I actually don’t have all of the solutions, however a number of broad themes have been kicking round in my thoughts that I assumed I’ll as nicely supply up as dialogue factors as we shut out 2020 and look ahead to 2021. These broad strokes will probably sound acquainted to anybody who reads me usually or who has been watching Markos and me bat round concepts with some nice visitors weekly on The Brief.
1. The Sunbelt is the brand new Rust Belt: Sure, Biden gained the crucial Rust Belt states—the erstwhile “blue wall” states for Democrats—a lot to the credit score of his marketing campaign. That stated, since Biden was a tailored Rust Belt candidate—an older white man and native son of Scranton, Pennsylvania—the truth that he gained Wisconsin by a meager 20,500 votes and Pennsylvania by slightly over 80,000 votes doesn’t bode nicely for the way forward for what’s rising as a a lot youthful and extra numerous social gathering than this nation has ever seen. Essentially, the razor-thin wins in Georgia (12,000 votes) and Arizona (10,500 votes) in all probability present us with a glimpse of a greater path ahead for the way forward for the Democratic social gathering, though it actually gained’t be occurring in a single day.
2. We will’t afford to cede the Heartland solely: As I just lately wrote, the Republican social gathering isn’t changing a thing following Donald Trump’s loss. As an alternative of reassessing easy methods to carry a better range of voters into the GOP fold and grow to be a majority, Republicans are clearly content material to double down on being a minority social gathering given their built-in benefits within the Electoral School and congressional illustration. The guess is that they’ll management the Senate most of the time, be aggressive sufficient within the Home, and generally handle to seize the White Home with the appropriate candidate—all whereas explicitly being the minority social gathering of white folks. Republicans have principally traded the white working class voters they gained underneath Trump for some losses amongst suburban voters, and so they’re embracing it.
It’s a gamble to some extent because it’s under no circumstances clear the Trump voters they gained in 2020 will essentially present up within the numbers social gathering leaders are relying on with out Trump on the ticket. However, if these voters grow to be GOP devotees—and Republicans seem completely desirous to court docket these voters by shoveling heaps of conspiratorial fascist sludge their approach—and a few suburban voters shift again to the GOP, Republicans might stay aggressive sufficient for his or her functions, no less than for the subsequent decade.
For Democrats, which means if we ever need to impact large structural modifications to our political system in an effort to make it extra consultant, we can not simply flip solely away from the Rust Belt and the extra rural areas of the Midwest. We’ve got to carry dwelling no less than some wins on the congressional and state ranges in an effort to have an opportunity of constructing the congressional majorities we have to make change.
After I spoke to Matt Hildreth, govt director of RuralOrganizing.org, in the first episode of The Brief, he jogged my memory that progressive insurance policies like making well being care extra reasonably priced and accessible are standard in most of those areas when you decouple them with phrases like liberal or Democrat. Missouri voters, as an illustration, didn’t reelect Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2018, however they did vote to expand Medicaid in August 2020 by 53%-47% through constitutional modification. So whereas the Democratic model must be retooled, many Democratic insurance policies are literally way more standard than these of the GOP. In different phrases, that is doable with the appropriate candidates, the appropriate messages, and a long-term dedication to constructing capability in some Republican strongholds. And actually, if Democrats merely lose much less in some smaller rural areas, it could actually assist them notch some occasional wins on the state stage in purple states which have sizable metropolitan hubs.
3. Grassroots teams will gentle the way in which: Maybe probably the most obtrusive lesson of Democrats’ underperformance within the 2020 Senate races is the truth that spending gobs of cash on advertisements, significantly in statewide races which are extra localized than a presidential race, is yielding more and more fewer returns. Given how polarizing our politics are, having the ability to outline a candidate by way of TV and radio advertisements is usually a factor of the previous. Though I might argue that Biden’s promoting nationwide was probably a worthwhile funding for 2 causes: 1) Trump by his very nature sucked all of the media oxygen out of the room, leaving virtually nothing for Biden with out paid promoting; 2) early within the race, Biden’s favorability ranking was underwater, however that flipped through the Democratic Nationwide Conference and he stayed above water for the remainder of the race. In my thoughts, Biden’s double-digit enchancment in favorability was a product of a well-crafted conference adopted by a number of constant message reinforcement, and a part of that message reinforcement occurred by way of paid promoting.
Within the statewide Senate races, nonetheless, Democratic candidates’ whopping money benefit didn’t carry the day in too many circumstances. That was true for various causes relying on the state/candidate, however I believe we are able to typically conclude that long-term investments in registering folks to vote, participating new voters, and getting them concerned early in capability constructing and canvassing operations is extra vital than ever and can present the appropriate Democratic candidates with the bottom help they want in an effort to emerge victorious on future Election Days. Backside line: A profitable system for Democrats isn’t to come in through the last months of a marketing campaign and blanket the airwaves with advertisements. Reasonably, it’s investing within the grassroots teams like these in Georgia and Arizona which have spent the final decade specifically constructing the change we witnessed in November.
This can be a long-term challenge with no fast fixes. But it surely’s additionally one that everybody can discover methods to participate in, significantly on the native stage for those who reside in a purple or purple state. It can additionally require some entrepreneurial considering from many people to maybe construct organizations or networks that didn’t beforehand exist. However the important thing for all of us is to remain engaged and lively and proceed doing the work as if our lives rely on it—as a result of as 2020 taught us, they do.