Dan Pfeiffer Profile picture
Co-host Pod Save America, Author of Message Box, a newsletter about political strategy, Former Obama Senior Advisor, books, and other stuff.
Liz Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
10 Jun
Political punditry is falling back into some bad habits by presuming that every problem is the result of some strategic miscalculation by the President. Folks from the Obama era remember this as the Green Lantern Theory. Here's why it's dumb and dangerous. messagebox.substack.com/p/the-return-o…
The myth of the all-powerful president can lead to disappointment and demobilization. Failure on anything becomes a reason to disengage from politics, as opposed to doubling down to punish the obstructionists and make progress more likely. messagebox.substack.com/p/the-return-o…
The Green Lantern Theory, a term coined by @BrendanNyhan, asserts that the president can accomplish any goal as long as he or she tries hard enough. This belief misunderstands the limits of the Presidency and lets the GOP off the hook for obstruction messagebox.substack.com/p/the-return-o…
Read 4 tweets
20 Apr
John Boehner's bad faith revisionist history book tour continues to give hope to a group of media members and moderate Democratic Senators that a less Trump GOP is right around the corner. It's time to give up the naive dream and come to terms with reality
messagebox.substack.com/p/memo-to-the-…
Hoping against hope that the GOP is more Mitt Romney than Marjorie Taylor Greene allows Dems to defer tough decisions on voting rights and the filibuster and normalizes dangerous behavior. messagebox.substack.com/p/memo-to-the-…
Hoping against hope that this is the time Lucy will let you kick the football is easier than reckoning with the fact that there is a true sociopath in the ranks of your Peanuts Gang. messagebox.substack.com/p/memo-to-the-…
Read 5 tweets
22 Jan
Joe Biden ran on a message of unity. Less than 72 hours into his presidency, the unity message is being weaponized against him with bad faith arguments from Republicans and others. Here's whats happening and what we need to push back on. messagebox.substack.com/p/unity-is-alr…
To be clear,
- Biden pursuing his agenda is not divisive.
- Biden undoing Trump's policies is not divisive
- Biden rooting out Trump hacks burrowed into the govt is not divisive

No one that makes these arguments should be taken seriously messagebox.substack.com/p/unity-is-alr…
Not to mention the fact that Mitch McConnell is currently engaged in a slow motion coup of sorts by preventing the Democrats from taking the majority. The proper response any of the Republican that complains about a lack of unity is to laugh in their face messagebox.substack.com/p/unity-is-alr…
Read 4 tweets
11 Jan
The insurrection was caused by more than the post-election lies of Trump et al. It is the result of a growing political cancer. We need a comprehensive response to ensure this never happens again. Here are some ideas on what that looks like:
messagebox.substack.com/p/a-proportion…
1. Trump must be impeached and removed. It's an open and shut case. Any member that votes against is putting their narrow partisan interest over their oath of office. messagebox.substack.com/p/a-proportion…
2. A shortened impeachment process cannot replace a thorough accounting of the Trump years. Every crime and abuse of power from 1/20/17 led to this moment. We need something akin to truth and reconciliation commission to investigate, report, and prosecute messagebox.substack.com/p/a-proportion…
Read 8 tweets
3 Jan
On its face, the Hawley/Cruz challenge to the election results makes no sense. It makes the whole party look ridiculous and probably hurts in Georgia, but it needs to be viewed as pretext for a huge push for more voter suppression laws in the next 2 years messagebox.substack.com/p/whats-really…
To be clear, this effort is no less ridiculous than a bunch of Senators demanding an audit of the moon landing or the roundness of the Earth. messagebox.substack.com/p/whats-really…
Even though McConnell opposes the challenge to the Electoral College certification, he deserves the bulk of the blame. His silence after the election created a vacuum for the nutsos and snake oil salesman to weaponize conspiracy theories messagebox.substack.com/p/whats-really…
Read 4 tweets
22 Dec 20
The COVID Relief deal was woefully insufficient, absolutely necessary, and an indictment of divided government. messagebox.substack.com/p/thoughts-on-…
The success Democrats had in bringing Republicans to the table by hammering them as callous corporatists on the campaign trail is a sign that economic populist arguments against the GOP could have more impact with Trump fading into the background messagebox.substack.com/p/thoughts-on-…
People rarely make a public argument against divided government, but this deal provides Democrats in Georgia with an opportunity to lay out the differences between a Senate that wants to fix things and one that would prefer to watch the world burn. messagebox.substack.com/p/thoughts-on-…
Read 4 tweets
8 Dec 20
Today's Message Box looks at the state of the Democratic Party brand in 2020 and beyond, whether Dems have a brand problem, and what we can do about it.

messagebox.substack.com/p/the-democrat…
Democratic policies are more popular than Republican policies. The Democratic Party is more popular than the Republican Party, but that hasn't translated into a success down ballot. Here's why and some thoughts on what we can do about it messagebox.substack.com/p/the-democrat…
In an era of declining split-ticket voting, a party’s brand matters a lot. Voters are defaulting to their pre-conceived party preference with less regard for the personal characteristics and policy positions of the individual candidates. messagebox.substack.com/p/the-democrat…
Read 4 tweets
4 Dec 20
In 2021, Trump is going to do everything to remain the center of attention. There will be a temptation among some Dems to focus on an unpopular, polarizing loser, but that would a mistake. Dems should make McConnell the face of the GOP, not Trump: messagebox.substack.com/p/ignore-trump…
We live in an "attention economy" where the ability to garner eyeballs is power. Who and what we give our attention is a choice. Just because Trump wants our attention, doesn't mean we have to give it to him: messagebox.substack.com/p/ignore-trump…
A top strategic priority for Dems exploiting the tension between the working class GOP base and their corporatists donors. Focusing on McConnell - a corrupt, partisan hack that wants cut Medicare and give tax breaks to Wall Street - is a way to do that: messagebox.substack.com/p/ignore-trump…
Read 4 tweets
2 Dec 20
There has been a lot of focus on Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, but behind the scenes the Republicans are already working on stealing the next 5 elections. Here's how and how we can try to stop them: messagebox.substack.com/p/forget-the-c…
Early next year, the redistricting process is going to kick off and the GOP has already pledged to gerrymander themselves into power for a decade despite representing a shrinking share of the electorate: messagebox.substack.com/p/forget-the-c…
Republicans engage in partisan and racist gerrymandering, because they believe they won't pay a political price for doing so. It doesn't have to be that way. With proper attention, aggressive activism and a compelling message, we can impact the results. messagebox.substack.com/p/forget-the-c…
Read 4 tweets
30 Nov 20
Despite Biden's huge win, Democratic turnout in a lot of big cities was flat. There are a lot of theories as to why that happened. Given how much the deck is stacked against Democrats, we need to figure out what happened and fix it. Some thoughts here: messagebox.substack.com/p/the-2020-dee…
The most important people to listen to in this conversation are organizers like @staceyabrams, @MsLaToshaBrown and others that have been organizing for years to build political in the face of overwhelming and malicious voter suppression
messagebox.substack.com/p/the-2020-dee…
Democratic performance in Philly, Milwaukee, and Miami is something we need to look at because in 2022 three of best Democratic Senate pick ups are in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida. messagebox.substack.com/p/the-2020-dee…
Read 4 tweets
29 Nov 20
If I was building a White House staff, a campaign, a think tank or any other endeavor, my first hire would be Brian Deese. He is unquestionably brilliant, a great person, and in politics for all the right reasons.
Brian became a star in the Obama White House at barely 30 years old for spearheading the rescue of the auto industry where he worked with organized labor to save millions of jobs despite not having an office and working from an extra desk designated for an intern.
I was in nearly every economic meeting with President Obama from late 2009 to 2015 and I don't recall ever hearing Brian argue for austerity. He was always pushing for more stimulus, higher taxes on the rich, and creative ways to help the people that needed it the most.
Read 8 tweets
23 Nov 20
Coward is too kind a word to describe the GOP. Cowardice implies that they want to do the right thing, but are too afraid. The last couple of weeks has proven that they are backing Trump's dangerous lies, bc they think it's good politics. Here's why
messagebox.substack.com/p/republicans-…
The sense that the GOP only puts up with Trump out of fear masks the much scarier reality of who they are and what they are capable of doing. Democrats can win the battles to come if we don't understand who we are fighting
messagebox.substack.com/p/republicans-…
Please consider signing up for Message Box, my newsletter about political and message strategy. In the coming weeks, I am going to be focusing on the lessons from 2020, the Georgia runoffs, and how Democrats can take on Trumpism in the post-Trump era
messagebox.substack.com/subscribe?utm_…
Read 4 tweets
28 Oct 20
Political coverage focuses too much on what the candidates are saying and not enough on what voters are hearing. A new @crookedmedia/@ChangePolls poll looks at what voters are hearing down to see what's breaking through. The results are fascinating. messagebox.substack.com/p/new-poll-wha…
One of the most important questions in campaign polls is whether voters are hearing positive or negative information about the candidate. It is a leading indicator of support. Voters are hearing much more positive info about Biden (52-31) vs. Trump (20-68) messagebox.substack.com/p/new-poll-wha…
This poll is a devastating indictment of @FoxNews. Republicans that watch Fox are much engaged news consumers than Republicans that don't, yet they were less familiar with bad stories about Trump like his secret Chinese bank account. messagebox.substack.com/p/new-poll-wha…
Read 4 tweets
7 Oct 20
Trump's irresponsible and erratic behavior present Democrats with the opportunity to make the last month about Trump's failed COVID response. Here are some thoughts on the most persuasive messages to use when talking about the COVID Patient in Chief

messagebox.substack.com/p/talking-abou…
1. Sympathy is nice, but not necessary: Recent polling shared with me shows there is no backlash to being critical of Trump while he is ill. No need to twist yourself into a pretzel to be nice to someone that has never been nice to anyone in their life. messagebox.substack.com/p/talking-abou…
2. Trump's failure to protect himself is emblematic of his failure to protect all of us. This is about more than his own irresponsibly absurd behavior. messagebox.substack.com/p/talking-abou…
Read 5 tweets
6 Oct 20
Recent polling and events show that politics of the Supreme Court battle keeps getting worse for Republicans. Democrats have every reason to feel confident that we have the political high ground and should aggressively push our case.
messagebox.substack.com/p/a-supreme-lo…
The GOP shutting down Senate work on aid for the unemployed and vaccine funding, but twisting themselves into a pretzel to push forward a nominee that could overturn the ACA in a pandemic is a chance for Democrats to make them pay a historic price messagebox.substack.com/p/a-supreme-lo…
Four members of the Judiciary committee are vulnerable GOP Senators. They are about to become the face of everything voters hate about politics. If we play our cards right, rushing through this nomination could be the last act of this Republican Majority. messagebox.substack.com/p/a-supreme-lo…
Read 5 tweets
26 Sep 20
Democrats have to talk about Trump's attempts to shred our democracy, but how we talk about it matters a lot. The wrong language reinforces Trump's message and could discourage our voters. Here are my thoughts on the right approach messagebox.substack.com/p/talking-abou…
We spend so much time talking about Trump's power to steal the election that we ignore our own - much greater - power to stop him from stealing it. messagebox.substack.com/p/talking-abou…
Trump is an incompetent, weak loser that is losing the election and contemplating desperate ploys to save his flagging campaign. That is the context into which we must put all of Trump's dictatorial fever dreams messagebox.substack.com/p/talking-abou…
Read 5 tweets
23 Sep 20
How the SCOTUS confirmation process plays out in Congress and in the campaign is TBD. Based on some recent polling, I have some thoughts on how we can make Republicans pay a political price for rigging the court. messagebox.substack.com/p/a-supreme-co…
1. Make it about the issues, not GOP hypocrisy or process fouls. The best message about the GOP rushing to confirmation to get a Justice that will help them overturn the ACA in the middle of a pandemic. messagebox.substack.com/p/a-supreme-co…
2. Keep the Fight Big. The person Trump nominates is beside the point. We know that person will overturn Roe V. Wade, the ACA, and a new Voting Rights bill. Keep the focus on the policy implications not the specifics of the nominee.
messagebox.substack.com/p/a-supreme-co…
Read 5 tweets
17 Sep 20
New Poll: @crookedmedia/@ChangePolls polled new and infrequent voters in the battleground states. The poll offers some good news for @JoeBiden and some very specific guidance. Here are the best messages to turn out this critical group of voters: messagebox.substack.com/p/winning-the-…
Two key priorities to win these key voters:

1. Win the economic debate: Trump still has an advantage on the issue, but is very vulnerable.

2. Inform them about Biden: This hard to reach group wants more info on Biden's plans.

More on how to do that:

messagebox.substack.com/p/winning-the-…
For more information on the latest @crookedmedia / @ChangePolls PollerCoaster poll crooked.com/articles/polle…
Read 4 tweets
5 Sep 20
A lot of people keep saying @TheAtlantic story about Trump won't matter because "nothing matters" when it comes to Trump. This notion is self-defeating and wrong, so I took a break from Labor Day weekend to write up how we can make sure it matters messagebox.substack.com/p/trump-the-tr…
The idea that Trump is a "Teflon Don" is absurd when he losing to Biden by 7% and underperforming his pretty poor '16 popular vote by about 4%. Voters have punished Trump at the polls and the ballot box for his conduct and it can happen again. messagebox.substack.com/p/trump-the-tr…
It doesn't matter what the pundits predict, we decide what matters. We need to spend less time worrying about whether Trump will get away with another outrage and more time making sure that he doesn’t. Here are some ideas on how to make that happen messagebox.substack.com/p/trump-the-tr…
Read 4 tweets
30 Aug 20
From the convention to Kenosha, Trump is trying run as a classic "strongman" politician. As Trump sows chaos, Democrats have the opportunity to go on offense and paint Trump as weak and undermine his core strength with a lot of his voters messagebox.substack.com/p/how-to-beat-…
By speaking/tweeting incessantly about chaos and violence happening on his watch, Trump is trying to re-capture some of his 2016 racist magic, but he is also leading with his chin. Painting Trump as weak is important but all of us could do a better job of framing Biden as strong
Pundits often confuse competence and strength. It's possible for Trump to be incompetent and seem strong to voters. As Bill Clinton once said "When people are insecure, they'd rather have somebody who is strong and wrong than someone who's weak and right."messagebox.substack.com/p/how-to-beat-…
Read 4 tweets
27 Aug 20
A lot of pundits keep saying the illegal misuse of the White House at the GOP convention doesn't matter to voters. They are wrong. History and polling shows that corruption can be powerful issue if it is messaged correctly.

Here's how to do it. messagebox.substack.com/p/boy-crime-i-…
Of course voters won't care if media types preemptively dismiss the politics and Democrats do not make the case. Turning our backs on a massive misuse of taxpayer dollars broadcast on live TV s not a winning strategy. It demonstrates weakness. messagebox.substack.com/p/boy-crime-i-…
Corruption won't be the biggest issue in an election occurring amid a pandemic, recession, and focus on structural racism, but Trump's convention crimes fit a broader pattern that will buttress the core anti-Trump narrative and be very powerful with persuadable voters.
Read 4 tweets