An after-actions report card for Democrats in 2019
It's to review the performance of Democrats. Spandan covered what kind of policies winning Democrats pursued, but let me give you the report card on the ground politic.
Virginia Democrats, well done. Your hard fighting gained a trifecta for Democrats and for progress more broadly.
Virginia once housed the capital of the confederacy. Yet in 2017, it was among the first to show signs of effective resistance to the Trump regime by getting a Democrat into the Governor’s mansion and crippling the Republican Majority in both state chambers. Republicans did quite poorly in Virginia during the 2018 midterms. Today, the state is poised to have a Democratic Trifecta.
Fate, it seems, is not without its sense of irony.
Kentucky Democrats, I have to be blunt, you kicked some serious ass. You overcame efforts by Trump to save a bully like himself from facing the consequences of his actions. Not only that, you did it in an extremely unfriendly environment for Democrats. I am sorry to report that Greg Stumbo will not be the new AG, but still, I will take any wins I can get, especially in unfriendly terrain like Kentucky.
Out of all Democrats, Mississippi Democrats did the worst. But I did warn that it was the most hostile territory and that they were not favorites to win. Jim Hood did not have either the advantage of a massively unpopular candidate or the incumbency itself to make up for just how red Mississippi is. Nevertheless, Mississippi Democrats closed the voting gap by almost 200,000 votes compared to the state’s 2015 gubernatorial race. That’s pretty good!
But what can election night 2019 teach us going forward?
As Democrats, we must fight for every inch of ground. We may not be guaranteed to win every time we fight, but if we don’t fight, we are guaranteed to lose.
When fighting in red states, focus on opponents who are particularly vulnerable in some way shape or form. They can either be scandal-ridden, could have picked a fight with the wrong constituency or their own party, or be so disastrously incompetent either politically or in governing that everyone notices. But as hard as this may be, it is important to be able to exploit an extreme weakness.
#ByeByeBevin is a hashtag because of his tendency to pick fights with the wrong people.
The candidate must be nothing short of perfect, and they can afford no mistakes. Governor-Elect Andy Beshear did a lot of good for the people of Kentucky as Attorney General, and his family name carries a great deal of weight with them.
In a lot of cases, this may not be enough. It was not enough for Democrats to win in Mississippi.
Kentucky and Virginia showed us the way forward, especially when it comes to winning hard races.
Win by extraordinary margins in urban areas, win the suburbs, and keep your losses in exurban/rural areas to a minimum. Lose them ideally by no fewer by ten percentage points.
It was wins in suburban areas that flipped the Virginia state legislature, and it was in part thanks to the suburbs along with wins in Kentucky’s population centers that Governor-Elect Beshear was able to claim victory.
This will require its own post, but we must turn out voters of color. They were essential for flipping Virginia blue, considering how many candidates of color were victorious against Republicans in the Virginia legislative races. In addition, I have no doubt that black voters especially played a critical role in pushing Governor-Elect Beshear to victory.
Winning must come first. The record is pretty clear on this.
It is center-left Democrats running on pragmatism who are able to flip these seats and win hard races. Remember that for the next time the Sandernistas say something about electability.
Ask them how many of their people won hard races.
One more piece of news.
Remember Nicole Joy Frethem in Minnesota? She won her race for Ramsey County Commissioner. It was close but a win is a win.
Republicans, for now, are completely out of power in Ramsey County.
Well done everyone.
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