Sunday, November 9, 2014

How Democrats Lost an Election They Should Have Won

Despite the low popularity of President Obama and people’s concerns about the economy, this was an election Democrats should have won big ... that is, if the campaign had been run well.  But as so often has been the case, the Democrats did not run a good campaign.  What would have been a good campaign?

1.  Use Obama to lead the charge.   Because of his low standing in the polls, most Democratic candidates stayed as far a way from Obama as possible.  The Senate candidate in Kentucky wouldn’t even say whether she voted for him in 2012!

This was plain stupid.  They forgot that although he was down in the popularity polls in 2012, he won that election handily.  He and his people know how to run a disciplined campaign and get out the vote.  But this campaign wasn’t run by him; indeed he hardly participated.

The people who truly dislike Obama weren’t about to vote for a Democrat regardless what the candidate did or said.  The lines are very clearly drawn in their minds.  However, without Obama as cheerleader-in-chief, the Democratic base of blacks, latinos, youth, and women were less likely to vote historically in a midterm election.  Without getting out that vote, Democratic candidates were bound to lose any close election.   And that’s what happened.

2.  They should have run a very positive campaign that told people clearly where Democrats see the country going and how they propose to get us there … a clear vision statement with legislative particulars, geared to the average voter ... the put-upon middle class ... and communicated in a way that the average voter will get. This should have been the main thrust and the counter to Republican laissez faire, let the market take care of itself, policies.

The middle class has been suffering for decades, but the past few years have taken an even greater toll on their standard of living.  Democrats should have made it clear that they understand their pain and had policies to turn things around.

3.  At the same time, Democrats should not have let the public forget who has kept our current economic problems from being solved.  That should have been easy since Republicans in Congress are held in even lower esteem by voters than Obama.  

And Democrats should have nailed Republicans for being the hypocrites they are … they pose as the party of the people but really are the party of big business and the rich. Those are the interests they are protecting.  Those are the legislative positions they are advancing.  This is not playing class warfare, this is speaking the truth.

But since the Democrats did not run the campaign this way, Republicans were effective as usual at defining the terms of the campaign, making it a referendum on Obama.  Their base was motivated, and they really worked their get-out-the-vote campaign better this time than ever before, ironically learning from Obama.  The Democratic base on the other hand was dispirited and just didn’t vote in sufficient numbers.