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Dems Turn Table on Post Office Sabotage

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

This is one of those unique moments where everybody is talking about it Everyone is affected by the Postal Service, said a former digital fundraising aide to Bernie Sanders.

Sam Brodey

Congressional Reporter

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In Congress, Democratic lawmakers have backed bills funding the USPS and grilled DeJoy at high-profile hearings. But out on the political battlefield, a throng of Democratic candidates and organizations have turned the USPS crisis around as a potent political tool to galvanize supportersand raise money.

Its hugeevery single client has been trying to capitalize on it, said a Democratic strategist, who spoke anonymously with ishonest, to discuss trends candidly. Its rare you get an issue where every candidate, whether theyre a Blue Dog or very liberal, is so aligned on this.

This is one of those unique moments where everybody is talking about it Everyone is affected by the Postal Service, said Michael Whitney, the former digital fundraising manager for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) presidential campaign. In terms of how you know that youre going to have something people are paying attention to, this is really a gimme in terms of knowing your audience is going to have heard about it, has an opinion about it, and is going to want to do something about it.

The issues facing the USPS also tie neatly into other powerful issues: mail being delayed means seniors dont get prescription drugs on time, for example; it also raises the threat that ballots and election mail could get held up in an election where more Americans than ever will vote by mail. And it serves as an evocative example of many of the broader frustrations that Americans feel with Trumps presidency.

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The Postal Service is the ultimate umbrella issue, said Renee Schaeffer, a fundraising specialist at the Democratic strategy firm Democracy Partners, that can serve as a stand-in for a candidates broader priorities. Its, this is who we are, this is who they are, she said. Its represented in this one entity.

The last time that Democratic fundraising appeals were so dominated by a single issue, ventured Schaeffer, was in 2009, when Congress was debating the Affordable Care Actparticularly an amendment that would have blocked coverage for abortion in any public option.

Democrats have long weaponized GOP designs on health-care programs, and reproductive rights, against them. But few expected that theyd be handed an opportunity as golden as Trump going after what might be the most popular institution in America, the USPS, at a time when it is more critical than ever.

"The Postal Service is always a really important issue, said the Democratic strategist, but it has become white hot for donors explicitly because it is tied to the election in 2020.

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Ive sat in dozens of focus groups of swing voters, and they care about core competency of government, said Jared Leopold, a Democratic operative whos worked on various races nationwide. This is a great proof point of something that is apolitical that Trump has politicized and screwed up Its a reason why Democrats would go on offense about it.

In public opinion surveys, the Postal Service routinely scores above 90 percent favorability ratings. Its services affect virtually everyone in the country especially senior citizens, who tend to participate in the political processes of voting and donating more than younger people.

There has not been a wealth of public opinion polling focusing on Trumps handling of the USPS in recent weeks. But Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, did a slate of surveys for the liberal group MoveOn on the subject in three states central to the battle for the Senate majority: Maine, Iowa, and Georgia.

In all three states, opinion about Trumps stewardship of the USPS was underwater: in Maine, for example, 31 percent of voters approved, while 56 percent disapproved. And in Iowa, 56 percent of voters said they supported action from Congress to provide more funds to the USPS, while 27 percent opposed it.

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The U.S. Postal Service is being sabotaged!! Meanwhile [Sen.] Lindsey Graham is nowhere to be found, read a typical fundraising message from Jaime Harrison, the Democrat challenging the longtime South Carolina Republican senator.

The crop of candidates now putting the USPS front and center to their fundraising are building on the smaller, but persistent number of candidates whod done so since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has threatened the agencys long-term finances and fueled increased calls for a rescue package.

Theres been a low buzz around the Postal Service working in email for a while. Everyones relieved to have something to talk about thats not COVID and is election-adjacent, said Whitney, referencing how many of the fundraising pitches connect the USPS to Trumps stated desire to fund it less so that a broad expansion of vote-by-mail is not possible.

When you see this unanimity in content, said Whitney, its gotta be working.

Read more on: thedailybeast, fundraising


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