How the Democrats keep losing. 2017, part 3. No, don’t make elections a ‘referendum on Trump’

This post will be short. The results of the special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district will remain unknown until after the voting. (Yes, I know; it’s heterodox.) No predictions here.

But a few facts are available now. For one–in heavy early voting, Republicans have caught up with Democrats. Today is the last day to vote early in the special; the GOP is projected to move ahead by close of day. (So much for bigfooting the locals with an avalanche of cash.) For another–according to hometown paper Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the makeup of GA-6 has not changed much since the 2016 election.

As Kristina Torres and Jennifer Peebles rightly point out,

The key takeaway . . . is that little has changed among the makeup of voters in the district. The 6th has long been a Republican stronghold. It’s more a question whether the national debate has changed any minds.

So–how are Democrats working to change hearts and minds, in GA-6? Well, for one thing, they’re sending an enormous influx of money from outside the state. For another, they’re boosting one Democratic candidate and starving out, silencing, ignoring or neglecting the others. For another, the party is getting expansive, and expensive, reinforcement on these tactics from out-of-state entities like Daily Kos,, and even the usually good ActBlue; and from media outlets prominently including cable programs.

What’s more, all of the above–but especially some media outlets–seem to be confident that these provably flawed tactics will work. One yesterday so far as to say that Democratic frontrunner Jon Ossoff has an “absolute lock” on a spot in the runoff election. There is no lack of tub-thumping for Ossoff’s chances. Read here and here for examples.

And on top of all that, far too many analysts are calling the special election a ‘referendum on Trump’–who, if you recall, won in 2016.

And on top of that again, you have this choice specimen of motive from one of the out-of-state donors:

Levinson lives in Brooklyn, New York, but he read about Ossoff on Facebook. He’s donated about $60 to Ossoff’s campaign so far and plans to keep giving right up to the election.

If Ossoff wins, it will send a message to Republicans and Trump that Democrats are going to fight, Levinson said.

“They need a good trouncing. They need to be put back in their place. The cork needs to go back into the bottle,” he said.

Put them ‘back in their place’? Are you sure?

I love newspapers. I am an avid reader. I don’t want to be too hard on writers who are under considerable pressure to take the right line, often from their editors and peers.

But I do want to point out that the above are not winning tactics and do not add up to a winning strategy. The picture is undemocratic.

Reliable polling re GA-6 is hard to come by. (The absence of on-site polls is interesting itself, given the hype, and is probably cause and result of that same kind of pressure btw.) But as early as April 3, after the race started getting national attention, Politico reported that a GOP internal poll showed Ossoff’s unfavorables up:

“Polling conducted for a Republican super PAC claims Democrat Jon Ossoff’s special election momentum has frozen in Georgia’s 6th District, the GOP group told donors in a memo last week, even as Republican groups continue to pour more resources into stopping Ossoff this month. … The memo , from [Congressional Leadership Fund] executive director Corry Bliss and GOP pollster Greg Strimple of GS Strategy Group, says that polling conducted March 29-30 showed 38 percent of likely special election voters viewing Ossoff favorably and 47 percent viewing him unfavorably. The unfavorable numbers jumped sharply from previous polling conducted March 19-20, which had 43 percent of likely voters viewing Ossoff favorably compared to 26 percent who viewed him unfavorably. … The later poll also showed Ossoff getting 36 percent of the primary vote, virtually unchanged from 37 percent in the earlier one.”

Predictably, the dip–if real–has been blamed on attack advertising. Maybe. But I think the $8 million-plus in outside cash, the favoritism, the hysterical name-calling, the cynical co-opting World War II’s Resistance, the attempt to shove a candidate down everybody’s throats, the hype, the undisguised contempt for local voters, the bullying or ostracizing (other) writers, and the over-all projection and denial indulged among people who think themselves intellectuals may have played a part.

Project and denial are real. Freud wasn't wrong about everything.

Project and denial are real. Freud wasn’t wrong about everything.






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