House Democrats and Dashed Expectations

Who's to blame for the Blue Wave not materializing?

Even though they’re poised to take back the White House and made gains in the Senate, national Democrats are trying to figure out what went wrong in what was expected to be a second straight Blue Wave* election. That’s especially true in the House of Representatives, where their 2018 gains have evaporated.

POLITICO (“‘Dumpster fire’: House Democrats trade blame after Tuesday’s damage“):

Even with tens of thousands of ballots still to be counted, shell-shocked Democratic lawmakers, strategists and aides privately began trying to pin the blame: The unreliable polls. The GOP’s law-and-order message amid a summer of unrest. The “hidden Trump voters.” The impeachment hangover. The lack of a coronavirus stimulus deal.

Some corners of the party were also beginning to question the message and tactics at the top, with several Democrats predicting — and some even demanding — a significant overhaul within the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, including possibly even ousting chairwoman Cheri Bustos, whose Illinois race has yet to be called.

So, I don’t know Bustos from Eve. But what is it that she did wrong? By all accounts going in to Election Day, expectations were a massive Democratic wave. It didn’t materialize in the Presidential, Senate, or House races. How is that her fault? Apparently, it’s the expectations themselves that were the problem.

Just 24 hours earlier, Democrats including Bustos and Speaker Nancy Pelosi were boasting about the opportunity to expand their majority, with some even predicting they could win as many as a dozen seats in the House by clawing back GOP territory in the suburbs of Texas, Ohio and Illinois.

But by Wednesday morning, party officials and the rank and file were in panic mode as they awaited the results of nearly 20 members of the Democrats’ historic freshman class that handed the party control of the House just two years ago. And already they were saying goodbye to at least a half-dozen of their centrist Democratic colleagues, who were stunned by GOP challengers on Tuesday, including Abby Finkenauer in Iowa and Donna Shalala in Florida.

Okay. But, if it’s not a wave election, what happened is precisely what you’d expect to have happened. In 2018, Democrats picked up an absurd 41 House seats. Almost by definition, most of them came in Republican-leaning districts and all of them in highly competitive ones.

The full extent of fallout was just beginning to become clear on Wednesday morning, with lawmakers and aides expecting a far tougher internal leadership process, with Pelosi herself facing trickier math as she attempts to seal another term as speaker.

None of the roughly dozen Democratic lawmakers or aides interviewed said Pelosi should step down or would face a challenger. But several of them privately speculated that what was just days ago expected to be a glide path to the speakership will be more difficult as Democrats lose seats in the House.

Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers — overjoyed after they unexpectedly padded their ranks — were beginning to shore up their leadership teams, including House GOP campaign chair Tom Emmer, who began making calls Wednesday morning to lock up support to serve another term.

Again, it’s not at all obvious to me that the Democratic leadership in the House did anything particularly wrong or Republican leadership did something right. We were expecting a Blue Wave and instead got a very mixed message.

Democrats were already engaging in rapid-fire finger-pointing about who is to blame for Tuesday’s embarrassing showing, with the private angst likely to spill out into the public in the coming days as the full House landscape becomes known. Several centrist Democrats blamed their more progressive colleagues, saying moderates in Trump-leaning districts couldn’t escape their “socialist” shadow.

Others argued that the DCCC had been far too bullish in seats the party was realistically never going to pick up — citing races such as Arkansas’ 2nd District — while missing the looming disaster in South Florida, where incumbents Shalala and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell were ousted. Several Democrats said the party operation was not focused on a cohesive, proactive message that went beyond simply opposing Trump, who proved to remain popular in many districts.

And some said DCCC wasted time battling the party’s left flank with its contentious policies designed to stymie primary challengers.

The thing is, though, that the Democratic Party has never been “one thing.” And, especially as it expands to take over competitive or even Red House and Senate seats, it’s going to diversify into a bigger tent. You want moderate-to-conservative Blue Dogs—or at least the impression of such, which is why so many military veterans, CIA officers, astronauts and the like were nominated—in more conservative states and districts and more progressive nominees in darker blue states and districts.

Further, given that money was seemingly in unlimited supply this year, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t go for broke in investing in unlikely spots. (Now, I don’t think you should fundraise around them. The number of appeals I got to contribute to Doug Jones’ quixotic bid to retain an Alabama seat he won by sheer happenstance, for example, was annoying.) The fact that the expected wave didn’t materialize doesn’t invalidate the strategy.

Indeed, the notion that some centralized strategy is what determines the outcome of mass-turnout races is just unsubstantiated. Races are primarily going to be decided based on local patterns, with some vagaries associated by candidates and the news cycle.

So far, House Democrats have flipped just two seats — and they were guaranteed pickups created by court-ordered redistricting in North Carolina. They had not ousted a single GOP incumbent or won a single open-seat contest as of Wednesday morning. Instead, they suffered a string of demoralizing losses.

Again, that’s not surprising! It wasn’t a wave. And, after 2018, what were left were the Reddist of Red seats and outstanding candidates who are satisfying their constituents in competitive seats. There were no easy pickups to be had.

There were some early warning signs in Trump country, Democrats acknowledged, but said the party still failed in a huge way to predict the level of GOP engagement that blindsided them in 2016. In Bustos’ reelection fight, the Illinois Democrat had repeatedly declined financial help from her colleagues until the final three weeks leading up to the race, according to several Democratic sources.

So . . . maybe that’s a strategic, or at least tactical, error. But I would imagine the DCCC leader would feel sheepish about dipping into the funds absent an emergency.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a senior Blue Dog in south Texas, said some in his party underestimated Trump’s strength, particularly in the farm-heavy counties outside the urban centers, where Democrats have long struggled to develop a message.

“This is what I’ve been saying over and over and over. Urban areas are important, but you still gotta look at the rural areas,” Cuellar said. “If we don’t change the strategy, it’s going to be the same in 2022.”

In my ideal world, both parties would figure out how to appeal to all Americans. But that’s really unusual.

The Democrats have built a message around big-city constituencies, the college-educated, Blacks, and women. That’s a winning coalition nationally, albeit one mitigated by the creaky system we have for choosing national political offices. It’s unclear to me how you’d craft a message that appealed to the core urban constituency and also to farmers. And, frankly, given how fewer farmers there are than city-dwellers, it’s not obvious how much you’d want to shift in that direction.

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*I resist calling 2018 a true wave election because Republicans actually picked up two Senate seats. Still, Democratic enthusiasm was high, fueled by anger over President Trump.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2020, Congress, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Dem partisans, as distinct from Dem professionals, too frequently don’t appreciate that a candidate needs be a fit and reflect the district in which they are running. Population trends mean that it is likely that Dems will control the House for the foreseeable future, but if they want to plant and maintain the Dem flag in rural and exurban congressional districts, the rhetoric needs to be turned down and the litmus tests ended. A Dem congress critter in a rural/exurban district opens the way for Dem state reps and competitive elections.

    Regarding Dem congressional leadership, if this failure ends up being a catalyst for change and I hope it does, that’s fine. Pelosi et. al. have served well, but it is time for the next generation. Unfortunately due to these losses, that next generation of leader will be too liberal to manage a big tent.

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  2. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    In my Congressional District, the Democrats went with the candidate who has lost in her two previous attempts to unseat her Republican opponent. This time, said losing candidate was additionally linked in the press with being a shareholder of a big pharma company that raised the price of the insulin they produce by 700% and is being charged with having paid herself a salary out of campaign funds.

    And yes, it is completely possible that both charges are fabrications, but considering that she’s lost twice before already it might have been better for the party to look for a new horse to race, to use a popular election metaphor.

    ETA:

    Unfortunately due to these losses, that next generation of leader will be too liberal to manage a big tent.

    Wait. Isn’t Nancy Pelosi already the Queen of the Marxists or something? How do you get more liberal than that?

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  3. Blue Galangal says:

    I’ve heard it said the blue wave breaks late. We saw it in 2018. It might lead to run-offs in GA. The Trump deplorables are ungettable. They’re all in on white supremacy, racism, and their dying demographic. So be it.

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  4. Jay L Gischer says:

    I read a few conservative websites – not the really out there ones, but ones where there could normally be a civil debate of issues. This has become impossible in the Age of Trump. They are stuffed so full of lies and slander which come from, I presume, social media.

    The conversation can’t get started. I think this is likely a known, expected, and valued effect of the over-the-top propaganda. The Big Lie. (Of course, in this case there’s almost a daily Big Lie).

    I think it’s silly to blame fellow Democrats for what happened. “Not enough money spent here” or “too much money” or “too liberal a message” or “too conservative a message”. None of those engage with what just happened, what is happening right now. We may be rid of Trump, but we aren’t rid of the threat.

    I’m not sure how to counter this. My approach is relational evangelism. If you establish a relationship with someone over a shared interest – a shared non-political interest – and make an effort to maintain that focus, over time they might start to trust you a bit, and then they might start to be interested in hearing your counterpoint. But it starts with the relationship.

    Which is why, as I mentioned the other day, I avoid contempt. Contempt is relationship poison. It’s relationship violence. When friends see your restraint, they trust you more.

    This is slow work, but I like people. I like talking to people. So that aspect of it is enjoyable. And as for the slowness, well, if each person who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 only changed the vote of one other person in the last four years, we really would be having a Blue Wave. Even if only one Clinton voter in 4 changed someone’s vote, that would still be a Blue Wave.

    We need to play the long game. In fact, we need to recognize that we are winning the long game. For instance, something like 70-80 percent of people surveyed in the country now think climate change is real and is happening. They may not yet think we need to do something about it, but that’s coming.

    And folks, the Confederate Flag is gone from statehouses. Completely.

    We are winning the long game. Keep focused on that.

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  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    The problem for Dems w/runoffs is the GOTV effort needed to get the constituents to the pols. If both GA senate seats end up in a runoff, the Rs will win.

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  6. Jon says:

    @Sleeping Dog: It is conceivable that “these two dudes will put the Senate over the top for Joe and strip Mitch of power” is a pretty strong GOTV message all by itself.

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  7. Scott F. says:

    It’s unclear to me how you’d craft a message that appealed to the core urban constituency and also to farmers.

    This is only partially snark, but if Trump has shown us anything, I think we’ve learned that you craft the message by lying to the farmers. If the message is what they want to hear, then they will ignore all contrary evidence.

    Tell them that their old ways never have to change and they can remain untouched by progress and globalization if they just hunker down and tune out. The small town factories will come back if they just wait a little bit longer. Find someone they really want to hate and convince them you hate those people just as much as they do. (I‘d recommend Jeff Bezos and his ilk.) Appeal to their emotions and don‘t worry about having to deliver. They just want the catharsis.

    Change is inevitable. Demographic trends and global climate wait for no man. So promise the rural folks you‘ll allow them to hold out anyway. They‘ll buy that because they want it.

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  8. inhumans99 says:

    I do not know what Kevin Drum’s post-mortem will be (but he says he will have it up soon) but I am willing to bet that he will say something like make being nice to LGBTQ folks (being nice meaning treat them equally as you would someone who is straight and white like myself) #s 3 or 4 on the D Party plank, and move up appealing to economic issues to #s 1 or 2 (law & order/economy can switch #s, it does not matter to me) when it comes to reaching out to the other side.

    Instead of bludgeoning the other side that they have to accept all gender restrooms or else, be more gentle when discussing that subject and instead bludgeon them with the fact that Republicans want to financially screw them over making health care more expensive, preventing them from getting a raise, etc.. This ties in to my next point.

    Yes, we should start appealing to farmers and people who work in places like slaughter houses like they are the only person that matters in our (Democrats) eyes, whether that farmer is black, brown, legal, illegal, or just beamed down from Ceti Alpha V.

    These people bust their asses to make sure I have a delicious bun to toast for my Beyond Burger and that thick cut bacon I add to it (I am not a vegan but like that some vegan stuff is much less evil for my waistline), so appeal to them so they start to realize that the GOP is on the side of their employers who insist that they just can’t afford to pay these folks a fair wage.

    The GOP loves it when the “job makers” whine that if they had to pay more for labor than their would eventually be no more jobs available because of the wages they have to pay out which plenty of folks will call a flag on the play. Plenty of job makers can start to be shamed to re-invest some of that sweet Wall Street cash back into their most valuable asset…the actual workers making sure we have TP to wipe our asses with, and so on and so forth.

    Florida votes for Trump, but they also saw a chance to put more money into their wallets with the Minimum Wage increase bill and ran with it. If only we Democrats could reach out to those voters and ask them what led to their voting for Trump but also voting for what many folks would consider an effort usually pushed on by Liberals, a MW increase?

    Talk to these folks, not down to them…we keep saying we are doing that but good lord if this past Tuesday is not a reminder that perhaps we say we one thing, but are doing another I do not now know what else to say.

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  9. Fortunato says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Re: When friends see your restraint, they trust you more.

    Dems have tried that route (see: Obama) for a generation.
    It’s got us where we are today.
    Dems need to (figuratively) double up their fists and take it to these people.
    When Biden is sworn in and McConnell and Co. resume their malfeasant ‘Obstruct Everything’ agenda – Dems need to take to the airwaves to Call These Cretins Out! They need to explain to the American people why the party of Grifting Obtuse People is willing to – AGAIN – put party before country, special interests before the common good and self-interest above everything.
    Do as Trump did – hold impromptu pressers everywhere, all the time. Explain and expose the dirty dealings of the GOP.
    (here’s where I desperately wish it were Pete and Amy doing to talking instead of bumbling Joe and marginal Kamala)
    CALL. THEM. OUT!!
    Name Names!

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  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jon:

    Jon, I hope you’re right. But I look at the Dem coalition that counts on fairly low engaged segment of society, who find it a challenge to vote even in major elections. Add in the multiplier of GA R ratf%cking and it is easy to see the voters who will put Biden over the top in GA, finding that personal business takes priority over standing in line someday in January.

    I believe that requiring a majority to win is a good idea, but it requires implementing ranked choice voting to make it fair.

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  11. mattbernius says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The problem for Dems w/runoffs is the GOTV effort needed to get the constituents to the pols. If both GA senate seats end up in a runoff, the Rs will win.

    Generally this is correct. That said, there are at least two X factors to consider.

    #1 is the chance of keeping GA Blue and moving Democratic is potentially a BIG GOTV motivator.

    #2 is, assuming a Biden victor, what Trump’s behavior (and the Senate’s behavior) is like in the remainder of the term. If C19 comes back with a vengeance and the President and Senate do nothing (in a burn it down response), then there could be a LOT of motivated Democratic voters for shifting control.

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  12. James Joyner says:

    @Fortunato:

    Dems have tried that route (see: Obama) for a generation. It’s got us where we are today.

    Obama won twice by what amounts to a landslide in the modern climate. Dems would almost certainly have won in 2016 if Biden were the nominee rather than Clinton.

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  13. @Fortunato: I am decidedly NOT espousing what national politicians should do. Particularly in the presence of media. I am describing what I, personally, do. I’m not a politician, that complicates things.

    For what it’s worth, I know a few conservatives that Obama won over, though. Voters, not Washington politicians. I think Obama could have used a different legislative strategy, but I do not at all regret his communication style.

    For instance, he could have tried scaring Republicans by proposing a much more radical healthcare thing that looked like it could pass, to get them to the table. He could have tried this other ways.

    And for the record, I think, for instance John Boehner trusted Obama a lot, and that ended up making something of a difference. There was a lot of talk about how “aloof” he was. That was BS for the rubes, I think. Or maybe from the Freedom Caucus, because who would want to talk to them?

    Finally, you aren’t thinking long game. This really is a long, long game. Who wins any individual election is important.

    I think this election was, on the Republican side, a lot about not admitting they were wrong to vote for Trump in the first place. None of the stuff I’ve seen – from individuals – are positive about Trump himself, I saw one piece, which I consider honest, titled “As Good As It Gets”. Which is to say, and I paraphrase, “Trump may be terrible, but those Democrats are REALLY terrible”.

    So, to my mind, this isn’t countered with some better national message. It has to be personal. It has to be “well, I know Jay and he isn’t terrible”. That’s the best I’ve got. There might be a good national message. Biden is probably the best messenger on that score, and he moved the needle, but not a lot.

    Yeah, I mean, sure, strategy matters, but I like to focus on not “what those other guys should do” but on what I, personally should do. This is what I’ve got.

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  14. Lounsbury says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    The Trump deplorables are ungettable. They’re all in on white supremacy, racism, and their dying demographic. So be it.

    Resigning yourselves to be losers is a rather stupid thing.

    @inhumans99: Now here is utility

    Instead of bludgeoning the other side that they have to accept all gender restrooms or else, be more gentle when discussing that subject and instead bludgeon them with the fact that Republicans want to financially screw them over making health care more expensive, preventing them from getting a raise, etc.. This ties in to my next point.

    Yes, we should start appealing to farmers and people who work in places like slaughter houses like they are the only person that matters in our (Democrats) eyes, whether that farmer is black, brown, legal, illegal, or just beamed down from Ceti Alpha V.

    Winning over culturally conservative white working class is rather more likely to end up leading to globally more positive social results than woke shaming and sneering dismissal. (Yes of course you lot can call me a hypocrite, but I am not an american politician trying to win anything, just an interested observer from over the pond)

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  15. Lounsbury says:

    @Fortunato: Dems need to (figuratively) double up their fists and take it to these people.
    Oh right, take “elan” and charge of the light brigade approach to winning trench warfare. Always a brilliant thing. For getting slaughtered.

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  16. Jay L Gischer says:

    @James Joyner:

    Obama won twice by what amounts to a landslide in the modern climate. Dems would almost certainly have won in 2016 if Biden were the nominee rather than Clinton.

    I think the hatred of Hillary is the result of 30 years of propaganda. It goes without saying that I don’t think she’s the head of a pedophilia ring headquartered in a pizza parlor. Or that she had Vince Foster killed, etc, etc. It’s all a load of fertilizer.

    However, I agree with your assessment of the outcome.

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  17. James Joyner says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Even aside from the propaganda—which was certainly there–she’s just not a natural politician. She is, by all accounts, extremely effective working a room with other elites but she’s not good on the stump. She’s the smartest person in the room—which is great—but lacks Bill’s and even Barack Obama’s ability to hide that she damn well knows it.

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  18. Jay L Gischer says:

    One group that has inspired me with their work is Black Lives Matter. They have kept it up, kept on message for many years now. Just putting one foot in front of the other. They are gaining ground. I support their goals. I support them.

    That isn’t my work, but it’s good work. This is the kind of work we could engage in, or support. The candidates and policies will follow, eventually. That’s my personal, uh, strategy? credo?

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  19. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Fortunato:

    Dems have tried that route (see: Obama) for a generation.
    It’s got us where we are today.

    Allowing LGBT+ to serve openly in the armed forces
    Overwhelming acceptance for same-sex marriage
    Overwhelming support for the legalization of marijuana
    Strong support for criminal justice reform
    A black president sitting in the Oval Office for 8 years and
    A mixed-race woman who’ll be VPOTUS in a couple months (and almost certainly POTUS) a few years down the road.

    People forget just how far we’ve come.

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  20. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Population trends mean that it is likely that Dems will control the House for the foreseeable future

    Between gerrymandering, and the fact that we don’t own the latino, black, asian, Muslim, etc vote, I think that is a very dubious assumption, unless you cannot foresee past two years.

    Two years of divided government getting nothing done, and the mushy middle gets their “throw the bums out” attitude, and a lot of competitive districts can flip.

    But, also, one day the GOP is going to say “Well, let’s talk about which Latinos are white… cubans, of course, and wealthy ones, and any living outside the big cities…”

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  21. Jon says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I hope you’re right

    I hope I am too; it doesn’t happen nearly enough 🙂 That said I really have no idea what will happen but it struck me that these particular run-offs could be more likely to stay in the news and top-of-mind than would a typical run-off which, may turn out to be a good thing.

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  22. DeD says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    The Trump deplorables are ungettable. They’re all in on white supremacy, racism, and their dying demographic.

    The majority of White voters pulled for Trump. Not all of them were Republicans. The question to ask is, Why does the majority of White voters vote the way it does?

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  23. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Very much this–I usually don the Columbo routine when dealing with Trumpists–the majority of them really don’t know any better and can’t. They are not intellectually curious enough to seek out different information and need to belong to a herd. Whatever the in-herd is that’s what they’ll be. Frankly this is true of alot of people in general–but Trumpists are the right-end of the extreme. The Left has theirs too–but they live in cities where they can be moderated.

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  24. Blue Galangal says:

    @Lounsbury: I’m not saying you’re wrong in theory. I’m saying they are ungettable in fact. These people BELIEVE that electing Democrats means an abortion in every uterus. These people BELIEVE that there is a pedophile ring operating in the basement of a pizza parlor built on a concrete slab. These people BELIEVE that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is the literal Antichrist. (Except my sister, who now believes John McCain is (was?) the Antichrist? Somehow? Oh, and that HRC runs a pedophile ring…)

    One man who voted when I was handing out sample ballots at the polls came out afterwards and told me and the GOPer next to me that it was the first time he ever voted in all of his 66 years. He said, “They’re both the devil, you know? But one’s the devil you know and one isn’t.” He voted for Trump, in case you’re wondering.

    They are ungettable. No amount of compromise or reaching out or anything else will break through the bubble of right wing willful disinformation they’re encased in.

    So I say, sure, lie to those farmers. Tell them that up is down and green is blue and China will pay for the tariffs on soybeans and Mexico built that wall. But it’s not going to have an ounce of effect compared to the 99% brainwashing they’re getting from Mark Levin, and Fox, and all the rest of it.

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  25. Blue Galangal says:

    @DeD: White supremacy is a hell of a drug?

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  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @mattbernius:

    Like Jon, good points, but look at it from another side. You’re a low income worker that needs to take time off to vote. Using the excuse that anticipated turnout will be smaller than the general, the R-F’ing R Sec of State, has your polling place an hour bus ride from your residence, then there’s a half mile walk. You think about it and come to the not unreasonable conclusion that no matter who wins, your life won’t change much.

    The best reasons to vote can be viewed as rich peoples issues.

    I want to be wrong, but history has told us that GOTV is hard in low income communities, regardless of the race or ethnicity. My view is past performance is the best indicator of future activity and when change occurs, I’ll factor that in.

    Again, I HOPE, I’m wrong.

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  27. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Again, I don’t think people that don’t interact with rural people or southern whites alot appreciate how thoroughly they have been discredited as being even Americans by RW media.

    These people would scarf down a shit sandwich rather than vote for a Democrat. Not because they believe Democrats have bad ideas– most of them really hate the Republican party. But they believe the Republicans are decent Americans (for politicians) who are they only thing between them and Communist, Islamosocialistic Gay Fascism. This is not an understatement.

    Should Biden pull it out–I do think there are some pages from the Trump book to borrow. Remember those performative EO Trump signed like the HBCU EO? Stunts like that is why Trump increased his Black support over 2016. EVERY PRESIDENT SINCE REAGAN HAS DONE THIS EXACT SAME EO–INCLUDING OBAMA. Trump marketed it though. Biden should market an HBCU EO, an Rural Modernization EO, an EO to study how to reduce abortions outside of Government bans, etc. But he can separate himself from Trump by following through with some action on them.

    People like the ones that read this board saw through Trumps bullshit. Regular disengaged folks did not. I can’t tell you how slack jawed people guy in my social sphere when I showed them the HBCU EO has been virtually copy/paste since Reagan.

    Biden has the same opportunity Trump had in my opinion–the chance to [start] widening the Tent. It takes energy and persuasion techniques that register with the target audience.

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  28. Fortunato says:

    @James Joyner:

    Obama won twice by what amounts to a landslide in the modern climate.

    And he won in spite of his timidity.
    Even Obama now admits he regrets his kid’s glove approach to Republicans and and governance. In hindsight he confesses his ‘restraint’ (trying to be gently woo the GOP) won him/Dems/Americans – NOTHING.
    He has stated he regrets not recognizing earlier the total absence of good faith on behalf of the GOP in each and every encounter. He regrets not recognizing earlier the blind, wholesale intransigence of the Republican party – country be damned.

    And you’re about to see exactly that again.
    And I pray to god Obama grabs Biden and Harris by the lapels and demands they don’t make the same mistake he did. The mistake of of imagining that restraint, and comity will somehow be useful tactics.
    Obama was a notoriously bad (naive) negotiator. You could fill volumes with the articles written detailing his serial failures in dealing with a criminally obdurate GOP. Obama NEVER began a negotiation at our (America’s) own 35 yard line, in hopes of meeting the special interest owned GOP at midfield. On nearly every occasion Obama’s opening salvo was at the GOP’s (special interest) 40 yard line, in hopes of claiming a minor victory it we could somehow ultimately meet them at their own 20.
    NO MORE!
    Barring a miracle in Georgia and the pick of two more Senate seats, I have almost no hope of anything getting done for the next 4 years. McConnell will steamroll Biden/Harris.
    The very least we might accomplish is exposing the GOP for the craven, do nothing, special interest owned miscreants they are.

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  29. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    we don’t own the latino, black, asian, Muslim, etc

    (D) do own the doesn’t go to church much vote while the Wednesday evening bible study vote is a rapidly declining demographic joined at the hip to the GOP.

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  30. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I actually think people out of the Biden camp read this blog which is why I get wordy on some of my thoughts on political strategy.

    So if you are–and if Joe wins—take these good ideas you read on this blog back to him and use them in the other campaigns you work. You ‘ll build a nice political consulting business for yourself–selling free advice off the internets. Lololololololololololololool 🙂

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  31. Andy says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Winning over culturally conservative white working class is rather more likely to end up leading to globally more positive social results than woke shaming and sneering dismissal. (Yes of course you lot can call me a hypocrite, but I am not an american politician trying to win anything, just an interested observer from over the pond)

    The irony is that the working class generally was a core component of the Democratic coalition for a really long time, so it’s not like they don’t know how to appeal to working-class voters.

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  32. charon says:

    @DeD:

    The majority of White voters pulled for Trump. Not all of them were Republicans. The question to ask is, Why does the majority of White voters vote the way it does?

    How they are socialized.

    Look how TV and movies have changed over the years, lots more POC characters, even interracial couples. Young people are not being socialized to the same attitudes their elders were, more demographics that will hurt the GOP.

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  33. charon says:

    @charon:

    Also LGBTQ characters. The GOP can no longer profit by things like anti-same sex marriage ballot initiatives, that sort of thing. They are dinosaurs.

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  34. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @DeD: White folks–especially rural ones—ride with whoever appears to have the wealth and power. They are not “give me your tired and poor” type of people which is the current image of the Democratic Party. America in general just isn’t into poor people–but at least Democrats want to hand them some crumbs to depart from their sight.

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  35. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Scott F.:

    Tell them that their old ways never have to change and they can remain untouched by progress and globalization if they just hunker down and tune out. The small town factories will come back if they just wait a little bit longer. Find someone they really want to hate and convince them you hate those people just as much as they do. (I‘d recommend Jeff Bezos and his ilk.) Appeal to their emotions and don‘t worry about having to deliver. They just want the catharsis.

    I understand that you’re being “partially snarky”, but it’s that sort of thinking that is turning a lot of farmers away from fully embracing the Democrats–at least in the north.

    Up here, our farmers are generally well-educated (you need to be to keep up with the latest advances in ag), moderate (“I don’t care what you do, just let me do what I want to do”), and socially open (ibid.).

    They push for progress. RFID was being used to tag cows long before it was commonly used elsewhere. GPS and GIS is being used to plot field tillage/planting/harvest to maximize yield while minimizing fuel usage. They’re studying crop rotations and how it replenishes nutrients without artificial fertilizers. And… recycling? Farmers have been into that forever (come around when the honey wagons are out, and you’ll see smell what I mean. 😀

    Farmers understand climate change (probably more than most), and are eager to keep things under control. They love global markets–we’re feeding the world (and bringing home the bacon). Tariffs and trade barriers hurt farmers seriously (talk to anyone who planted soy last year).

    And… while they may grumble about billionaires, you can be damn sure they love being able to order stuff from Amazon–just don’t bring that damn hippy coffee around here.

    @James Joyner:

    It’s unclear to me how you’d craft a message that appealed to the core urban constituency and also to farmers.

    There’s a lot of overlap in that venn diagram. It might not be a majority, but there’s enough that moderate Dems could bring a lot of them into the fold.

    I take the backroads through farms on my way to work every day. There’s a whole lot of “Biden” signs outside the farmhouses.

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  36. Andy says:

    @charon:

    (D) do own the doesn’t go to church much vote while the Wednesday evening bible study vote is a rapidly declining demographic joined at the hip to the GOP.

    And the irony here is the Democratic nominee is a life-long Catholic who goes to church every Sunday, prays daily, carries a rosarie 24/7, gives money to his church while Trump is a larping Christian who doesn’t act Christian at all, never goes to church, doesn’t pray, etc.

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  37. Lounsbury says:

    @Blue Galangal: Reductionist prattle of the kind that leads to endless losing.

    @DeD: insofar as once the Democrats had white working class as their base, it is evident they have voted Republican because the cultural politics.

    So Democrats can continue a 20 year pattern of dreaming of demographic destiny or they can find path to coalitional politics that has a wider geographic reach.

    Or they can continue to sneer and shrilly paint with broad brushes and play a losing game, leaving potential progress achievable, unachieved.

    Of course the foolish claims that the idiot, tone-deaf and utterly unecessary sloganeering like “Defund the Police” was doing no harm is now shown to have been as myopic and misplaced as suspected.

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  38. Scott says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I agree with you. The Upper Midwest (MN, SD, ND, IA) are some of the best educated people around. Good schools, etc. What I don’t get is that while farm bankruptcies are at an all time high, farm suicides are at an all time high, rural medical care is in the dumpster, they vote for those who made it that way.

    Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that Democrats will support the rural areas even if they don’t get credit for it, while Republicans will use legislation to attack the urban areas (see 2017 tax bill).

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  39. al Ameda says:

    These Republicans are energized radicals. Since 2010 Republicans have exercised they power they have ruthlessly with no regard for norms and with no regrets.

    I’m skeptical that Biden can ‘work across the aisle’ not because of his will or pemperament, but because of Mitch McConnell and the current state of mind of Republicans. As with Obama they will be determined to give Biden nothing. Bills will go from the House to the Senate where Mitch will bury them.

    This will be much like the situation we have now, but we will be back to normal dysfunction, that is without the toxic sociopathic leadership style of Trump. I cn see Biden issuing many Executive Orders to repeal or otherwise negate Trump’s EO’s.

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  40. Modulo Myself says:

    Of course the foolish claims that the idiot, tone-deaf and utterly unecessary sloganeering like “Defund the Police” was doing no harm is now shown to have been as myopic and misplaced as suspected.

    Biden is going to win this election because of huge turnout by black people in cities in the midwest and Georgia. Do you think they were turned off by Defund the Police or a few riots? I doubt it. Overall, Clinton-era triangulation is a zombie. There’s no side left to triangulate against. Biden to his credit stayed in the basement, made a few gestures about how bad violence is, and didn’t say much else or engage to prove how hard-core 1992 he was.

    If Democrats want to do better in rural America, they have to stop running these pro-America dipshits with messages built out of DNC emails. They need people who came back from Iraq with a serious pill problems and had to straighten out. They should be looking for rednecks who have a favorite indica strain and want a UBI so nobody has to spend their life working at an Amazon warehouse or a convenience store. They should be attacking the the people who behind the strip-malls and the Walmarts and Oxycontiin. The good thing is there is no way they could do worse than the current Democratic strategy. And probably for a lot cheaper too.

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  41. charon says:

    @Andy:

    And the irony here is the Democratic nominee is a life-long Catholic who goes to church every Sunday, prays daily, carries a rosarie 24/7, gives money to his church while Trump is a larping Christian who doesn’t act Christian at all, never goes to church, doesn’t pray, etc.

    Which has nothing to do with why they are Trumpy:

    A) They think Trump is a tough dude who will protect them.

    B) Judges etc. plus partisan loyalty to the GOP

    C) Their leaders, the Jerry Falwell Jr./Franklin Graham/Ralph Reed etc., are Trumpy because they are, like Trump, grifters and game knows game and the rank and file are authoritarian follower types.

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  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    Abortion is murder. How do you vote for a murderer?

    That’s where the social disconnect turned toxic and uncompromising. Sure, gays and trans and AOC etc…, but it started with evangelical Christians deciding that liberals kill babies. It’s why a key component of Q involves Hillary draining baby blood.

    Sky Daddy says: liberals are evil.

    You’re kidding yourselves if you think Democrats can pick these people up. It’s not happening. We aren’t winning a place like South Carolina until these people age out and die, as they are doing so obligingly. You cannot change the opinions of a person who gets his opinions by divine revelation. You cannot convince a cultie with logic.

    Trump cultists on orders from dear leader demanded the Michigan vote count stop. . . at a point where Biden was ahead. Logic does not work. They reject reality itself. They are stupid, gullible people angry that the culture has moved on. The culture has moved on because the Less Stupid people already figured out the things the Stupid won’t get for another couple decades.
    In twenty years most conservatives will huffily insist that they never had a problem with trans bathrooms, the same way they now claim to have always believed drug addiction was a treatable illness, and they’ll be on to their next bullshit grudge without pausing for even a heartbeat to consider that they’ve been wrong on everything their entire stupid lives.

    Now, could the super-woke be a tad bit less insufferable? Yes, that would be nice. I can’t stand most of those people. But smug is not the same as wrong.

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  43. KM says:

    @Scott:
    It’s all about labels. For instance, government farm assistance is socialism but don’t call it that. They want all the benefits of something but not the ideology or imagery they associate with it (correctly or not). The guy that helps them gets called a commie and so they pick the guy that screws them frequently. Labels and status matter more in rural areas then parts of LA and Hollywood.

    I know it was a joke but I’ll use @Mu Yixiao’s “hippy coffee” as a prime example. Small town coffee typically sucks or at least it did when was young. Trust me on this – stand a spoon up straight muck, no sugar. Rare was the place that doesn’t serve burnt-tasting, bland bottom of the barrel sludge because that’s what was foisted off on them for generations. Americans got sold the literal bottom of the barrel dregs of coffee and tea because we didn’t know any better. Now here comes variety – better quality, better taste but higher price. However, it means you’ve been drinking swill your whole life and the implication offends you. Do you upgrade or label the new stuff “hippy coffee”….. while not noticing Dunkin’ and Dennys and Waffle House have all quietly upgraded to it behind your back? 100% Arabica coffee now for all of them, many offering dark and blonde roasts regularly. What grandpa would have called “hippy coffee” is slowly becoming the expected norm and in a few years, expresso and the like will join the ranks because good strong coffee’s always welcome early in the morning. Call it Farmer’s Roast or something and you could sell triple shots easily – it’s all in the label.

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  44. Scott says:

    @al Ameda: I would be happy with just cleaning up the Executive Branch. Get agencies functional again. Drive out corruption. Reestablish norms. Find ways to make it hard to break norms the next time. Deepen the deep state. All those things.

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  45. Lounsbury says:

    @Modulo Myself: Ah yes, the sneering Left and the straw man. You lot do so love losing on high horses

    Of course the point was that peaceful protest achieves more sans losing votes and you did clearly lose votes – and avoiding idiotically poorly framed slogans for more judicious and well placed ones – why on earth would one want to be clever and gain more votes broadly with better framed slogans that achieve better buy-in for the same bloody goal…

    So trading a tidal wave for skin-of-the-teeth narrow, but staying on the ostentatious high horse. Typical of the Left.

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  46. grumpy realist says:

    @Mu Yixiao: If I were running in a farm-dominated location, I’d be running on a platform saying that farmers have the right to fix their own tractors no matter what damn software code the manufacturers have shoved into it or what chips are being used. And the right to plant seed harvested from prior crops, no matter what bioengineering Monsanto has done on it.

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  47. Gustopher says:

    @Lounsbury:

    insofar as once the Democrats had white working class as their base, it is evident they have voted Republican because the cultural politics.

    That really isn’t evident.

    The fundies — sure, they vote cultural issues. But the fundies are only part of the white working class. And, the fundies aren’t going to vote for Democrats no matter which groups the Democrats throw under the bus for them — why vote for the 60% bigot when you can vote for the real thing — so there’s no reason to attempt to appeal to them on “cultural issues”

    There is a lot of the white working class that should be reachable without sacrificing gays or latinos or blacks on the altar of “cultural issues”. And that’s what everyone who goes on about “identity politics” really means, when push comes to shove.

    And without the votes of those “identities”, Democrats would definitely lose the Presidency right now, so you would need to bring more people into the tent than you’re pushing out (or the right people in the right states into the tent… but with enough states on a razor’s edge, we aren’t winning Michigan without blacks in Detroit)

    If sacrificing LGBTetc rights got us to a spot where we would actually be able to deal with climate change, I would do it, even though that’s my rights — sacrificing my rights to avoid an extinction level event seems like a decent trade off. But sacrificing my rights for nothing? Nah, I’d rather be comfortable as we head off the cliff than uncomfortable as we head off the cliff.

    Democrats need to reach out to white working class people, and bring them into the tent. We need to talk about freedom — economic freedom. And we need to talk about the small cities, and what we can do to revitalize them. And we still need to talk about social justice, and inclusion.

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  48. Modulo Myself says:

    why on earth would one want to be clever and gain more votes broadly with better framed slogans that achieve better buy-in for the same bloody goal…

    You’re not really a Brit are you?

    What’s funny is that I proposed the Democrats running candidates who are vulnerable and empathetic and who would have appeal that not’s based on branding or niche polling, and you’re rambling on about the optics of slogans and I’m the one on the high horse.

    I do think that this is what Trump pulled off–this total upside-down bullshit where playing a rich businessman on reality tv connects at a populist level but thinking in terms of actual human life is pure ivory-tower elitism.

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  49. Monala says:

    @Lounsbury:

    @DeD: insofar as once the Democrats had white working class as their base, it is evident they have voted Republican because the cultural politics.

    Nope, nope, nope. Democrats haven’t won the white vote since the 1960s. That was long before gay rights, trans people using bathrooms, etc., etc. If cultural politics means that people other than white straight people get to have rights, then white people as a whole have shown they will vote for the other party.

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  50. Andy says:

    @charon:

    Which has nothing to do with why they are Trumpy:

    Hence why I said it was ironic. But the irony also works the other way since all the religion-hating atheists are voting for the most Christian Democratic Presidential candidate we’ve seen in a generation.

    So yeah, it’s never actually about religion, it’s about policies.

    @Lounsbury:

    Yep. I don’t understand the endless excuses for why there is zero possibility for Democrats to expand their coalition.

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  51. Gustopher says:

    @KM:

    Call it Farmer’s Roast or something and you could sell triple shots easily – it’s all in the label.

    Agrarian Labor Latte, at the People’s Democratic Republic of Coffee.

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  52. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    Yep. I don’t understand the endless excuses for why there is zero possibility for Democrats to expand their coalition.

    He seems to be talking about trading parts of the coalition now, for a hoped for segment of the Republican coalition. That’s not the same thing as expanding the coalition.

    Democrats need to expand their coalition. But they can do so without losing the votes of the most loyal parts of their coalition.

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  53. charon says:

    @Andy:

    But the irony also works the other way since all the religion-hating atheists are voting for the most Christian Democratic Presidential candidate we’ve seen in a generation.

    Hillary Clinton is pretty religious, pretty active.

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  54. Scott F. says:

    @Lounsbury and @Andy:
    You both frequent this blog, so you must have noticed that the Democratic candidate has won the popular vote 7 of the last 8 times we‘ve elected a president. Steven has explained why that hasn‘t meant control of the courts or the legislature and it‘s not about whose side has the policies with the broadest appeal.

    Expanding the coalition by denying one‘s core beliefs seems kind of stupid to me when your core beliefs are the ones that poll the best, while also being the beliefs that align with trends in demographics and scientific evidence.

    The Dems need to go after gerrymandering and voter suppression with all they‘ve got while they ride out the death throes of a shrinking majority.

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  55. Mu Yixiao says:

    @KM:

    What grandpa would have called “hippy coffee” is slowly becoming the expected norm and in a few years, expresso and the like will join the ranks because good strong coffee’s always welcome early in the morning. Call it Farmer’s Roast or something and you could sell triple shots easily – it’s all in the label.

    There’s nothing wrong with Folger’s. And people ’round here certainly appreciate a good coffee–there are plenty of local roasters (the coffee shop on Main St. used to roast their own in the back). “Hippy coffee” is all that “half-cafe latte with a twist” stuff.

    The coffee shop used to have 6 air-pots out. There’d be “Guatamalan dark roast” and “Breakfast Blend”, etc. But there was one marked “Coffee” and one marked “Decaf”. It was the same brand as the others, just a simple medium roast.

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  56. steve says:

    I have to think most people here dont really talk much to people on the right or people in the middle. While we wont know for sure until we see the post voting surveys, but it seems pretty likely to me that the riots and looting that persisted over the summer were a huge factor. People understand demonstrating. They dont understand or believe that looting is a valid way to demonstrate, because it isn’t. I think that scared off a lot of votes.

    Second, Biden is not a good candidate. Hillary was awful. So much baggage and a lousy campaigner to boot. Pretty smart and knew policy, so maybe she got the thinking person’s votes, all 5% of the vote. Otherwise she sucked. Biden didnt suck he just wasn’t very good. You can believe that Trump is so awful that anyone should be able to defeat him but the elections say otherwise. Lets hope the Dems dont put forth another weak candidate next time too assuming they will win.

    Steve

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  57. Mu Yixiao says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Right to repair. Yep.
    Ability to be a farmer. Yep.

    I’d also add in affordable health care–not free; affordable. If you’re paying something for it, then it’s not “welfare”. That’s a point of pride. Moderate conservatives (which a lot of the farmers up here are) have no problem with “helping people through tough times” or “lending a hand”, but you can’t just give it to them.

    When I was young, Wisconsin tried to institute a “welfare work program” (I was in HS, so I can’t remember all the details), but it was essentially “we’ll give you money for doing small public-service tasks”. As I recall, it was the liberals who opposed it. You can’t make them work! That’s demeaning!

    Some compromise was reached and welfare reforms went through making it a little bit harder to claim benefits. Within 6 months, new claims dropped 60%. The big problem was people from Chicago moving up here because it was so easy to get “free money”.

    The Dems have become focused on urban populations–and have been wording their positions in ways that try to appeal to urban residents–while ignoring the fact that a whole bunch of their platform fits rural residents, too.

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  58. Mu Yixiao says:

    @steve:

    Biden is not a good candidate.

    It depends on what you mean by “good”.

    There’s the old joke on dating sites: I’m not looking for Mr. Right, I’m looking for Mr. Right Now.

    Biden is exactly what the Dems need right now. He’s not a bold, charismatic progressive with grand goals.

    He’s safe.

    He’s the only one out of the herd of primary candidates that actually had a chance of pulling moderate Republicans away from Trump.

    He’s calm; a little quirky, but affable; non-threatening; likable, even if you disagree with his politics; and willing to be “an American president”, not a Democratic one. That’s the message and leadership we need right now, and I can’t think of any other primary candidate that offered all of that.

    When I was in college, I learned about Goethe and his basis for critique:

    1) What were they trying to do?
    2) How well did they do it?
    3) Was it worth the doing?

    If the goal was to pull moderates away from the Republican party, get Trump out of office, and pull some sanity back into our country, Biden was really the only choice. The fact that he “jogged for office” while others were “running”–and he still took the lead–shows that he’s what people want.

    That makes him a great candidate–for right now.

    Lets hope the Dems dont put forth another weak candidate next time too assuming they will win.

    Biden is going to be a one-term “transitional president”. Harris will run in 2024 and be able to take the Dems where they need to go.

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  59. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Scott F.:

    Expanding the coalition by denying one‘s core beliefs seems kind of stupid to me when your core beliefs are the ones that poll the best, while also being the beliefs that align with trends in demographics and scientific evidence.

    Old guys whining. It’s not smart politics, it’s just hurt feelings. Why don’t we choose them instead of some trans kid? Waaah. You like her more than me. Waaah. Give me a seat on the bus, I’ll take that one the fa–ot’s sitting in.

    Very much in line with the true conservative ethos which boils down to, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine, and the crippling fear that someone, somewhere might have gotten something they didn’t get more of.

    Here’s how it will work @Andy and @Lounsbury: when we don’t have to kick someone else out because of your narrow-mindedness, we’d love to have you join. But we’re not Republicans, we don’t shit on minorities just because a white man wants us to.

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  60. An Interested Party says:

    …Biden is not a good candidate.

    Among the Democratic candidates in the primary, who would have done better against Trump?

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  61. Michael Reynolds says:

    @steve:
    Biden just ran the most effective and disciplined political campaign I’ve ever seen, and he knocked off an incumbent president, in the midst of the most difficult conditions since Lincoln ran for re-election.

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  62. Modulo Myself says:

    I have to think most people here dont really talk much to people on the right or people in the middle. While we wont know for sure until we see the post voting surveys, but it seems pretty likely to me that the riots and looting that persisted over the summer were a huge factor. People understand demonstrating. They dont understand or believe that looting is a valid way to demonstrate, because it isn’t. I think that scared off a lot of votes.

    This is what Bill Clinton said after the LA riots: “They do not share our values, and their children are growing up in a culture alien from ours, without family, without neighborhood, without church, without support.” This is what Biden said on May 31st: ““We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. Please stay safe. Please take care of each other.” Clinton called rioters a bunch of animals and Trump called them thugs, and Biden (or whoever wrote that) talked about the perils of our rage consuming us and then he won by 3 million votes.

    So maybe conservatives or moderates or whatever need to suck it up and deal with the majority of people in this country who have empathy with rioters and looters.

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  63. steve says:

    Biden ran against the worst incumbent in history. At a time when the economy is doing poorly. When we are in the middle of a poorly run pandemic. He was a boring, “safe” candidate. The lack of a candidate who would actually excite people enough to vote speaks poorly about the party. This is two elections in a row where it was assumed people would turn out to vote against the bad guy and it wasn’t enough motivation. On the R side they were also voting against the Democrats but they were also actively supporting Trump.

    Steve

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  64. An Interested Party says:

    The lack of a candidate who would actually excite people enough to vote speaks poorly about the party. This is two elections in a row where it was assumed people would turn out to vote against the bad guy and it wasn’t enough motivation.

    Again, who among the Democratic primary candidates would have done better against Trump?

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  65. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Some compromise was reached and welfare reforms went through making it a little bit harder to claim benefits. Within 6 months, new claims dropped 60%. The big problem was people from Chicago moving up here because it was so easy to get “free money”.

    Do you have a year for that, or any other data other than 60% in 6 months (which I take as a half-remembered factoid that may be more oid than fact)?

    There are often programs designed to make it virtually impossible for people to sign up and receive benefits — Florida’s unemployment insurance, for instance, was designed to reduce benefits by being impossible to navigate, and was a big problem during the shutdown. But, if you are measuring only by “lower signups is good” rather than “does it do the job we want it to?”, it looks great.

    And then there is Seattle, where a single mother I know is deliberately working N hours a week, as N+1 would mean that she loses a huge number of benefits — there’s a giant donut hole in the safety net that requires people to pole vault over it.

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  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    come to the not unreasonable conclusion that no matter who wins, your life won’t change much.

    And for the most part, “you” may well be right. That’s certainly my observation about reality. But as I was noting to Luddite a couple days ago:
    I’m old,
    I’m relative to my socio-economic cohort middle class
    I have no children, loved ones or dependents whose future needs to be considered
    I have saved enough and have inherited a small legacy handled so that I gain as much tax advantage as people not named Buffett and Bezos can get
    I live simply and have both a passport and bug out money
    I’m not likely to ever need an abortion and have never caused anyone else to need one (and I can state that for a fact, not conjecture)
    In other words, conservatism/Trumpism/whateverism holds no fear for me. No matter who wins, my life won’t change much.

    But it’s also real easy for me to say that. Much easier than it is for the voter in your example. And I’ve been that person too. Right at this moment, Social Security and a small pension from a 15-year stint of employment with a Teamsters’ contract provide a monthly income almost 100% higher than what I made in my last job before leaving for Korea (I take no income off my investments). Sadly, that previous condition didn’t make “no matter who wins, your life won’t change much” any less true. I’m just luckier for now.

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  67. EddieInCA says:

    @steve:

    No. Sorry.

    Hispanics and African Americans voted for Trump in historic numbers, based on early evidence. Why? Because the GOP pushed the “socialism” cannard, and it worked. The country is obviously not on board for a true progressive, even as they support the progressive policies. Dems need to go back to what worked in 2018; choosing candidates that fit their districts. A San Francisco liberal is very different than a West Virginia liberal, but they’ll both vote with Dems. Asking a West Virgina liberal to be against guns, or pro-choice personally, is a way to make sure you don’t win locally.

    It worked great in 2018. This time, not so much.

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  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy: “Trump is a larping Christian who doesn’t act Christian at all, never goes to church, doesn’t pray, etc.”

    Sure, but that’s been true of every good “Christian” Republican president during my lifetime with the possible exception of Shrub. We call these yahoos “Christian” to justify voting for them and the agenda. And I say “we” because for 20 or so years, I was one of them. Part of the reason to vote 3rd party for 5 cycles was as a rejection of my late childhood, young adulthood.

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  69. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM:

    Dunkin’ and Dennys and Waffle House have all quietly upgraded to it

    Now if Denny’s would get rid of those table service carafes with the rubber stoppers that make the coffee taste like rubber bands…

    But seriously, I do know what you mean. Dunkin’ had better coffee in Korea than most other operations and during the time I was there coffee exploded. The neighborhood I lived in in Daejeon (Daejeon, not even Seoul or Busan!) had 8 coffee shops that were always busy all day, most of the night, 7 days a week. And we were close to the edge of town. (And didn’t have a Dunkin’s 🙁 )

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  70. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Lounsbury: The tidal wave was always wishful thinking in a nation where 40% (90% of Republicans) thought Trump was doing fine–especially on the economy (his highest rated line item, as I recall–WTF?????).

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  71. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Your comment reminds me of a quote I read long ago:

    White men can’t sing the blues? Yes, I’ve heard that. For me, I look at George Thoroughgood selling a million copies of a song Muddy Waters sold 4o,ooo of and have to conclude that he’s doing something right.

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  72. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Here’s how it will work @Andy and @Lounsbury: when we don’t have to kick someone else out because of your narrow-mindedness, we’d love to have you join. But we’re not Republicans, we don’t shit on minorities just because a white man wants us to.

    No one’s asking you to shit on minorities. Your Manichean view of everything political is what is narrow-minded.

    Maybe you haven’t noticed yet, but there are several unexpected things that happened:
    – A non-trivial number of minorities ended up voting for the guy you spent the last four years calling the most racist President in modern history.
    – Democrats did well with Biden, but they underperformed almost everywhere else (except for Colorado because we are the best state). We appear to have a very rare (or maybe even unique) case where a party defeats an incumbent President (and not just any President, the most unpopular President in modern history), yet still loses seats in Congress.

    One would think all that and more (like state and other down-ballot races) would trigger some introspection about cause and effect and perhaps even a teeny-tiny reexamination of one’s priors.

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  73. Andy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Sure, but that’s been true of every good “Christian” Republican president during my lifetime with the possible exception of Shrub.

    I’d say that’s true of politicians generally. Truly devout religiosity is just not compatible with the compromised ethics necessary to be a successful politician.

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  74. An Interested Party says:

    A non-trivial number of minorities ended up voting for the guy you spent the last four years calling the most racist President in modern history.

    Just because those people voted for Trump doesn’t mean he isn’t, if not the most, one of the most racist Presidents in American history…this is similar to how so many working-class people vote for Republicans, who do little to nothing to help them…indeed, Republicans usually do much more to help their employers rather than these people themselves…

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  75. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    No one’s asking you to shit on minorities. Your Manichean view of everything political is what is narrow-minded.

    That’s certainly the implication of @Lounsbury’s comments. What else does it mean when someone brings up “identity politics” but elides over “aggrieved white man” as an identity?

    But what do you mean?

    I see the Latino vote going 2:1 for Biden rather than 3:1 being a reflection of covid knocking the wind out of the usual Trump administration racism. A lot of Latinos are likely more conservative than they typically vote. If this makes Republicans see that demonizing Latinos is costing them votes, I think that would be great. Less demonizing of minorities would be good.

    Democrats should have to compete for their votes. And black votes. When both sides are seriously pursuing them, then they will have it made.

    I think Democrats need an industrial plan — preferential treatment in government contracts for small suppliers who employ people in struggling communities would be a start. The US government has a huge footprint in the economy, so we should have our hand (toe…) on the scale to promote growth throughout the country.

    I think we need to be talking about economic freedoms. Families and communities should be able to weather a financial hardship without going to shit. If you can’t get a house in a good school district and make enough to afford good health care, an education for your kids, and a retirement… something has got to give. A lot of that is at the local level, but we need local policies as well.

    Raise corporate taxes, but offset that with partial tax rebates on salaries up to some threshold based on community. Literally reward the job creators.

    And support social justice and equal rights. I would be willing to let bigot bakers bake only bigot cakes and a few other bits of slippage where the consequences are low (you can have a Twinkie for your gay wedding…), but I would hold the line on housing, voting, employment…

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  76. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Gustopher: Whoa! Whoa! No one has to sacrifice their interests— the Party simply has to be selective about what destinations go on the Bus scrolling banner. The bus will (still) drive by your stop and, frankly my stop, but in order to get a few more people on the bus (and thereby royally screw the Republican Party)–we need to put some different stops on the banner that are in the same general direction the bus was already going. This isn’t physics–its storytelling.

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  77. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @EddieInCA: With Trump on the ballot–it couldn’t. But I think its a good long game to play. I know this crowd hated the Blue Dog Dems—but when they were plentiful–the Republicans were a true minority party. And Dems got most of what they wanted–a little slower than they’d like but the train kept moving.

    The first Party to make this adaptation will basically be the super majority Party for a Generation or 2. The good news is…the Republicans went the Trumpist direction giving the Democrats an automatic headstart.

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  78. Scott F. says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Speaking for myself, the blue wave wasn’t wishful thinking so much as hopeful thinking . I hoped the strong majority of my country wouldn’t want to reward an openly racist and corrupt party that had failed to skillfully govern through a national crisis.

    I was wrong.

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  79. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Andy: I think Democrats should really be worried about the Hispanic portion of their coalition. In a historic election with historic turnout–they didn’t move the needle in Texas and they under performed dramatically in south florida.

    I have a Conservative colleague who is a good faith actor that likes to talk politics with me to get a black persons perspective (despite the fact I have non typical views). During one of our recent conversations, I didn’t realize how deeply disgusting he found racists to be and how it was one of the worst things a person could be called. He is absolutely not a racist–we are both vets and I’d assault a hill with this man any day, anytime. But I told him I was surprised by how low he considered racists to be and understood how one could go over the top if wrongfully accused of being something so low. I guess I’d equate it with being with being called a pedophile.

    I say all that to say that I guess because I consider the whole spectrum of racism from (prejudice to straight up white supremacy) to be natural to white men–I’m numb to seeing it as a deal breaking detractor. When your on my side of racism–you have to be transactional.

    Those gains Trump made with Hispanics and African Americans were people being transactional. Fuck it–you hate brown and black people? You help me I help you. If a Biden administration starts on 20 Jan and ends without overt initiatives to reward the Black voters that gave him 80/20 margins–more of those voters are going to test the waters on the Republican side. You and I know the Trump flirt with Ice Cube’s platinum plan was bullshit–but it made waves with the lower information black voters–big waves.

    We let Obama get away with an All Lives Matter approach because he was the 1st Black President. This time around (if Biden pulls it off) the All Lives Matter approach won’t cut it–they want the Black Lives addressed.

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  80. DeD says:

    @Monala:
    Thank you. I was beginning to fear no one on the thread understood.

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  81. DrDaveT says:

    @steve:

    Biden ran against the worst incumbent in history.

    He also ran against the most aggressive and effective disinformation campaign in history. Ignore this at your peril.

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  82. Andy says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Jim,

    Those are three great comments.

    I’ve been trying to argue for years here that Democrats were making a mistake by not reaching out to the many demographics disaffected by Trump. I also think it was/is a mistake to assume that Democrats have a lock on minority voters for all eternity – the whole demographics is destiny nonsense.

    I say all that to say that I guess because I consider the whole spectrum of racism from (prejudice to straight up white supremacy) to be natural to white men–I’m numb to seeing it as a deal breaking detractor. When your on my side of racism–you have to be transactional.

    Thanks for sharing that perspective. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I have several black relatives in my extended family and the two I’m close to basically told me the same thing. They also happen to be pretty strong Trump supporters for a variety of reasons I won’t belabor here.

    You mention you were a vet, so perhaps you had the opportunity to travel. I was fortunate enough in my service to spend time on every continent except Antarctica. One thing I learned along the way is that there is a lot of fucking racism in this world and white people definitely have not cornered the market.

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  83. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Andy: Racism is the American version of Factionalism–which exists in every culture. Factionalism is human nature and the liberal dream to irradicate racism is a pipe dream. What we really want to do is work towards the higher octaves of our natural inclinations. Practically, that would mean working toward making the ‘in-group’ in America— people that have their shit together and the ‘out group’ people that don’t. Even simpler–people that work hard and play by the rules.

    Glad you are commenting semi-regular again.

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  84. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher:

    That’s certainly the implication of @Lounsbury’s comments. What else does it mean when someone brings up “identity politics” but elides over “aggrieved white man” as an identity?

    It only means that because of your White Hat Black Hat Manichean view.

    What it means when it is pointed out that Identity Politics is a loser you dim sods, is that a focus on minority identity politics in a fashion that provokes majority white working class backlash is a loser. This is not a moral argument, although I suppose your sort of Leftists are unable to see anything but morality plays, it is a practical one.

    Achieving same goals via non-head-on politics, and focusing on common interests – economic, social discrimination broadly, attention to working class cultural issues not just Woke urban – to bring on board a portion of this electorate and you get a vote that will allow you to achieve more than your smug Woke approaches.

    Or you can keep dreaming of Demography as Destiny and keep losing.

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  85. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Yes Biden did, here there is agreement, it was an excellent campaign. Well disciplined and messaged. That’s why he won while as Andy points out, the Democrats failed at repudiated Trumpism broadly. Failed – and that is dangerous.

    @Andy:


    – Democrats did well with Biden, but they underperformed almost everywhere else (except for Colorado because we are the best state). We appear to have a very rare (or maybe even unique) case where a party defeats an incumbent President (and not just any President, the most unpopular President in modern history), yet still loses seats in Congress.

    One would think all that and more (like state and other down-ballot races) would trigger some introspection about cause and effect and perhaps even a teeny-tiny reexamination of one’s priors.
    Exactly.

    @steve: I have to think most people here dont really talk much to people on the right or people in the middle. While we wont know for sure until we see the post voting surveys, but it seems pretty likely to me that the riots and looting that persisted over the summer were a huge factor. People understand demonstrating. They dont understand or believe that looting is a valid way to demonstrate, because it isn’t. I think that scared off a lot of votes

    Yes, but I recall distinctly it was the commentariat ideological view here there was no problem – pure ideological partisan lensing.

    Against the historical data that James cited indicating that historical violent protest, looting, tended to boost Law & Order vote in a material fashion – contra peaceful protest. With the usual excuses of oh valid sentiments, understandable blah blah frustration, oppression. Super, validity of sentiments never wins elections. Discipline, well-crafted messaging. The idiocy of DeFund police at the same time as rioting (yes complicated story but complicated stories do not come through in political elections, as Remain (re)learned to its chagrin), tolerance of the wild-cat statute tearing down (beyond the Confederates), idiotic hard Left rhetoric around US Founders and the like re racists and taking down or perceptually/rhetorically crapping on their monuments / statues. These were unnecessary gifts to the Trump rhetoric. Biden managed to avoid the trap but it did not help the overall that is clear.

    But no, it was Party Line that it was all valid, not at all Own Goal, because God Forbid one take a look at own side and say “hmm thats bloody unhelpful eh?” and tamping down very proactively.

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  86. Scott F. says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Even simpler–people that work hard and play by the rules.

    I really appreciate your call to the “higher octaves of our natural inclinations.” (Nice turn of phrase BTW). To my mind, it’s the right aspiration. I’d just like to note a couple of things:

    1) As lovely an idea as it is, a factionalism where the ‘in-group’ is those who work hard and play by the rules is every bit the pipe dream that eradicating racism is. You see, the ‘in-group’ of the moment gets to write the rules. They write the rules foremost to ensure they will always remain ‘in’ while others will remain ‘out.’ They surely aren’t writing rules so that they must also work as hard or harder than everyone else.

    2) Eradicating racism lies at an extreme end of the spectrum of outcomes for a better functioning social order. At the other extreme is the idea that racism has already been eradicated and no longer needs to be dealt with. Any honest representation would place the ‘liberal’ position somewhere on the spectrum between those extremes and the best representation would be a range since the ‘liberal’ position isn’t monolithic. For this liberal, I don’t think it is radical or a hard sell to reasonable people of the heartland to state that racism should be recognized as a retrograde bias against a fellow human and that racism should be called out when it systematically gets in the way of people who are working hard and playing by the rules.

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  87. wr says:

    @Lounsbury: Pretty impressive that after months of saying that protests would bring a Trump landslide, you’re managing to say “I told you so” even though Biden has beaten the crap out of him.

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