Wednesday, November 08, 2006

How the Democrats Didn't Lose

To be sure, this election represented a complete Republican meltdown. The party which seemed robust and idea-driven just two years ago felt sick and empty this year. But give Democrats credit. Somehow, either by divine accident or brilliant strategy, they successfully minimized their many shortcomings while maximizing the failures of their opponents.

How’d they do it? I have a theory.

1) They used not having a coherent plan or vision to their advantage. They let each individual candidate win on his/her own merits while forcing the Republicans to run on the GOP’s record. So liberal Democrats ran as liberals in left-leaning areas and conservative Democrats ran as conservatives in right-leaning areas and no candidate had to worry about the national party laying out a distracting agenda.

2) They kept their leadership pretty quiet. Other than Kerry’s flub, the Democrats did a good job keeping Nancy Pelosi, Charles Rangel, Howard Dean and other usually shrill leaders even-keeled and mainly out of the limelight. Some would say this is because the media gave them a pass but, even if that’s true, they were smart enough to know when not to be seen.

3) The out-of-touch but far-too-engaged leftwing netroots expended all their energy early on fighting Lieberman (and other Democrats like Texas Representative Henry Cuellar). Whether the early victory over Lieberman made them complacent or depleted their ability to make noise on a national level, the netroots did not make themselves nearly as big of a factor (or distraction) in this election as they did in 2004. Even publicity hounds Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore were strangely absent from the national spotlight during the last few months of the campaign. Without the leftwing running around and scaring voters away, the Democrats had an easier time of it.

4) They never formulated a real plan on Iraq. I criticized this up and down and back again. I said they are forfeiting their chance at victory because they have no Iraq plan and no greater vision on the War on Terror. But the thing is, plans can be critiqued and compared. A generically unclear but “different” plan actually holds an advantage over the specifically unclear current plan. Are Democrats going to ask for an immediate withdrawal? A phased withdrawal? A partition of Iraq? No one can really say – and that actually helped the Dems. They kept the focus on the need for change rather than on what that change would be.

If you told me two years ago that the Democrats would sweep back into power in 2006, I’d have suggested you seek professional help. Heck, if you’d told me six months ago that the Dems would succeed in retaking the House and Senate (most probably), I’d have rolled my eyes and laughed.

I didn’t think they could do it without a unified vision for America. I didn’t think they could do it so long as the leadership positions were held by devoted liberals. I simply didn’t think they could connect with middle America. Obviously I was wrong. I underestimated how fast and how total the Republican collapse would be. But I also underestimated the Democrats ability to run a deceptively disciplined campaign.

Well done, Democrats. Now don’t screw it up

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3 Comments:

Anonymous BrianinMA said...

Just so you know, I'm going to be HOUNDING the Democrats down for their plan, now that they are the majortity party, thery can't just cry "BUSH AND REPUBS ARE EVIL!" anymore, they have to grow up, get a vision, and tell us their plan.

I give thanks to the Brangelina swing voters who bought the "vote for a new direction (details not available at this time)" line. I just hope the unwashed masses can wake up and smell when they've been had.

Rest assured, if the first thing in Nancy Pelosi's "plan" is impeaching bush and appojtning a bunch of disgraced members to positions of power, or that nutjob Conyers who was holding basement impeachment hearings to any sort of power position, you can be assured that everyone will be made aware of it. No more hiding, no more whining. The Democrats wanted power and they got it, so now it is time to hold them accountable.

On the plus side, at least the GOP isn't going to sink to the scum-low levels the Demos have and claim the elections were stolen. In fact, one finds few complaints about Diebold when the Demos win.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Brian,

I have to say, it is nice for an election to win without a "they stole the election" outcry.

But, hey, I think I found something you and leftwingers can agree upon. Swing voters are stupid. When they vote Republican, Dems say "those dumb hicks," and then when they swing Dem, Repubs say ... well, what you said about the unwashed masses.

We'll see where it all leades. It won't be as bad as some predict or as good as others say. It'll probably be very middling and everyone will be disapointed.

4:04 PM  
Blogger les said...

Brianinma: your rants would go better with facts. Try "100 hour plan"--ignored by you and the media, it's been out there for months; hardly the looney hate fest you seem to be wishing for. Check the news; Pelosi essentially took impeachment off the table some time ago. There will be more oversight and some investigations, I hope--the previous majority didn't seem interested, but I'd sure like to know which rathole the missing billions for Iraq reconstruction went, among other things. If you can't guess that health care, education, deficit and minimum wage will be on the table, why have have you been railing all this time? If you have no idea what the Democratic agenda is, what's the source of your obvious bile? Or is it just, like approx. 70% of America, that the Dems think we're wrong in Iraq?

3:57 PM  

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