Third Way, a mainstay of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, is part of the DC Democratic establishment. After the electoral collapse in Virginia last month they hired a pollster use focus groups of suburban voters in order to make a case blaming the defeat of a bumbling, corrupt conservative advocating nothing progressive at all on progressives. This morning, the NY Times interviewed the pollster, Brian Stryker, who only included Biden voters who had switched to Glenn Youngkin in his focus groups. He didn't given them IQ tests but he told The Times that the biggest takeaway was something that surprised him-- "how dominant education was in this election. I was also struck by how much it was this place for all of these frustrations for these suburban voters, where they could take out their Covid frustrations in one place." Sounds like he recruited mostly morons, especially in not speaking to Biden voters who sat out the lesser-of-two evils 2021 election, the smart choice.
The Times' Jonathan Martin asked Stryker what advice he would give 2022 clients. "I would tell them that we have a problem. We’ve got a national branding problem that is probably deeper than a lot of people suspect. Our party thinks maybe some things we’re saying aren’t cutting through, but I think it’s much deeper than that. People think we’re more focused on social issues than the economy-- and the economy is the No. 1 issue right now. We probably haven’t been as focused on the economy as we should be. I think some of that is voters reading us talking about things that aren’t economic issues. Part of it is just a natural reaction, too: We’re in an economy they feel is tough. It’s hard for them to think we’ve solved problems when they see so many. The No. 1 issue for women right now is the economy, and the No. 1 issue for Black voters is the economy, and the No. 1 issue for Latino voters is the economy. I’m not advocating for us ignoring social issues, but when we think broadly about voters, they actually all want us talking about the economy and doing things to help them out economically."
NYT: One of the things you also said in the memo was that McAuliffe’s strategy of linking Mr. Youngkin to former President Donald Trump was ineffective. What in the conversations with your groups made that clear?
Brian Stryker: The respondents kind of laughed at that approach. They said, “Oh, these silly ads that compared Youngkin to Trump-- he just doesn’t seem like that guy.” The thing that these people disliked about Trump was that they didn’t like Donald Trump the person; it wasn’t Donald Trump the constellation of policies. That may very well have been the best message that McAuliffe had, but if we are in that position again, we’re going to lose a ton of races. We’ve got to have something better.
NYT: How much does Mr. Biden himself take the blame with these voters? Is his name invoked?
It’s Biden, Democrats-- they all come together.
But it’s not like with Trump, where voters single him out?
BS: No, and also none of these people regretted their choice and wish they had voted for Trump.
NYT: Did you ask that question?
BS: I asked it a couple of different ways: “Do you think you made a mistake last year?” or, “If you had the choice in a year, would you change your vote?” Nobody was interested in Trump. It was not even a question for them.
Jamie McLeod-Skinner, the Oregon progressive running for a new seat where reactionary Blue Dog Kurt Schrader thinks he's the incumbent, voiced an opinion I heard over and over again from Blue America-endorsed candidates: "I believe that our bodies, and our personal identities, are the core of who we are as people. The government has no right to define or control that for us. I am committed to codifying reproductive rights into federal law."
On Tuesday, Democratic candidates in Georgia swept the special elections and a Democrat won a Massachusetts state legislative seat that had been in Republican hands for over 160 years. The Republican extremist Supreme Court's threat to Roe v Wade and the fear that instilled in some voters had a lot to do with those results. I had a discussion with an old friend-- an independent-- who had no intention of voting on Sunday but who ran to the polls Tuesday to vote for a Democrat she knew nothing about just based on the threat to women's choice.
Yesterday a senior Times political writer, Carl Hulse, noted that the Supreme Court tampering with Roe could swing the midterms towards the Democrats. He wrote that "While the subject of abortion and the Supreme Court has traditionally been seen as more of an energizing issue for Republican and evangelical voters, Democrats say that situation could be reversed should the court undermine Roe, raising the possibility that abortion could be banned or severely limited in many states. That outcome, Democrats said, would transform the long fight over abortion rights from theory to reality and give new resonance to their arguments that a Democratic Congress is needed to protect access to the procedure and seat judges who are not hostile to abortion rights... Democrats see the abortion fight as a potential way to attract the suburban voters-- particularly women-- who helped elect Mr. Biden and Democratic majorities in 2020 but moved away from Democrats in elections this year. 'We’re talking about rolling back the clock on health care for women 50 years,' said Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, a member of the Democratic leadership. 'Obviously a whole generation of women have been able to get the health care they need and make their own reproductive choices, and I think you’ll be shocked to fully see what this means.'"
Anticipating an adverse Supreme Court ruling, House Democrats this year passed on a party-line vote a bill that would incorporate Roe into federal law. The Senate is expected to vote on it at some point to put Republicans on the record, but it has no chance of passage since it will be blocked by a Republican filibuster.
Party strategists say the abortion issue has already demonstrated salience in Nevada, another key race in the battle for Senate control. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who is seeking re-election, is a strong proponent of abortion rights, while a leading Republican opponent, Adam Laxalt, opposes abortion rights and as attorney general joined efforts to limit the procedure.
This morning, Axios went a little further into GOP fears that damaging women's right to choice could hurt them in the midterms. "As one longtime GOP political operative put it to Axios," wrote Sarah Mucha, "it's one 'big flare-up' that could 'derail what could be a 2010-level victory next year for the party and the movement. Republicans and operatives in the party, I don’t think they’re ready. They better get ready before this decision comes out,' the operative said."
Marjorie Traitor Greene nemesis, Nancy Mace (R-SC) told Mucha that "overturning Roe would bring the issue front and center and urged Republicans to handle such an event cautiously. 'We've got to have compassion on both sides of the aisle and recognize at some point, this is an infant and this is life, and also on my side, recognize that we've got to be advocates for women who've been raped,' she told Axios... [O]verturning Roe could persuade suburban women who would have otherwise likely voted for Republicans to vote for Democrats, two operatives told Axios. A Republican campaign strategist said such a ruling would be a messaging challenge for GOP candidates, and said they should calibrate their statements differently for general election voters than they would for primary voters. 'In primaries, the issue will be a talked about as a huge victory, and in general elections it will be about giving people a voice in their state’s abortion policies,' the strategist said."
A November poll by Quinnipiac University found that 63% of Americans agree with the 1973 Roe decision, including 87% of Democrats and 65% of independents but just 37% of Republicans. 53% of Republicans disagreed with the ruling.
By the way, when the House voted to codify Roe with the Women’s Health Protection Act in September, it passed 218-211, every single Republican voting against it and every Democrat voting for it except one fake Democrat, vicious misogynist Blue Dog Henry Cuellar of Texas. Tannya Benavides and Jessica Cisneros are the progressive Democrats primarying Cuellar this cycle. I spoke to them both today. Tannya told me that whenever he has a chance, "he never ceases to show us who he truly is. Earlier this fall, he tried masking his vote against the Women's Health Protection Act as a 'matter of conscience' over a Zoom conference in October. But where is his conscience when it comes to voting on climate, healthcare, or the economy-- especially as it pertains to improving the material conditions of the working class? If it's his conscience that has him voting against the better interests of his constituents, democratic values, and women's rights, then it appears to me Rep. Cuellar has some soul-searching to do. For anyone with a uterus who may one day be in need of an abortion, inaction by representatives like Cuellar on matters of health means that his 'conscience' stands in the way of their right to safe and legal abortion."
And Jessica Cisneros said that "Once again, Henry Cuellar has refused to stand up for South Texans’ reproductive freedom and the constitutional right to abortion care. Even after our state’s Republican leaders passed the country’s most extreme ban-- ending almost all abortion access in Texas with no exceptions after 6 weeks--our Congressman refuses to defend us and our reproductive rights. Anti-choice politicians in Texas have made their priorities clear: Instead of focusing on the health and safety of Texas communities, they're attacking our right to abortion care. Our bodies and our futures are not chess pieces for anti-choice politicians like Greg Abbott and Henry Cuellar to use in their political games." Please consider contributing to Jessica's and Tannya's campaigns here on the Turning Texas Blue page.