There is no other way to put it, last night was a disaster for the Democrats. How we respond in the coming days and weeks will set the stage for 2022
Managing a 2022 State Leg campaign in PA, we are finding that a lot of Dems are concerned with some of the Progressive strategies. This is a bit of a gut punch for someone like me who is almost as far to the left as one can be... But it's a great eye opener. In recent years the party's communication strategies have been either fighting misinformation from the Rs or pulling the party to the left. We're losing focus on the people we want to help and instead fighting for abstract talking points. We've gotta get real and get back to basics.
I’m not a VA resident (unless getting hundreds of texts asking for money counts), so from a distance, two things made me nervous about this race. An uninspiring candidate who seemed to be doing a very bad Bill Clinton impression. And a message that was just inept and sounded a bit desperate.
His campaign texts (I know he didn’t write them, but he either approved the tone and approach or he’s a careless fool) were… horrible.
I realize a lot of people and political folk seem to have affection for McAuliffe, so I am probably offending some. But for me the loss should be chalked up to a candidate with a whiff of stale cheese about him and a very lame message. Running against a fairly slick candidate who won the message game with every issue. (Yes, he twisted the truth, he lied, he used a fabricated claim on CRT) But every issue and every lie could be seen coming the day Trumpkin was nominated. And McAuliffe’s responses, cleverly prepared for these easily forecast attacks… did not exist.
Dan, do you really think this can't be laid at the feet of Manchin & Sinema? I feel like we lost by two votes.
We all worked so hard for the common good, and those two are just self-serving attention whores --"dems in disarray" incarnate. They don't deserve to hold the same jobs as Sanders, Warren, Booker, Blumenthal, or any of the other 44 Democratic senators who aren't them.
I'm so angry I can barely stand to be in my own skin. Ugh.
I grew up in Northern Virginia and both of my parents are still real estate agents there. Youngkin made this about "education" and "critical race theory" because he's a rich white asshole who was appealing to other rich white assholes' disdain for sending their white children to schools with Those People. A surprising number of moderates and even conservative Democrats are NIMBY types that are basically fine with segregation--even prefer it--as long as you don't call it that. And they LOVE to think of themselves as above that sort of thing. They are fluent in right wing weaselspeak. Of course they would *never* be racist, they just want to do right by their children and live in a "good school district". It's always "for the children", you see.
Youngkin, as far as I know, was born and raised in Virginia and knows exactly what his people want. He was able to deftly talk out of both sides of his face the way he did because the right wing news media terrarium is practically hermetically sealed. The prissy debutants saturated in white privilege are also sealed off in their own way. They don't typically rub elbows with MAGA Nation. I imagine, for Youngkin, this was a battle for shaving off voters from Northern Virginia more than anything else. And, he was probably also able to use Both Sides media and the NYT editorial page Ross Douthat types to do it. Like you said, there is no Fox News on the left.
We need not puzzle over what this hullabaloo about "Critical Race Theory" is. All it means is "I'm still unhappy over the results of Brown v. Board of Education".
Virginia will probably go back to the way it was in the late 90s for a few years, though maybe not quite that red. What the GOP is angling for is compliant Republican legislatures in as many states as possible, willing to overturn election results to hand the 2024 election to the Republican candidate (most likely Trump) and finish what they started on 1/6. They may or may not be able to get Virginia on board with that (Youngkin would have no reason to kiss Trumper ass; Virginia doesn't allow a second consecutive term for governors), but they certainly wouldn't with a Dem trifecta.
I'm always amazed and inspired by the organizers and activists that put everything they have into these elections. They have my sincere gratitude, and I give as much money as I can to keep those organizations going. We just need to give them better candidates, better messaging, and a better platform for that messaging. They deserve it. I will continue to do whatever I can. I'm undeterred by last night's fiasco, but FFS, let's help these folks out. Can we crowdfund to start a fact-based media company or to expand Crooked? Instead of donating to (questionably-run) campaigns?
I encourage you to look at what Dems can and should do to stop losing so badly in rural areas. McAuliffe was never going to be competitive in rural counties. But there was no discernable strategy for stemming the losses. And It's been getting worse. Counties that were once going against us 70-30 are now being lost 80-20. Reducing the margins by even 4-5 points in these areas is critical to future success in key states.
I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again - I worry chiefly about our side - voters & activists alike - & their attitude over time after this bad night. If people slump their shoulders & mope to long then it will just turn into another fucking feedback loop & getting crushed in the midterms will be another self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe these are incoherent rankings of an impatient young liberal - but I guess I’m really trying to say is I believe we can defy history and hold onto power next year - we just have to spend minimal time dwelling on this once we learn what went wrong….
Dan, I know fro your commentary last fall that you and Bloomberg must be pretty tight buds. Can you please ask Mike to buy Fox News?
Thanks for the level-headed take Dan. This is bad news to be sure but it’s also very important data that can be used to form a better strategy in 2022. I refuse to be cowed and feel sorry for myself. Time to get back to work.
Through my depressed fog, I am wondering if we can salvage something from this disaster. Virginia has greatly expanded voting availability recently. Can we point to that to prove the R's also gain from easy voting? I am desperate to get voting laws passed.
I did some texting the last fews to get out the vote. A few responders identified themselves as Biden voters “who would not make that mistake again.” We were not in persuasion mode at the last minute so I did not follow up to ask why they have turned on Biden. But I hope there are some serious focus groups that ask this question in a disciplined way. We need data not just more punditry. That said, I was also not impressed with the Dem campaign from what I saw. It revved up too late, never matched the R’s in signage - despite desperate pleas from Dem activists - and, McAuliffe’s unfortunate choice of words on parents’ role in schools gave R’s a huge opening and they took every advantage. Right now the vote spread is about 80,000 out of about 3 million cast. Turnout was higher than expected on both sides. It was not inevitable Dems would lose. Sadly, mistakes were made that were not overcome. Also, think we need to get much more granular and disciplined in our election strategy so we know exactly where we need to pick up votes - and figure out exactly how to do it. One size does not fit all.
Thanks for the big picture. It's reassuring in a way but also depressing given the challenges. A candidate's personality and demeanor also matter a lot. On that issue Youngkin trounced McCaullife. And these days a newcomer often looks more appealing. Related issue: am I wrong to believe that the DNC under Jaime Harrison's leadership isn't accomplishing much of note?
Stepping back to 100,000 feet -- what can we (activists) do to fight back on the messaging front more? Rs seem to always have a new misinformation ad in their back pockets. We are not agile and responsive, never mind proactive, when it comes to our messaging. I know we lack the pipeline. How do we (a) help build that pipeline, (b) finance it, and (c) get the messaging right and repeated again and again. Lots of us try to amplify our messages on social media, but truth is, our networks are kind of bubbles of like-minded people. I guess what I'm really asking is, as activists, what can we do to contribute to constructive change on these fronts?
Dan can you please explain the lack of social media and general communication savy of the dems?? They seem si careful to not offent this mythical center they dont attack the baloney of crt or the nlatant lies!!! Am baffled ksthryn
Afghanistan, the pandemic, inflation, and not getting the bills passed are bad enough on their own. But saying the Afghanistan withdrawal will not be another Vietnam was an unforced error. Saying inflation would be short lived (as if that mattered) was an unforced error. Saying we can ditch masks when the only data about vaccination's effectiveness was coming from Israel and not good was an unforced error. Saying "We have a framework" and every Democrat in DC saying the bills would pass soon was an unforced error.
Shoot the messenger if you want, but right now Democrats may be really nice people who want to do the right things, but they suck as politicians. Sheepdogs are more strategic.
I fully expect the BIF will be passed no later than a few days after Republicans take back Congress. Democrats will have to determine for themselves if they're good with waiting that long.
I hesitated before looking at my phone this morning hoping like hell McAuliffe had won. Extreme disappointment doesn’t come close to how I felt. Of course, the guy who lost last Nov will take credit for the win. Ugh! As you said, we have a lot of work to do! Looking forward to your thoughts on what we Dems can do as we look to 2022 and 2024.