The DCCC leaked/planted a memo with former Republican Jennifer Rubin and she got all excited about it, although it’s a version of the same basic DCCC targeting memo they’ve been sending out for decades. It’s also a variation of the same stupid memo the NRCC sends out. DCCC: the vulnerable GOP incumbents “voted overwhelmingly with their party and with extreme MAGA Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene [and] vote on average nearly 94% of the time with the MAGA extremists running their party. Rather than showing independence or bipartisan leadership, these party hacks have fallen in line behind their extreme party bosses.” NRCC: the vulnerable Democrats incumbents “voted overwhelmingly with their party and with extreme socialists and communists like Ilhan Omar and AOC [and] vote on average nearly 94% of the time with the far left extremists running their party. Rather than showing independence or bipartisan leadership, these party hacks have fallen in line behind their extreme party bosses.”
These memos could be written— and probably are— by teenage summer interns. A college freshman could have put this close-to-useless blunt tool together in less than 15 minutes. It doesn’t differentiate the existential vulnerability of George Santos, Thomas Kean or Make Garcia with the near invulnerability of Brian Fitzpatrick and Don Bacon. Nor does it note that because of subpar DCCC candidates blue district Republicans like John Duarte and David Valadao are probably safe again… nor that Mike Lawler is a dead-man walking because Democrats will be fielding the district’s popular former congressman, Mondaire Jones, instead of the detested Wall Street whore, Sean Patrick Maloney, who the DCCC tried shoving down their throats in 2022.
Rubin is excited by the banal hackery which she is either impressed by or expects to impress her readers. The “Biden 18” isn’t the end-all in targeting, especially not with redistricting in New York, Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin around the corner. And the chance of George Santos being a 2024 candidate is close to zero… but the DCCC doesn’t want to ever say that and the idea doesn’t seem to have ever dawned on Rubin.
She wrote that she’s more impressed that “the DCCC’s ‘how’— its basic strategy— is more interesting.” Apparently she’s never seen one of these memos before and, shockingly, neither have her editors… if she even has an editor. She breathlessly quotes the silliest palaver as though she had acquired a copy of the Magna Carta before it was released to the general public: “The most vulnerable Republicans in the House— those representing districts President Biden won in 2020— vote on average nearly 94% of the time with the MAGA extremists running their party…Despite campaign promises to be independent, these vulnerable Republicans time and time again have voted in lockstep with the most extreme MAGA Members in their party to rip away women’s reproductive freedom, cut services for veterans, defund law enforcement, gut manufacturing jobs, and uphold a culture of corruption in Washington— all while ignoring the kitchen table issues like lowering costs and creating good-paying jobs… Expect to see ties to extreme Republicans and these key issues in paid media against vulnerable Republicans next fall.”
Rubin added that “While labeling themselves as ‘moderate,’ they are yes men and yes women for the MAGA crowd on bread-and-butter issues their constituents care about, the DCCC will argue. For example, the DCCC argues: ‘Vulnerable Republicans chose to put loyalty to the fringes of their party over protecting manufacturing jobs across the country when they voted for the Default on America Act. Their disastrous legislation would have jeopardized over 142,000 new jobs created by the Inflation Reduction Act, including 18,000 manufacturing jobs.’ The memo points out many jobs would come from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. No issue might resonate more with women than abortion. And the DCCC has the goods. ‘Women and their families should have the freedom to make their own health care decisions, but that hasn’t stopped Republicans from waging an all-out effort to insert themselves into these private decisions. House Republicans are using any means necessary to enact their end goal of a national abortion ban, including attaching an unnecessary provision to one of their funding bills that would restrict access to the abortion medication mifepristone,’ the memo states. ‘This safe medication is used in 53% of all abortions in the country. And in one of their first votes at the beginning of the year, every vulnerable Republican voted in support of anti-choice legislation that could punish doctors and rip away women’s reproductive freedom.’”
And on corruption, the DCCC points to the vulnerable Republicans’ votes to save Santos from expulsion. (No mention is made of their stalwart support for defeated and three-time indicted former president Donald Trump.)
In 2024, Democrats certainly might add issues such as gun safety or Republicans’ opposition to popular items such as infrastructure (although Republicans are now claiming credit as projects pop up in their districts). As Democrats hit the Biden 18 on these kitchen-table issues, they might also decide to vilify them for wasting time on nonsensical and unproductive hearings.
While the DCCC will be lashing Republicans to their most radical voices (e.g., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia), Biden will be going after Trump or a mini-me alternative. In a presidential election cycle, to a large extent, down-ballot races will be overshadowed by the top of the ticket. If Biden gets to run against the dangerous, unfit former president, Democrats running for House and Senate seats can tie their opponents not only to their MAGA colleagues but also to Trump. After all, many Republicans have helped Trump try to avoid accountability (e.g., voting against an independent election commission, defending him on criminal matters).
Therefore, one can expect the 2024 campaign to operate at essentially two levels. The presidential race will be a referendum— if Democrats get the chance— on returning Trump to the White House. Democrats can then force House Republicans to either side with him, alienating non-MAGA voters, or break with him, disappointing MAGA voters. But, as the DCCC memo points out, even without Trump in the picture, there’s a powerful case to be made against House Republicans based on their own votes.
The DCCC has the chance to demonstrate there’s not much difference between one of the “moderate” Biden 18 and the looniest MAGA members. The strategy could succeed since it has the benefit of being true.
The election results for Ohio’s Issue 1 today will probably say more about the 2024 House elections than the DCCC memo they gave Rubin. Zachary Donnini reported that the GOP wants to “increase the difficulty for Ohio voters to pass constitutional amendments through ballot questions, requiring 60% of voters to affirm a new constitutional amendment, an increase from the current 50%. The ramifications of this change could significantly alter the state’s political landscape.” And that starts with an amendment in November on woman’s choice that has majority support… but maybe not 60% support.
“Furthermore,” wrote Donnini, “Issue 1 could cast a long shadow over national politics if fair district activists succeed in bringing a future ballot question regarding an independent redistricting commission to the table. A map produced by such a commission would be more beneficial to national Democratic interests than one crafted by the Ohio state legislature… Ohio is no longer a true battleground state; Governor Mike DeWine (who supports Issue 1) won re-election last November by a blowout 62-37% margin. The Republican votes are there, but the state GOP will have to work against the status quo and convince voters to limit their own ability to influence state law through direct democracy and ballot questions in the future. The battle surrounding Issue 1 has recently turned expensive, as conservative Illinois billionaire Richard Uihlein donated $1 million to a PAC supporting YES on issue 1. Spending supporting or opposing Issue 1 reached $5 million between July 14 and July 28 alone, according to AdImpact, setting it up to be one of the most expensive elections in 2023. The unusual scheduling of this ballot issue, during the lower turnout fall election session on August 8th, adds an additional layer of intrigue to the Issue 1 election. While lower turnout elections typically see lower turnout from heavily Democratic minority voters, potentially favoring Republicans, the pendulum could swing towards Democrats due to their stronger appeal amongst high education voters who tend to compose a larger proportion of voters in “low turnout” elections. Either way, Democrats hope to end their statewide losing streak on August 8th, securing a pivotal victory to prevent Ohio’s political landscape from transitioning from a tenuous to a firm Republican grip.”
We’ll know this evening.
Meanwhile, one of the most important— and difficult to access— variables in the congressional races is candidate quality. The fact that, for example, CA-27 has a PVI of D+4 and D+8 partisan lean, and that Biden beat Trump by double digits (55.1% to 42.7%) hasn’t resulted in any losses for Republican Mike Garcia— not because he’s any good but because the Democrats insisted on running a lousy GOP-lite hack, Christy Smith, a professional loser, 3 times. And she isn’t even the worst Democrap the DCCC wasted money on in blue districts held by Republicans. Rudy Salas and Adam Gray are even worse— and they’re running again against, respectively, David Valadao and John Duarte, making each of them safe in a blue district. Biden won Duarte’s seat by 10.9 points and won Valadao’s seat by 12.9 points. But the DCCC would rather send out meaningless, childish memos than figure out that Democratic voters would rather vote for real Democrats than for GOP-lite corporate shills (and, in the cases of Gray and Salas, grotesquely corrupt ones).
Yesterday I read that former Long Island state Senator Jim Gaughran is going to take on Republican freshman Nick LaLota in Suffolk County, in a district that Biden won by a fraction of a point (0.2%) with an R+3 PVI and an R+5 partisan lean. Gaughran is a relatively conservative Democrat who regularly wins and loses elections on Long Island. He’s probably best known by voters for tanking a single-payer healthcare system in New York when he was in the state Senate. In 2018, he ran promising to vote for the New York Health Act (a single-payer system for the state). It was part of why he was elected but when it came up in the Senate, he was one of just 2 Democrats who had run on it and then opposed it. The DCCC would have to be drunk to back him. But they will back him and LaLota will kick his ass by reminding voters that they can't trust him.