2020 Election - takeaways for Democrats

As some of you may know, there was recently an election in the United States. This election fell far short of Democrats' expectations. It seems like a lot of people haven't understood way, so this blogpost is going to explain.

Jaime Harrison

Jaime Harrison ran a bad campaign. You can sugar-coat it, but the fact is, he managed to spend $100 million to lose by a similar margin as Democrats lost there in 2014. That isn't a good campaign.

People like to say "well he lost, but he helped build up our campaign infrsatructure/helped us down-ballot." This could not be further from the truth. We lost seats in the South Carolina General Assembly, the South Carolina Senate, and of course, Joe Cunningham lost his house seat.

Beto carried Democrats to down-ballot victories in Texas, while Harrison pulled normal numbers for Democrats and hurt us down-ballot.

Why was this? One point at which the race really turned was Harrison's campaign promoting Bill Bledsoe, the constitution party candidate. While these ads were hilarious to liberals, they failed to move the needle with actual support - and destroyed Harrison's image as honest. Trying a dirty campaign trick like that doesn't go over with an integrity campaign. It's a similar issue to the one Jimmy Carter had running against Ronald Reagan - and we saw how that turned out.

So, should Jaime Harrison be DNC chair? Or in charge of anything in the Democratic party at all? Not if we want to actually win in South Carolina. I know we want a Stacey Abrams everywhere, but it's not gonna happen.

Takeaway: Red states + out-of-state money = poorer Democrats and Republican victories

Sara Gideon

How the hell did we lose to Collins again? The New York Times has a good article about this. It's a similar problem to South Carolina - but much worse. Without the outside money, we probably would've won this thing. Collins got to campaign against out-of-state Democrats, who are unpopular even as Maine is a Democratic state - because of all the money they poured into Maine. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing and too much campaign cash was a bad thing for Gideon.

Takeaway: If Collins runs again in 2026, don't donate to the campaign of whoever runs against her.

Amy McGrath

We never had a chance. Kentucky has shifted too far Republican - if Jesus Christ ran he would've only pulled 45% against McConnell.

Things McGrath managed, in losing:

Why so disastrous? Well, while tying Republicans to Mitch McConnell works well outside of Kentucky - tying down-ballot Democrats to liberal values hurts us there. When McGrath, a candidate unpallatable to most of Kentucky, saturated the state with ads, all it did was made people determined to vote against any Democrat. She would've done better branding herself like Beshear did in his successful 2019 gubernatorial campaign - one which out-of-state Democrats did not pour millions of dollars into.

Takeaway: McConnell is going to win no matter what, just accept it and make sure he's the minority leader.

Conclusions

We can learn from our losses this cycle only if we do not repeat the mistakes we made. To this extent, we should support local Democratic parties instead of doomed state-wide campaigns. We should compete at the state legislative level in red states, and try to hold our ground in districts that are slipping away. If we do this, we can get people comfortable voting for Democrats they know locally and more personally - as well as driving up Democratic turnout for races at the top of the ticket. Trickle-down campaigning doesn't work, but trickle-up campaigning can.

© 2020 Elliot Algase