Kenneth Quinnell, formerly of the Kendrick Meek campaign and now back to the Florida Progressive Coalition (and ThinkProgress) offers a candid assessment of what went wrong for Florida Democrats on November 2nd. Short version: a suckish state party, a compromising president, a lackluster progressive movement, and voters who could give a damn.
There is no progressive movement in Florida. There are a lot of progressives and a lot of good people in Florida. There are a lot of people working hard. There is almost no coordination and very little working together that is being done. We have the usual circular firing squads, people working at odds with each other, people engaging in activity that hurts us all and nobody is really doing much to change any of this. That obviously hurts us on election day and, well, pretty much every other day. This has to change. Now.
Meanwhile, Ezra Klein offers another assessment of the national problem. Short answer: young voters didn’t show up, and so grandma and grandpa took their country back.
Klein could be criticized a bit for comparing 2008 to 2010, which really is apples and oranges, since it’s been true for a long, long time that general elections turn out a much broader age and ethnic demographic mix than midterms. So let’s go to CNN’s analysis from back in 2006, which showed that Democrats swept literally every age and racial demo, with the exception of people making more than $100,000 a year, conservatives, and white, born again evangelical Christians. This year, according to the exit polls, Democrats had just a one point gender gap with women, and got swamped with men (56-42), seniors (58-40) and blue collar workers (white, non-college graduates, who went 62-35 Republican.) That means the tea party/Wall Street movement thoroughly convinced lower middle class white voters to side with the rich.
Chris Matthews — a very smart guy, by the way — came down to Miami in early 2004 and gave a talk to a group of local reporters, back when I was working for the local NBC affiliate (before I quit the station to work for the ill-fated ACT effort to help John Kerry’s hapless presidential campaign.) What he said then resonates now, and since he said we were free to steal his analysis and use it, I will do just that. So here it is:
Politics is about where you put the wedge in. If you put the wedge between the rich and the middle class, such that the middle class feel like they’re getting screwed by the fat-cats, Democrats win. If the wedge is jammed between the rich and the poor, such that the middle class scorn those worse off than them, and blame the really have nots for their troubles; if they believe that siding with the rich will mean more jobs and more prosperity for them, then Republicans win.
This year, Republicans, and the brilliant Wall Street/top 2 percenter ruse that is the tea party movement, won the wedge. Democrats had better learn how to respond.
Bonus read: Andrew Markoff asks the questions…