Ken Stern’s “Republican Like Me”: Building Bridges Within a Two-Party Country

By Steve Wenick

I was intrigued by the title of the book, Republican Like Me by Ken Stern, because the author was the former CEO of NPR and a life-long Democrat. Like virtually all of his family and friends, Stern readily admits that he spent his life enclosed in a liberal bubble. But his is a story of how he managed to burst that bubble and venture forth to environs unknown to him while keeping his liberal principles and values intact. [Read more…]

Can Democrats Win Control of the U.S. House in 2018?

By Bill Madway, DJOP

The 2018 midterm elections offer a critical opportunity for the Democratic Party. Although it won’t be easy – due, in large part, to gerrymandering – we have a realistic chance of winning control of the U.S. House. All 435 seats in the House will be up for election. With the GOP currently at 240 seats and the Democratic Party at 194 (one seat is vacant due to the resignation of Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz), we need a net gain of 24 seats to take the House.

One reason for optimism is that the President’s party typically loses House seats in midterm elections. Over the past 18 midterm elections, which dates back to Harry Truman in 1946, the President’s party has lost an average 25.6 seats in the House. So, the gain we need (24) is within this parameter.

Another reason for optimism is the Democratic Party’s current standing in “generic ballot” surveys, that is, in polls that ask people which party they would support in a Congressional election. According to FiveThirtyEight’s most recent findings, Democrats hold a 10-point lead vs. the GOP in the generic match-up. The figure is similar in RealClearPolitics’ most recent calculations; Democrats hold a 9-point lead.

What does this mean? In a recent report, Alan I. Abramowitz of Sabato’s Crystal Ball writes, “…Democrats will need a lead of at least five points on the generic ballot in early September of 2018 in order to gain the 24 seats they need to take control of the House” (emphasis mine). The recent poll results compiled by FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics show that the five-point threshold is well within reach.

Looking specifically at Pennsylvania, our state will play a pivotal role in the battle for control of the House. In a recent column published by PolticsPA, Louis Jacobson, senior correspondent for PolitiFact and a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, identified four House incumbents as vulnerable to ouster. All four are Republicans from Southeastern PA – Ryan Costello (PA-6), Pat Meehan (PA-7), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-8), and Lloyd Smucker (PA-16). All of the Democrats in the House, except Matt Cartwright, who represents the 17th Congressional District (Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Easton), are considered safe. Cartwright is rated as potentially vulnerable.

Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball is not as bullish on the Democrats’ chances in these four races. In a July 27 column, he rates all four as “Leans Republican,” but this represents a downgrade from “Likely Republican” for Costello and Meehan. So, if strong Democratic candidates are selected in the 2018 Primary Election, and Trump’s approval ratings continue to fall, all four of these seats could realistically flip. Looking at the incumbent Democrats, Kondik rates Bob Brady (PA-1), Dwight Evans (PA-2), Brendan Boyle (PA-13), and Mike Doyle (PA-14, Pittsburgh) as “safe.” Democrat Matt Cartwright (PA-17) is rated “likely” to win.

What are the implications of these predictions for Democratic voters? While the signs are encouraging, they’re only signs. Action is required to turn them into reality. If you reside in one of the “flippable” district discussed above, get involved in the primary process now as some candidates have already announced their running. Investigate them, and if there is someone you support, volunteer for her/his campaign, make a contribution, etc. Don’t wait until 2018 to bring your resources to bear; beating an incumbent is seldom easy and can’t be done, if people wait until after the Primary Election to get involved.

For PA Democrats who reside in a Congressional district currently represented by a Democrat, you’re in an enviable position. Your Representative in the House is very likely or likely to win re-election in 2018. But you can’t take anything for granted; so making sure your Representative is re-elected is job one. However, you can do more, much more. You can help Democrats running in nearby Congressional districts win by volunteering and providing much-needed funds. And as I said above, don’t wait until 2018 to get involved.

A final word. In response to the question I posted at the outset, yes, the Democratic Party can win control of the U.S. House in the 2018 midterms. What’s more, Pennsylvania, as it has many times in the past – look no further than the 2016 presidential election, for an example – will play a pivotal role in the outcome. And this means all of us have an important role to play. There are several “flippable” seats in PA. As long as each of us does not confine our electioneering efforts to the arbitrary boundaries of our own Congressional district, we will defeat several GOP House incumbents in PA, getting our party closer to the majority in the House.

Bill Madway is part of the leadership team of Democratic Jewish Outreach PA. He has 25+ years practicing and teaching marketing communications and market research. For questions or comments about the commentary above or other topics, contact him at 610-527-9502 or wmmadway@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/thtleader.

 

PA Democrats Organizing Event With Tim Kaine

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine will lay out the plans that he and Hillary Clinton have for creating an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. Kaine will emphasize that he and Clinton are proposing an agenda that would make the biggest investment in good-paying jobs since World War II, while Donald Trump has consistently outsourced jobs and manufactured his Trump-branded products overseas and has stiffed workers and contractors at his properties here in the United States.

Although the event starts at 6 p.m., the doors open to the public at 4:00 p.m.

New Poll Shows Why Jews Supported Democrats In 2012

A Century of Jewish Voting in America

— by David Streeter

The new polling data released by the Workmen’s Circle provides the clearest proof yet as to why the sweeping majority of American Jews voted to reelect President Barack Obama in 2012.

On the key domestic issues that decided the election, American Jews are firmly aligned with the Democratic Party. According to the survey, clear majorities of the Jewish community stand with President Obama and the Democratic Party when it comes to:

  • Spending on social safety net programs;
  • Helping the poor;
  • Preventing drastic cuts to Medicare;
  • Responding to climate change;
  • Protecting a woman’s right to choose;
  • Supporting marriage equality;
  • Reforming America’s immigration system; and
  • Many other pressing domestic issues.

More after the jump.
The Workmen’s Circle summarized their findings:

  • American Jews consistently favor increasing spending on social welfare and regulating big business, in the midst of an election focused on budget deficits and taxation.
  • By a two-to-one ratio, Jewish voters see government regulation of business as necessary to protect the public interest, rather than ‘usually doing more harm than good’ (55% vs. 28%).
  • Asked to choose between the contrasting positions of fewer government services with reduced spending vs. many more services with increased spending, Jews in the survey opted for the latter (43% vs. 37%).
  • By more than a two-to-one ratio, Jewish voters prefer decreasing defense spending to increasing defense spending (53% vs. 26%).
  • By a 43% to 31% margin, more American Jews agreed with the view that, ‘Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently,’ than with the position that ‘Poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.’
  • By almost a two-to-one ratio, respondents expressed the belief that Medicare can be preserved without cutting benefits (50% vs. 28%).
  • Commitment to economic justice issues is so widespread in the American Jewish population that it extends even to the highest income Jews. Those earning over $250,000 express liberal views on economic justice as frequently as those earning far less. Jews earning $250,000 or more were as likely as lower-earning Jews to vote for Obama and other Democrats….
  • Accompanying the liberal and progressive stances on economic justice issues were a variety of positions of similar political coloration on issues like climate change, abortion, immigration and same-sex marriage.

The poll’s summary is available here, and the full poll results are available here as a pdf.  

NJDC Congratulates Representative-Elect Janice Hahn

–by David Streeter

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) congratulates Janice Hahn on her successful bid to represent California’s 36th Congressional district. In the special election held today, Hahn defeated her Tea Party-backed Republican opponent, Craig Huey, and dealt a blow to the hopes of Republican leaders who had hoped to send another extremist candidate to Washington, DC. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris released the following statement in response to Hahn’s victory:

“On behalf of the National Jewish Democratic Council, I wish Representative-elect Janice Hahn the best of luck as she continues her career in public service by representing her community at the federal level. We look forward to working with Hahn and continuing the fight for the progressive values she shares with the vast majority of American Jews. After two special elections in this off-cycle year, the growing trend is clear: Americans want leaders to fight against the increasingly extremist agenda of the Republican Party. Hahn has demonstrated that she is ready to do just that.”

Throughout her race against Huey, Hahn distinguished herself as the only candidate that represented the values of most American Jews.

More after the jump.
Hahn pledged her support for Israel and President Barack Obama’s efforts to strengthen the bilateral relationship. Specifically, she expressed support for Obama’s intensified security assistance to Israel, the Administration’s additional sanctions against Iran, and the Administration’s condemnation of anti-Israel rhetoric in international bodies.

Hahn has also been described as “a true fighter on the side of working people” by the L.A. County Federation of Labor.  She has been an ardent proponent of President Obama’s health care reform package and has pledged to protect and expand it.  Hahn also firmly opposes privatizing social security and turning Medicare into a voucher system.

Individuals like Hahn who reflect Jewish values in their policy priorities serve as a reminder to the Jewish community that the Democratic Party remains the only party that advocates for Jewish values within the halls of Congress.