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Political Strategy Notes

At The New York Times Jennifer Steinhauer explains why Senate Majority Leader "Mitch McConnell's Stance in Confirmation Fight Could Help and Hurt G.O.P.," noting that a substantial number of significant cases coming up are likely to provoke a close vote by the Supreme Court. Says Steinhauer, "Every deadlocked 4-to-4 decision will spotlight the Senate's inaction."

"My hunch is that Obama will try to put the Republicans' obstructionism in sharp relief by offering a nominee who has won support and praise from GOP senators in the past. Three potential candidates who fit these criteria and won immediate and widespread mention were Merrick Garland and Sri Srinivasan, both judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and Jane Kelly, a judge on the 8th Circuit. (I should note that Garland is a dear friend of long standing.)...The partisan outcome of this year's election just became far more important. This fall, Americans will not just be picking a new chief executive. They will be setting the course of the court of last resort for a generation." -- from E. J. Dionne, Jr.'s Washington Post column

Michael Tomasky makes a case that President Obama should nominate an extremely well-qualified Mexican-American jurist, Tino Cuellar. Having Republican Senators squirming in the spotlight as bigoted obstructionists, says Tomasky, could hammer the GOP's percentage of the Latino vote in November down to the teens -- which improves the chance for a Democratic landslide in November.

John Nichols notes at The Nation that in Saturday's Republican presidential debate Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio either demonstrated a disturbing ignorance of recent Supreme Court history, or worse a deliberate distortion of the facts. As John Nichols explains in The Nation, "Cruz said, "We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court Justices in an election year."...The debate moderator, John Dickerson of CBS News, pointed our that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in 1988..."No," replied the know-it-all senator, "Kennedy was confirmed in '87.".."He was appointed in '87, confirmed in '88," said Dickerson." Nichols points out that Rubio incorrectly asserted that "it' been 80 years since a "lame duck president" appointed a Supreme Court justice."

Politico's Kevin Robillard explains how "Scalia death raises stakes in battle for Senate control" and quotes a likely soundbite for Dems: ""It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat," said retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, whose seat in Nevada is one of the battlegrounds of 2016. "Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential Constitutional responsibilities."

At The New Yorker, John Cassidy asks, "Will the G.O.P. Response to Antonin Scalia's Death Hand the Election to the Democrats?" Cassidy explains, "If you were a Democratic strategist trying to maximize turnout, what would you most like to see? One possibility, surely, is the prospect of the election being transformed into a referendum on the President versus the do-nothing Republican Congress.".."Well, the Senate GOP might just have ensured the Obama coalition turns out in 16," David Plouffe, a former senior adviser to the President, tweeted on Saturday evening.

In her NYT op-ed, "Not Their Mother's Candidate," Susan Faludi ponders the "feminist generation gap" and how it is playing out in the 2016 presidential election. Faludi,. author of "Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women," observes "Fueled by the force multiplier of Madeleine Albright's "special place in hell" quote the next day, the feminist family feud now threatens to engulf a presidential campaign. Women under 30 in New Hampshire went for Mr. Sanders 4:1, while women 65 and older sided nearly 2:1 with Hillary Clinton...That the Democratic agenda, so singularly important to women, could be scuttled by a slugfest between generations of like-minded women is a tragedy we can't afford."

Steve Phillips, author of "Brown is the New White," quoted from his interview by Janell Ross in the Washington Post: "In 2012, Democrats and progressives spent $2.7 billion on political campaigns, and that's just at the federal level. Since 46 percent of Democratic voters are people of color, roughly half of all political spending should target voters of color -- hiring of staff, running ads, organizing and mobilizing voters. We need to take advantage of technological tools that enable us to examine campaign-spending reports. For instance, ProPublica has developed an excellent new tool called Campaign Finance API. We then need to use social media to shine a light on how campaigns are doing, and whether they are spending their money right. ...After so many years of focusing on and chasing after white swing voters, many cannot conceptualize or comprehend a reality in which white people are not the most important voters to prioritize...Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison (D) has proved that a sophisticated, culturally competent voter mobilization can actually increase voter turnout in mid-term elections, and he has done so at the same time as voter turnout plummeted in Minnesota and around the country. His program eschewed the typical 30-second television ads targeting white swing voters and instead hired organizers to talk to and mobilize Latinos, renters, black church-goers and African immigrants."

In his article at The Guardian, "Republican debate in South Carolina: 10 things we learned," Nicky Woolf has a funny take on the GOP presidential wannabees debate Saturday night. Woolf's subtitle "Donald Trump bullied Jeb Bush, Ben Carson (mis)quoted Stalin, Ted Cruz attempted to speak Spanish and John Kasich said what we were all thinking" provides a sense of the flavor. But my favorite is #6: "Jeb Bush said he'd moon someone, but it is relatively unclear whom, and whether he ever went through with it."