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Political Strategy Notes

In his New York Times column, Thomas B. Edsall has a data-rich take-down of the Republican myth "that life for the poor and the middle class is better than it seems."

Despite good reasons for optimism about prospects for immigration reform, Dems should make themselves aware of the opposition's strategy. Benjy Sarlin's Talking Points Memo post, "Meet The Conservatives Trying To Stop Immigration Reform" is a good place to begin.

The Times has an editorial, "Political Power Needs to Be Used," arguing that Democrats have been unnecessarily fear-driven in recent years: "If ever there were a moment for Democrats to press their political advantage, this is it. Their message on many of the biggest national issues -- taxes, guns, education spending, financial regulation -- has widespread support, and they have increased their numbers in both houses of Congress. But after years of being out-yelled by strident right-wing ideologues, too many in the Democratic Party still have a case of nerves, afraid of bold action and forthright principles."

Commenting on the Obama-Clinton 60 Minutes interview, Michael Tomasky sees a transition benefiting Dems: "We have thus passed an important portal in American politics: Democrats are now the regular guys. Conservatives are the weirdos."

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky sinks the Republican meme that the American middle class is prospering, which is often used to justify cuts in social spending.

Opposition to the Affordable Care Act seems to have leveled off and begun to decline, in part because major benefits are starting to kick in. H.E.W. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has a HuffPo update: "We're starting an important countdown, first to October 1, 2013, when many of you will be able to begin to shop for health insurance that meets your needs at the new Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov. The countdown continues on to January 1, 2014, the start of new health insurance coverage for millions of Americans...This is an historic time for those Americans who never had health insurance, who had to go without insurance after losing a job or becoming sick, or who had been turned down because of a pre-existing condition. Because of these new marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans will have new access to affordable health insurance coverage."

A lot is riding on how user-friendly the aforementioned website will prove to be as a cornerstone of Obamacare. At WaPo's Wonkblog Sarah Kliff's "Buying health coverage is insanely confusing. Can Obamacare fix that?" explores some of the challenges consumers face in sorting out all of the data associated with evaluating and selecting health insurers.

Demos President Miles Rapaport does a good job of criticizing right-to-work laws and explaining the importance of unions for creating a healthy economy on this union-hostile Fox program.

In her Daily Beast post, "How Obama and the Democrats Could Win on Gun Control--by Losing" Eleanor Clift quotes TDS co-founding editor William Galston: "I confidently predict that a lot of red-state Democrats [in the Senate] will vote in favor of expanded background checks and against an assault weapons ban. That's the political sweet spot, and that's where they'll be--and they don't think that will hurt them," says Galston. Testifying before the Senate committee Wednesday, NRA head Wayne LaPierre said his organization would oppose universal background checks. "That's an insane move," says Galston, calling the NRA "a front organization for the gun manufacturers."

Michael Grunwald's "What's Wrong With the Republican Party?" at Time Swampland sums it up well: "I've often banged my spoon on my high chair about the reality-defying extremism and chronic obstructionism and borderline surrealism of the modern Republican Party. Its journey to wackadoodleland is, in my view, the most important political story of the last two decades..."

Dems who have been wondering if Clare McCaskill's successful re-election strategy of getting involved in the GOP state primary could be replicated with positive results elsewhere should read Nate Silver's "High-Risk Primaries Could Cost Republicans in 2014."