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Postmortem

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A few thoughts, loosely tied together, on last night’s disaster.

Obviously Democrats need to spend some time figuring out what the heck happened. In many ways, few fundamentals had changed since 2012. Gridlock dominates Washington. The economy is not really any worse for the 99%, but nor is it appreciably better. Yet people seem to genuinely dislike Barack Obama at all points when he is not actively campaigning. Mitch McConnell deserves a lot of credit for understanding that the politics of fireeating would work wonders because everyone would blame the president no matter whose fault the problems in Washington actually lie with. He knows that most Americans simply don’t understand how politics work and want the president to solve problems, period. Manipulating that was horrible for the country but great for the Republican Party.

So it’s tough out there.

I don’t want to hear that the problem last night was the map. Yes, the Senate map was tough for Democrats. Winning at this point in Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia, and South Dakota is very difficult. However, that’s a limited explanation because it says nothing as to how the widely despised Paul LePage was reelected in Maine even after Eliot Cutler dropped out. It says nothing as to how Scott Walker was reelected in Wisconsin and Rick Snyder in Michigan. It certainly says nothing as to how a Republican became governor of Maryland. Maryland! This is a lot more than a tough map. Also, you can mostly forget about easily winning the Senate back in 2016. That map isn’t so great either and Democrats are in a deep hole.

I also don’t want to hear too much about money. It’s not that it isn’t important. It’s that a) the plutocrats always have tons of money and have always used it aggressively except for a relatively brief period in the decades after World War II and b) it can be overcome and has been overcome. Elections can be bought but grassroots campaigns can make that not happen. Obviously, Democrats failed miserably on this point.

So what’s up? I think there are a few really important points. Democrats need to just stop trying to appeal to old white people. White men voted for the GOP 64-34. It is a loser strategy. This demographic overwhelmingly votes GOP. Alison Grimes, who ran an utterly pathetic and embarrassing campaign, refusing to say whether she voted for President Obama is the prototype of how not to do it. No one is going to believe you. Heard a bunch about the North Carolina race last night and all the discussion about how Ebola, ISIS, and immigration dominated voters’ agenda. When I hear those three things in this context, I hear three words: racism, racism, and racism. And the Supreme Court supporting racist policies to restrict blacks from voting by eviscerating the Voting Rights Act allowed racists to indeed restrict black voting in meaningful ways that may well have swung North Carolina to the execrable Thom Tillis. Developing entire political campaigns to swing a few of these voters to the Democrats isn’t going to work–as we saw quite clearly last night.

Instead, Democrats need to give Latinos, African-Americans, and the young a reason to vote. Check this out:

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37%!! That means that Democrats simply could not get young people to vote while Republicans did an outstanding job motivating their base.

That means that Democrats have to rethink their midterm election strategy is a very real way. It’s one thing when there’s a presidential campaign. But the politics of midterm elections means that the same types of political calculations don’t work. How do you do that? You make your party about actual issues that young people and people of color care about. You support legalizing marijuana and prison reform. You support a vigorous government jobs program. You embrace immigration all the way, demonizing those who oppose a path to citizenship and the decriminalization of undocumented immigrants as racists. You make a $15 national minimum wage central to your campaign strategy. You have to call for student debt forgiveness. You have to make your party the party of the poor and the non-white, and not just in the passive way. If the racists and the plutocrats don’t like that, well, they weren’t going to vote for you anyway. Alexis Goldstein offers more radical ideas that may well be effective too. See also Harold Meyerson on this.

It’s increasingly clear, with the minimum wage hikes in deep red states and marijuana legalization continuing its march, that the nation wants these progressive policies, but they don’t see the Democratic Party as any vehicle to get them done. And maybe it isn’t. Certainly the party of Andrew Cuomo isn’t going to do much for the poor. And many may say that the Democratic coalition is too diverse for such a program. And the control of Wall Street over Democratic Party is toxic. But in the Senate at least, the remaining Democratic caucus is as progressive or more so than anytime in history. There simply aren’t conservatives left in that caucus outside of Manchin and King, both of whom could flip to the Republicans (although I am a bit skeptical McConnell wants them to since he can use them for his bipartisan cred). Mark Warner will be on the far right of the caucus. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown–these are people who represent what actual Democrats want to see. They are the future of the party. And the Democratic Senate can push forward really progressive legislation, even if it isn’t going to pass. They can lead the way in developing a left-leaning platform that, hopefully, motivates the young to vote.

Because whatever Democrats are doing is not working and will probably not work in 2018 either. Money will remain vital to that election and Democrats are scared of offending their big money donors (see Mark Pryor saying he doesn’t support raising the minimum wage even though it passes in his state). But that challenge must be overcome to motivate enough voters to compete in the midterms. More commercials about how Republicans are evil isn’t going to do that. Convincing base Democratic groups that the party wants to make their lives better and is the agent for doing that will.

So there’s a lot of work to be done. In case this post was too long, here is a short open letter to the Democratic Party with some visuals.

Dear Democrats,

Less this:

john-kerry-hunting-4

More this:

immigration-march-4

Thanks,
Erik

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  • KmCO

    I haven’t read the entire post yet, as I want to really read it thoroughly and see what I agree with and what i don’t, and I haven’t had time to do that yet (but my mid-morning cup of coffee is brewing and I’m about to take a break and do so). But I definitely agree with you on the issue of the map, which is why the usual standby of blaming the South makes little sense here. Wisconsin, Michigan, and hell, even Colorado–there is something more going on here.

    But I can’t–won’t–agree with this:

    Also, you can mostly forget about easily winning the Senate back in 2016

    • Dems will be in a good position to win some seats. But the map is just not favorable for obviously seeing 5 or 6 pickups. It isn’t impossible, but there’s been a lot of talk about how this Republican Senate majority is surely short-lived. This seems far from obvious to me.

      • Denverite

        I observed on the thread below:

        Johnson (likely pick up)
        Kirk (almost as likely)
        Toomey (good chance if the Democrat runs strong in PA)

        After that, it gets a little sketchy. Maybe Ayotte in NH. Maybe Burr in NC. If Clinton runs super strong in AR or KY, then MAYBE, though I’d expect voters there to split their ballot even if they vote for her.

        • djanyreason

          If Shaheen was able to win in last night’s bloodbath, I think Ayotte has a very tough road in ’16. I also think you’re shortchanging the odds of beating Portman.

          More than that, though, is that the D’s just aren’t defending anything. Once you sum up the tail probabilities, the mean expected number of seats swinging is going to add up. So even if you think the median is 2 or 3 (which I think is low), the mean expectation is going to be at least 4.

          • joe from Lowell

            There’s Shaheen’s victory this time, but also her win over an incumbent from a political dynasty (Sununnu) in 2008.

            New Hampshire is just brutal for Republicans in Presidential years, and not only did Obama win it twice, but Hillary Clinton won the primary in 2008. I would not want to be a Republican on that state’s ballot in 2016.

            • witlesschum

              I know almost nothing about Shaheen, is she someone who we should be seeing as a presidential possibility at some point?

              • Hogan

                She’ll be 68 in January.

              • joe from Lowell

                I don’t think so. She’s a very capable politician and office-holder, but not a TV person.

                You can become Governor of New Hampshire without any observable charisma on TV, but not POTUS.

          • lornix

            Senate Democrats up for election in 2016 do include Michael Bennett in Colorado and Harry Reid in Nevada. I am not sure (especially given last night’s results) that we can just blithely say “D’s just aren’t defending anything”.

            • TriforceofNature

              Reid will be 76 in November 2016. Obviously there have been Senators much, much older than that, but do we know that he wants to hang on that long?

    • Richard Gadsden

      Here’s the map:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2016_Senate_election_map.svg

      That’s a lot of midwestern states to turn blue, plus New Hampshire (and PA, unless you count that as midwest). If the party’s doing well, then NC and FL could get into play.

      There’s a lot of chances, and very very few seats the Democrats could lose on a Presidential electorate.

  • Mandos

    Obviously Democrats need to spend some time figuring out what the heck happened. In many ways, few fundamentals had changed since 2012. Gridlock dominates Washington. The economy is not really any worse for the 99%, but nor is it appreciably better. Yet people seem to genuinely dislike Barack Obama at all points when he is not actively campaigning. Mitch McConnell deserves a lot of credit for understanding that the politics of fireeating would work wonders because everyone would blame the president no matter whose fault the problems in Washington actually lie with. He knows that most Americans simply don’t understand how politics work and want the president to solve problems, period. Manipulating that was horrible for the country but great for the Republican Party.

    *takes deep breath*

    So I’ve lurked around here for a long time, and watched the regular appearance of posts that dismiss the concerns of anti-Obama lefties, and I kind of agree with the general principle that there isn’t a Green Lantern or whatever, but I think the outcome of this midterm suggests that a politics of getting a little bit of good done while capitulating to reality is not going to be successful in the long run. Left-wing Democrats *are* going to have to at least *simulate* Green Lantern and be willing to lose procedural battles in spectacular ways in order to change the narrative.

    In other words, yes, I agree that ACA is an improvement and have always been skeptical that single payer was magically going to appear. But the American right is willing to make sacrifices and blockade for grandiose appearances of Resistance to the ni*CLANG* hordes etc etc. The Democrats, if you really believe they are the only viable vehicle, which is probable, need to decide that if they are going to produce a long-term winning strategy, that what appear to be unacceptable losses need to become acceptable if sufficient discourse-changing drama is produced. That is, in the future, the Democrats need fewer ACAs and more dramatic battles to get impossible policies in place.

    That’s the only prescription I can think of. The Democratic base, if it is to be brought out to vote, needs not only an inspirational speaker as a leader, but someone who actually does inspiring things, even when futile. This taps into deep cultural feelings that I perceive in the left side of American politics, whereas the politics of a “caretaker” don’t work so well, when the status quo is dispiritingly corporate.

    • Mandos

      Another way of putting what I’m trying to say is that Americans have a strong Messianic political tendency, and Obama came in as a Messianic figure, but chose not to redeem the Messianic meme. Now anti-Obama lefties say that he was merely a bought-out corporate drone, and to some extent almost everyone who reaches that level of politics is, but I for one don’t assume he deliberately set out to fail in this Midterm. The Democrats of whatever stripe need to get their martyr groove back, their futile Green Lantern. They need to fit their memetic straightjacket better.

      • AlanInSF

        The Democratic Party. Proudly running away from Democratic Party accomplishments since 1992.

        • Pat

          You know why? Because the left never stops criticizing them. How many so-called leftists proudly criticize Obamacare? How many complain about Obama? How many talk shit about the Blue Dogs? THEY NEVER SHUT UP ABOUT HOW DISAPPOINTED THEY ARE.

          So Louise Slaughter in Upstate may go down. I mean, what Democrat wanted to vote for Cuomo? Small price to pay for venting, eh?

          Maybe if these so-called Democrats actually supported their leaders, tried something called constructive criticism instead of carping, and thought about being part of a group, they might be able to get their shit together.

          • cleek

            meh. it’s much easier to just blame the President for everything.

          • JL

            So…leftists should just fall in line and not even criticize Democrats? I understand the ideas of incrementalism and voting the lesser evil perfectly well, but how do you ever get anything better if you just suck it up and take whatever the party dishes out? Why should I give reflexive support, not just in the polls but in my own rhetoric and analysis, to a politician because they’re my “leader”? Do you get angry when, say, Loomis criticizes the Dems about stuff? Do you think the far-right took over the right by not expressing discontent?

            Also, the left has been criticizing Dems a whole lot longer than “since 1992” – you can go back to the time of FDR and see the same thing – and Dems haven’t always been running away from their accomplishments. So your hypothesis isn’t supported by history.

            • Pat

              There is a thing called constructive criticism. It’s where one collaborates, i.e. works with another person to improve a proposal.

              There is a thing called “having someone’s back.” The left has nobody’s back. The left hates the only people who might do anything progressive because they aren’t pure enough.

              People here bitch, damn near continuously, about Obama for failing their liberal ideals. They fail to take into account the many things his administration has done to improve matters for the poor, the middle class, and those long hated.

              I disagree with a lot of things this administration has done. The rich should be taxed a lot more, and the police state needs to be reined in. But I defend them a lot on these pages against those who complain so much they discourage people from voting (and then complain about losing.)

              I think your comment about 1992 is telling – I only said Blue Dogs, not Clinton. The rise of rightwing media has exploited the left’s inherent tendency to fight amongst themselves quite ably.

              We need a positive message, yes. We need to define the narrative, yes. We need to keep people focused and enthusiastic, yes. Maybe people could stop bitching about details and support the people who aren’t the maniacs trying to loot and destroy the country?

              • JL

                I mentioned 1992 because 1992 is what AlanInSF brought up in the comment that your comment was a response to.

                People here bitch, damn near continuously, about Obama for failing their liberal ideals. They fail to take into account the many things his administration has done to improve matters for the poor, the middle class, and those long hated.

                Oh please. This has to be one of the top 10 most pragmatic sites in the left blogosphere. This site spends an inordinate amount of time opposing purity trolling urging leftists to suck it up and vote for the lesser evil. If you think this site discourages people from voting, something is seriously wrong with your calibration.

                You’re right that you spend a lot of time defending the Dem establishment here. And you know what? You don’t need to do that! Nobody in this commenting community who wasn’t already committed to being a third-party voter or nonvoter is going to do so because of the discourse here. Nobody! This is a commenting community fixated on the virtues of pragmatic leftism! You don’t have to spend your time here in a defensive crouch, worried that some blog commenter moaning about Arne Duncan is going to cost the Dems votes.

                Do you think the far-right achieved its takeover of the Republican party by happily falling in line behind established leaders? Keep in mind that we’re not taking about sucking it up and voting with the party in the end, we’re talking about discourse. No. They did not achieve their takeover by falling in line and licking their party establishment’s shoes. They complained and complained for decades – what were the Birchers if not the mid-century version of the Tea Party? They protested on the issues that they cared about, ran candidates for local offices, reached as far to the right as they could possibly go in politically sympathetic areas, primaried officials in their own party. They were hostile toward the moderates on their own side. Now their agenda is the national party’s agenda and they are governing a bunch of states.

          • RonC

            I am tired of people telling me that I just haven’t gone out and supported the current democratic corporate whore enough. It is always the fault of the left that we cannot elect moderately conservative democrats.

            You know I’ve been working and voting for the lesser evil for quite awhile, like since Carter. You know what? At no point have things really gotten better for the working or middle class they haven’t even stayed the same they continue to get worse under both republicans and democrats.

            So go ahead and kick a hippy, if it will make you feel better. But it ain’t gonna get any better policies enacted.

            • I am tired of people telling me that I just haven’t gone out and supported the current democratic corporate whore enough. It is always the fault of the left that we cannot elect moderately conservative democrats.

              Say what? That’s really only a problem in specific cases (e.g., 2000 prez, Maine gov 2014). Aside from Maine, I don’t see that most of 2014 is “the left’s” fault.

              You know I’ve been working and voting for the lesser evil for quite awhile, like since Carter. You know what? At no point have things really gotten better for the working or middle class they haven’t even stayed the same they continue to get worse under both republicans and democrats.

              Surely this is a wild overstatement.

              But even if things only get worse more slowly under Democrats (ignoring any wins), er…isn’t that what you should vote for? What is the alternative again?

              • JL

                Keep in mind, Bijan, that RonC’s comment is a reply to Pat’s ludicrous statement that it’s all the fault of the left for criticizing the Democratic establishment too much. Pat thinks that this blog comments section is part of the problem, because even though the huge majority of us practice harm reduction voting and it’s pushed regularly on this blog, we’re big meanie-heads who criticize Democrats in public, sometimes harshly, when they behave in ways that we don’t like, instead of having their backs and keeping our criticism behind closed doors. RonC is right to be irritated about that line of argument.

        • ChrisS

          Dan Maffei was crushed in NY-24 last night. He ran a completely boring campaign that fixated on his opponent’s historical short comings (and not the policies that he supported). He had one ad that spouted some blah generalities. He didn’t mention Obama or the ACA once. The only heavyweight he had for an assist was Bill Clinton – who was President 16 years ago.

          Maffei was crushed because he didn’t support anything and didn’t want to say anything else that might offend the white males who wouldn’t vote for him anyway.

          • cpinva

            “Maffei was crushed because he didn’t support anything and didn’t want to say anything else that might offend the white males who wouldn’t vote for him anyway.”

            this. being afraid to offend someone who is never going to vote for you anyway strikes me now, and always has, as pretty stupid. as a democrat, I know the tea party is never going to vote for me, so why should I give a shit if I offend them or not? same with hard core evangelical Christians, they hate the idea of a woman having agency over her own body, so they definitely aren’t voting for me. wall street types aren’t voting for me either. neither are white southerners. I push solidifying choice, raising the federal minimum wage to $15, raising the highest marginal tax rates, eliminating preferential tax treatment for investment income over $1,000 a year, making student loan debt subject to bankruptcy elimination. I support real immigration reform.

            there, I have pissed off nearly every republican. I don’t care, they weren’t voting for me regardless. I have given every democratic demographic a reason to hit the polling booth come election day. I get elected, I squeeze the lobbyists, instead of them squeezing me.

            • Richard Gadsden

              The only reason to avoid offending them is that if you go out of your way to be rude to people (not by adopting policies, or campaigning on them, but by e.g. calling them names) then you can lose votes from people who don’t want to vote for an asshole.

        • DrDick

          More like since 1975.

        • TriforceofNature

          I’m not sure Dukakis would have governed much different than Clinton. So I would say 88.

    • Anon21

      sufficient discourse-changing drama

      Well, but when does “drama” actually change the discourse? Have any of the stunts that the GOP has pulled since 2010 actually changed the “discourse”? Is there an example of a second-term President running against a do-nothing Congress and actually picking up seats?

      • “Is there an example of a second-term President running against a do-nothing Congress and actually picking up seats?”

        It’s worth noting here, because people try to extrapolate from these situations all the time, that the data points are so few for something like this to tell us basically nothing useful.

        • royko

          But in about 4000 years, we should have a really good idea of how to win American elections. ;)

        • Anon21

          True, but the second-term midterm being a net loss for the President’s party seems to be a pretty durable pattern of American politics. That doesn’t explain a defeat of any particular scope, but it does suggest that there is something more fundamental at work here than the specific arrangement we observe in the past decade.

          • Pat

            Could be a sign that a successful campaigner (like Obama or GW Bush) has coattails that senators who aren’t very good campaigners use to get into office, and 6 years later they hang themselves out to dry.

        • joe from Lowell

          It’s worth noting here, because people try to extrapolate from these situations all the time, that the data points are so few for something like this to tell us basically nothing useful.

          Is it also worth noting that you’ve draw much larger conclusions from just the 2014 elections?

          • Maybe, but is your alternative argument that there is no substantive problem here?

            • joe from Lowell

              I’m not ready to put forward an alternative argument without spending some time getting better information about the election.

              You were happy to come right out of the chute with an argument, though, so I thought we’d talk about that.

      • Mandos

        The stunts that the GOP has pulled have clearly changed the overall tone of the American electorate. Their antics and the success of their blockade has been massively dispiriting to the Democratic base, especially as they watched Obama again and again try to “work” with it to “get something done”. And my point is: getting something done should not be overvalued. The GOP knows this.

        • Anon21

          You’re just asserting this. I can tell a just-so story that goes the other way: persuadable voters were key, if Obama and Senate Dems had held their nose and passed bad legislation favored by the House GOP, then Democrats would have looked like the reasonable party for getting something, anything done and their losses would have been mitigated. I don’t think that story is true, and I don’t think your story is true, but you can’t come in here claiming some kind of vindication for your preferred strategy that was not adopted. There was an infinite variety of strategies Obama could have adopted prior to the election.

          • Mandos

            Sure. You can tell whatever just-so story you like: it’s not a science. I suggest that the story that you are trying to tell has not worked for the mainstream Democratic left, even though it has arguably been the strategy that Democratic leaders believe they ought to put into practice.

            The obsession with the mythical persuadable median voter has got to be close to the root of the problem here. It is synonymous with the defensive crouch that other people have mentioned here. Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today. It makes Democrats complicit in the acts of an obstructionist parliamentary right in order to capture a swath of indecisive voters who will always find a new rightward-moving “middle ground” on which to stand.

            The need to appear capable of a futile, principled stand is what is lacking in the Democrats. You laugh at the Republicans attempts at passing pointless repeals of the ACA for the umpteenth time. There is method in their madness. One man’s obstructionist is the other man’s defender.

        • joe from Lowell

          Their antics and the success of their blockade has been massively dispiriting to the Democratic base, especially as they watched Obama again and again try to “work” with it to “get something done”.

          Yesterday, when this election took place, Barack Obama’s favorability rating among Democrats was about 90%.

          Most of those who disapprove of him consider him too liberal.

          • Mandos

            Sure, they can favour Obama. But will traditional Democratic constituencies come out to vote for other Democrats, when Democrats are not associated with the kind of principled stand-taking that many voters seem to value? What is the energy that motivates? I suggest: dig deeper than favorability ratings.

        • Mike Lommler

          I think the real lesson here is that if you DO accomplish something you better be shouting it from the rooftops and defending it as vigorously as possible, because otherwise how else are you going to convince voters to turn out for you? Democrats need to stop playing by the Republicans’ rules.

          • Pat

            I’m completely on board with this. Shouting accomplishments from the rooftops would be such a sweet change of pace from pretending compromise wasn’t necessary to get things done.

            • Mandos

              The people who accomplished those things are the ones who have to shout them from the rooftops. Not the constituencies they are trying to attract and whose loyalty they might want to retain.

              I am suggesting that the party needs to be a bit more strategic about choosing to risk losing some major battles so as to appear uncompromising. Democrats don’t do that and then complain that they have turnout issues. It’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

              • Scott Lemieux

                choosing to risk losing some major battles so as to appear uncompromising.

                The idea that leftier-than-thous would be impressed by losing battles is absurd. Rather, a lost battle is interpreted as evidence that the the Democrats in question didn’t really want it.

                • DocAmazing

                  Since leftier-than-thous are not a majority of the electorate, this is kinda irrelevant.

                  But don’t let me interrupt your exercise. Your uppercut is improving.

                • Mandos

                  I’m cognizant of the “leftier-than-thous” to whom I think you’re referring reasonably well online, and I am not targeting my argument at making them feel better. (Although, while I think they’re wrong about a lot of things, some of them are effective at a certain *kind* of organizing that mainstream American liberals are not. But that’s an aside.)

                  What the right has done is position itself as the repository of an existing fear instinct. They’ve managed to assemble a fascistic cultural perception of being both downtrodden and patriarch simultaneously. When ISIS/ebola/whatever come knocking, who are you going to call? The people who Make A Stand, or the people who *appear* to attempt to manage and compromise their way out of TERRIBLE CRISES?

                  A manager who accomplishes some form of “good management” and “adult handling” of the situation is not good enough alone to deal with the emotional aspect of it in the public. It ignores the *fear* that traditional constituencies have (African-Americans, Latinos, etc…) while confirming in the minds of the remainder of the (economically insecure) electorate that Obama is not their Great Defender.

                  I tell the people you’re calling “leftier-than-thou”, “politics not policy“, and I’m telling you that too. The people inclined to anti-corporate purism, laudable as that is, were never — yeah, of course — going to give Obama more credit, and that was never my point. But we’re now living in a world where voters can elect Republican state legislators and yet vote for progressive policies during referenda (or so I’m told). So I can’t help but imagine that the appearance of reasonability is hurting Democrats.

                  More crazy, please.

          • Bufflars

            Pretty much. The Republicans were allowed to set the narrative about the ACA, even before it came into effect. And instead of fighting back against that narrative once there was data showing that it was helping literally millions of people, most of the Democrats running in 2014 chose to distance themselves from the law or tried to dodge the issue completely.

      • cleek

        In the 19 mid-term elections held since 1934, only twice has the President’s party gained seats in both the Senate and the House: FDR’s first mid-term election and George W. Bush’s first mid-term election. On three other occasions, the President’s party gained House seats and once it was a draw. On one occasion, the President’s party gained Senate seats.

        http://uspolitics.about.com/od/elections/l/bl_mid_term_election_results.htm

        for just 2nd term, only Clinton gained seats (+5 House, 0 Senate).

        • Schadenboner

          And even this has to be seen in the context of the Impeachment narishkeit, the 1994 “Republican Revolution” (as much as I hate that term given that it was more a recognition of long-term decline of white Southerners being willing to vote (D) it will do for our purposes), and a terrible 1996 Presidential campaign showing by the GOP.

    • JL

      I’m a little confused, do you think that Obama not being inspirational enough caused people to vote for Republicans for Senate, gubernatorial, and state legislative seats? At least here in the MA gubernatorial election, I don’t think Obama had a thing to do with it.

      Right now it seems like a lot of Dems don’t even want to full-throatedly support basics like increased minimum wage, immigration reform, or criminal justice reform, because they’re stuck in a defensive crouch. That’s not an Obama problem, that’s a problem with the candidates who are nominated for the various offices in play.

      • mds

        I know I’m being a broken record here, but Kay Hagan definitely campaigned on increasing the minimum wage, and it was one of the points of contention at debate time against her opponent, who opposes any federal minimum wage increase. Buh-bye, Kay. Mark Udall campaigned on increasing the federal minimum wage and against GOP obstruction of same. Buh-bye, Mark. North Carolina might well have been hopeless anyway, no matter what the polls said, but I’m not entirely sure how much of a defensive crouch Udall was in. He was certainly outspoken on the NSA snooping, thereby earning him substantial support from the libertarian … Hahahahahahaha, sorry.

        I know that the narrative is going to be wall-to-wall “Dems don’t stand for anything,” but it’s also true that the Republicans do stand for things, but they’re repulsive things that most people don’t like. Maybe the Dem isn’t shouting “Raise the minimum wage” every waking minute, but the Republican is almost certainly opposing it. So if the minimum wage is one of your issues, vote for the guy who doesn’t oppose it.

        • Rob in CT

          I, for one, noticed Udall. I read some articles about his campaign, and it sure seemed like he stood up tall and proud and articulated a liberal message.

          And he lost.

          So this thing about how all the Dems need is a spine is a little too simplistic for me.

          • And plenty of “spineful” tea party nutters blew easy elections for Republicans.

            Figuring out a way to solve off year turnout issues for Democrats seems to be a reasonable thought. (I.e., current off year voters are hard to sway, but people who come out for prez year elections lean heavily D).

            This is super non-trivial! Perhaps there is some room for a spine move, but I’m skeptical that that’s the whole deal. (And it’s not like the Dems aren’t doing tons of things to try to improve GOTV. It’s just really hard!)

            One thing I’d like to see is a proper nationalization of the off year campaign by the incumbent prez party. If Obama ran a campaign analogous to his presidential one (e.g., “presidential team”) I think they could have pulled out more. (This is obviously pure speculation.)

          • Pat

            So what you’re saying here is that the candidates did the things people say they should do, but that the information didn’t become general knowledge, or that the voters didn’t believe the candidates’ positions were what they said they were?

            That makes it sound like a relative lack of community cohesiveness played a role.

          • Mandos

            I agree that the idea that all the Democrats need is a spine is too simplistic! They don’t just need a spine, they need a particular kind of spine. It’s not enough to run on a principled liberal platform: you have to appear to have a position on which you will not compromise, when it comes to a vote. The ACA might have been all it could have been, but the appearance of an excessive willingness to compromise was extremely damaging to the Messiah cred that so much of American liberalism seems to be culturally dependent on.

        • witlesschum

          Mark Schauer spent a bunch of money running ads about how Rick Snyder was taking money from children and teachers to give to CEOs and people in his administration. Now, maybe that’s the only way he gets close to well-funded moderate incumbent governor (or what passes for moderate) presiding over an allegedly-improving economy in an off-year election, but his campaign was pretty much all economic populism and it didn’t work in Michigan. Our senate race was a pretty easy win for Gary Peters, but Terri Lynn Land turned in a quietly terrible campaign performance.

          I’m worried that this whole post and thread is an exercise in shouting “Do what Erik and me would like!” without realizing that we’re literally unAmerican weirdos by our very presence in this comment section.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            i go through life dealing with people who seem pretty smart until they get to a certain subject (not always or even usually politics) whereupon they go off the rails and make no sense at all. i always wonder, “ok, jim, what is it you’re absolutely sure of that is really just off the fucking wall?” and i wonder today if it isn’t politics

            • i always wonder, “ok, jim, what is it you’re absolutely sure of that is really just off the fucking wall?”

              If you lived in Amity, NY, I’d ask if you have developed a meaningful relationship with your axe.

              The serious answer to your question might be that, compared to the people you’re think about, you have better friends and/or family who tell you when you’re drifting too far into la-la-jim-land.

          • Linnaeus

            Probably a bit early to tell, so I’m speculating here, but maybe we’re seeing a long-term realignment of sorts going on in states like Wisconsin and Michigan. The progressive forces in those states are greatly weakened and the right wing has made the most of its strengths.

            I remember a commenter making a prediction that right-to-work would be Snyder’s political death warrant. I thought that might be true, but I had some skepticism about it. Turns out my skepticism was right.

      • tsam

        do you think that Obama not being inspirational enough caused people to vote for Republicans for Senate, gubernatorial, and state legislative seats? At least here in the MA gubernatorial election, I don’t think Obama had a thing to do with it.

        I think the absence of Obama was a bigger factor than his existence.

  • DonN

    I am amazed you have the energy to write up such a long post after last night’s drubbing. How can people reelect such idiots and morally bankrupt people like LePage and Walker. It was clear for some time that democrats were likely to lose the senate but these state-level decisions are just numbing for me to process. It is as hard to work today as it was when Bush was re-elected.
    DN

    • postmodulator

      I still can’t get past the fact that Brownback won. Brownback! The national party had loudly written him off and he still won. Okay, Kansas, sure, but if the GOP can stumble that badly and still win, then what the hell does it take? Dead girl/live boy?

      • tsam

        People showing up to fucking vote would be a good start.

    • Davis X. Machina

      How can people reelect such idiots and morally bankrupt people like LePage

      However, that’s a limited explanation because it says nothing as to how the widely despised Paul LePage was reelected in Maine even after Eliot Cutler dropped out.

      LePage won because 9% of Maine voters think the way to fix politics is to vote for as many non-politicians as possible, and above all to do away with those terrible parties.

      9% of Maine voters, and Eliot Cutler are simply too good for this world, and better than us.

    • royko

      God I was pissed when Bush won re-election. To re-elect him knowing full well what a little shit he was and what havoc he would cause.

      For me, the state races last night were what made it so bad. I think looking back, GOP capture of state offices in this decade will be seen as a building block for their political agenda in the way that talk radio of the 80s was for their propaganda. At the state level, they’ll continue to go after Democratic constituencies and dismantle as much of the safety net as they can. Right to work laws, voter ID laws, abortion restrictions, declining medicaid expansion — it’s just the beginning.

      • cleek

        and they get to do the redistricting. that’s what guarantees them the House for a long long time to come

        • Schadenboner

          And this is why I’m so scared to support Hillary. Even if I think she can win in 2016 I am hesitant to imagine that we can pull off 16 years in the White House.

          And 2020 is a Presidential/Redistricting election, the last one of those until 2040.

          That being said, I recognize that throwing the 2016 and hoping to beat an incumbent in 2020 is madness.

          And SCOTUS also, too.

          • Pat

            Your alternative is President Ted Cruz.

            How scary is Hillary, again? Does it make sense to worry about her re-election in that context?

            • Schadenboner

              I didn’t say I wouldn’t work/vote for her. I’m saying that 2016 is nowhere near as important as 2020 and I am concerned that the same party can hold the WH for 4 successive terms.

      • Gregor Sansa

        God I was pissed when Bush won re-election.

        FTFY.

        • Schadenboner

          God is on the side with the larger battalions ballots.

          • Richard Gadsden

            That would be the Netherlands then. You could put one of their ballots on your bed and sleep under it.

  • AlanInSF

    Congrats to California Secretary of State candidate Pete Peterson (no relation), the only statewide Republican candidate to crack 20 percent in San Francisco. SF also passed the nation’s highest minimum wage, even though we already have the nation’s highest minimum wage.

    We eagerly await the national party sending teams of “Democratic strategists” in to show us how the pro’s do it.

    • CrunchyFrog

      If you are employed as a Democratic Strategist in Washington you should be fired today. Period.

      Ask anyone on the street to name what the Democratic Party stands for. Good luck with your answers. I’m highly involved politically and I don’t know what my party stands for except Gay Rights and maybe some limited abortion rights. Perhaps we unite around a few policy issues like a higher minimum wage.

      Contrast that with the Republican Party. Everyone can tell you what they stand for. Yes, these are all lies in practice, but the brand is established: smaller government, lower taxes, strong “defense”, fiscal responsibility. There’s one other that they’ve kind of tried to hide in recent years because it has no appeal outside the base: traditional morals. As I said, in practice all of these are lies – even “strong defense” is about throwing more money at campaign contributors and who gives a fuck if the military is actually better as a result.

      Because the Democrats haven’t defined themselves they’ve let the Republicans do it for them: soft on crime, soft on terrorism, tax-and-spend, ballooning deficits, welfare spending, nanny state, etc.

      To fix the Democratic Party you first have to replace the Democratic Consultant Fee culture that dominates the party.

  • djanyreason

    Couple of quibbles:

    This may be the Dunning Kruger effect talking, but I think the map did matter even in purple state races and in the Governor races, insofar as it was impossible for D’s to hold the Senate without winning a Romney state. In that climate running a nationalized campaign with consistent themes means conceding the Senate. Choosing to try to hold the Senate meant running individual campaigns and trying to localize each into how awful the R running was, and that doesn’t do wonders for base enthusiasm. It was a choice, sure, and in hindsight clearly the wrong one – but without the map, the choice doesn’t have to be made.

    And, speaking of maps, you’re selling 2016 short. Mark Kirk, Chuck Grassley, Kelly Ayotte, Richar Burr, Rob Portman, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey and Ron Johnson are all defending in states won by Obama twice. No Dems are defending states Obama lost even once. If D’s and R’s split those 8 Senate seats and D’s win the White House, D’s hold the Senate again.

    • On the first point, I get that winning in Arkansas and North Carolina is hard, especially this year. But I think it’s really important to reiterate that the Democratic strategy was an abject failure and I hope they learn from this going forward that just noting the Republicans are nuts and trying to peel old white people from them is just not going to work in a midterm.

      • Tybalt

        The problem is that old white people have the money; the money that is the lifeblood of politics and certainly the lifeblood of things like senate campaigns. You’re never, ever, ever (not in our lifetimes) going to see the Democratic Party truly run away from old white men. It needs their money too much.

        • Richard Gadsden

          How many of the old white men that pay for the Democrats are typical of old white men?

          Aren’t a fair chunk of them ex-hippies who are probably more inclined to go with the old songs they remember from their youth?

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      christ, bruce braley couldn’t keep harkin’s seat. pat murphy couldn’t keep braley’s seat. terry branstad, with all the charisma of a sick toad, *cruised* to his umpty umpth term- i’m 47, and he’s been governor half of my life already. the only way grassley is leaving the senate involuntarily involves doctors and a very dire prognosis

      i basically agree with erik’s premise that the dems need to give up on appealing to stupid white men, but god it makes me ill to think what that might mean here

      • Braley was awful. Just awful.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          braley had had a couple of too-close-for comfort re-elections to be a really strong senate candidate (in my extremely amateur opinion) but he was who was at the top of the ladder when harkin decided to retire

      • Lev

        Braley ran the opposite of Harry Reid’s campaign of 2010. Reid had approval ratings in the crapper, everybody wrote him off, but he ratfucked the primary and got the opponent he wanted, and as soon as Angle won, he started tearing her apart. Every crazy thing she ever said was repeated endlessly. Every gaffe was highlighted. Every unpopular position was put out there. Reid didn’t care if she called him sexist. He didn’t care if it made him look bad. He did exactly what he needed to do to pull out the win.

        Braley, OTOH, worried about being called sexist. He worried about looking bad. While he got arguably the weakest opponent of the top options, it was mostly by luck. And he went easy on her, his initial attacks weren’t on her support of Personhood, or her crazy conspiracy theories, her extreme positions, or her support for nullification. He attacked her attendance record. He went after her for not supporting spending cuts (?). Granted, the media was in the tank for Ernst after a point. But ultimately he was too vain to get his damn hands dirty. If there’s one thing I’d want Democrats to take away from this, it’s that “Hey, look at how crazy that fellow is! You don’t want them in power, do you?” is not enough. You have to rip their throat out. Just ask Harry Reid.

        • Harry Reid certainly can provide a lot of lessons in how to stick a knife in your opponent’s heart.

          • Pat

            Thank god for that. He’s used the lessons of his misspent youth well in the Senate.

          • tsam

            Well, yes, but Angle can provide lots of lessons on how to be utterly unelectable in a state with plenty of crazy assholes voting. Once you become a comedy darling of the media for being so stupid that everyone who isn’t batshit insane is scared of you, your election hopes are pretty much out the window–guess that’s why they call it window pane. (pain)
            h/t Eminem for one of the worst lyrics ever written.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          on some level you have to be damned hard-edged to make it in politics, and ernst gave off that vibe,but braley never did

        • Origami Isopod

          Yeah, you know, there was plenty to go after Sharron Angle about without being sexist. If Angle was accusing Reid baselessly of sexism, which she probably was (given that wingnuts don’t understand such words), that’s one thing, but let’s not give blasé carte blanche to Democrats to fling bigoted rhetoric around under the justification of “whatever it takes,” because that shit comes back to bite some of us in the ass.

      • altofront

        Somewhat OT, but as some guy in iowa, can you explain to me why Iowa votes so differently from its neighbors? It’s surrounded on three sides by red states, and its neighboring blue states are only that way because of their large cities.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          quick because i should have gone out a while ago:

          sort of the same deal as the other blue states: the democratic parts of iowa are des moines, johnson county (home of the u of i) and the old blue collar union-job cities of waterloo, dubuque, cedar rapids etc- when it comes to president they can outperform the rural areas. another thing that makes us a bit different (or did anyway) is that we have a nonpartisan commission that does the redistricting based on creating competitive rather than safe districts

          • tsam

            Your commission is going to be in a museum soon.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              oh, no, it won’t make it that far. they’ll drive a stake in its heart, scatter the limbs, salt the earth, you know, the whole nine yards

          • UserGoogol

            Hmm, but when you look at the county-by-county results of the 2012 presidential election, eastern Iowa in general (and the adjacent bits of Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin: the blue areas there aren’t solely urban either) voted for Obama. The areas you name cover a decent segment of that area, but as an outsider it seems like more of a general trend.

    • Denverite

      The problem is that Grassley and Portman are popular in their states, and it’s hard to see Florida kicking out Rubio.

      • NonyNony

        The real problem with Portman isn’t his popularity – it’s not that he’s popular here, he’s just not unpopular – the problem is that there really isn’t an Ohio Democratic Party.

        We’ve got a state that is at least 50/50 for pulling the lever for a Democrat in presidential races, but there’s no real organization beyond presidential races here. The redistricting in 2010 put a bullet into a Democratic Party that was, admittedly, already very very sick.

        We’ve got voters, but no long-term effort to mobilize them. I don’t know what’s going on with the Ohio Democratic Party, but I can’t imagine Redfern stepping down and someone new stepping in will make it much better – the new person stepping in probably has as little of an idea what to do about it as Redfern did.

    • wengler

      Democrats don’t win the Senate until they have 65 votes under the 40 vote majority rule. I say 65 under the Landrieu rule that 3-6 Democrats at any time will flirt with the Republicans to get everything they want and more from the leadership.

      • Richard Gadsden

        With a bit of smarts from Harry Reid, the Republicans will abolish the filibuster in the next two years.

  • shah8

    I think the chances of us making it to 2016 without major national civil trauma is not very good.

    I also think that a sizeable part of the population have turned to full…something not good, maybe in a biblical sense. The ultimate reaction to Sandy Hook by some of those people is chilling.

    As a result, I’m not sure if voting will mean all that much in the future.

    • I for one look forward to my stay in a prison camp during the Cruz/Ernst presidency.

      • Denverite

        Enjoy the white trash spaghetti. (Noodles with ketchup on top.)

      • shah8

        I’m a little more likely to suffer, you know…

        Believe me, if I *could* move out of the country, I would. I keep myself appraised of the state of the country, and frankly, it’s just not very good. Details like the issues with saltwater intrusion of the tunnels in the NYC area are being catastrophically mishandled. We refuse to run any sort of sane economic policy, and the geopolitical environment has been gradually more hostile to US interests (world-wide displays of arrogant ignorance on CNBC does not help). The cherry on top of that is that the deck is pretty much increasingly stacked for wild cards like catastrophic weather like Cyclone Hudhud or a more successful secessionist move/state failure than Eastern Ukraine or Scotland or Libya.

        We’re basically relying on continued shitty or better economic growth and nothing bad happening that we can’t ignore, just to keep us from losing our minds. That’s not a good bet.

      • AlanInSF

        “I for one look forward to my stay in a prison camp during the Cruz/Ernst presidency.”

        As well you should. There’s no statute of limitations on metaphors.

      • Lev

        More likely Cruz/Cotton. Bill Kristol for some reason seems to have the right to name the GOP’s veep candidates, and Cotton is his baby.

        • witlesschum

          Satan was telling me that was the weirdest deal he ever made.

        • They do both like killing brown people.

          • Malaclypse

            To be fair, that pretty much is the central plank of the Republican party, after cutting taxes and environmental regulations. Maybe not even after the environment.

      • Halloween Jack

        I don’t think even Ted would be crazy enough to pick Ernst; sooner or later, he’d have to turn his back on her.

    • wengler

      The most likely event would be another economic calamity. The same people are in control and trillions of dollars have been thrown at them to re-inflate the stock bubble. All ability to contain an economic shock will be destroyed by the Republican Congress and a global depression will be inevitable.

      Sandy Hook wasn’t a national civil trauma. It was a sacrifice(by some) for (someone else’s) freedom. So it’s just like the wars in Afghnistan and Iraq.

      • Origami Isopod

        Sandy Hook happened in deep blue-state territory, too. Enough said.

  • The GOP to its credit figured out it didn’t need to run on issues. For the geezers turning out, running against Obama sufficed.

    Erik has a point about boosting turnout with issues, but I also wonder where the Democratic personalities are. Americans seem to vote on the basis of who they like, not on issues. Did Obama campaign enough? Did Hillary? Did Dem candidates hurt themselves running scared of being seen with Obama, because all they could think of was how it looked to the old white guys who were voting against them regardless?

    • rea

      What’s ironic about the obsession with personalities, is that the individual personalities of legislators matter less and less nowadays, with increasing party discipline..

      • wengler

        …from the Republicans. If party discipline amongst Democrats is a thing, I haven’t seen it.

      • Malaclypse

        Yep, every time someone spouts nonsense like “I vote the person not the party” the only reasonable response is “Great, but the person you just voted for votes for a party.”

    • Davis X. Machina

      Except on referenda, and in local races, people vote party, race, tribe, religion — or the lack of it — region, narrative, and finally policy.

      Obama’s candidacy was tailor-made to take advantage of that.

    • cleek

      Hill and Bill made multiple trips to NC. didn’t matter.

      Kay Hagan told people over and over and over that she was the
      most centrist” Senator and that she was not “too far left or too far right”. she ran away from the ACA, away from Obama, and away from being a Democrat. she did basically nothing for the party while the party did everything it could for her.

      • schmogo

        Hagan did everything she could to be as unappealing as possible to anyone that wasn’t already going to vote republican. Her radio/TV adds made me want to skip the Senate vote on the ballot altogether.

        Running as “republicanish” is no way to turn out voters. Sure, her message was probably very different when she was at a rally Hill and Bill, but voters don’t go to rallies unless they’ve already made up their minds.

  • Joshua

    I still don’t think Grimes should have to talk about who she voted for. When did that ever become an issue in any election? I didn’t see Democrats asking if their opponent voted for Dubya in 2006. Maybe I’m wrong, please let me know if I am.

    That said, the way Grimes and others ran against Obama was just pitiful. You don’t need to agree with Obama on every issue, of course, but McConnell basically had to do nothing but tie her to Obama on everything and she had to exhaust all energy fighting those charges instead of articulating a vision. And it also gave the GOP tons of momentum heading into next year, although they never actually need that. The narrative is always that liberalism was defeated and conservatism rules, even after 06, 08, and 12.

    • JMP

      Well I’m pretty sure that nobody at all voted for W. in 2006.

      • Joshua

        I worded that poorly. To clarify,

        I didn’t see any Democrats, in the 2006 elections, asking if their opponent voted for Dubya in 2004.

    • wengler

      Lincoln Chafee maybe? Even then he wasn’t really a Republican anymore. Maybe Grimes should’ve hinted that she’d switch parties.

  • c u n d gulag

    The problem with 2016, unlike in ’08 and ’12, is that Obama won’t be heading the ticket.

    So, who will motivate the younger people and minorities to vote in Democrats?
    Hillary?
    Maybe. But I don’t think so – unless there’s some “grandmother” affect out there.

    Also, with a Republican Congress, that party is very likely to overplay their hand. They’ll do whatever they can to keep pissing-off women, kids, and minorities.

    So, in response, the Democrats will need to go into full-populist mode!
    Something that will be tough, given how many of these whoreporatists have sold their souls to the DNC, the wealthy, and corporations.

    The party should be ready to listen to Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Bernie Sanders – also Al Franken and a handful of others.
    But will they listen?
    Will they let them take the lead?
    Or are they too mired in being ‘Republicans Lite?”

    • bobbo1

      I count myself among the few who are not entirely certain that Hillary will even enter the race. My hunch is that she won’t do it unless she feels pretty sure she will win – who wants the last chapter of her political life to be losing a presidential election? – and there are plenty of things that can go wrong between now and the time she has to declare. So we may end up with a more populist/progressive/inspiring candidate, but only by default, and only if the fundamentals look bad for the Dems.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        If Hillary declines to run, it’s likely that Andrew Cuomo will instead.

        The chances of a *progressive* Democratic nominee in 2016 are just about zero.

        • Malaclypse

          Cuomo running is perhaps the only thing that might get Senator Professor Warren to run.

          • The pressure on her to run would be huge in this situation and I’d like to think she would. Cuomo is just so loathsome and she knows that.

            • Malaclypse

              Ironically, Cuomo would be Heightening the Contradictions.

              • c u n d gulag

                FSM, I can’t stand that guy – and he just got reelected as my Governor.

                I held my nose and voted for that whoreporatist skunk on the Working Family Party’s ticket.

                Sometimes, the fruit does fall far from the tree.
                See also: Wallace, Chris.

        • TriforceofNature

          I don’t think I could hold my nose for Cuomo. Even against Cruz. I’d have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the polls.

          • Richard Gadsden

            Meh, that’s Chirac v LePen territory.

    • Jackov

      Hillary Clinton was popular among Latinos and Asians in the 2008 primaries. She also did okay with young white women though she lost young white men 1:2.
      Young (18-29) whites voted from Romney by 7 points in 2012. You hope she does better with white women than Obama (08: 46-53 12: 42-56) while receiving Gore/Kerry level of support from African Americans.

  • Denverite

    I’ll add something.

    One issue campaigns are fine. They can work in the right environment. But be prepared to move on as early as you can if that issue isn’t getting traction.

    In Colorado, Udall decided to focus like 90% of his ad buys on attacking Gardner on abortion and contraceptive issues. Early on, Gardner basically said something along the lines of “I’m pro life because I’m a Republican, and I’ve changed my mind on being anti-contraception.” It was a weaselly response, but the fact is, after that, the issue didn’t really seem to get THAT much traction among the press and voters. Yet Udall kept on running abortion/contraception adds over and over and over. Almost nothing else. Udall ended up running about 7 points behind Hickenlooper, so you’ve got to think his campaign really cost him some votes from people put off by the one issue focus. (Probably not enough to win, though — Hickenlooper is a popular “pro-business” incumbent, and he barely won.)

    • CrunchyFrog

      Udall did get a huge portion of the women’s vote but lost men by an even larger margin. Which is another issue. Probably the deep-seated racism of the American electorate took hold, which is why the GOP nationally made this campaign a referendum on Obama and why almost 2/3rds of white males nationally voted GOP in the congressional races.

      I think something else might have been going on here. People aren’t real smart when it comes to voting, but they do have a vague sense of what the different offices can do. A governor can really fuck up the state’s health insurance – a lone Senator or Representative can’t do much on his own. When I woke up this morning after ignoring the news last night the one thing I hoped for was that Hickenlooper held on – which he did. As governor he can contain the ALEC-fed new GOP state senate and keep our health exchanges open. I’m pissed off about Gardner, and more so about the Senate switching sides, but the biggest impact locally was the governor race.

      • Denverite

        I work with the wife of one of the Denver representatives. They’re reasonably confident that the Dems will retain both houses.

      • Jackov

        So this means Democrats should abandon pro-choice/pro-women policies, right?

  • Linnaeus

    With the exception of some disappointing state Senate results, which will create problems going forward, my state stayed relatively sane this time.

    • Cheerful

      At this point beating the NRA on an issue feels like a major victory regardless of what else is going on. I can only hope it presages something nationally moving forward, though Washington may be uniquely placed for something like this.

      • Linnaeus

        That was impressive. I didn’t think that was going to pass.

      • tsam

        I knew it would pass. Pundits keep derping on about Washington being a swing state. It’s not. It’s more liberal than California these days, with some exception (the Eastern half of the state).

        One thing that doesn’t work here in WA is the typical NRA scare tactic shit. It just pisses us off.

  • mds

    the widely despised Paul LePage was reelected in Maine even after Eliot Cutler dropped out.

    As a minor point of order, “dropping out” is withdrawing from the race before the ballots are set in stone. “Dropping out” is not declaring that you’re still in it, but are giving your supporters permission to vote for someone else, then getting 8.5% of the vote.

    You make a $15 national minimum wage central to your campaign strategy.

    Bruce Braley ran, among other things, on increasing the federal minimum wage, against a candidate who opposes its very existence. He’s not necessarily the best example, of course, because he was also a miserable campaigner. However, Mark Udall embraced raising the federal minimum wage and attacking crushing student loan debt, to the point where Senator Warren swung by to campaign for him. In the end, Colorado voters repudiated the latest state “personhood” amendment while electing someone who’s co-sponsored state and federal “personhood” amendments. To put this all down to the sort of cowardice displayed by Grimes and Nunn is too simplistic. Remember the bit where voters simply refused to believe that Republicans held their actual positions on issues?

    • It’s not all about how people like Grimes ran (Braley and Udall both ran horrible campaigns), but it is part of it. In the end, if Democrats can’t motivate young people and people of color to vote, they will lose midterm elections. Running like Alison Grimes and Michelle Nunn will not accomplish that. So it has to be figured out.

      • Denverite

        Braley and Udall both ran horrible campaigns

        Like I said above, Udall ran about seven points behind Hickenlooper. I don’t think he could have made up enough ground to win with a good campaign (though OTOH, Hickenlooper isn’t hugely popular with Democrats, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Udall voters didn’t vote for him), but it would have been a lot closer.

      • joe from Lowell

        In the end, if Democrats can’t motivate young people and people of color to vote, they will lose midterm elections.

        The youth segment of the 2006 electorate was the same as that of the 2014 electorate – 12%.

        Latinos constituted a larger % of the electorate in 2014 than they have in any previous midterm election in American history. In second place was 2010.

        • And it wasn’t nearly enough.

          • joe from Lowell

            …and yet, you argue that we should rely on these groups only, to the exclusion of others, to win elections.

            • KmCO

              I think his argument is that we need better ways to get these people voting en masse so that that number far exceeds 12%, and I agree with him that.

              • joe from Lowell

                His argument is two-fold, and you’re described the non-controversial part.

                The other half of his argument is that we needn’t worry about old, white voters, even to the extent of trying to lose them by a little bit less. That’s the problematic part.

                George W. Bush never won Latino voters in either of his Presidential elections, but he did enough to keep the margins close enough that his loss among Latinos didn’t translate to a loss overall.

                • Linnaeus

                  Another way to think about it is that it’s not a matter of either/or but of emphasis or degree.

            • mpowell

              I was going to make this point on my own, but this is as good a place as anyway: writing off older white men is a terrible, terrible political strategy. It’s rather predictable that after an electoral defeat someone from the left would claim that the only way forward is for the liberal party to move further left. It’s also very silly. Another question you could ask is how to get more votes among one of the largest and most consistent voting blocs in the country without compromising more than you have to. Maybe the answer is, ‘nothing’, but I think you’re mistaken if you think all the members of that group voting against you are racist (many are, but not all).

              • joe from Lowell

                It’s rather predictable that after an electoral defeat someone from the left would claim that the only way forward is for the liberal party to move further left. It’s also very silly.

                I read these pieces and I wonder, Does this person really think these things about the electorate?

                Or is this just pure salesmanship: Democrats are worried about electoral performance, so I’ll sell my floor wax/desert topping as a solution to their electoral woes.

        • djw

          Yes, and “letting the likes of George W. Bush run the country for six years” is a pretty effective strategy for a good result for Democrats in midterms, even with poor youth turnout. For a variety of what I take to be obvious reasons, it probably makes good sense to look for alternate approaches.

          • joe from Lowell

            I wasn’t talking about what approaches to take, just the electorate that produces Democratic victories.

      • JustRuss

        When your choices are the Republican or the Democrat standing a couple inches to the Republican’s left, don’t be surprised when the Democrats don’t turn out. Grimes and her ilk need to figure this out, especially when they can’t ride Obama’s coattails.

        • Is this true? I mean, is there any evidence that relatively poor midterm turnout by D leaning groups is tied to the candidate?

          It seems far too systematic for that.

          • Rob in CT

            Right.

            The idea that if only the Dems had better candidates or showed more spine would resultin higher turnout amongst flakey voters strikes me as unsupported. It would be nice if true, but…

            I mean, hell, hardcore wingnuts always claim that if only the GOP doubles down on wingnuttery they’ll win Presidential elections in landslides. We rightly laugh at that.

        • altofront

          Grimes and her ilk

          You mean, people running against entrenched Republican incumbents with vast resources in solid red states? That ilk?

          I don’t think Grimes ran a perfect campaign by any means, but McConnell has been a senator for 30 fucking years, and it should be surprising that this election was even in dispute. (It’s true that Grimes did worse than Lunsford, but that was 2008.)

    • Lev

      Udall didn’t lose CO-Sen. Barack Obama did, the moment he delayed executive action on immigration reform. Look it up, almost to the day he announced that, Udall’s polls tanked and never recovered.

      I don’t know that any other races centered on this–perhaps TX-23–but that one is pretty open-and-closed.

      • witlesschum

        Can you expand a little more on this for those of me who didn’t follow it as closely as we should have?

        • Bufflars

          I think he’s saying that a lot of Colorado’s relatively large Latino population decided not to show up to the polls because Obama postponed fulfilling his promise to push immigration reform via Executive Order.

          • Denverite

            Which explains which explains why Hickenlooper won and outperformed Udall by seven or so points because reasons.

  • joe from Lowell

    The objectively smartest political strategy for the Democrats to pursue is to push for a platform that just happens to line up with the preferences of the author. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a piece like this before on the internet.

    If there is no angle for the Democrats in trying to pursue the old white vote, does that mean they don’t have to worry about offending those voters by talking about Medicare and Social Security cuts? Would proposing to reduce spending on those programs in order to put more money into programs that benefit young people and minorities be smart politics?

    I think the answer to this question is no, but if you accept the narrative here – old white voters are lost forever and not worth chasing, young voters and their issues are the electoral winner – then you should.

    I don’t.

    • AlanInSF

      “If there is no angle for the Democrats in trying to pursue the old white vote, does that mean they don’t have to worry about offending those voters by talking about Medicare and Social Security cuts?”

      Who suggested anything like that?

      Perhaps Democrats could have tried to identify as wanting to expand Social Security, instead of spending the last six years deficit trolling and trying to SS? And still been for a minimum wage?

      • joe from Lowell

        Who suggested anything like that?

        Erik Loomis: Democrats need to just stop trying to appeal to old white people. White men voted for the GOP 64-34. It is a loser strategy. This demographic overwhelmingly votes GOP.

        You don’t get to argue that pursuing old, white voters is smart when it means doing things you like, and dumb when it means doing things you don’t like.

        Perhaps Democrats could have tried to identify as wanting to expand Social Security, instead of spending the last six years deficit trolling and trying to SS? And still been for a minimum wage?

        Why? To appeal to old, white voters? I thought Democrats need to just stop trying to appeal to old white people. White men voted for the GOP 64-34. It is a loser strategy. This demographic overwhelmingly votes GOP.

        • Joe likes putting words into people’s mouths that fit whatever he is on that day.

          • joe from Lowell

            I didn’t put a single word in your mouth. The question was about “suggesting.”

            You are arguing that there is no political downside for the Democrats to ignore or alienate older white voters.

            If you actually believed this, you would acknowledge that it remains true even in cases where the action taken to appeal to old, white people is one you also like.

            But you don’t. So you whine about the injustice of my pointing it out instead.

            Now we get to see a temper tantrum, as it dawns on Erik that he has a problem with his argument.

            • *eyeroll*

              • joe from Lowell

                A very prissy, understated tantrum, I see.

                So, are you going to work your up to addressing the gaping hole in your argument?

                • TriforceofNature

                  You’re the dishonest prissy here, what with your trademark brand of aggressive condescension. I doubt anyone likes you in real life.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Prissy is an adjective, you idiot.

                  You’re trying to use the oh-so-high-level rhetorical technique of “I’m rubber and you’re glue,” and you can’t even get that right.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  The OED disagrees with you, you nekulturny.

    • JMP

      Talking about Medicare and Social Security cuts only affects the old white people if it effects them; certainly the Republican’s talk about raiding the Social Security age and cutting benefits, but promising the Baby Boomers that it will only effect those who are not yet elderly, didn’t hurt them at at all.

      • joe from Lowell

        Then I guess the claim that, for instance, the “on the table” Social Security and Medicare cuts from the debt ceiling talks hurt the Democrats is doubly wrong. Such actions don’t influence the opinions of old, white voters, and the opinions of old, white voters aren’t going to change in an electorally-meaningful way anyway.

    • JL

      I would think the reason to support Social Security and Medicare is that they’re good programs, not that you’re trying to lock up the old white vote. Nobody is suggesting throwing good programs that happen to benefit old people out with the bathwater, they’re suggesting doing more that would be good for young people and people of color. This isn’t zero-sum. You don’t have to slash Medicare to reform the criminal justice system or increase the minimum wage.

      • Jackov

        SS/Medicare have greatly reduced elderly poverty but childhood poverty remains a problem. If you are constrained by economics would it not be rational for Democrats to focus monies on childhood poverty, low income workers and aspiring college students than to continue to protect these programs from Republicans when they receive no political benefit from doing so?

    • PSP

      Social security and medicare are the two central pillars of the Democratic party. Every election should include proposals for expansion (What Atrios said) and loud repetition of every republican hinting of cuts until the republicans can only mumble unbelievably “They are lying about me”.

      Obamacare should be the third pillar going into the future.

      No party in this country is going to elect a congress without the support of the group that votes the most- old folks.

  • LeeEsq

    I agree that the Democratic party needs to stop trying to win people that are dead set on voting for Republicans. What I’m not sure is whether or not running more things like the bottom will get out the youth vote. Republican voters seem to have a sense of urgency about elections that Democratic voters do not even under the best or worst circumstances. Even if a likely Democratic voter is going to be directly effected by election results, the sense of urgency just doesn’t seem to exist.

    • KmCO

      Republican voters seem to have a sense of urgency about elections that Democratic voters do not even under the best or worst circumstances

      This is an extremely important point. Generally speaking, there are very real personality and mindset differences between the people who vote for Republicans and the people who tend to vote for Democrats. That may seem obvious, but it makes structural changes in the way the Democratic Party operates more difficult to be effective. The people who vote for Republicans by and large do have a base survival program running in their minds that is largely absent or seriously downplayed in the kinds of people (particularly the younger, more urban, non-married, secular base) who vote for Democrats. This is partly a messaging challenge for Democrats, but the mindsets of the two types of voters are very different, which poses a unique dilemma.

      • LeeEsq

        We have lots of likely Democratic voters who do face consequences of a Republican victory. United States citizens born to undocumented aliens, African-Americans who bear the brunt of law enforcement, young LGBT people, and women. They still don’t turn out to vote in the same way that Republicans do even though they should theoretically have a similar urgency.

        Young voters still have a teenage sense of immunity in many ways. They know that the Republicans are going to do some dumb shit but think they are largely not going to suffer the consequences of it. Everything can be kicked down to the road in the future. The more politically active young people are probably going to be more responsive to something more radical than what American politics or even intra-Democratic politics could bear.

        Finally, as Joe pointed out above, there are reliable Democratic voters that approve of Obama but still think he is too liberal. Liberal let alone more radical leftists are not a majority of the American population even within the Democratic Party.

        • KmCO

          They still don’t turn out to vote in the same way that Republicans do even though they should theoretically have a similar urgency.

          Logically speaking, they have a much stronger need for urgency. They are the people and the generation getting screwed by Republican policies. The old, affluent white voters aren’t. But we know that party identification and voting behavior are far from logical phenomena.

          • LeeEsq

            Yes, the consequences faced by youth voters because of a Republican are real and actual while the consequences of old, white people because of a Democratic win are practically inconsequential. Many of them will be helped because of increased spending on social security and medicare. Other might face more taxes but nothing that bad.

          • LeeEsq

            Yes, the consequences faced by youth voters because of a Republican are real and actual while the consequences of old, white people because of a Democratic win are practically inconsequential. Many of them will be helped because of increased spending on social security and medicare. Other might face more taxes but nothing that bad.

        • JL

          Is it that the people you’re talking about don’t have a sense of urgency and think they’re immune from bad effects, or is it that, for whatever reason, they don’t trust the Democrats to come through for them, and feel helpless to improve their situation through electoral politics?

          Also, if you control for felony-conviction disenfranchisement, black men are as likely to vote as white men. So there’s that.

          • Origami Isopod

            Yeah – I think what’s really not being addressed in this part of the discussion is voter suppression tactics, from gerrymandering to voter ID laws to felon disenfranchisement to various kinds of ratfucking.

  • Fosco

    Does Debbie Wasserman Shultz get fired?

    • witlesschum

      What’s she done that says she shouldn’t be? And who replaces here?

  • bobbo1

    I too am tired of hearing about the map. It’s a shorthand way of blaming young people and minorities for not voting. As Atrios says, people are paid a lot of money to get the Democratic base to the polls, and if it isn’t happening, it’s the campaigns’ fault, not the voters.’

    • AlanInSF

      Purely anecdotal, but my 25-year-old daughter is extremely politically active and aware, involved in several organizations doing serious work on local progressive issues. Here’s what she thinks about our two Democratic Senators and our Congressperson (Feinstein, Boxer, Pelosi):

      • AlanInSF

        President Obama has visited California approximately 60 times since being elected in 2008. Here’s a combined transcript of every public remark he’s made about the importance of young people getting involved in electoral politics, the historic accomplishments of the Democratic Party, and the real difference the ACA is making in their lives:

        Just to put that in context, here’s a combined transcript of President Obama’s remarks at all of his public appearances in California since his election:

        • Lev

          Has he even made any public appearances? It’s always closed-door donor meetings in S.F. or L.A. Possibly he’s come here and made some remarks on the drought.

          • joe from Lowell

            Here, let me google that for you.

            This is why the BULLY PULPIT theory is so weak; because its proponents manage to forget about, or never even hear about, all of the BULLY PULPITTING the President does, and then when it doesn’t work, they tell themselves it never happened.

    • TriforceofNature

      It goes both ways. It’s not like the elections a fucking secret you dishonest piece of shit. It’s because of special snowflake voters who want to be “inspired”

  • FMguru

    I’d give some credit to the Republican party. I had gotten kind of used to their pissing away multiple senate seats every cycle by nominating non-ready-for-prime-time teabagglers (by my court, they threw away at least five winnable seats in 2010 and 2012 by nominating candidates who talked about legitimate rape and forthrightly declared that they were not witches). They got serious about tamping down on the kooks this time around and their recruitment was strong – it was the Dems who seemed to end up with all of the goofs and feebs and own-goals.

    But I still wonder what happened to the polls at the close of the campaign. All over the place, R’s beat the final projections by five or more points, and I’m waiting to see a good explanation as to how and why. The wishful conventional wisdom from Sam Wang et al ahead of time was that Dems usually outperform their midterm polls by a couple of points, but this time the opposite happened. Why?

    Sigh. At least California is still solid blue top to bottom, with only a few minor give-backs to Team R. And we passed a sentencing reform proposition!

    • witlesschum

      I think this is true. Joni Ernst was probably the craziest I’m aware of and she slipped by. Even in Michigan, Terri Lynn Land was a great candidate on paper who’d been elected statewide before, twice. She just was terrible at running for senate.

  • Rob in CT

    I’ve been thinking about the idea that the Dems need to run on an aggressive policy agenda.

    This was sparked by this article:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/30/dan-malloy-is-progressives-dream-governor-so-why-isn-t-he-winning.html#

    Now, in the end, Malloy won. It was close but he won.

    Still, as pointed out in the article, he and the CT Democrats really did pursue an aggressive agenda. They raised the minimum wage, expanded access to pre-K and paid sick leave, they decriminalized (mostly) MJ, and so forth. Did this motivate Dem-leaning voters who show up in Presidential elections but not mid-terms? Well, the Dems did hold on here in CT so maybe it did, but if so it was a pretty weak effect.

    So I wonder. If the national Dems really got their acts together, learned some serious message discipline, and hammered away on

    …legalizing marijuana and prison reform. You support a vigorous government jobs program. You embrace immigration all the way, demonizing those who oppose a path to citizenship and the decriminalization of undocumented immigrants as racists. You make a $15 national minimum wage central to your campaign strategy. You have to call for student debt forgiveness.

    would it work? I’d like to think so! But I have my doubts.

    • Malloy being terrible on education was a drag on his base.

      • Rob in CT

        You think a bunch of teachers didn’t show up to vote or voted GOP and that’s why it was close?

        Or are you arguing that youth/minority turnout would’ve been higher if Malloy was better on Ed policy?

        [also, too: if being good on 4, 5 or 6 issues and being bad on 1 or 2 results in your base deserting you, yikes]

        • No, just saying that I know a lot of people in CT who are progressive and don’t see Malloy as one of theirs. Some refused to vote for him at all. This is just anecdote of course, but I’m just saying that there are problems with seeing him as a real progressive.

          • LeeEsq

            There are problems with seeing any politician as a real progressive. Progressive are very good at demanding complete purity and finding faults with politicians. A politician that does liberal things at least 60% of the time should be considered progressive even if they aren’t consistently so.

            • Rob in CT

              Yup, that’s my point.

              This is a real problem, and I have no idea how to solve it.

              • LeeEsq

                I don’t know how to solve the problem either. It might help if we can first identify why this sort of thinking happens in progressive circles. Its not unknown in conservative circles as the entire RINO phenomenon demonstrated but progressives seem to suffer from it bad. Conservatives in the end are perfectly fine with rewarding their politicians for half a loaf. Progressives have been complaining about half-loaves since the Theordore Roosevelt was in the White House.

                • I don’t know. But if you are a teachers union member and the governor goes after you specifically, why would you support him? Similarly in Rhode Island, where the AFT endorsed the Republican, even though he is right to work, because Gina Raimondo was that horrible to them.

                • Malaclypse

                  But if you are a teachers union member and the governor goes after you specifically, why would you support him?

                  Because it is a safe bet the Republican will be worse?

                • Yeah, I don’t disagree of course, but you can see why so many people would ignore that and vote out of hate.

                • joe from Lowell

                  No doubt this question reflects poorly on me both ideologically and as a human being, but do we have any reliable data indicating that there was a drop off in teachers voting for Molloy?

                  I ask this, because after months of being told that the delay in the immigration executive order would suppress Latino turnout, Latinos made up a larger portion of the electorate this year than in any mid-term election in American history.

              • LeeEsq

                It might be an issue of impulses. If the liberal/progressive impulse can be definied as “we can do better”, the conservative one as “don’t make it worse”, and the radical one as “smash it up”; than liberals don’t have many reasons to reward politicians but conservatives do. Liberal are always looking for ways that things could be better. This means that nearly every politician is going to fall flat in someway. Obama might have given us the ACA but we did not get Medicare for All and that would have been better. Conservative voters just want politicians that won’t make things worse in their opinion. This gives them an incentive to reward because what they want isn’t that much compared to liberal voters.

          • LeeEsq

            Progressive are very bad about rewarding politicians that do most of what they want. On another blog several years ago, there was a European poster that bragged he or she never voted for the same party twice in row even if that party performed well in office in his opinion. Conservative voters seem to understand the concept of rewarding performing politicians more than liberal ones.

            • Origami Isopod

              Conservative voters seem to understand the concept of rewarding performing politicians more than liberal ones.

              Not to defend that one European poster, who is a nitwit, but conservatives very often vote for whom they’re told to vote for by their pastors and other authority figures.

          • Rob in CT

            Ok.

            That circles back to my edited addition: ok, he’s bad on ed policy. But he’s good on a bunch of other stuff. If the ed policy thing is enough to sink him with “the base” then I think we, generally, are screwed. The guy who agrees with you 80% of the time isn’t your enemy…

            • mds

              And in fact, even though the CEA’s political committee declined to endorse, the CEA board of directors went ahead and backed Malloy, joining the American Federation of Teachers in blasting Foley’s unequivocally awful education policies. I’m sure some teachers were understandably still upset at Malloy’s teacher-bashing and support for charters, but by and large they could tell that letting Foley have free rein would be the real disaster. One candidate funded the teacher pension plan, the other was calling for a “Wisconsin moment.” Pretty obvious choice, in the end.

              • Rob in CT

                As is often the case, the Dem was the lesser of two evils in certain areas. In others, from a progressive point of view, he was actually Good, not just less bad.

                And yet a combo of good on this that and the other thing + less bad on this and that = “not a true progressive so I won’t vote” for some people.

                If/when I consider despair, this is why.

                • nixnutz

                  I’m not familiar with this race but I do think that the threat of allowing throw-the-public-unions-under-the-bus to become a winning strategy for Dems is serious enough to effect the utilitarian calculations.

                • Jackov

                  So union members should not be concerned with a Democrat that is anti-union?

                  Does this apply to Democrats who are anti-choice, anti-gay, or anti-immigration if the candidates is good on 80% of other stuff as well?

                  How about if the candidate is a little bit racist or kind of a misogynist but good on 90% of the issues?

            • Quincy

              It isn’t just not agreeing with him though, it’s attacking, even demonizing, your own base. Too many elected Dems genuinely believe that teachers unions are the enemy and charter schools are a savior for poor children and are publicly self-righteous about their willingness to take on teachers unions.

              The Republicans would never treat their base this way. Even when they propose policies that screw their senior citizen base, like SS and Medicare cuts, they rely on euphemisms such as “entitlement reform” and audaciously accuse the Democrats of being the ones who want to cut seniors’ benefits. Lately they’ve even taken to proposing cuts that are delayed 10 years specifically to protect their voters. They understand politics is tribal and make sure Fox viewers are always certain who is on their side and who is the enemy. Even when Republicans surrender on an issue, like they’re doing on gay marriage, they do it quietly and never attack the members of the base that still care about it.

              I don’t want to start an ed reformer vs. teacher unions policy debate in this thread, because my larger point is that sometimes the policy doesn’t matter. Democrats need to understand that even if testing/merit pay/tenure reform is demonstrably better policy, it is not available to them because it is a frontal assault on a key element of their own coalition. Republicans just don’t do that, and enjoy stronger ties to their voters as a result.

          • Rob in CT

            One other comment and then I’ll try and let this go.

            I, too, have anecdotes.

            I know a number of self-identified CT liberals. At least one of them was disappointed that Malloy didn’t do a thorough enough job savaging the state employees unions to close the budget gap back in 2011. This is, of course, a big Republican argument. Some folks who consider themselves liberals (but have money, perhaps) still really don’t like unions. Unions have been successfully demonized. Now, the person who I am particularly thinking of DID vote and did vote Dem.

            Another person I know who more liberal expressed no desire to vote (and for all I know did not vote) b/c she vaguely recalled Malloy changing his negotiating position during the process and, as she put it, “hurt membership by backing leadership” or something. She couldn’t remember the details and could not coherently explain her feelings, but the upshot was “meh, I’m not gonna show up for him.”

            So we have liberals/liberalish people who on some issues are not really very liberal, and others who don’t vote b/c they half-remember stuff that doesn’t make much sense.

            This is frustrating.

            • So we have liberals/liberalish people who on some issues are not really very liberal, and others who don’t vote b/c they half-remember stuff that doesn’t make much sense.

              This is frustrating.

              But then doesn’t that basically apply to the entire American electorate?

              • Rob in CT

                Sure.

                Just like the “don’t show up in midterms” applies to the whole electorate as well. It just seems to apply more to the left. Overall turnout always drops in midterms, but Dem turnout drops more. No doubt there are crazy Conservatives who think witholding their votes from the impossibly corrupt commie/fascist system is the path to glory, but from what I can tell there are more such progressives (granted, neither group matters nearly as much as plain apathetic types who just don’t bother).

                • joe from Lowell

                  I don’t think there is a mid-term turnout problem among actual progressives – that is, among politically minded people whose preferences are to the left of the median Democrat. People like that turn out just like Tea Partiers.

                  Instead, I think the problem is that our overall pool of voters includes a larger segment of the “apathetic types” who show up every four years instead of every two, compared to the Republican pool.

                • Rob in CT

                  I agree, Joe. If my post sounded like I didn’t, my fault.

                  That was the point of my paranthetical at the end. It’s the wishy-washing, don’t pay attention group that leans a bit left that helps in Presidential elections and then kills us in midterms.

                • tsam

                  But none of those liberal druggies have jobs. WHERE WERE THEY?

  • gar5358

    Your wrong… You don’t insult people, “just wait until the old people die and then we will have the country we want” that doesn’t win elections. We as Democrats need to stop all the whining and find out what went wrong. Why would a person vote for a Scott Walker? We (Democrats) need to learn why. Racism is going to be an answer for some but not all. After all I am a 56 year old white guy and can’t remember if I ever voted for a Republican in my life. I have held my nose and voted for some Democrats but I can’t recall a Republican. My father 78 told me he hasn’t voted for one since 1960. My next door neighbor and precinct captain claims money does not filter down to local levels. Also that we don’t have a central message. It is easy to claim “I’ll lower your taxes”. Nobody likes taxes. It is much more difficult to show that taxes will help people. I don’t know the answer but I understand that writing off groups of people is not a smart way to win.

    • KmCO

      The reality is that you and your father are statistical anomalies. Most older white men do vote Republican; it’s not even close. Erik is not insulting anyone in his post. You don’t win elections by trying to court people who have proven again and again and again (and again) that they won’t vote for you. You also don’t win elections by downplaying or distancing yourself from the people who are inclined to vote for you.

      • Rob in CT

        That’s a fair point, but even now 1/3 of that group does vote Dem. We’re not talking 90/10 here. It’s entirely possible to lose more support in that group. The question is whether the Dems could pick up more support from their “core” (quotes b/c those core voters don’t show up half the time) groups and thus manage a net gain.

        Maybe, but I wonder.

        • You are not going to go down significantly from 1/3 with supporting a robust Medicare/Social Security package. This is part of my point–we’ve basically reached the bottom with this demographic despite trying really hard this entire campaign to peel them away from the Republicans.

          • Rob in CT

            Fair enough. I think at this point if the Dems went with your message they probably won’t lose much more of that 34%. Those of us who are white guys and still voting Dem are not going to bail b/c the Dems fail to pander to us. Probably. ;)

            • Yeah, at least some of those over-65 over-median income white males are people like my dad, who’s a Democratic precinct captain and firmly on the left side of the party. And someday I’ll be an old white man too, and I don’t see myself pulling a Hitchens any time soon.

          • brewmn

            I thought your point was that we should write off the older, white male vote entirely. I mean, that’s what JfL said that was your point was, so I assumed it must be.

        • Anon21

          Right. Elections are not contests to determine who can win the most demographics, they are contests to determine who can win the most votes. 34% of white men is still a large absolute number of votes. Now, should the Democratic Party be catering to their preferences? Nope. But pretending that Democrats could do without that 34% is silly.

          • Yes, because I was saying the Democrats should aim for 0% of the white vote. That’s exactly what I was saying.

            • Denverite

              Well, I mean, it would be kind of consistent with your previous positions. ;-)

      • joe from Lowell

        You don’t win elections by trying to court people who have proven again and again and again (and again) that they won’t vote for you. You also don’t win elections by downplaying or distancing yourself from the people who are inclined to vote for you.

        So, Republicans shouldn’t try to appeal to Latinos and other minorities, or distance themselves from the hard right?

        • KmCO

          As to the former, I barely see that happening (possible exception of amnesty, but I think that most Latino/a individuals recognize the GOP’s stance toward their issues as lip service at best), and as for the latter, I definitely don’t see that happening. Republicans know who their base is, and they play to that base well.

          • joe from Lowell

            And yet, how many posts have we read saying that the Republicans are crazy for doing this?

            Were those posts wrong? Or is this one?

            • Rob in CT

              I’ve been pointing out for a while that those posts don’t make much sense b/c in order for the GOP to actually attract more minority voters, they’d have to do things that royally piss off their current base. If they did THAT, it’s possible they could lose more support than they gain (though there’s always the argument that the pissed off white Conservatives will have nowhere to go, and will stick with the GOP anyway. Which is possible).

              • Linnaeus

                I’ve long thought that the GOP “appeals” to minority voters are less about actually attracting minority voters and more about attracting moderate or slightly right-leaning white voters who have at least an inchoate understanding of race and racism and want to feel more assured that they’re not voting for anti-minority candidate.

            • brewmn

              Those posts generally point out that the Republicans need to appeal to more women and minorities if they want to win national elections. They can still exercise power that far exceeds their numbers by their dominance in red states and winning mid-terms big by relying on Dem voters apathy and their own manipulation of the electorate via gerrymandering, voting restrictions, etc.

              Erik’s post seems like a good exploration of possible ways to overcome the Republicans’ outsized political influence. I’m having real trouble trying to figure out why you have such a problem with it.

              • joe from Lowell

                You’re having real trouble trying to figure out why someone would have a problem with an electoral strategy based around writing off the largest segment of the voting public?

                You don’t just think my objection is wrong – you’re having real trouble understanding why anyone would even raise such an objection?

                OK.

      • gar5358

        Maybe we are, but shouldn’t a national party find out what troubles the folks who are not voting for them? Maybe we as Democrats need to think of better ways to explain and organize. It seems to me that you don’t need to court all but you do need to court 5-10% of those who are not with us.

        I would never downplay the people who do vote Democratic. I think it is a mistake for a candidate to have not run on the ACA or asked for help from the President. It makes no sense. He has done a good job as president. I might have gone after the bankers a little harder and done other things different but by in large President Obama has done good.

        But the problem in mid-terms remains that the people who are inclined to vote Democratic in presidential years don’t vote in off years or in local elections. So you need to find out how to make up the difference.

        • njorl

          I’m an older white man. I can’t think of what catering to me could possibly be other than restoration of my diminishing privileged position. I can’t think of a single thing that Democrats can do to cater to me as an older white man which would not disgust me.

          • nixnutz

            Restore funding for public radio?

          • Malaclypse

            I can’t think of a single thing that Democrats can do to cater to me as an older white man which would not disgust me.

            They can help educate my child. They can adopt sane policies on energy, on transportation, on the environment. They can not send my brother-in-law off to fight in stupid wars. They can reassure me that I will be able to retire before I die. They can left me know that if I lose my job, I won’t lose health coverage, or my house.

            That’s off the top of my head.

            • Lee Rudolph

              But none of those are (what I take to be) what njorl means by “cater to me as an older white man” (my emphasis). The first caters to anyone who has a child, the second to anyone who’s sane, and so on. “Cater” is (or is meant to be, in contexts like this [1]) a toned-down version of “pander”, with the implication of buying X’s allegiance (or vote, or contributions) by privileging X over Y, Z, and W; the broader the benefits of an action, the less it is an instance of catering or pandering.

              [1] I admit that it would liven up many a workplace if pandering trucks came around a few times a day.

              • Linnaeus

                Agreed. Those are broad-based policies that will happen to bring along some white male voters (and that would be great), but they don’t appeal to white male voters qua white male voters.

                • njorl

                  Exactly.

          • joe from Lowell

            I can’t think of a single thing that Democrats can do to cater to me as an older white man which would not disgust me.

            Run on increasing Social Security benefits? Promise to protect your Medicare?

  • Lev

    I think the real problem here is that Democrats simply refuse to accept that all politics are national now. Democrats failed to clearly identify the stakes for this election, or promise anything if they’d won. There was no real big issue pushed, no real narrative or emotional throughline. The only real reason identified is that Republicans would be worse which, while true, is not enough by a long shot. I mean, I guess the minimum wage was pushed to some degree, but still.

    Democrats played it safe. They tried to avoid binding red staters with issues that wouldn’t play well in their backyards. They wound up with basically no issues at all. Again, back in 1986 this would have been fine. Now it’s a recipe for disaster.

  • DrDick

    I basically agree with your point about “old white men”, though I think it is part of a much broader pattern. Dems keep trying to attract voters and (more importantly) donors from segments that are always going to back the GOP. We need the Democrats to stop nominating moderate pro-business candidate and to start running leftwing populist campaigns. It is quite clear that those issues are winners with the electorate.

    • LeeEsq

      See above. There were lots of Democratic politicians that did run on increasing the minimum wage among other things and still lost.

      • I think though that it can’t be just about a politician running on the minimum wage. Because no one believes campaign promises. At least they shouldn’t. I think the Democratic Party in Washington and on the state level has to prove that they are going to push these ideas before the candidates are running for election.

        • Quincy

          It’s not distrust of promises, its just that voters don’t vote policy they vote tribe. As has been observed many places, voters in Nebraska, Arkansas, Alaska all voted for the minimum wage policy as a separate ballot issue while voting against the pro-minimum wage candidate. Minimum wage is a good issue, but by itself its not enough to convince working class white voters that Dems are on their side, or to inspire young or minority voters to the polls the way Fox News uses fear of Obama/immigrants/Ebola to motivate the Republican voters.

          The Dems need a more comprehensive populist agenda to build up stronger tribal loyalty among their occasional voters and to attract persuadables from the other side. It should be simple the way tax cuts and spending cuts are easy to grasp. Run on minimum wage, paid sick leave, free college, public Pre-K and public child care. Then if circumstances only permit you to deliver the watered down, technocratic, Obamacareish versions of those things, defend what you’ve done with pride, attack the other side, and keep running on them like the Republicans do with spending cuts and wars.

        • mds

          I think the Democratic Party in Washington and on the state level has to prove that they are going to push these ideas before the candidates are running for election.

          On the national level, the Democratic Party in Washington did push the idea of increasing the federal minimum wage. Republicans kept blocking it from even passing the Senate, never mind the House. And Mark Udall pointed out that it was Republicans who were keeping it from happening. Sure, that sounds like whining; why elect Democrats if they can’t get the job done? But it happens to be true. It is not entirely the fault of Democratic politicians that the average voter is a fucking moron when it comes to how the government actually works. Mitch McConnell was savvy enough to realize the GOP could benefit from total obstruction, because Dems would take all the blame. How do you effectively push back against that? A grassroots movement to improve civics education? (Seriously, do we need something like that?)

          • Malaclypse

            (Seriously, do we need something like that?)

            MAKEWORK NO-SHOW JOBS FOR TEACHERS’ UNIONS! WHAT NEXT, RESEARCH GRANTS INTO INFECTIOUS TROPICAL DISEASES? LOOK AT THOSE DEMOCRATS, SPENDING YOUR MONEY!

  • TriforceofNature

    Grats to Denverite for hanging onto Hickenlooper. Sorry about Udall though.

    And I have no great love for Crist-not in the least bit sad to see that slime ball’s political career end, I just would’ve taken him over the goddamn Bat Boy.

    Kudos to PA for showing Corbett the door. Kudos to NH for saying no to Brown.

    Shame on you, MD and WI.

    I’m also proud to see that Cuomo only got 54%. I was expecting a much higher margin for him.

    And Martha Coakley needs to have her name forcibly changed to Martha Chokely. Jesus Christ.

    • joe from Lowell

      I can totally understand why people from the rest of the country would think that Martha Coakley is the problem, but the Republicans had won four of the previous six gubernatorial elections in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Governor is not the layup for the Democrats that most people assume it should be. If anything, it is an uphill battle.

    • KmCO

      Yeah, Hickenlooper is the one silver lining in this mess the Centennial State has gotten itself into.

      • Denverite

        Not the only one. Looks like the Dems are going to hold both state houses, too.

        It’s looking more and more like the GOP wave was fairly modest here, it’s just that Udall ran a super crappy campaign.

        • KmCO

          True, true. Still, Cory Gardner….*shudder*

    • Lev

      Coakley did nothing really wrong this time. NYC and Massachusetts have such a love-hate relationship with their Democratic machines, in which they basically vote party line up and down the ballot but regularly vote for Republicans for chief executive to I guess balance it out. Which is why de Blasio was, and is, such a huge deal. Real Democrats had only held that office for four of the last, what, 36 years?

      This cycle’s Coakley is obviously Bruce Braley. He had no business losing that race, let alone mismanaging it so badly as to turn his loony opponent into the GOP’s new face.

    • Denverite

      Grats to Denverite for hanging onto Hickenlooper.

      Best Republican governor in Colorado history!

      I will say that I’ve always been a bit skeptical of the man. One time at his Wynkoop Brewery for an early Sunday lunch, we saw a rat scamper across the floor in broad daylight. Then at his Pearl Street Grill, I had to send back my order twice for them to get it right. Though they gave it to me for free that second time.

      • Origami Isopod

        I misread your comment at first to mean that they gave you the rat for free.

        (Seriously, ugh.)

      • TriforceofNature

        Haha. Pick your poison.

  • xq

    It’s increasingly clear, with the minimum wage hikes in deep red states and marijuana legalization continuing its march, that the nation wants these progressive policies

    The nation wants progressive policies which haven’t been racialized (despite attempts). I don’t know why you would conclude from this that Dems should talk more about about immigration and prison reform. People like minimum wage. Even most Republicans like minimum wage. If we become the party of minimum wage we will win. If we become the party of racial minorities and a small core of urban whites we will lose.

    • Because white people already aren’t voting for them even though they aren’t talking about these issues, yet brown and black people are alienated enough that they are not coming out in large numbers.

      • xq

        34% of white men is still a lot of votes, and it does vary by election, so it’s not immutable. I think broad-based economic populism can win some more of them, as suggested by the success of minimum wage in red states. The Democrats still need some racist whites to win, and it doesn’t make sense to totally abandon such a large portion of the electorate.

        • Grimes’ strategy of refusing to say whether she voted for the Democrats’ biggest affront to white racists is sending her to D.C. in Jan – Oh wait, it isn’t.

          • xq

            Well, maybe she should have said she didn’t. Though I don’t think that would’ve been enough to put her over in Kentucky.

            • KmCO

              So she should have disavowed being a Democrat? Don’t quit the day job to become a political consultant, dude.

              • xq

                Anything that works. I don’t think we should give up on red states where Democrats are toxic. Run candidates in Republican primaries who attack Obama on guns and immigrants but support progressive economic policies. There’s a broad consensus in the electorate in favor of fairly lefty economics and we can’t get anything out of that because the plutocrats successfully exploit racial and cultural divisions. We need to try everything we can to break that.

    • Quincy

      It’s not that straight-forward. 69% of IL voters voted for an advisory ballot measure in favor of a minimum wage increase to $10, while simultaneously guaranteeing it won’t happen by electing a billionaire who was recorded saying he doesn’t think the minimum wage should exist.

      • xq

        Right, that’s my point. There’s a big gap between the popularity of the Democrats and the popularity of certain populist economic policies like minimum wage. You don’t close that gap by supporting unpopular policies.

        • Quincy

          But I’m saying being the party of the minimum wage wasn’t enough. Early reports I’ve seen suggest that Quinn lost way more of the union vote than he should have and didn’t turn out the black vote nearly as much as he needed to. In our current polarized electorate, base-motivating issues are probably more important than broadly popular ones. Background checks are widely supported, but the intensity is all on the side of the gun owners. In IL, Rauner ran solely on cutting business taxes and opposing public sector unions. Neither of those would get the support the minimum wage increase received as a ballot issue, but they happen to be the two things Illinois Republicans hate most and it turned his voters quite nicely. I don’t know whether a strong prison reform and immigration platform would have brought enough of Illinois’ non-white voters to the polls, but minimum wage alone didn’t work.

        • Quincy
          • xq

            Yes, I agree. Minimum wage isn’t enough. You need a broader economic populism. You want the alignment to be rich vs. everyone else rather than white vs. black, because most voters are white and most voters aren’t rich.

            You want to convince voters, including middle class voters, you can give them economic security, but do it in a way that is as difficult as possible to interpret as wealth transfer from whites to minorities, because that interpretation is what wins Republicans elections.

    • Origami Isopod

      Pardon me if this is incorrect, but “Fuck the brown people so the Democrats can win” is what I’m taking from your comment.

      • xq

        When you get in power you can make unpopular choices that are worth it. ACA was worth it even if it had electoral cost. But you need to get in power.

        • Origami Isopod

          So I was right. Thank you for your time.

          • Theobald Schmidt

            All right, Captain Self-Righteous, are you really saying that brown people will be fucked over less under Republican governance?

            • KmCO

              Yeah, that’s exactly what OI was saying. If you don’t understand reading comprehension, that is.

          • xq

            Well, no, you were wrong. Getting Republicans elected doesn’t help brown people. Broad economic populism does help brown people. Getting Democrats in power so they can make political sacrifices for things like immigration reform or prison reform also helps brown people. Nothing in my comment involved fucking brown people in any way.

            And, you know, it’s not permanent. Eventually, the demographics will change enough that we won’t have to pander to racist whites. But there are a lot of problems that we really need to solve right now, and that requires crushing Republicans, and we need at least a portion of the racist white person electorate to do that.

            • KmCO

              Please to be explaining how courting “racist white people” can be done without alienating brown people, immigrants, black people, white people who have in the past not been considered white (i.e Jewish people), people who fall elsewhere on the gender/sexuality spectrum than at the two commonly popular ends, non-Christians (“racist white people” generally tend to not be too fond of them), and thinking people in general.

              If you want to argue that Democrats should not entirely forget about courting the older white vote, that’s valid. I think it’s hard to argue that the older white vote should be a priority for any Democrats, but that’s another layer to the argument. But you keep stressing the “racist” part of the equation. Should Democrats also be trying to court the homophobic vote? The anti-woman vote? We’re all ears.

              • xq

                I already said how, in literally every comment I’ve made so far in this thread. Economic populism.

                • KmCO

                  What about “economic populism” as a message appeals more to older white people than to all other demographics? Why do we need to especially consider appealing to the racist ones? Why do you give their identity politics more weight than other demographics’?

                  And how does appealing to economic populism disavow identity politics in general, or is your argument precisely that–we should be ignoring identity politics in favor of a strictly economic approach? Because 1959 called, and it wants its reality back. Older white people, by and large, identify with conservatism and the Republican party. Everyone else does not.

                • xq

                  What about “economic populism” as a message appeals more to older white people than to all other demographics?

                  Nothing. The whole point is that these policies are broadly popular. So support these policies to win elections. And don’t emphasize issues they don’t agree with us on.

                  Why do you give their identity politics more weight than other demographics’?

                  1. There are more of them 2. They are swing voters–we already get essentially all the black voters, and most Hispanics and Asians.

                • xq

                  The other thing to consider here is that gerrymandering (and natural clustering of Dem votes) and voter suppression are reducing the relative power of minorities, so even if we have the majority, like we did in 2012 for congress, it’s not enough. I know it really sucks that we have to pander to racists because the other side cheats, but that’s the situation we are in right now.

          • TriforceofNature

            Hrm, I don’t really see what your objection is here. I think any rhetoric is acceptable to get into office. Say “fuck brown people” so you can get into office and help those people you denounced. What exactly is the problem?

  • StuckinOz

    Deep despair here in Kansas. What I want to know is why the polls were so far off. I tried to read Nate Silver’s explanation but it didn’t make any sense to me.

    • Sam Wang wrote, several days ago, that midterm polling is historically way less reliable with a +3 swing either way typical *but*….the swing tends to be uniform. I.e., it either swings +3 R pretty much everywhere or +3 D. In his postmortem:

      Historically, midterm polling is much more prone to large biases than in Presidential years. In 2010, Democrats benefited; in 2014, it was Republicans. In six Senate races that were polling within less than three percentage points, two were won by the lagging candidate. That is entirely in line with past results. Added to the median poll-based snapshot of 52 Republicans, 48 Democrats+Independents, the result could be as large as a convincing 54-46 majority.

      Before the election, I pointed out the possibility that polling bias could go in either direction. It is likely that pollsters face a tough challenge in identifying likely voters in an off-year.

      Note that Republicans outperformed the normal bias:

      As I wrote in The New Republic, last night’s performance by the GOP was remarkable. In close Senate races, Republicans outperformed polls by an average of 5.3 percentage points. Prime examples of that effect could be seen with Republican wins in Kansas and North Carolina, two races that went against pre-election polls.

      But I’m not convinced yet that this is anything more than the normal bias.

      • StuckinOz

        Thank you, Bijan Parsia, that helps.

    • TriforceofNature

      People need to stop fellating Nate Silver and realize that Sam Wang, while far less trendy, has been far more accurate.

      • xq

        Huh? Wang admits right in his postmortem that he did the worst of any them, including 538.

        used final probabilities as listed at The Upshot to calculate Brier scores. The lowest (and therefore best) score came from Drew Linzer (DailyKos Elections), who took a Bayesian polls-only approach and ended up with a Brier score of 0.10. Coming in second was The Washington Post with a mostly-polls approach, at 0.12. Next came HuffPost, FiveThirtyEight, and Betfair got 0.14, followed by The Upshot at 0.15. And finally we have PEC, with 0.18. Although the number of “misses” (i.e. being on the wrong side of 50% probability) was no worse than the other sites, we were done in by an across-the-board lack of certainty, which we predicated on the unreliability of midterm polls.

  • Rob in CT

    By the way, Dems could still lose substantial support amongst the white women chunk of the electorate. They lose that group, but not by a ton.

    Let’s say the Dems did what Erik wants. If more young minorities don’t show up, they’ll get killed. The bet is that a better policy agenda + better messaging = luring apathetic voters to the polls.

    What if it doesn’t work that way? What if they do all the right things and apathetic people remain apathetic? Yikes.

    Just wondering here, not really arguing.

    • It is certainly possible. But what they are doing right now during midterm elections certainly is not working either. If “Yikes” doesn’t describe last night, I don’t know what does.

  • Rob in CT

    I hate, hate, hate this, but I think he’s right:

    http://www.vox.com/2014/11/4/7158293/mitch-mcconnell-strategist

    It’s been obvious for a long time that total obstruction has been a big political win for the GOP. All of us who naively thought that the GOP would pay some kind of price for it have been wrong. The public doesn’t pay attention, and the press by and large doesn’t bother really informing them, and the result is that the GOP can obstruct everything and pass it off as the Democrats being useless (yes, I know, the filibuster should’ve been reformed long before it happened).

    Arrrrrrrg.

    • Hard to argue. It’s a brilliant political strategy. Terrible for the nation, but good for him.

      • Rob in CT

        I was about to edit my post to note that you made this exact point in your post. I’m so wound up about all this that I managed to forget that.

        Imagine if Tip O’Neill had made that calculation.

    • Origami Isopod

      and the press by and large doesn’t bother really informing them

      Erik, do you have any thoughts about how to deal with the mainstream media? Because IMO they run neck and neck with voter suppression as the biggest part of the problem.

      • No, none at all. Fight it like you fight the money. But I’ve never been someone who thought a lot about progressive media alternatives or anything.

        • Richard Gadsden

          It’s not about the policy agenda; it’s about the politics agenda in media,

          If I was doing it: get someone rich to buy a major newspaper – preferably one that half the TV talking heads started their careers working for – and reform its media section. Have a fact-check section that fact checks mainstream media (and not Fox News) and rips them a new one every time they blame the President for something Congress did.

          The only things you need to cover are ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN on TV plus the NY Times and WaPo, that’s enough to set the agenda the rest of the non-Fox media follows.

  • Hmm.

    I don’t want to hear that the problem last night was the map. … Also, you can mostly forget about easily winning the Senate back in 2016. That map isn’t so great either and Democrats are in a deep hole.

    So you don’t want to hear about something that’s was a key driver of last night? OK!

    So what’s up? I think there are a few really important points. Democrats need to just stop trying to appeal to old white people….

    Instead, Democrats need to give Latinos, African-Americans, and the young a reason to vote. Check this out:

    37%!! That means that Democrats simply could not get young people to vote while Republicans did an outstanding job motivating their base.

    So, the diagnosis was low D turnout in midterms. This is a perennial, difficult, well known problem. Your graph partially undermines your point: The Democrats didn’t do any worse than normal for an off year. Republicans have clearly been trending up on turnout since 2008…which might be explainable by counter-mobilisation.

    The overall gap seems stable. And if you look at the young and the old you don’t see the same trend as in the NBC poll.

    (I’m looking for turnout data and coming up a bit empty.)

    What’s the solution?

    That means that Democrats have to rethink their midterm election strategy is a very real way. It’s one thing when there’s a presidential campaign. But the politics of midterm elections means that the same types of political calculations don’t work. How do you do that? You make your party about actual issues that young people and people of color care about. You support legalizing marijuana and prison reform. You support a vigorous government jobs program. You embrace immigration all the way, demonizing those who oppose a path to citizenship and the decriminalization of undocumented immigrants as racists. You make a $15 national minimum wage central to your campaign strategy. You have to call for student debt forgiveness. You have to make your party the party of the poor and the non-white, and not just in the passive way. If the racists and the plutocrats don’t like that, well, they weren’t going to vote for you anyway. Alexis Goldstein offers more radical ideas that may well be effective too. See also Harold Meyerson on this.

    Is there any evidence that this will affect turnout? I mean, Dem’s don’t have to win these constituencies over when they vote (for obvious reasons). But what makes it likely that they’ll be motivated to come out for these things when they didn’t come out for, say, the ACA?

  • Well, while I’m glad Wolf won in PA, could there be grosser co-voters?

    Throughout the day, members of a group called Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship donned PSU gear and went to the polls to vote against Gov. Corbett. They did this not because they necessarily liked Tom Wolf any better – but out of protest.

    Protest over Corbett’s handling, as attorney general, of the investigation into serial child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky.

    Protest over how he dealt with Pennsylvania State University, and its legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, after he became governor and state prosecutors brought charges in the case.

    • Malaclypse

      I thought it was bad when NOM endorsed Moulton because Tisei was, you know, a F-A-G (and Moulton literally told them he didn’t want their endorsement or votes), but your example is worse.

    • Hogan

      In exit polling Tuesday, the Associated Press found nearly 60 percent of voters were not concerned over Corbett’s handling of the Sandusky scandal. But the remaining voters, nearly 40 percent, considered the issue very important or somewhat important. Most of those voters said they chose Wolf.

      To the extent that I’m concerned about Corbett’s handling of the Sandusky scandal, it’s that he wasn’t aggressive enough in going after Penn State and its “leaders.” I like to think that at least a few of those 40% have that concern, rather than the . . . other one.

      • Well, there’s you, me, our friends and some of our relations….

        But yeah. Barf!

      • TriforceofNature

        I think we both know that those people have “the other one.” Vile. I hope they die cold and alone.

    • tsam

      They’re protesting locking up a child rapist?

      Fuckin white people. Jesus fucking Christ.

  • NewishLawyer

    I am going to issue a slight dissent. I think there are subtle things that the Democratic Party can do to attract white especially working-class voters without doing the Kerry-hunting thing which I agree is silly.

    But there are some issues like work-life balance which constantly get framed as women’s issues but can be turned more into populist-worker issues. Don’t all workers deserve a life of dignity and decency? What happened to “8 for work, 8 for rest, 8 for what we will”?

    But what I really want to know is what is the demographic breakdown of the 36 percent of white guys who vote Democratic? My guess there is a combination of not feeling fully white (I.e. Jewish voters) and college education and cross-over with GBT or another minority status but I wonder if there is anything else. The remaining union voters?

    • I do know that Dems only won white men without high school diplomas or with post-graduate degrees.

      • NewishLawyer

        Do you have a cite? That is really something…

        • Not off hand, but I saw it from reputable people on Twitter. Assume it is out there somewhere.

  • Mike in DC

    Bring back Dean’s 50 state strategy, minus the Blue Dog aspect. Long term, we’re better off getting better candidates to sell progressive policy in the red zones, than we are electing republican lite pols who sell out such policies every chance they get.

  • tsb

    Sorry if this is a bit redundant, but this is a huge comment thread, and I did a lot of skimming.

    1. A lot of this is spot-on. The conserva-dem wing of the party should be based out of New York and Wall Street, not in the south and midwest. There’s a big reason why folks like Sherrod Brown and Al Franken succeed in the midwest, while conserva-dem candidates are getting squashed by Scott Walker. In the Midwest it can build a viable majority, and over the loooong-term it can help us rebuild the party in the South by offering an actual alternative instead of Republican-lite.

    2. One problem, though is that it’s still going to take investing in some hopeless races. The racists and sexists in the south still rule the day, but in order to build a future electoral coalition, we have to start building the party down there. Wendy Davis did worse in Texas than Bill White did in 2010, and she probably embodied more of what you talked about than any other major candidate in the South. It’s a long game that will involve a significant (but seemingly wasteful) upfront investment.

    3. Democrats are going to have to figure out how to change the Green Lantern theory of governing, which takes the form of only caring about Presidential elections (one great man or woman to overcome systemic dysfunction). The actual center of gravity of our government at the federal level resides in Congress, not the Presidency. However unimpressive individual members may be, we need to find a way to make people care about Congress and what it does.

    4. Building on the above point, Democrats in Congress really need to do all they can to stick it to the Republicans and demonstrate how woefully unprepared they are to govern. Start by forcing a vote on an authorization of the use of military force in the lame duck. Then at every possible opportunity, force the Republicans to stand up for their repugnant agenda. In the best case scenario, Boehner and McConnell can’t keep their caucuses together and their inability to do anything is laid bare. In a middle scenario, Obama is forced to veto a lot of bills and maybe shut down the government. There is a worst case scenario where Obama caves on important issues like Keystone XL, but if we don’t fight that’ll happen anyway.

    My two (or I guess four) cents.

    • Richard Gadsden

      One good principle: if you’re going to lose anyway, lose saying things you actually believe in. You’ll pull in people into the campaign who you wouldn’t get into politics otherwise, and some of them will be the candidates that win in 20 years’ time.

      It’s like the Ramones: no-one bought their album, but the people that did all set up a band.

      Wendy Davies ran as what she was. Sure, she lost, but I’ll bet there are a hell of a lot of people who knocked on a door or made a phone call in Texas that wouldn’t have done that for Bill White. Find them: one of them will be Governor or Senator in 2034.

  • afu

    A major problem is that the left and the right have different attitudes toward partisanship in the US, and that in this rare instance, the right’s is the reality based view.

    Liberals, even, active democrats, tend to buy into the myth of bi-partisanship for bi-partisanship’s sake. The most common comment I heard after the election was that people “hoped people in Washington would just start working together”. The radical left accepts this view as well, believing that the parties are the same and that engaging in partisan politics is useless. This leads them to do things like supporting non-partisan liberal, Ralph Nader, as a “leftist”.

    Both of these views are wrong, the modern sturctural reality of the american political system is bi-partisan. The only way to politcal power and social change is through one of the major political parties. The right recognized this in the 70’s and 80’s and has built up a partisan system of think tanks and media networks to support the republican party. This has the result in largely unified support for the Republican party across the right.

    The right has also recognized the need to shift the structural realities to it’s favor through gerrymandering and voter restriction. Democrats should be screaming about this and pushing for things like voting holidays.

  • lotsabooks

    too many comments didn’t read ;-) so sorry if i’m repeating (or seconding, or thirding, or whatever).

    i think the chart on age turnout explains pretty much the majority of problems we just had. look: the olds are old. and they are scared. (e.g., ebola, immigration, economy.) so whomever projects the “big daddy/i’m competent(-ish)” thing the most wins. it’s really simple. if you can’t GOTV, then you can’t govern. (& i’m guilty as charged, i couldn’t be bothered as i live in nyc & we do/don’t matter.)

    interestingly, there’s an ad in the lower left hand corner here for the “alzheimer’s association”. i wonder…

  • Ronan

    I have to say I was a little confused by Mitch McConnell’s speech. What is it exactly that coal, guns and freedom have in common ? (I’m willing to write this one off as ‘an American thing.’)

    • What is it exactly that coal, guns and freedom have in common ?

      Consonants at both ends.

      • Hogan

        Same as “Mitch” and “McConnell.” Hmm.

        • “H” is a consonant? Your Irishness is called in doubt.

    • KmCO

      The same thing that opposition to the ACA, a desire to increase military spending, and an insistence on “traditional marriage” have in common–brand identity.

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