Monday, February 19, 2018

Will The Blue Wave Be Enough To Win Congress On Its Own?


Don't underestimate the power of women to protect the species from Trump and his enablers

Zac Anderson is the political editor of Sarasota County's top newspaper, the Herald-Tribune. After the surprise Democratic win in a special election for an open legislative seat there last week, Anderson took a deep drive into what happened on the ground to swing a red district 12 points away from Trump in just 15 months since the district gave him a credible win against Hillary. What everyone wants to know, of course, is how to make sure this happens in congressional districts-- not just FL-16 and not just Florida-- but across the country. A 12 point swing in November would certainly hand the House back to the Democrats-- and average district swings since Putin put Trump into the White House have been around 20, not 12.

The loser last Tuesday was James Vernon Buchanan, the son of Vern Buchanan, the congressman from the area. Last November Trump beat Hillary in the older Buchanan's congressional district, 53.7% to 43.0%. All things being equal-- an absurd concept-- a 12 point swing would hand the congressional district over to Buchanan's opponent, either Jan Schneider, David Shapiro or Calen Cristiani. Does it matter which one is nominated? How could it not? Florida media always refers to Shapiro as a "serious" candidate; he's raised over a quarter million dollars and appears to be a "moderate." Neither Cristiani nor Schneider (each a progressive from the Bernie wing of the party) had reported any contributions as of December 31, although Schneider has big name ID, having run in the area multiple times. Quality of candidates and their campaigns matter. Anderson felt that had a lot to do-- besides the building wave-- with Good's win over Buchanan's son last week.
Some Democrats were nervous when polls closed Tuesday in the District 72 state House special election and it became clear that Republican Election Day turnout had far outpaced Democratic turnout.

Democrat Margaret Good appeared to have done well in absentee and early voting. Republican James Buchanan’s prospects for victory hinged on a big GOP Election Day push that brought in 8,168 Republican voters, or 2,652 more than Democrats.

Yet Buchanan only won Election Day voting by 110 votes, not nearly enough to offset Good’s big lead in absentee and early voting.

That led political analysts to conclude that a big chunk of Republican voters - and most independent voters-- went for Good.

That-- combined with strong Democratic turnout-- is how Good won a district that went for President Donald Trump in 2016 and has 12,060 more Republicans than Democrats, electrifying her party in the process and bringing national attention to Sarasota as a potential indicator for midterm elections in November.

Tom Eldon, Good’s pollster and a longtime Florida Democratic operative who once lived in Sarasota, said the fact that Good attracted support from Republican and no party affiliation voters in the northern Sarasota County state House district is not unusual. The area is known as a bastion for moderate Republicans.

But garnering enough GOP and NPA support to secure a 7.4 percentage-point victory in a district that went for Trump by 4.4 percentage points-- a 12 point swing-- is astounding, Eldon said.

“Seeing crossover support from Republicans is not uncommon in Sarasota,” Eldon said. “Seeing NPAs vote for the Democrat is not uncommon. Seeing it at this level is remarkable and at that point I think you’re seeing some Trump backlash with that.”

Good also appears to have benefited from unusually high Democratic turnout, especially among women, said Democratic consultant Steve Schale.

“Largely the story in special elections around the country, women were the story here in Sarasota,” Schale, who ran former President Barack Obama’s campaign in Florida in 2008, wrote in a blog post.

Schale said in an interview that there were two key elements to Good’s victory.

“You saw Democrats turn out, particularly women,” he said. “Then the fact that Republicans-- clearly large numbers of Republicans-- voted for her.”

Democrats make up 32 percent of the registered voters in District 72. But 40 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the special election were Democrats. And while Democratic women make up 20 percent of registered voters in the district, they accounted for 24 percent of voters in the special election.

“The Good campaign did a fantastic job in turning out Democrats,” Eldon said. “When you look at the turnout for Democrats, it’s staggering.”

Eldon believes Good appealed to women across party lines as a “highly qualified female candidate” at a time when “you’re having a national conversation on the treatment of women.”

Turnout was up among women in general, not just Democratic women. Voter registration in the district is 54 percent female but 56 percent of the voters in the special election were women.

The voters who show up in lower-profile special elections “do so for for a reason,” Eldon added.

“That’s to send a message,” he said. “A lot of women were voting who typically don’t vote in an election like this. They were fed up and they were taking it out on James Buchanan.”

Republicans also cast a greater share of the ballots in the special election than their share of registered voters in District 72, but they only went up from 42 percent to 46 percent of the electorate.

That’s a sign that Good had a strong field operation that was aggressive in getting Democratic voters to the polls, and that Democrats are more motivated to vote than Republicans.

Good had a full-time staff of eight paid employees and hundreds of volunteers knocking on doors.

“Very early we made a conscious decision to invest in the field organization and that is something you will see in all of our House races this cycle,” said Reggie Cardoza, the director of political operations for Democrats in the Florida House. “The most effective and efficient way to reach a voter is face to face.”

Eldon said the field team put together by Good and the state Democratic Party was so strong it was more reminiscent of a congressional race than a state House race. Good was able to build up a 3,368-vote lead in absentee and in-person early voting. Voters talked about being repeatedly visited by door knockers and receiving a steady stream of flyers, telephone calls and text messages.

“The get-out-the-vote effort and the field in general was just a very strong fundamental campaign execution,” said Sarasota County Democratic Party Vice Chairman Kevin Griffith, who said he knocked on a few hundred doors.

Griffith said many voters he talked to while knocking on doors “were really motivated.”

“I think it’s just the anti-Trump fervor,” he said.

So was Good destined for victory in District 72 because of the national political climate?

Schale said it’s crucial that Democrats recruited a credible candidate. Good is a lawyer with strong community connections. He also credited Good and her team with running an aggressive, disciplined campaign. Good raised more money than Buchanan and was able to do considerable advertising to complement her get- out-the-vote effort. The strength of the campaign caused prominent Democrats to take notice. Good received an endorsement and campaign help from former Vice President Joe Biden.

But Schale believes Good benefited greatly from anti-Trump backlash among Democrats and independents.

“I don’t want to take away from the campaign those guys ran,” he said. “She’s a great candidate, did a great job. There’s a certain level to this that the Democrats ran a real candidate people wanted to vote for; you can’t take that away. But at the same time independents are so open to voting for somebody different.”

Buchanan also struggled to find his footing as a candidate. Members of his own party criticized him for refusing to debate Good until the final stretch of the campaign, and questioned whether he had a compelling message. A last-ditch effort to try and boost GOP turnout by appearing at a rally with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski raised eyebrows among some Republicans.

Eldon said Buchanan focused too much on hot-button national issues such as immigration that didn’t resonate as well in Sarasota.

“The voters down here care about the environment, they care about education, they’re very concerned about climate change and sea level rise and all they heard from James Buchanan was sanctuary cities, sanctuary cities and sanctuary cities,” Eldon said. “It just fell flat.”

The inability of Lewandowski and Trump-style messaging to pull Buchanan across the finish line indicates the backlash to Trump may be a more potent political force than pro-Trump sentiment right now.

It also means the results from Sarasota’s special election could have big ramifications throughout Florida and the nation. Schale ran state House campaigns for Florida Democrats in 2006 when there was a blue wave. He also experienced the GOP backlash in 2010 that saw Republicans do extremely well in such races. He knows what waves feel like, and he knows what districts are good indicators of where the political winds are blowing. For a Democrat to win by such a big margin in a Sarasota County legislative district that has a relatively older, whiter, more GOP-leaning electorate is a very good sign for the party.

“I don’t think you can overstate the significance of it,” he said. “It wasn’t like a squeaker.”
In Florida a 12 point swing in November would-- again all things being equal-- see the end of the congressional careers of Ted Yoho, Dennis Ross, Brian Mast, Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo and probably Gus Bilirakis, Bill Posey and Francis Rooney.

Around the country, you'd be saying Randy Bryce replace Paul Ryan in southeast Wisconsin, Lisa Brown replacing Cathy McMorris Rodgers in eastern Washington, Lillian Salerno replacing Pete Sessions in Dallas, Derrick Crowe taking a red seat in the Austin/San Antonio corridor seat, Jason Westin replacing John Culberson in Houston, Jess King replacing Lloyd Smucker in Lancaster, PA, Tom Guild replacing Steve Russell in Oklahoma City, DuWayne Gregory replacing Peter King on Long Island, Jenny Marshall replacing Virginia Foxx in North Carolina, Paul Clements replacing Fred Upton in Kalamazoo, Jared Golden replacing Bruce Poliquin in Maine, Austin Frerick replacing David Young in Des Moines and southwest Iowa, Sam Jammal and Doug Applegate filling the abandoned red seats in southern California, Katie Hill beating Steve Knight in Santa Clarita and David Gill replacing Rodney Davis in central Illinois.

Goal ThermometerBut as Dr. Gill mentioned, "We view the November general election as a golden opportunity to move toward real change; given my past performance against the Republican incumbent, we have no doubt that I can defeat him this year. And when I get to Washington, I intend to be a game-changer, using my background as an emergency medicine physician to counter the myths advanced by those who oppose single-payer, and to help lead the charge to the type of health care system that FDR envisioned for us 75 years ago. But first, of course, I have to survive on March 20. And this primary is really a battle for the soul of the Democratic party. I'm taking on establishment-backed candidates who refuse to stand up for single-payer, the Fight for 15, or tuition freedom. I'll be out-spent, but not out-worked: my staff and I, and our passionate volunteers, have knocked on thousands of doors and talked with thousands of voters. And those Democratic voters are done with half-measures, they're done with Republican Lite. They are demanding a shift toward a government focused on ordinary people, and as a lifelong progressive populist, I look forward to being a part of such a seismic shift." Want to help David and the other Blue America candidates win those primaries against establishment candidates? That's what the thermometer just above is for.

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At 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Will The Blue Wave Be Enough To Win Congress On Its Own?"

Not with the leadership of the DINO-Whig Party actively working against anyone with a more progressive platform than the corporatist one they cling to.

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will you idiots realize:
Winning congress isn't the goal, as 2009 should have taught you like a smack on the head with a cricket bat.
The goal is to change things for the better.


I keep asking this question. DWT has never answered. Cuz there is no answer. DWT thinks just winning is the goal I guess. So let's just repeat 2006 to 2016 again, shall we? And feel just giddy about it??

At 6:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I just point out one thing?

It isn't a blue wave. The democraps aren't winning anything.

It's an ANTI-RED wave (with the blue being the only other color on the spectrum that voters can see). The Rs may (or may not -- it's only February after all) lose.

2006. does anyone remember? cheney/bush stink made Rs lose. But the democraps were so lame their plusses were gone by 2010.

There's a difference.

2008 was kind of a blue wave, helped by palin being such a dumbfucktard. But, again, just because Rs lose doesn't mean the Ds win. The Ds were so horrible that the anti-blue wave gave congress back to the real Rs in 2010 and beyond.

It's nearly impossible to imagine another blue wave. The democraps are so bad, the only way they can post gains is for the Rs to be as awful as trump... or awfuler.
And, yeah, I can imagine awfuler than trump.
What I cannot imagine is the democraps getting better.


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