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Winners and Losers: Election 2010

by: lowkell

Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 09:15:04 AM EDT

Here are a few winners and losers from last night that I think are worth highlighting.

1. Ignorance. With the victory of numerous Republican climate deniers and "skeptics," not to mention people (e.g., Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell, Morgan Griffith) who are utterly clueless on a wide range of other issues, it's clear that last night, ignorance was a big winner. Congratulations, ignorance, you rock! (one important caveat: in California, ignorance suffered a major setback, as Proposition 23 - to roll back California's landmark clean energy and climate law - was defeated!)
2. Fear/Anxiety. Last night, our fears and anxieties won out over our better judgment. I understand that people are scared and worried right now - and rightfully so! - but how does voting to make things worse across the board help matters in any way?
3. Rewarding irresponsibility.  After 8 years of disastrous Republican misrule, after 2 years of irresponsibly saying "no" to everything (while pandering to the most extreme, angry, intolerant voices in their party), and after offering no new ideas or serious plans on any of the issues anyone cares about, the American voters in their infinite wisdom yesterday rewarded said "Party of No" for its irresponsibility. What happens when you reward a child for bad behavior and "acting up?" You don't have to be a child psychologist to know that they'll just learn they should do that again. And again. And again. Brilliant.
4. Voting against one's own self interest. Last night, the American people threw a temper tantrum because the economy's bad and - as Homer Simpson once said, they're "mad NOW!!!" - and decided to cut their noses to spite their faces. Of course, in doing so, they ended up harming their own self interest, not to mention the national interest. Other than that, great night everybody! (snark)
5. Our corporate overlords. For all the talk of the "grassroots" Tea Party, the fact is that the big winners last night were the big corporations and their big money.  Basically, we got the best Congress that Exxon Mobil, the Koch brothers, and other corporate interests who do not have your best interests at heart, could buy. Thank you, Citizens United, and thank you to our corporate overlords, all hail!
6. Harry Reid. How many lives does this guy have? And how lucky can you get with a lunatic opponent like Sharron Angle?!?
7. Empty suits. Eric Can'tor led the way on this one, but there are so many others, including right here in Virginia with Robert Hurt and Scott Rigell.
8. Staying on message/creating a narrative - Republican edition. Republicans may not have any serious ideas, let alone any good ideas. They may pander to fear, anxiety, ignorance, and bigotry. They may be even less popular than Democrats. But they sure know how to stay on their simplistic, angry message and to create a powerful narrative (albeit false, crazy, etc.).  Last night, it worked.
9. Faux News, Rasmussen, Rush, Glenn Beck, the Koch brothers, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and everyone else who relentlessly bashed the Democrats the last two years, even if it was with absolute lunacy like "death panels" and "Obama's a socialist Muslim." Last night, it worked.
10. Denial. One thing's for sure about last night; the American people - or either party, for that matter - did not squarely face up to the challenges facing us as a nation, whether it's the national debt, the need for energy independence, the problem of climate change, our crumbling infrastructure, or a million other problems. Last night, instead, head-in-the-sand denial won. We'll see how that works out for America, as China and other countries race ahead. Sadly, it's quite possible historians will look back in 50 years and point to 2010 as the election that marked the inexorable decline of America as a great power. I hope not, but I fear it could be the case.
11. John BONEr, Eric Can'tor, the Republican Party of Virginia, the NRCC, etc. They may have run a lying, cynical, vicious, vapid campaign, but in politics, if you win you're a genius. So today, I guess they're geniuses.

"Mixed" and "Losers" on the "flip"

lowkell :: Winners and Losers: Election 2010
The Tea Party was both a "winner" and a "loser" last night. On the "winner" side, they certainly provided a tremendous amount of energy to Republicans this cycle. On the "loser" side, the Tea Party appears to have saved Democratic control of the Senate, as well as a number of other races, thanks to their success in nominating crazy, unqualified, wildly-outside-the-mainstream people like Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle.

1. Accomplishments. Democrats actually accomplished a lot the past 2 years, including historic achievements on health care, clean energy and other infrastructure investment, preventing a financial and economic meltdown, etc. But you'd never know it. Not only did Democrats not tout their own accomplishments, they seemed ashamed of them.  So...why should anyone respect you if you clearly don't respect yourself and your own accomplishments?  Answer: they shouldn't, and they won't.
2. Counterfactuals. It's too hard to convince people that something really bad (e.g., Great Depression II) WOULD have happened if not for policies x, y, or z.  In 1933, when FDR came in, the American people didn't need counterfactuals, as they'd already been suffering for 4 years under Republicans.  At that point, they were ready for just about anything. This time around...not so much.
3. Blue dogs. So-called "moderate" Democrats got their butts kicked last night, almost across the board. What does this prove? I'm not sure exactly, but it certainly doesn't demonstrate that people prefer people with no principles to real Democrats or progressives.
3. Standing for nothing. Glenn Nye is the poster child for believing in nothing, standing for nothing, having no soul. In the end, he tried to sell his complete lack of conviction as demonstrating his "independence" and "willingness to fight for his district." The end result? Republicans attacked him anyway as being a "liberal" in service of "Obama and Pelosi." And he got his butt kicked by a slimy, hypocritical car salesman without a brain in his head.
4. Running away from/dissing your own party. Once again, Glenn Nye's the perfect poster child, as he ran adds attacking major Democratic achievements (and bragging that he'd voted against them), posing a mindless false equivalence between Republicans and Democrats, and running away from Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama as fast as he could. So, how'd that work out for you, Glenn? Also, to a lesser extent, Rick Boucher did the same thing; again, how'd that work out?
5. Staying on message/creating a narrative - Democratic edition. In contrast, Democrats couldn't message their way out of a paper bag or create an effective narrative if their lives depended on it. Well, actually, they sort of managed to do that in 2006 and 2008, when Republicans were as popular as smallpox. But in 2010, after 2 years of holding the White House and Congress? Not.
6. Barack Obama's political advisors. If this were medieval Japan, the political "professionals" advising President Obama would all be falling on their swords this morning, having failed miserably to provide sound advice, a workable strategy, a coherent/appealing message, or any ability whatsoever to market Democratic successes (e.g., that we cut taxes for 98% of Americans, got all the TARP money back, etc., etc.). Given that this is the Democratic Party, these people will most likely go on to long and lucrative careers, having suffered no consequences for their utter failure yesterday. Sadly, what else is new?
7. Barack Obama's strategy of reaching out to Republicans. Look, that strategy may have made some sense initially, but after Obama was slapped away once, twice, three times, 10 times...100 times, you'd think he'd learn. You'd also think he'd learn that you can't work with people who outright say they want to "break" you, that their #1 goal is to make sure you're a 1-term president, that they "want you to fail." All that does is make you look weak, while you waste time and fail to get your full agenda - the one you were elected to pursue - enacted. Mazel tov!
8. Health care reform. The process was a complete debacle, basically consuming the first year of the Obama presidency, and ending up with a mess - a package that cut a bunch of deals with private insurers, did not "bend the cost curve backwards," did not give us a public option (let alone a single payer system), yet managed to allow Republicans to demonize it on utter lies like "death panels" and "socialized medicine."  So, remind me again, why did we try for month after fruitless month to get some sort of deal with Chuck Grassley, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, etc., instead of just using our (supposed) 60-vote "filibuster proof majority" in the Senate to pass the best possible legislation?  Uhhhhhhh.
9. Clean energy/enviro legislation. How on earth Democrats could waste more than a year f***ing around with health care reform and fail to address the huge problems (and opportunities) of energy and global warming is mind boggling. But wait, it gets worse - we also had the House voting for a watered down, larded up (with coal industry favors - thanks Rick Boucher!) crappy "cap and trade" bill that was demonized by Republicans despite being a conservative, market-based idea that came out of the freakin' Reagan Administration. Of course, we never articulated any of this. Oh, and we also let House members take tough votes on this one, then watch as the Senate completely dropped the ball and left them hanging with nothing to show for their efforts. Brilliant!
10. As I wrote yesterday, Democrats completely failed to a) message; b) market; c) underpromise and overdeliver (instead of vice versa); d) come up with a serious strategy; e) show cojones/loyalty in many cases. Not a recipe for success, and we saw the results last night.
11. Democrats in Republican districts. We'll see what the final count is, but last night, Democrats lost a lot of the seats we had gained in Republican districts (e.g., voted for McCain in 2008) in the Democratic "wave" years of 2006 and 2008. In that respect, last night was somewhat of a "snap back" to normal, although I'd argue it overnapped a bit, and probably will edge back again towards parity in 2012.
12. Finally, let's just throw in the Senate, which failed time and time again to move the ball forward, thanks to a combination of Mitch McConnell's monolithic "No" caucus and a few horrible "Democrats" like Blanche Lincoln (good riddance!), Ben Nelson, and Holy Joe LIEberman. Remind me again, why were Republicans able to push through their agenda in 2001-2003 with just 50 or 51 seats in the Senate, but we couldn't get ours through with a supposed "filibuster proof, 60-seat majority?" Oh, and since when was that 60-vote requirement etched in stone or written into the constitution? Hint: it's not!

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No mention of... (0.00 / 0)
Tim Kaine???

What are your thoughts on Kaine? (0.00 / 0)
This list was far from comprehensive, just my bleary-eyed thoughts at 9 in the morning after getting to bed really late last night.  Having said that, now that you bring up Kaine, I think he did fine in terms of fundraising, and he didn't commit any major gaffes or anything, but he certainly wasn't an inspirational leader as head of the DNC.  Kaine also canned the 50-state organizers, for no good reason, and spent a fair amount of energy rolling out a laughable/mockable new Democratic logo. Other than that, I'd refer you to my points about Democrats' failure to message, strategerize, come up with a compelling narrative, etc. Part of that's on the DNC, of course, and Kaine heads the DNC.

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[ Parent ]
Certainly... (0.00 / 0)
negligent in terms of Dems' message failure.

I'm throwing Kaine's name out primarily because a friend has mentioned that Perriello should be the new DNC chair.  

[ Parent ]
I'd love to see Tom as DNC Chair! (0.00 / 0)
Great idea - is he interested?  

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[ Parent ]
I don't agree (0.00 / 0)
I think Perriello is a very good Congressman and a quality person, but he is not nearly partisan enough to lead the DNC.

Just my two cents.  

[ Parent ]
DPVA Chair (0.00 / 0)
He has a huge following in Virginia and given the upcoming statewide races I think he would be awesome :)

[ Parent ]
I think Kaine is toast (0.00 / 0)
Between yesterday and '09,we've seen two losses on his watch at the DNC.  For that,he deserves to lose his job.  I don't like saying that,I "go back" with Kaine, worked with him on local issues back when he was just a lowly City Councilman in the 90s.

[ Parent ]
Reactionaries Are Mastering Counterfactuals (0.00 / 0)
and feeding them to a willing audience through "think tanks" and their show ponies. This will work until our side quits trying to convince ourselves and sets about Staying on message/creating a narrative.

Blue Dogs... (0.00 / 0)
"[P]eople with no principles?"  What an affront!  I love Blue Virginia but the litmus test rubbish needs to go if we want to function as a party and not separatist enemies.  If anything, I thought that would be clear.

People like Glenn Nye (0.00 / 0)
really don't stand for much.  Glenn was elected because he was a Democrat running against the pea-brained Thelma Drake in a massive Obama landslide.  Any other Dem would have won in the 2nd in 2008 as well.  Nye road the coattails to victory.  Last night, he got spanked.

There's a reason that Tom P. only lost by 3% in a district that's more Republican than the 2nd.  Tom P. voiced his principles, he stood up and fought for them, and never gave up.  Nye took a powder 6 months after his election.  There was no "there" there, just a guy who wasn't a Dem holding the seat until the Republicans got back on their feet.

As to the rest of the Blue Dogs, they mostly chose the triangulation strategy.  They're not Republicans, but they're not Democrats either - at least that's what they tell their voters.  A few won last night, most lost.  

It's ok - even good - to have some conservative Dems out there.  Where they cross the line is when they publicly bash their own party.  Once they do that, to hell with them.

[ Parent ]
Not a "litmus test" (0.00 / 0)
It's exactly what I said - people with NO principles, not people with strong principles, whether those be progressive, "centrist", conservative, whatever.  Take Glenn Nye, for instance; if you can tell me what on earth his principles are, I'd love to hear it.  (cue sound of crickets chirping)

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[ Parent ]
Agree (0.00 / 0)
regarding Nye.  He wasn't lockstep and he was vague.  The difference, at least to me, is with those who are at least clear on where they stand while not being in lockstep.  Do any of those exist in office?  I can't tell anymore.  Outside of office?  I'm sure they do.

How about Perriello?  He may have voted for the healthcare reform bill but there are further glimpses in the minutiae: he was conditional on abortion provisions and, with the help of others, managed to secure that assurance before voting.  But he was crystal clear on his intent.

Your good point is taken, Lowell.

[ Parent ]
Blue Dogs voting R (0.00 / 0)
The Blue Dogs consistently voted with republicans on important bills that Dems were working or worked to incorporate republican demands into bills. They would vote Dem on inconsequential legislation. The only thing they were good for was to maintain a majority status.

Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.
Edmund Burke

[ Parent ]
Right, they're good for majority status (0.00 / 0)
which is why we can't totally ditch them. However, they are maddening, and also many of them are completely lacking in any principle, backbone, etc.

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[ Parent ]
Also see what (0.00 / 0)
Meteor Blades has to say on this subject. Here's a sample:
Blue Dogs hoping their dilute-everything, obstructionist "moderation" would persuade voters to keep them in office found out that works as well as seeking bipartisan harmony with the current crop of elected Republicans. But the silver lining is that those Republicans - now in the majority - have a year or so to make good on their ludicrous vows to fix the economy they deny having done so much to wreck and to make all the other magical fixes they implicitly promised in the just-finished campaign. When this inevitably fails, the voters will be ready to throw them out (again).

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[ Parent ]
Check out this diary (0.00 / 0)
I owe you an apology...

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[ Parent ]
Messaging keeps coming up (0.00 / 0)
and deservedly so; however:

1) in the first place, you have to have a coherent, short, snappy, agreed-upon message to deliver, and getting that agreement and enforcing it with that wonderful "big tent" of Democrats proved to be, well, impossible, and

2) to deliver the message you have to have a mass media or at least control of one important channel of the mass media in order to be sure that message is delivered undistorted and relentlessly, also something Democrats did not have; that is, there is no Democratic substitute for the Republicans' Fox News, and

3) you have to have a national leader who recognizes he is the political leader not merely of the nation but of his own political party that put him in office, one who does not, as soon as he is elected, turn his back on his base and then later actually disses his own base (or permits his spokespeople to do so); unfortunately, Barack Obama showed no political leadership in either position, whether as leader of the country or as leader of his party---- hence, no messaging, no control of messaging, and even worse, no support for the base which elected him.


If you remember the thread about RAM down in Wyse (0.00 / 0)
I took some shots in explaining that the Dems who were volunteering at the dental clinic should have taken the opportunity to advertise the fact that they were Dems and there to help, and that one of the major reasons they were standing in a field to get a tooth pulled was because they didn't have health/dental insurance, which Dems are trying to make universally available.  The argument against me is summed up as "we were there to help and it would be unseemly to politicize it".

That, in a nutshell, is the Dem marketing problem.  We expect everyone to intellectually recognize a logically superior action/position/policy, and silently give us props and approval.  We don't hammer on it every time we do something good.  Thus, we get no message out.  Republicans slam us for doing bad when we do good, and since they're the only ones screaming about it, to the Kettles it sounds like the truth.  Conversely, when Republicans do anything they feel is good, they boast about it constantly.

Dems, by nature, see boasting as boorish behavior.  Republicans see boasting as advertising their brand.  Now, except for the Clinton Administration, when in the last 42 years has our view on boasting done us any favors?  In those 42 years, how much has Republican's use of boasting as advertisement helped their cause?

[ Parent ]
Definitely mixed on the Tea Party but lean "fail" (0.00 / 0)
I think your assessment of the Tea Party having mixed results is pretty accurate and if anything it should be lower to the "losers" column.  First, because of the Tea Party, the GOP has no more representation in Delaware.  And I am not holding as much credence in their House results as I am the Senate.  The House we were expecting bad numbers and I think a lot of their results are the Tea Party members riding the overall Republican wave.  Now, the Senate is a different story.  Sure a few whack jobs got elected but overall I don't think their races would have been any different if they hadn't ran.  

O'Donnell cost the GOP a seat they were anticipating on winning prior to her entry in the race.  Alaska turned out to be a complete disaster and Nevada is probably just making them shake their heads as well in a race that could have been the icing on the cake.  And lastly, Colorado is still up in the air but numbers are looking like Bennett is still going to pull out the victory.  

So I think if we differentiate between the two it's fair to say they had mixed results but without a doubt the Tea Party cost the GOP control of the Senate last night but unfortunately you'd have better luck explaining that to an empty soda can than you would most Tea Party followers and Michelle Bachmann.  

Perriello (4.00 / 1)
I really want to give a hats off to Tom Perriello. I live in Alexandria and spent several weekends the last few months going to C'Ville and canvassing. Knocked on over 1,000 doors and am quite proud of it. I know it is early to speculate but what do you guys think of Perriello's future? I think making a comeback in 2012 in VA-05 is totally dependent upon redistricting. The VA GOP is not stupid and knows that he outperformed the generic ballot. Likely they are going to try and carve up Charlottesville and Albermarle County so that Goodlatte and Cantor absorb parts of it. Up to the Democratic Senate to not allow that to happen. I think that there will be an Administrative job for him no doubt. As for his political future the big question would be what would happen if Jim Webb decides to not run again. I don't know if Perriello would be quite ready for it but the Democratic bench is thin in VA right now that I could see him being an option. The 2013 field is also wide open so he would be an interesting option there.

Thank you Tom for standing up to our values. You may not have won but you lost doing the right thing which means more than any election ever will.

Denver Post called it for Bennett (0.00 / 0)
Just saw the Breaking News on Twitter so that pushes me to further assess the Tea Party towards FAIL :-)

Random Big Picture Thoughts (0.00 / 0)
As we look ahead to 2012 I think it is pretty key to look at some major battleground states and how the major competitive races (where both parties were engaged heavily) went.

-PA narrow GOP pickup in the Senate.
-OH narrow GOP pickup in the Governor.
-CO narrow Dem hold in the Senate.
-FL narrow GOP hold in the Governor.
-NV narrow Dem hold for Senate.
-WI was troubling as there were GOP blowouts in the Senate/Gov races.
-IL I am not counting as that's not a battleground state.

Obama won't be caught napping on his campaign let's be realistic. Hard to say who the GOP will nominate but clearly what this says is that  even in a really shitty year for Democrats they held pretty close in a lot of key states that they will need to win on a statewide level. Assuming the political environment has a modest or even slight uptick there is no reason why Obama can't win again and his coattails can help a lot of down ballot races. Gerrymandering is going to hurt big time on a macro level though.  

I agree (0.00 / 0)
We lost ~65 seats in the House, but it really doesn't feel like that much of a defeat today.  Certainly less than last year after the Deeds Disaster.  Maybe because the fear of the last few months didn't quite come to pass?

It looks like we'll end up with 53 seats in the Senate.  Overall, we're in better shape than in 94, when Republicans took over both houses hard and after Clinton had already passed some fairly Republican-esqe legislation like NAFTA.  At this point in 94, we had a much better economy, but other than the tax increases in 93, Clinton didn't have many real "Democratic" accomplishments.  And, complete Republican control of Congress.

Now, we have the Senate, and Obama is still relatively popular - on par or better than Reagan and Clinton at this stage of the game.  We've already passed health care and finance reform, and the real sleeper biggie that no one talks about is the whole student loan/education reform, which I've thought all year is a hell of a piece of legislation.  

So, Obama needs to bear down now, get his nominees pushed through the Senate.  Hopefully Harry Reid has been forced to grow a pair by now and won't kowtow to the Republican minority anymore.  The economy is still gradually improving, lets hope that picks up.  

One thing I think we need to push for in the next two months:  Let the Bush Tax Cuts Expire.  It was a mistake when they were done, now's the last and only time to correct that mistake.  No extensions for anyone, lets go back to the Clinton economic plan that worked so well.  

[ Parent ]
Agree with you on the Bush Tax Cuts... (0.00 / 0)
And can something be done about Harry Reid?  My 82-year-old mother would be a more effective majority leader.

[ Parent ]
Can you get your 82-year-old mother to run? (0.00 / 0)

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[ Parent ]
We desperately need Durban or Schumer (0.00 / 0)
If Harry couldn't get judges confirmed and legislation passed with a 60/40 mandate, he won't do a think with a 53/47 split.  He needs to be replaced ASAP, even for the lame duck session this year.

[ Parent ]
Other side of the coin (0.00 / 0)
-PA decent GOP pickup for GOV
-OH Huge GOP hold for SEN
-FL Huge GOP hold for SEN
-NV Huge GOP hold for GOV


-MI HUGE GOP pickup for GOV
-IA Huge GOP pickup for GOV/Hold SEN
-NC Decent hold for SEN
-NH Huge GOP hold for SEN/pickups in both House seats
-NM Big GOP pickup for GOV
-MO Big GOP hold for SEN
-IN Big GOP pickup for SEN

[ Parent ]
No doubt, it was a great night for the GOP (0.00 / 0)
with far-reaching implications for the 2012 election.

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[ Parent ]
Agree with you but... (0.00 / 0)
You are totally correct to point these wins out but I was only listing the competitive races as far as both parties dumping money in there and thinking that they had a shot at the end. The Presidential race certainly should meet this in these states. PA Gov, OH Senate, FL Senate and NV Gov  - Dems conceded here and didn't go "all in". The other ones you listed the GOP was consistently far ahead in the polls and only did they get a serious pushback in NM Gov and NH Houses.

Remains to be seen if the climate is like this in 2012 and how many races will be "written off" but I suspect it will be less than this year. The Dems have a lot of Senate seats to defend in some tough states so it is going to be tough regardless and Obama is going to need to run a strong campaign for some to survive.  

[ Parent ]
GOP gains (0.00 / 0)
This is a given.  They were even higher than I expected, so hats off for you.

However, this doesn't feel like 1994 this morning.  And it by no means feels like 1984.  Part of that is because in 1994, the only (and I do mean ONLY) bright spot for Dems is that we here in VA kept Oliver North out of the Senate.  This time around, there were a lot more Oliver Norths running.  Some of them won.  But we defeated more than just one.

Am I enjoying today?  No.  And I think we need to sit down as a party and have a long and serious talk about how to handle the rust belt.  But can I live to fight another day?  As Palin herself might say, "You Betcha!"

[ Parent ]
I wasn't (0.00 / 0)
I wasn't gloating or trying to put you guys down, just pointing out the results in various "swing" states that the first commenter was talking about, in terms of potential battleground states in 2012.

[ Parent ]
Dems "should have owned the populist outrage sweeping the country" (0.00 / 0)
See nyceve's thoughts on why "Democrats, led by President Obama, should have owned the populist outrage sweeping the country."  But they didn't.

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And, I should add...into the populist vacuum (0.00 / 0)
rushed the tea party.

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[ Parent ]
Tragedy?? (0.00 / 0)
Unspeakable Disaster???  Hardly.  We lost a House of Congress and some great Representatives (Tom P. first in my mind among them), it sucks, but its not a disaster.  

[ Parent ]
Excellent diary at Daily Kos (0.00 / 0)
Don't Fool Yourself, Democrats. KNOW why you lost.

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That is a really good diary. (0.00 / 0)
I especially agree that Democrats have to learn to sell and to craft a coherent message. Sometimes, I feel like that sort of marketing comes more easily for the GOP because so many marketing people are Republicans. Or...maybe they read Goebbels   :-)

[ Parent ]
Are they? (0.00 / 0)
I know a number of marketing people and none of them are Republicans.  I think the Republicans are better at it simply because they're more disciplined when it comes to Party.  If the Democrats want to do the marketing and messaging as effectively as Republicans, we have to all be willing to sign on.

[ Parent ]

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