Friday, March 21, 2014

The real question is: "How can Democrats win in red states?"

Yesterday Markos Moulitsas wrote an interesting post touting the success of progressives over the last decade. I want to dig into the specifics of what he said in a minute. But first of all, I find it interesting that nowhere in the article does he mention the fact that during that time we elected President Barack Obama...twice. I'm not going to get into why he left that major milestone out. Suffice it to say that it is telling that he made such an obvious glaring omission.

Markos spends most of his time talking about the changes in Congress - primarily in the Senate. He notes that most of the conservative Democrats are gone and highlights the progressive Democrats that have been elected. If those progressives had replaced the conservatives - he might have a point. But the facts are that that has happened Connecticut where Chris Murphy replaced Joe Lieberman.

The remainder of the Senate seats formerly held by conservative Democrats have gone to Republicans. And that's because they are in red states - Montana, Indiana, Louisiana, South Dakota, South Carolina, Nebraska, Arkansas and Georgia. Overall, we've lost 8 Senate seats to Republicans during that time.

On the progressive side, the really good news is that over the last 10 years we have replaced 4 Republicans with progressive Democrats. Here's the catch though...they are all in blue or swing states - Ohio, Minnesota, Oregon and Massachusetts.

Since Markos founded Daily Kos, the stated purpose of the blog has been to "elect more and better Democrats." As we can see from what Markos wrote yesterday, one might be able to say that progressives have had some success in electing better Democrats. The challenge comes in how we go about electing more. Based on his own analysis, we've lost ground on that one (lost 8 and gained 4 for a -4 total).

So the real question becomes: how do we elect more Democrats in red states? The only person I've seen wrestle with that one in a creative way is BooMan. His prognosis is that the conservative Democrats in those states have to rely on corporate money to be competitive. Think Mary Landrieu and oil companies in Louisiana. If we ever want to be competitive in places like that, the only alternative is a candidate with a populist message (ie, raise the minimum wage) that can attract both voters and small donors. That makes sense to me. If you've got any better ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Unless we can come up with a strategy like that, the one thing I DO know is that the status quo for many progressives of simply excoriating conservative Democrats in those red states is not a winning strategy. Better Democrats is good. But especially given the current strategy of total obstruction by Republicans, more Democrats are simply critical.


  1. How about a district/state ground strategy where you seriously go after areas where the non white population is >or= 30% of the population? Start from there and work to get over 25% of the white voters. Obama's election has slammed the door on conservative appeals. Lose the focus groups and advisors that come up with that "reach across the table" pablum. For this to happen our southern state parties have to get serious about winning. The DNC is worthless and are bereft of any semblance of vision and competence. The people running red state parties need to be put out on their worthless asses if we're to see any progress before the year 2100.


  2. The problem of course is, how do you change the populations of the Red States. The representatives are just that - We cannot change their representation without changing the ideology of the populations.

    The Repubs have a long term strategy here. All of radio is religious and conservative programming, the school textbooks are being changed, All television news in Kansas is now one company, and it's Conservative (Kansas First News), and all newspapers are being consolidated.

    The Governor just passed historic and unconstitutional cuts to public education at all levels, making the population suceptible to emotional and religion based appeals and misinformation about the role of government.

    The Board of Regents is trying to assert power over tenured faculty at the Universities. Dems do nothing here - though all the media is cheap, and they could purchase an entire radio station for the cost of a few advertisements in large markets, such as NYC.

    The number of Senators is the same in NY and Kansas.

    The real game is not in any single Representative, it is won by winning the people who elect them.

    1. THIS!!!! "The real game is not in any single Representative, it is won by winning the people who elect them."

      That's exactly why simply attacking those representatives for being too conservative is such a bad idea.

      I really like your suggestions!

    2. Milt Shook went off on Kos's essay as well:


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