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How To Win An Election



Yesterday, Nicole Sandler had one of the smartest Democratic strategists in the business on her radio show, political scientist Rachel Bitecofer. I started following Rachel on Twitter-- and wherever I could find her writing-- after she made the best election predictions of anyone in 2018. And the more I read by her, the more I wanted to read. Her wikipedia page notes that her "main thesis is that modern elections are not decided merely by the swing vote, but rather, what she calls 'coalitional turnout' for each party. Negative partisanship which argues voters are increasingly motivated by dislike, hate, and fear of the other party prioritizes defeating the other side over any specific policy objective. Under this theory, shifts in voter turnout between cycles are critically important to each party's success... Bitecofer argues that instead of ideology, Democratic candidates should 'lean in' to being Democrats and abandon the preference of Democrats to nominate unobtrusive, Blue Dogs who run against their own party's brand. The fact that progressive favorites like Stacey Abrams and Beto O'Rourke often came much closer to winning their races in red states in 2018 than Blue Dog moderates who tried to ingratiate themselves with Trump has been held as validation for her theory. As has the successful campaigns of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia and Mark Kelly in Arizona. In July 2019 Bitecofer predicted that Trump would lose the 2020 election, with the Democratic candidate winning a base of at least 278 electoral votes, correctly anticipated a Democratic sweep of three Midwest states in the Democrat's so-called Blue Wall that Trump won narrowly in 2016."


She told me this week that she has left the PAC she was working for and is now consulting Democratic general election candidates about messaging and branding. This morning Politico's Elena Schneider wrote, unrelated, about Democratic strategists spreading a tactic called "paid relational organizing," a fancy way of saying "paying people to talk to their friends about politics." She wrote that "Democrats think it helped them win the Senate in 2020-- and are hoping the get-out-the-vote strategy will help limit the pain of a brutal 2022 election environment. Conversations with friends, family members or neighbors are more likely to earn a voter’s support than chats with a stranger at their front door, which is the traditional way campaigns have run paid canvassing programs in the past. And an important test case for deploying the strategy at scale came out of the Georgia Senate runoffs in 2021 when now-Sen. Jon Ossoff’s (D-GA) campaign, flush with nearly unlimited cash but only two months to spend it, used a paid and volunteer relational program to get people talking to acquaintances instead of strangers about the election. In particular, the Ossoff team hired 2,800 Georgians, specifically targeting those with little or no voting history themselves to do this outreach to their own networks. The campaign was making a bet that many of the friends and family of their highly political volunteers were already engaged in the runoff election, but that this group could expand the electorate with relational outreach into their networks-- which were likely to include more irregular voters or non-voters like them. The campaign folded this data into their vast field program, tracking conversations and whether those contacted had voted. They could even notify organizer, based on their own network, which voters were tagged as 'only reachable by you.' A post-election analysis found their efforts boosted turnout by an estimated 3.8 percent among the 160,000 voters targeted through their relational program. Ossoff and now-Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) won by 1.2 points and 2.1 points respectively, flipping the state and the Senate to Democrats."


This year the program is already in operation in Georgia, Arizona, Texas and Nevada. "[R]eaching voters, especially less-likely voters, through trusted communicators is an especially important goal for Democrats this year, with the party facing a stiff midterm climate and a serious enthusiasm gap."


Republicans have other ideas about how to win elections-- cheat: "A Canadian steel industry billionaire illegally helped steer $1.75 million in donations to a pro-Trump super PAC and has agreed to pay one of the largest fines ever levied by the Federal Election Commission to settle the case... Zekelman, a steel industry executive from Ontario... lobbied the Trump administration [and Señor Trumpanzee personally] to use its power to tighten import restrictions on Zekelman’s competitors from around the world... 'Here you have a foreign business executive trying to buy influence through spending on American elections,' said Adav Noti, a vice president at the Campaign Legal Center, which filed the F.E.C. complaint in 2019, based on the article in The Times. 'That has been a concern for American democracy for as long as our country has existed. It is a nightmare scenario for America elections.'"


Zekelman ended up at the Trump hotel in Washington with Trump after the initial $1 million in donations were made by Wheatland Tube.
Zekelman used the small gathering, in a private room at the hotel, to press Trump for more than six minutes to use his executive power to curb imports of foreign steel to the United States from Asia, a move that would help his sales. He also asked Trump, pressing him for another three minutes during the dinner, to re-evaluate highway safety rules that he said were making it hard for truckers in the United States to move his steel tubes.
The exchange became public because other guests at the dinner included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who later worked with the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, and who released a recording of the dinner during Trump’s first impeachment deliberations in 2020.

Last night, The Times also reported a different kind of GOP election theft: right-wing "Stop the Steal" kook Ali Alexander, who has first hand knowledge of Roger Stone plus far insurrectionist congressmen Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Mo Brooks (R-AL) plotting the coup, "has agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation of the attack on the Capitol last year, the first high-profile political figure known to have offered assistance to the government’s newly expanded criminal inquiry... In an indication that the inquiry could reach into the Trump administration and its allies in Congress, the subpoena also seeks information about members of the executive and legislative branches who were involved in the events or who may have helped to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election.




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