Opinion | It Wasn't Ideology That Sank House Democrats. It Was Bad Strategy.

It was a weak strategy, based on poor election information and bad decisions by the national party, and democratic candidates in swing districts – and particularly color candidates – were unable to hold their own in the face of a massive and massively underrated Republican voter torrent. The fact is, if you want to win a campaign, you have to campaignThat means standing in front of the voters and meeting them where they are. And that was the only thing that Democrats running for Congress couldn’t do this year on orders from the party’s campaign arm in Washington, DC.

In each election cycle, the Democratic Campaigns Committee (DCCC), along with the National Democratic Committee (DNC) and their largest and most influential allies, exert a disproportionate influence by the weight of their advocacy and their power. Often they work together and inspire large donors to follow suit. You decide which candidates are “viable”, who deserves full financial support, how their campaigns should work and which consultants they can hire. And this year, the direction given by the DC Democrats proved to be a very big reason why the House Democrats left the hoped-for blue wave of 2020 far behind and instead scaled back their highly competitive majority won in 2018.

Their data was bad – the result of polls that grossly underestimated how many Republicans would vote and how their growing loyalty to President Donald Trump would lead them to support GOP candidates all along the way. Their understanding of very specific voter beliefs in very different local counties was even worse – which is why Hispanic voters, grouped into an undifferentiated, presumably immigrant and anti-Trumpist bloc, provided the party with such catastrophic surprises in South Florida and border areas of Texas. While the party is not solely responsible for the use of bad data, it should have known better than using polls as the main indicator of future success and voter preferences. Indeed, 2016 had amply warned that polls were unreliable.

And the messaging dictation from Washington, delivered in conference calls, memos, and advertising directives from consultants to all congressional campaigns, often missed its mark. Democratic campaigns, which we endorsed and with which we were frequently associated, should hit Republicans hard for their poor handling of the deadly coronavirus epidemic. But swing voters did not see their local GOP candidates or officials as accomplices in Russian roulette, which the Trump White House played for Covid. And advice on conference calls we attended encouraged candidates to run TV ads saying they were “angry,” “fed up,” and “frustrated,” and were in for color candidates – black women in particular – in almost run all countries, ridiculously unsuitable -white districts.

Washington guidelines are generally understood as prohibiting campaigns In-person promotion was the most damaging choice of all – a mistake that exacerbated everyone else. It seemed to make sense on his face. But it was also – like the defiant lack of masked wear at Trump rallies for Republicans – a form of Democratic branding: you Follow in Typhoid Mary’s footsteps. we Take the main street with Tony Fauci. Campaigns across the country failed terribly. Instead of finding ways to fight safely in swing districts, talk to voters, wear masks and social distance in the weeks leading up to the election – as was the case in Joe Biden’s presidential campaign – democratic campaigns had to rely on second-hand intelligence filtered through the wrong perceptions by pollsters and politicians in distant Washington, DC They had no choice but to rely on poll data that a more robust ground operation would have found inaccurate: nothing measures voter sentiment better than meeting voters in person. And so they had to connect with voters through the largely impersonal means of television advertising, email flashes, and massive social media spending.

Based on our experience with congressional campaigns, meeting a congressional candidate just doesn’t work on screen – and especially not for color candidates who are seen as “black candidate” or “Spanish candidate” or “that Asian candidate” when seen on television but easy to become “the candidate” when encountered in person. Lack of face-to-face contact made it possible to apply the term “radical left” to Midwesternern Lauren Underwood, who grew up in her nearly 90 percent white district and who works in health, Shares economic and security concerns of her neighbors, but this was outlined in year TV attack ads this darkened their skin, caricatured their features, and tied them to lawless “riots”. It is also the reason why Gina Ortiz Jones, despite her military service and her long-standing home base in South Texas, could be portrayed as a carpet bagger for owning a (rented) apartment in Washington, DC and painted as anything but irrevocably “other”. who focused on their life with a partner.

Now that the party leaders in Washington begin (one more) much known “deep dive” into their mistakesWe’d like to suggest that you start with some tough questions: Why do we Democrats know so little about our Republican counterparts – right down to where to find them and how to speak to them so we can conduct accurate polls? Why does our national party not trust individual campaigns, especially the promising campaigns of color candidates, to hire their own people and make their own decisions about messaging and strategy?

Our party leaders must respect the judgment of candidates running in cities, suburbs and rural areas far outside the Beltway. In particular, you need to listen better to the color candidates currently being heard from the D.C. “Top” professionals posted there are not well served to advise them. And they must loosen the reins significantly when it comes to imposing potentially destructive national strategies on local congressional races that meet all demands.

Washington is a top-down city, but today’s electoral landscape is a bottom-up world that reflects and rewards diversity – not just of candidates, but of ideas and strategies as well. If we lose sight of this truth, we cannot win elections.

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