Transferring 2017 lessons to 2018

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Transferring 2017 lessons to 2018


Post by Mikedunford » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:38 pm

The general elections in 2017 went better than hoped for the Democrats, but (recounts aside) they're over. 2018 is coming. With that in mind, I wanted to throw out a few thoughts - if only as a starting point for debate - about what I think 2017 is trying to tell Democrats.

1: Republican motivation is not low; last night's results were not a sign of "buyer's remorse" on the part of Trump voters.

I touched on this in several threads last night, but it's very much worth saying again. On the whole, core Republican voters were not staying home, and they weren't flipping. Republicans did not, on the whole, do as well turning out those who voted in 2016 as the Democrats did, but they still seem to have done better with turnout than they did in 2015 - the last election for the VA House. Some of that is likely due to the increased profile of the statewide races, but the very small number of spot checks I did suggests that the Republicans probably improved on their turnout over 2013 (the last statewide year) as well.

This is important because it will increasingly put Republican candidates in a difficult spot of their party's creation. Their core voters like the Trump message, and last night's results may make many wonder how well distancing themselves from that message is likely to work. For many of them, there will be a hard choice: reject Trump and piss off their voters, or embrace him and embolden the opposition.

2: Resistance ain't futile.
At least one winning candidate last night decided to run for office after the Women's March. Much of the volunteer base likely was produced through similar means.

And while most of the people (ok, I think all of them) who ran against Republican incumbents who had no opponent in 2015 got crushed, in several cases the margin of defeat was surprisingly low (I think one nearly got to 40%.) That kind of thing is going to help with other elections on the ballot, help develop local opposition, and pull resources in future races. And while it might not pull much in the way of resources, it all adds up.

3: Identity politics doesn't mean campaigns have to center on issues of identity.
Danica Roem was the ultimate in identity candidates - a transgender woman running against a hardcore social conservative. Her opponent put her identity front and center. She never ran from her identity, but the refrain she kept coming back to was "I want to fix Route 28." That's a strong message, and I think it's one that works particularly well with the millennial mindset. "I am who I am, now let's talk about what I can do for the voters." The identity component of the message was kept firmly in place by her openness. The idea that the identity should matter less than the substance was kept firmly in view every time she moved on to talk about traffic. And when her opponent refused to debate her at all, it left him weaker on both counts.

4: Fundamentals still count. And they count for almost everything.
I can't find the link right now, but I read something about the Roem campaign earlier today - they got way more volunteers into the field, knocked on way more doors (75000 door knocks in a district with 50000 voters), and spent more money doing it than her opponent did. And not by a small margin. Feet on the street get souls to the polls.

5: Decisions are made by those who show up.
I've said this a bunch, I'll say it a bunch more, and I don't care who said it first. Turnout won Virginia.

The more controversial stuff:
6: Clinton's vaunted ground game failed to materialize in 2015, and it may be better to rethink and start from scratch in 2018 and 2020 than to try to rebuild the 2016 system. (The system itself, not the individual volunteers.)

Anyone looking for how to put together the 2018 ground game should be looking at Virginia in 2017, not the country in 2016. The 2016 ground game went flat; the 2017 one worked; there's limited time until 2018. Unless operatives are confident they have identified all the 2016 issues (and I don't know how that could be the case), building on 2017 is likely to be faster even if it does result in some jettisoning of babies along with bathwater.
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Re: Transferring 2017 lessons to 2018


Post by Addie » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:44 pm

Good thinking: 2017 to 2018 :thumbs:
Democracy is a garden that has to be tended. -Barack Obama

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Re: Transferring 2017 lessons to 2018


Post by Sam the Centipede » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:01 pm

The core of your message, Mike, seems to be to use more of the successful Obama campaign strategy (lots of people, energy, local action, etc.) than the Clinton strategy, which was more like the old-fashioned big party machine.

Of course, you're being more specific and looking forward rather than back.

I'm convinced that having candidates out there in itself puts out the message "there is an alternative" and it might take a couple elections for the message to permeate through and dislodge some into the Democrat camp, but it tills the ground so the seed might take root later. It makes it more likely that the non-voters might eventually see sense and take some responsibility for the outcome of elections - as you and others so rightly point out, elections are decided by those who vote, and worldwide right-wingers are more conscientious about turning out than those on the center and left.

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Re: Transferring 2017 lessons to 2018


Post by Foggy » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:19 pm

... knocked on way more doors (75000 door knocks in a district with 50000 voters ...
When I'm canvassing, I never knock. I ring doorbells. :thumbs:

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Re: Transferring 2017 lessons to 2018


Post by June bug » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:32 pm

Foggy wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:19 pm
... knocked on way more doors (75000 door knocks in a district with 50000 voters ...
When I'm canvassing, I never knock. I ring doorbells. :thumbs:
Doorbells are on the verge of extinction, Fogster, thanks to millennials texting from their cars! :mrgreen:

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Re: Transferring 2017 lessons to 2018


Post by Tiredretiredlawyer » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:10 pm

Our doorbell died and we didn't reconnect because our first dog, the inimitable Rascal, was a territorial barker. I tried training him not to bark but received resistance from my hubby who thought he (my hubby) was being funny. He is now reformed on that issue and quotes the Dog Whisperer all the time. Luckily our dogs, Sugar and Mickey, don't bark when anyone comes to the door. My granddoggies do when they visit - thus my husband's epiphany and reform.
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Re: Transferring 2017 lessons to 2018


Post by maydijo » Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:25 am

Not sure where to put this so I'll pop it here - "Beyond Trump: What's unravelling America and what we can do about it" by Simon Greer. It's published by a Labor group so it's largely concerned with union members (I'm not sure focusing on unions alone is enough for the US); and it lacks details particularly with regard to race and gender; but still an interesting read with some ideas about building a new progressive moment. Lots of ideas for capturing conservative Union members and turning them into Democrats. ... sion+Paper

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