueling With Dollars,” reporters Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza, explain the calculations DCCC ad-buyer John Lapp has to make in allocating his $60 million budget:

In Washington’s 5th District, Lapp is running ads hitting freshman Rep. Cathy McMorris despite the strong Republican tilt of the district. That’s because ad time in the Spokane media market, which covers almost the entire district, is relatively inexpensive, allowing the DCCC to fund a week of ads for just over $300,000. It is a cheap bet, even for a long shot.
But Lapp is not running ads against Rep. Jean Schmidt (Ohio) who, despite woeful reelection numbers, benefits from the high price of television time in the Cincinnati market. This decision could save Schmidt’s job, strategists in both parties say.

That’s a shame. other considerations include the intensity of local issues and the opportunity to run an especially powerful message. Then there is the obligation the DCCC has to fund ads for candidates they encouraged to run, regardless of their poll numbers. Democratic ad-buy decisions are made even more difficult in a growing playing field. Says Lapp “Republicans are playing a game of whack-a-mole while we are expanding the number of races in play by the day.”
In such an environment, some bad ad-buy decisions are inevitable. Fortunately, rank-and-file Democrats can help keep them to a minimum by making contributions to the following links, so we don’t have to leave potential winners out on a limb:

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

If there was ever a time for true blue Democrats to take action to make Congress more responsive, that would be today.


Dems Surge in Poll of Rural Voters

A new poll by the Center for Rural Strategies, conducted 10/22-24, reports big gains for Democrats among rural voters. According to the CRS press release:

The poll of rural voters in 41 contested congressional districts found that likely voters preferred Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives by a margin of 13 points, 52 percent to 39 percent. In mid-September, the same population of voters was evenly split between the two parties at 45 percent each.
In contested Senate races in states with significant rural populations, rural voters preferred Democrats by 4 points, 47 to 43 percent, reversing the 4-point lead Republican Senate candidates held among rural voters in mid-September. But those results fall within the poll’s margin of error.

Bill Greener, a Republican strategist and consultant on the poll, had this to say about the poll:

The numbers in this poll have to be disturbing to any Republican involved in the upcoming election…Republican success has relied on strong support from rural voters, and this survey indicates we don’t have that support today.

Another consultant to the poll, Democrat Anna Greenberg, cited a “perfect storm” of issues benefitting Democrats, including the Iraq war, economic problems in rural communities and a “muddling of moral values” resulting from the Foley scandal/cover-up.


Ford Shines Light on Purple South

Harold Ford has already won. Even if he loses the TN Senate race by a small margin, he has accomplished something important in demonstrating that African American Democrats can be highly competitive in state-wide races in the south. The critical lesson for Dems is that there is a lot to be gained from putting more resources into developing Black candidates in the south.
There are a lot of good articles about the Ford phenomenon out there, and one of the best is Salon‘s “How Would Jesus Vote?” by Michael Scherer, illuminating Ford’s brilliance in mining the vote of religious conservatives in the state that has “the most white evangelicals in the nation.” Also read the Wall St. Journal‘s “Republicans’ Hold On the South Gets Test in Tennessee” by Corey Dade and Nikhil Deogun, which explains Ford’s success in terms of the Volunteer State’s demographic transformation. Here’s just one interesting graph from the WSJ piece:

By one demographic factor, Mr. Ford should be far behind in the polls. Tennessee has one of the lowest African-American populations in the South — about 16%. Logically, that should put African-American candidates at a disadvantage for statewide office because they can’t count on a massive bloc of votes to give them a head start in a statewide election. But political scientists say the reverse may be true: In states with smaller black populations, whites don’t feel as threatened and the state isn’t as polarized. For instance, African-Americans make up a very high percentage of Mississippi and Alabama — 36.5% and 26%, respectively — and black voters tend to vote Democrat while white voters go for Republicans. The “blacker” the state, the larger President Bush’s margin of victory in 2004.

For more on the purple south emergence, check out Chris Kromm’s “Future of Congress to Be Decided in the South?” in Facing South. On a related issue, Ian Urbina reports on concerns about Black turnout in today’s New York Times — an important but much overlooked topic in midterm coverage thus far.


Friends in VA?

by Scott Winship
If they’re from Alexandria or Falls Church (outside DC) or Charlottesville (home of UVA), forward them this link: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/10/24/111047/27 and tell ’em to call their local elections board.
I’m more optimistic about chance to regain the Senate than Chris Bowers is — Webb is within the margin of error of most polls, and this race could be key to control of the Senate. It’s really important….


Bowers: Senate Takeover a ‘Longshot’

Lest we get carried away with irrational exuberance in the wake of the GOP meltdown, Chris Bowers takes a sobering look at Dem chances of winning a Senate Majority on November 7 in today’s MyDD. Bowers averages the five most recent polls for key Senate races in his article “Control Of The Senate Still a Longshot” and sees tough odds against a Democratic takeover. According to Bowers averages, Dems are ahead 5.8 in R.I.; 5.4 in MT and 3.6 in NJ, but lag by 1.4 in MO, 1.6 in VA and 2.8 in TN.
Other than that, he sees the Democratic prospects as bright:

I do still hope for a pickup of four or five seats in the Senate, taking control of the House, winning the majority of Governors, and doing some real damage in state legislatures.

Obviously Dems still have a fighting chance, and winning five of six key races is not impossible if the big blue wave materializes. Plus, the polls could improve over the next 13 days. Otherwise, winning majorities of the House, governorships and state legislatures is not a bad consolation prize.


Black, Hispanic Conservatives Bailing Out of GOP

In his L.A. Times article “Latino and Black Voters Reassessing Ties to GOP,” Peter Wallsten reports on the exodus of African American and Hispanic conservative voters from the G.O.P. According to Wallsten, a growing number of leaders in both constituencies have articulated a sense of being taken for granted by Republican leaders. With respect to African American conservatives:

Complaints among black pastors who had been courted by the White House — while less pronounced than those of Latino leaders — have been fueled by a tell-all book by former White House aide David Kuo. The new book says that Bush, referring to pastors from one major African American denomination, once griped: “Money. All these guys care about is money. They want money.”
…The Rev. Eugene Rivers, a Boston Pentecostal minister and one of about two dozen black clergy invited to a series of White House meetings with Bush, said Friday that black leaders had been wooed with assurances that their social service groups would receive money from the president’s faith-based initiative. But, Rivers said, the bulk of the money had gone to white organizations, leaving black churches on the sidelines.

The GOP’s rift is also widening with Latino conservatives, who are disturbed by the Republicans’ mixed messages on immigration and who share the Black conservatives’ concern about the GOP’s ethics problems and the Foley cover-up:

A survey released this month by the Latino Coalition found Latino registered voters supporting Democrats over Republicans 56% to 19% in congressional elections. “If Republicans nationally get 25% of the Hispanic vote, it would be a miracle,” said Robert de Posada, the coalition president…
The Latino backlash has grown so intense that one prominent, typically pro-Republican organization, the Latino Coalition, has endorsed Democrats in competitive races this year in Tennessee, Nebraska and New Jersey….The Latino Coalition, for example, has endorsed the presumed Democratic presidential front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), in her reelection bid this year.

The aforementioned Kuo book, “Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction,” has alienated white conservatives as well, with its depiction of top White House aides “embracing religious conservatives in public while calling them “nuts” behind their backs.”


Survivor! by Jim McTague

by Alan Abramowitz
The new issue of Barron’s Magazine, always a model of objective journalism, has a cover story by Jim McTague that argues that reports of a coming Democratic victory in the 2006 midterm elections are greatly exaggerated.
A lot of McTague’s “analysis” appears to consist of little more than wishful thinking. For example, he predicts that Rick Santorum, who has been trailing Bob Casey, Jr. in every poll in the last six months, will win reelection in Pennsylvania thanks to a late surge in support from the western part of the state and that Mark Kennedy will defy polls showing him trailing by double-digits to defeat Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota.
Beyond wishful thinking, McTague’s argument that Republicans will keep control of the House and Senate rests almost exclusively on the fact that most endangered Republican incumbents have raised more money than their Democratic challengers and, in both 2002 and 2004, the candidate who spent the most money in a House and Senate race almost always won.
But there is a fundamental flaw in this argument: 2002 and 2004 were not wave elections–elections in which there is a strong national tide. In wave elections lots of incumbents lose even though they outspend their challengers. This is what happened in 1974, 1980, 1982, and 1994. In 1994, for example, 26 of the 34 Democratic incumbents who lost their seats outspent their Republican challengers. On average, losing Democratic incumbents outspent their Republican challengers by a margin of $969,000 to $663,000. Republicans also won 14 of 25 open seat races in which the Republican candidate spent less than the Democratic candidate.
Using the the relative size of the candidates’ campaign warchests to predict election results in a wave election can yield highly misleading result. If a strong Democratic wave hits the House and Senate on November 7th, as now appears likely, many Republican incumbents will lose despite outspending their Democratic challengers.


State of the Race Update II

by Ruy Teixeira
(cross-posted at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/showdown06/)
It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to post an update on how the campaign’s unfolding. I’m tempted to say: it’s just like I said before….only more so! But what fun would that be? So here’s a round-up of where things stand.
First, the macro-indicators……
Presidential Approval. Bush’s approval rating continues to go down. Charles Franklin’s latest trend-based estimate now stands at 36 percent, a substantial decline since late August/early September.
Congressional Approval. Congressional approval continues to run very, very low. In the latest Gallup poll, approval of Congress was only 23 percent. And in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Congressional approval was a stunningly low 16 percent.
Generic Congressional Contest. Charles Franklin’s latest trend-based estimate has the Democrats’ advantage at 13 points. Knock 5 points off that to compensate for the typical overstatement of the Democratic advantage in this question and you still have a substantial 8 point Democratic lead in the Congressional vote. If that lead holds on election day, that would obviously be good for the Democrats, though how good in terms of actual seat gains is a matter of considerable debate. Or, to put it more bluntly: we just don’t know.
Voter Enthusiasm. Pew has just released an extensive study that documents what many other polls have shown: Democrats are much more enthusiastic about voting this year than Republicans are. In that study, 51 percent of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year, compared to just 33 percent of Republicans.
That’s a bit on the macro situation. But how are things playing on the micro, race by race situation where, of course, the election will be played out and actual political gains accrued?
The House. Analysts universally agree that more and more seats are coming into play. Charlie Cook, for example, now has 43 GOP seats classified as competitive (6 more than he had last week), including 25 he rates as toss-ups and three as leaning Democratic.
Democracy Corps recently surveyed voters in roughly the same set of GOP-held districts that Cook classifies as competitive (they included a few more not on Cook’s list) and found signs of what they call a “Republican meltdown” in those districts. They found:

Democrats are ahead by 4 points overall in the named Congressional vote (49 to 45 percent) [named vote means the actual candidate names are given to respondents; in the generic vote the Democratic lead was actually 10 points–RT]; indeed, they are ahead by 2 points (48 to
46 percent) in the bottom tier of presumably safest seats.
This vote represents a dramatic change in the state of the race over the last two weeks. The end of the Congress — with the increased pessimism and anger about Iraq and the Foley scandal and subsequent partisan brawl — has moved voters to shift their assessments of the parties and their votes. The 1994 election broke at the end; this one just broke. The shift is evident on every indicator — party, Bush, war, intensity and morale.

A project of RT Strategies and Constituent Dynamics called “Majority Watch” has been polling 54 competitive House districts–49 of which are currently held by Republicans–and currently characterizes 24 of these districts as strong Democratic, 8 as leaning Democratic and 5 ties. Leaving out the ties, that translates into a Democratic gain of 19-27 seats, depending on whether you choose to include the leaning Democratic seats or not–that is, into a Democratic House majority of 222-230 seats.
Note, however, that some of the Majority Watch polls are a bit old and go back to the beginning of the fall. On the other hand, the sitaution in most of these districts has likely only worsened for the Republicans since that time.
Over at Pollster.com, Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin look over all the available public polling on competitive House races and assess it as follows:

Looking at the survey averages in districts with two or more polls available, we see Democrats leading beyond the margin of error in ten districts currently held by Republicans….
In addition, we see statistically significant Democratic leads in four more districts held by Republicans surveyed only once by non-partisans since the summer (all four were polled by the Majority Watch project)….
Perhaps more troubling for Republicans is that we see no Republican leading in any district currently held by a Democrat. Moreover, of the 23 Republican held seats currently rated as “toss-ups” by the Cook Political Report, Democrats lead by significant margins in 9, Republicans leading in none. The remaining 13 Republican “toss-up” seats look too close to call based on available data. And that says nothing of the 31 Republican seats that Cook rates at “lean” or “likely” Republican, where public polling is scarcer still.

They also provide a compendium of all the available public polling on these races, a very useful resource. Chris Bowers, over at MyDD, compiles much of the same information on his House forecast page and assesses the overall data as indicating a Democratic gain of 21-28 seats, for a Democratic majority of 224-231 seats.
To summarize, the available micro, race by race data indicate that, based on reasonable assumptions about the relationship between these data and election outcomes, the Democrats will probably retake the House this November–though nothing is certain and the size of a new Democratic majority could range anywhere from a few seats (e.g., 219-216) to thirty or more (e.g., 233-202). Perhaps the safest guess would be in the middle range between these two possibilities.
The Senate. Turning to the Senate, Democratic chances also look good–though not as good as in the House and it is much easier to see them falling short here. Here are the Pollster.com last 5 poll averages for the seven most competitve Republican and one competitive Democratic race: Missouri, 46D-45R; Montana, 48D-41R; New Jersey, 46D-41R; Ohio, 51D-42R; Pennsylvania, 52D-41R; Rhode Island, 46D-40R; Tennessee, 45D-45R; and Virginia, 44D-49R.
At this point, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Montana look particularly solid for the Democrats and they are breathing a sigh of relief for the widening lead Menendez is taking over Kean in New Jersey (see Tom Edsall’s very good article on why this is happening). If we also allocate Rhode Island and Missouri to the Democrats, based on their current leads in those states, that would give the Democrats a gain of 5 seats, with a possible sixth and control of the Senate (assuming Lieberman caucuses with the Democrats) depending on whether Ford can beat Corker in Tennessee in the currently-tied race.
That may well be how it all turns out. One more reason to count on a very exciting election night.


The Fat Lady Ain’t Singin’, But…

by Scott Winship
I checked back in to Majority Watch today and they are forecasting a Democratic majority in the House of 222 to 230 seats — even if they lose 5 “tied” races. In other words, Republicans will have to win all the ties and at least 5 Dem-leaning districts to retain their majority. It’s difficult to see how that scenario could happen.