Democrats aren’t off the hook for a bad election

Democrats coughed up some winnable races this year.

Alison Lundergan Grimes tried to replace her spine with a shotgun in Kentucky.

Bruce Braley let Joni Ernst get away with running a masterfully stupid campaign in Iowa.

And Charlie Crist somehow found a way to be outworked and out-liked by Rick Scott, the lizard man/bat boy who refused to say what he thinks his state’s minimum wage should be.

There are a number of reasons why fundamentally strong Democratic candidates in purple or blue states lost this year, but a sweeping national sentiment wasn’t one of them.

The more likely candidate for the Democratic losses was a failure to give voters a compelling reason to vote for them in the first place.

As I wrote in August:

This summer and fall, Democratic candidates across the country are going to talk about economic inequality.

They will bemoan the fact that the rich are getting richer, leaving everyone else behind and refusing to pay their fair share. They will say that more needs to be done to expand economic opportunity to all.

Then, they will say that the two silver bullets – the two must-dos in order to rectify the problem they have just outlined – are a minimum wage increase and pay equity legislation.

Seems like a bit of a letdown, no?

It seemed like a letdown, and it was a letdown.

Some folks did get that slight minimum wage increase. In Arkansas, for instance, a ballot initiative endorsed by both Senator Mark Pryor and soon-to-be Senator Tom Cotton to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 passed. However, Pryor had already opposed President Obama’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

And without the GOP supplying its usual slew of gaffes about America’s lady-parts, Democrats weren’t able to coast to a massive gender gap just by reciting the usual equal pay/reproductive health script that worked in 2012.

And while Washington voters approved a significant background check ballot initiative by a wide margin, few if any Democratic candidates bothered to mention in any serious way the consistent GOP opposition to even the most minute gun restrictions.

As I mentioned above, 2014 was by and large an election about nothing. But it could have been about so many things. That the election cycle was so boring is that fault of Democrats who were too scared to call out their opponents for what they were: anti-scientific, anti-democratic, racist, corporatist, conspiratorial, patriarchal tools.

2014 was bad from the standpoint of political fundamentals, but it could have produced better outcomes. That isn’t the map’s fault, it’s ours.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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