The Democratic Strategy For The Midterms NPR's Renee Montagne talks to Stephanie Schriock of Emily's List about the Democratic Party's strategy heading into this year's elections.

The Democratic Strategy For The Midterms

The Democratic Strategy For The Midterms

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NPR's Renee Montagne talks to Stephanie Schriock of Emily's List about the Democratic Party's strategy heading into this year's elections.


Never mind that it's still July. Congress is already on August recess - the House for five weeks, the Senate for an early week-long break. Chances are you'll see some campaigning near you in the coming days. Republicans have a roaring economy to tout and a president who's historically popular with the party faithful. Democrats have some choices to make. Stephanie Schriock is a veteran Democratic strategist. She currently runs Emily's List, an organization dedicated to electing women across the country.

Thanks for being with us.

STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK: Renee, thank you for having me.

MONTAGNE: Well, I mean, it's obviously a good year, really, for Emily's List candidates, I would say - I mean, as in there are a lot of women out there. And your candidates - all Democrats - you advise them. What are you telling them to run on?

SCHRIOCK: We tell all of our candidates, whether they're running for the legislature or the U.S. Senate, the same thing, which is the most important piece of running for office is to understand the fears and the hopes of the families that you're ultimately asking their votes. We've got candidates who are very focused particularly on the issue of health care. It comes up over and over again. It doesn't matter where you live. People are scared.

MONTAGNE: What about the president himself? He is historically unpopular generally. Right now his average job approval is 43, disapproval is 53. That really animates the voters - the Democratic voters - that you're looking to get out to the polls this November. So why wouldn't candidates focus right on him?

SCHRIOCK: You know, the truth is they don't have to focus on him because he is everywhere. What our candidates need to do is to provide the alternative, the vision of what can be after the Trump era is over.

MONTAGNE: We are, though, hearing a lot about a growing movement among progressives to abolish ICE. That's the Immigrations and Custom Enforcement Agency. Is that actually a winning slogan for your candidates considering it could - you would think - put independents off?

SCHRIOCK: You go into most communities, and you talk to women, and you talk about that the Trump government separated children from their parents at the border and - boy, I've been in a lot of rooms. Folks are angry about that. We know we have a problem. And we have a handful of candidates that have stepped up and said one solution is to abolish ICE. We have a whole lot of other candidates that are talking about immigration reform. We do need to protect our borders, but we also have to protect the dignity and human rights of individuals. And how do we go about doing that? And that's the debate we're going to be having. It's an important debate this country should be having.

MONTAGNE: How does the party, in your opinion, strike the balance between getting voters excited - and that can often be something like abolish ICE or impeach Trump - and keeping the interest of the middle?

SCHRIOCK: Democrats are very, very enthusiastic right now. And none of them are driven - I shouldn't say none of them. OK, Democrats are very enthusiastic right now, and it's by about a number of issues. It's not just about one particular thing. They are driven by a shared set of values. And that's what holds this party together and makes us much stronger. Democrats are talking about how we make people's lives better. We're just having a little debate about it. I'll take that any time.

MONTAGNE: That Stephanie Schriock. She is president of Emily's List. And thank you very much for speaking with us.

SCHRIOCK: Thank you so much for having me.

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