I’m going to try to make this short and sweet. Knowing me, good luck with that, right?
No final numbers have been released, but turnout for the 2014 election has been estimated to be just under 38%. Again. And, true to form, in the five days since that debacle, I have been bombarded with “analyses” from progressive media outlets like blogs and podcasts. They are all longing to explain for me why “Democrats” didn’t show up at the polls. There are sooooo many reasons being proffered, it’s amazing. Here are some of the most popular:
- Democrats didn’t have a cohesive “message.”
- Democrats didn’t “motivate” the “Democratic base” to show up and vote.
- Democrats “shunned” President Obama and the Democratic record.
- Gerrymandering was successful.
Dozens of “reasons” (excuses) have been proferred; these are just the most common. And all are bullshit, especially the four above. These heady analyses” demonstrate absolutely no concept of the political process and how it works, and likely spend most of their time behind a keyboard, and not analyzing anything that actually happened. I’m going to make quick work of the above:
- In any election, there are 435 House races and 33-34 Senate races, and candidates running to represent diverse states and districts. That means the “cohesive message” is going to be very general and abstract, like “hope and change” or “Democrats are better at government.” The national Democratic Party proffered those themes very well.
- First of all, who says the “base” didn’t show up? I haven’t seen any actual analyses of exit polls showing that. Those take months to come up with. No one has that information the first few days after the election. Second of all, define “the base.” Not only are the professional left not part of the Democratic base, they don’t understand what a base is. If you’re part of the “Democratic base,” you don’t need external “motivation” to vote. If you’re a progressive, and you need motivation to show up and vote Democratic, well, your problem is obvious. You’re not part of any “base.”
- Only a few red state Democrats “shunned” Obama or Democrats. Most Democrats embraced him and his record in their districts and states, and the only ones who did not were in Republican-majority states where Obama has an approval rating below 35%. Also, might I point out that most Democrats actually won on Tuesday? Some Democrats who embraced Obama lost big, but I would never make the illogical leap that their “Obama-embracing” was the reason. The fact is, Obama wasn’t an issue in this campaign, until ONE professional left darling candidate openly dissed Obama. Then, the outrage machine went into overdrive.
- Until you get turnout up to at least 60%, blaming “gerrymandering” for anything demonstrates the height of cluelessness. Comparing a percentage of the popular vote with the number of races won, without factoring in numerous other numbers demonstrates nothing more than a startling lack of knowledge of how statistics work.
None of these are valid reasons why people stay home on election day. I’ve been studying this for a long time, and the reasons are a little more basic and easy to figure out. And they’re mostly the fault of progressives. I hate it as much as you do, but it’s true. The electorate depends on us to tell them the truth, and we don’t know that very well.
Voters are not all either Democrats or Republicans. Currently, about 37% of registered voters are Democrats, while about 24% are Republican. The other 39% are “other,” which can be “Independent” or members of one of 134 “third parties” registered in the United States. Because of the mathematics of our “winner-take-all” system, there can only be two viable political parties, so all voters tend to vote for either Republicans or Democrats. One of those (guess which?) will vote for their party’s candidates, no matter what. In presidential years, Republicans vote at a rate of between 90-95%. In midterms, that only drops down to 85-90%. And they are so loyal, if Republican turnout goes below 80%, they know they cant win. Republicans don’t constantly appeal to their “base” because they want to; they literally have to. They have no choice. But when they turn out at 90%, we can’t win if overall turnout is only 37-38%. Again, it’s basic math; 90% of 24% = 21.6%. If they make up 21.6% of voters, how can we possibly win with overall turnout of 37%?
Our fortunes are tied to turnout. It would be easy to get turnout up. But first, we have to understand why people stay home. Here are some reasons (professional lefties will hate these, but they’re true:
- Voting is not always easy – The “Democratic base” is made up of working people and people of color (sorry white pro lefties!). As you well know, it can be difficult to cast a vote. For a working person to take time off from one of the three $8/hour jobs they work they want to be sure their vote will count. Much of the rhetoric they’re exposed to involves “voter suppression” and other memes, and that’s troubling for them. They believe there’s a possibility that they could drive or take the bus across town, stand in line for a couple hours, and their vote won’t count. A rational person is less likely to show up, not more.
- There’s a lack of useful information about available candidates – Our progressive press does a really lousy job of providing information about candidates and the two parties. Most of them is focused on the horse race aspect of the election, but they offer very little positive information about Democrats. Then, they complain because “the Democrats” don’t provide enough information, but that’s just not true. Voters see the candidate flyers, position papers and other information, and they want to validate the information. That’s hard to find in the progressive press.
- No positive messaging. – Most of the 76% of the electorate that is not hard-core Republican wants to vote for something. If we learned nothing else from the Obama 2008 campaign, we should have learned that. His campaign for “hope and change” resonated and drove turnout to its highest rate since 1968. We need to emulate that. Negativity depresses voters. Once again, why give up three hours at your job, if your vote will not lead to anything changing?
- Our side sabotages Democrats, takes away the alternative – Imagine; people are depressed. They keep hearing the economy is getting better, but unemployment is still too high and pay is too low. They want to vote for a government that will do better, which means one run by the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party tells them exactly that, but the progressive “blogosphere” undermines that message every chance it gets. Here’s a challenge; peruse the progressive media and count the number of pre-election articles that heap massive praise onto Democrats. What you will find is a whole bunch of complaints; complaints about the DNC; complaints about Landrieu, Pryor and Manchin (oh my!); complaints about Democrats “messaging.;” and many other complaints. You will also find a lot of complaints about Republicans, but most non-Republican voters already know the GOP is a bunch of reprobates. You will also find a lot of stories referring to (all) Democrats as wimps and Obama being a “disappointment.” Those are not motivators for those deciding whether or not to vote. They also like to claim Democrats and Republicans are basically the same, which is not only completely untrue, but asinine. Worse, how does that motivate a “Democratic voter” to give up three hours pay and go across town to cast a vote? Why would you go through all that just to vote for someone people you trust tell you is as bad as the dicks who are already running the country?
- For some reason, voters have been convinced midterms don’t count. – Gee, where would they get that idea? Maybe it’s because most professional lefties are already focused on complaining about Hilary Clinton in 2016, and pushing alternatives, such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Those two are good people, but they have no name recognition and no record, in part because they’ve almost never been part of a majority. I’d also point out that Sanders isn’t even a Democrat, and most of the talk in the progressive media surrounds a “third party” candidacy. You know, because that worked so well the last time (2000 and 2004). The public is convinced midterms don’t matter because the people they rely on to verify the information Democrats tell them, essentially say just that.
Turnout is the key to a Democratic majority, and let’s be clear; the Democratic Party is the key to a progressive future. ALL Democrats, not just the ones we like the best. Yet, we sabotage ourselves at every turn. It’s not the Democratic Party’s fault. Their messaging is sound. The problem comes when political messaging coming from parties is verified by voters. I mean, would you believe anything a politician told you without checking? When voters go to verify the Democratic message, too often what they find sounds very much like the Republican message. And when both sides are saying “Democrats suck,” why would you want to go out and vote on a cold night for a loser?
THAT is why people didn’t show up to vote. We don’t give them a reason to show up, even thought that is our job. It’s the DNC’s job to craft a general message. It is each campaign’s job to craft a message to get each candidate elected. It is OUR JOB to verify the message and reinforce it in a way that makes people want to vote. We didn’t do our job, which is to inform voters of the best possible choice. (Not the perfect choice, the best possible choice.
We will never solve this problem until we understand where the problem is. Like I said; go peruse progressive media, and ask yourself; would this make me show up and vote Democratic?