The first official post-mortem of 2014 came out Monday, the day before the elections. It is a work of epic spin put out by a Democratic think tank, The Center for American Progress Action Fund, titled “Backfire: Republican Rhetoric in 2014 Will Be an Albatross for 2016.”
The nut of the argument is that Republican candidates ran on arch-conservative platforms that will alienate growing demographic groups – young people, minorities and single women – who don’t turn out in midterms but do for presidential elections.
“In order to appeal to a more conservative electorate in 2014, Republicans have counted on the structural advantages in participation patterns for the midterm elections and doubled down on their far-right positions on immigration, climate change, voting restrictions, and women’s economic and health issues,” the report says.
Get used to this because it’s certain to be the standard post-election spin if the Republicans make big gains Tuesday. It has the added virtue of being partially true. It is a fact that the Senate races this year were held in primarily red states. The big states with lots of electoral votes and lots on minorities – California, Florida, Pennsylvania and so on – had no Senate contests this cycle. And it is true the midterm voters tend to by older and whiter than presidential election voters.
But there are plenty of “buts.” We don’t actually know yet how these groups that have been heavily Democratic in the past voted this year. Maybe the Republicans made some inroads. Nor do we know if the Democrats can come up with a more credible message in 2016 than they did this year. Demographics aren’t destiny.
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