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Democrats have now lost all four of the special elections, but perhaps understandingly so as these were all Republican strongholds. The finger pointing will of course continue, and as I browse the various analyses, perhaps one of the best is in Vox by Matthew Yglesias.
Jon Ossoff’s Georgia special election loss shows Democrats could use a substantive agenda
Yglesias says that Ossoff lost over nonsense. "Ossoff, like so many losing Democratic candidates over the years, was brought down fundamentally by arguments grounded in identity politics."
""Karen Handel didn’t argue that the Republican Party’s health care bill is a good idea (it’s very unpopular) or that tax cuts for millionaires should be the country’s top economic priority (another policy that polls dismally). Instead, her campaign and its allies buried Ossoff under a pile of what basically amounts to nonsense — stuff about Kathy Griffin, stuff about Samuel L. Jackson, stuff about his home being just over the district line, stuff about him having raised money from out of state — lumped together under the broad heading that he’s an “outsider.”
"Much of this was unfair or ridiculous. And the stuff that wasn’t unfair — like the location of his home — is honestly pretty silly. None of this has anything to do with the lives of actual people living in the suburbs of Atlanta or anywhere else."
I should add Nancy Pelosi to the above list...one of Republican's (and Berniecrats) favorite targets and scapegoats.
In other words, Handel played to the emotions and moral values of the Republicans, many of them anti-Trump. And they voted with their tribes in large numbers. It's basically the same strategy that got Greg Gianforte a win in Montana over an inexperienced country folk singer. It worked in Montana and it worked in Georgia.
However, Yglesias also notes the ongoing argument between the Bernie and Hillary camps. We still do not have a message of unity that resonates. Taking the health care debate, for example, we are still all over the place with respect to ideas, some of them small tweaks and some total socialized health care with tax payers footing the bill for everyone's insurance.
We need to take back the messaging...but just what message? Should the Democrats go all in on Bernie's ideological Our Revolution? Or rather should we build on the Obama accomplishments with a Hillary type of well researched and thought out agenda?
We can't do both and expect to win these elections.