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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Rural Voter

The new book White Rural Rage employs a deeply misleading sensationalism to gain media attention. You should read The Rural Voter by Nicholas Jacobs and Daniel Shea instead.

Read the memo.

There is a sector of working class voters who can be persuaded to vote for Democrats in 2024 – but only if candidates understand how to win their support.

Read the memo.

The recently published book, Rust Belt Union Blues, by Lainey Newman and Theda Skocpol represents a profoundly important contribution to the debate over Democratic strategy.

Read the Memo.

Democrats should stop calling themselves a “coalition.”

They don’t think like a coalition, they don’t act like a coalition and they sure as hell don’t try to assemble a majority like a coalition.

Read the memo.

The American Establishment’s Betrayal of Democracy

The American Establishment’s Betrayal of Democracy The Fundamental but Generally Unacknowledged Cause of the Current Threat to America’s Democratic Institutions.

Read the Memo.

Democrats ignore the central fact about modern immigration – and it’s led them to political disaster.

Democrats ignore the central fact about modern immigration – and it’s led them to political disaster.

Read the memo.


The Daily Strategist

June 25, 2024

Catholic Voters Trending Blue

Bill Berkowitz has a post up at Media Transparency that should be of interest to Democrats seeking insights about winning Catholic votes. Noting that Dems reversed a trend of a quarter-century duration in winning over Catholic voters 55-45 percent in 2006, according to NEP data, Berkowitz reveals some of the inside history behind the “Catholic voter migration” (including the scandal involving the GOP’s point man for Catholic support) and he discusses current strategies being deployed by both parties to secure Catholic support.

Purple Virginia

SurveyUSA subscriber Marcos Moulitsas has shared with us the latest SUSA general election poll testing the Big Three Democrats (Clinton, Obama and Edwards) against the Big Three Republicans (Giuliani, Thompson and Romney), this time for Virginia.
I’ve been anticipating this poll in part because I was curious about the depth of the pro-Democratic trend in Virginia, and in part because the numbers might test my theory that John Edwards’ strong showing in national general election polls is not, contrary to the CW, due to any special appeal in the South.
The “purplish” color of Virginia–a state no Democratic presidential candidate has carried since Lyndon Johnson in 1964–was certainly reinforced by this poll. Of the nine matchups, only one (Obama versus Thompson) showed a Republican ahead (47-45).
As for Edwards, his numbers are difficult to distinguish from HRC’s. In nearly every matchup, she gets a higher percentage of the vote, while his margins over the GOP are better. If Edwards is benefitting from any “southern comfort,” or Clinton is suffering from a regional disability, it’s hard to tell here.

Transparent Polls

For serious political junkies, nothing’s more frustrating than reading about some striking poll results, and then discovering that the reliability of the poll is in question because the polling firm (or the campaign or media enterprise sponsoring the survey) won’t tell you much of anything about its methodology.
To deal with this persistent problem, Pollster.com, Mark Blumenthal’s indispensible site, has started a “Disclosure Project” aimed at eliciting the kinds of information necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff, or at least to compare divergent results:

Starting today we will begin to formally request answers to a limited but fundamental set of methodological questions for every public poll asking about the primary election released in, for now, a limited set of states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or for the nation as a whole. We are starting today with requests emailed to the Iowa pollsters and will work our way through the other early states and national polls over the next few weeks, expanding to other states as our time and resources allow.

The questions focus on “screening” for likely participation in primaries or caucuses; sample size and composition; and polling techniques. And as Blumenthal pointedly mentions, pollsters are actually required by the code of ethics of their profession to make such information available on request.
This project isn’t just of concern to us junkies. Like it or not, polls affect media coverage, donations, volunteer activity, campaign strategies, and sometimes, even election results. (I can remember a gubernatorial election in my home state of Georgia many years ago when a candidate kept releasing “internal poll” results showing a late surge towards a runoff position, creating considerable media coverage and momentum. It was generally believed by political insiders that the campaign was literally just making the numbers up.)
The least we can expect is that pollsters and their paymasters let the rest of us in on their methods if they expect us to take the results seriously.

Jena and the Internet

At the start of school last year, a black freshman at Jena High School in Louisiana asked his principal if he could sit beneath a tree, which was reserved by tradition for white students only. The administrator told the student he could sit where he pleased, and the freshman and his friends ate their lunch in the shade. The next day, three nooses hung from the tree, and ever since, the small town in LaSalle Parish has been ripped apart.
Things came to a head when six black teenagers were arrested and charged with assault and then attempted murder after a fight with a white student. Last week in Jena, more than 10,000 people, some of whom drove throughout the night, showed up to protest the arrests.
You’ve probably heard about Jena by now. But when the story first broke, there was little or no mention of it in the major precincts of the progressive blogosphere (including, just to be clear about it, this one). At Facing South (the blog for the Institute for Southern Studies), Chris Kromm did a post last Thursday, the day of the Jena march, that notes the lack of comment. His quick survey looked like this:

* DailyKos features a handful of posts about injustice in Iraq today — but not a single entry on its main page, or even its user-generated “diaries,” about this important case.
* TalkingPointsMemo, a favorite of the DC wonk set, is similarly incensed about foreign policy, but apparently not about racial justice in the South — nothing there either.
* Long-time progressive blogger Atrios doesn’t have a lot of posts up, but found time to touch on Paul Krugman, Iraq and the state of the Euro — but not this major issue.
* Surely TalkLeft — which has positioned itself as the leading progressive blog about criminal justice issues — would have something? Think again — not a single mention, not even in the quick news briefs!
* What about another progressive favorite, FireDogLake? A rant about Republicans being “little bitches,” but nothing on the Jena 6.
When the Jena 6 does make an appearance on progressive blogs today, it’s little more than a passing nod. Huffington Post has a blog post buried below the fold; ThinkProgress gives it a two-sentence news brief.

Blue Bubba, Red Bubba

Continuing on with our (unplanned) theme on what’s eating southern voters, we refer you to Paul Krugman’s post “Bubba Isn’t Who You Think” at his new NYT blog. Krugman has an important addendum to the op-ed on race in southern voting he published in yesterday’s Grey Lady. Says Krugman:

In fact, if you look at voting behavior, low-income whites in the South are not very different from low-income whites in the rest of the country… It’s relatively high-income Southern whites who are very, very Republican.
…Income levels seem to matter much more for voting in the South. Contrary to what you may have read, the old-fashioned notion that rich people vote Republican, while poorer people vote Democratic, is as true as ever – in fact, more true than it was a generation ago. But in rich states like New Jersey or Connecticut, the relationship is weak; even the very well off tend to be only slightly more Republican than working-class voters. In the poorer South, however, the relationship is very strong indeed.

An important distinction, and Krugman links to statistical sources to prove his point. More and more, it appears that Dems can benefit from better understanding the diversity of the South, instead of dismissing it as hopeless territory.

How Much Do Issues Matter?

Chris Bowers opens a MyDD discussion on how much policy actually matters as a factor in selecting a candidate. Noting that the top-polling Democratic presidential candidates advocate strikingly similar policies on health care, energy/global warming and Iraq withdrawal, Bowers argues that “something other than policy proposals are the driving force behind the candidate preferences of the majority of people who participate in Dailykos straw polls.” Granted, that’s a narrow universe, but perhaps it could be extended to high information voters as a broader group. Bowers cites a list of 7 other factors, including electabiilty, cultural identity and partisanship. Bowers asks his readers “do you base your vote mainly on policy distinctions between candidates, or mainly on other, non-policy oriented factors?” and he gets an interesting earful in the comments that follow.
Of course issues do matter quite a lot to many voters, and E. J. Dionne’s WaPo column makes the case that expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program is the strongest issue for Democrats looking to win broad pubic support.

Forgotten Mainline

In another example of The American Prospect‘s recent interest in the subject of politics and religion, their online edition has just published a poignant report by Michal Lumsden about the efforts of mainline Protestants to mobilize opposition to the war in Iraq. Focused mainly on the story of a UCC minister whose son, a Marine deployed to Iraq, signed up for sniper training (and whose husband, a retired career Marine, admits he “turned off religion and turned on duty” when called on to fight), the piece goes on to discuss the emphatic anti-Iraq-war position of virtually every mainline Protestant denomination.
You can read between the lines in Lumsden’s account her frustration with what she calls the “black-and-white world of secular versus conservative that the mainstream media perpetuates,” one of those conservative “memes” that also gets far too much acceptance from progressives who don’t happen to be religious themselves. You probably know the story: “liberal, relativistic” Christian denominations are declining or even dying, while conservatives–the real Christians–thrive.
This is not the time or place for an argument about religious trends in the United States, which do not neatly fit into the liberal-decline, conservative-growth pattern unless you really think the growth of nondenominational and charismatic church membership is all about cultural or political conservatism. But the fact remains that an estimated 44 million Americans belong to the National Council of Churches “mainline” family of denominations, which is a lot of folks to ignore, and a lot of folks whose leadership is in some ways more united on issues of war and peace–and united on this subject with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church–than their loud and much-discussed Christian Right rivals.

New SUSA State General Election Polls

A few weeks ago the Survey USA polling firm released a big batch of state polls testing Hillary Clinton against the leading Republican presidential candidates. Now, via Kos, we learn that they are beginning to release new polls testing Obama and Edwards as well as HRC against the GOPers.
Today’s installment focuses on MO, OH, IA and NM. While the general impression is that Edwards runs slightly better than his rivals in most head-to-heads, the startling numbers are from OH, where for some reason Barack Obama runs well behind HRC and Edwards, and trails Giluliani, Thompson and even Romney (Edwards beats the Mittster by 20 points; HRC beats him by 10).
If their previous releases are any indication, SUSA will probably release similar polls from other states in the next few days.

The Duopoly’s Winning

Yesterday J.P. Green discussed the dilemma facing Democrats in Florida and Michigan over their decision to bend the knee to the DNC-ordained nominating contest calendar, or risk losing delegates at the next convention.
But on the broader issue of where candidates are actually spending their time, the FL/MI challenge to the IA/NH Duopoly has already failed, and not just because (on the Democratic side, at least) candidates recently agreed to boycott the two rebellious states.
As Chris Bowers at OpenLeft explained over the weekend, using the Washington Post‘s useful “Campaign Tracker” map, candidates for president in both parties have “made more trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, a combined 1,811, than [to] every other state and territory combined.” And many of the trips to other states (especially California) are simply for fundraisers, not public events.
It appears all the Democratic candidates are calculating that the impact of IA and NH on later states makes any post-NH strategy simply too risky. And the Republicans who have given the Duopoly less than full attention–namely Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson–are clearly playing with fire.

Health Care: Key to Southern Votes

Dems interested in winning southern votes should take note of Tom Baxter’s article in the Southern Political Report, “For an overweight, underinsured South, the health care debate matters.” Baxter links to Kaiser Family Foundation statistics indicating that the south is the region most damaged by the lack of a responsive health care system, and adds:

…The South is the epicenter of the nation’s health care problems, with the highest rates of chronic ailments like diabetes and heart disease, the most uninsured and the highest percentage of state populations on Medicaid. A good deal of polling also indicates voters here care deeply about the issue.

What makes health care such a cutting edge issue for southern Democrats, Baxter suggests, is the thinness of GOP candidates’ health care ‘reform’ ideas. Baxter quotes Jonathan Oberlander, associate professor of social medicine and health policy and administration at UNC-Chapel Hill. “If you looked at the health care plans on the Republican side, you really wouldn’t have much to write about.”
Baxter doesn’t present polling data to bolster the case, but it nonetheless looks like a promising issue for Dems wanting to make inroads among southern voters.