Mid-Year Progress Report June 2017
Another Billion-Dollar Blunder?
In 2016, Democratic and allied progressive groups spent more than $1.8 billion.
Taking Black Voters for Granted
The Democratic ecosystem largely took African American voters for granted in 2016, and Black turnout plummeted.
- $0 was spent by outside groups on Black voter mobilization until after Labor Day (just 60 days before the election).
- After two successful past presidential elections with an African American on the ticket, the Party returned to an all-white ticket.
- Facing a candidate who was riding and fueling a wave of racial resentment, the Democratic strategy was to run a color-blind campaign emphasizing his temperament instead of his racism.
2016 Progressive Spending Plans
Turnout of Black Voters—the Most Democratic Voters of All—Plummeted in 2016
Black voter turnout rates by election year
High Risk of Replicating Blunder
The initial signs in 2017 show that there is a high risk of replicating the billion-dollar blunder.
- Democratic committees and groups spent $750 million in the last midterm election, and they will likely match or exceed that in 2018
So far, the Democratic ecosystem is directing far too much time, energy, attention and resources to the wrong strategy and wrong voters.
- There is a collective obsession with wooing Trump voters.
- Meanwhile, virtually nothing is being done to address Black voters.
- And few leaders appreciate that victory in 2018 will depend on turnout of core Democratic voters, not changing the minds of Trump voters.
Early Warning Signs
- According to published reports, Senate Democrats convened all of their members in West Virginia to learn “how President Donald Trump beat them in 2016, and how to secure at least some of his voters for the midterms.”
- The Democrats response to the State of the Union address featured former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear surrounded by a virtually all-white array of residents.
- The DNC’s “Unity Tour” placed special emphasis on traveling to the overwhelmingly white states of Maine, Utah, Nebraska, and Kentucky. Meanwhile Black women Democrats had to publicly demand attention to their concerns.
- Democratic donors are moving millions of dollars to understand and woo Trump voters.
- Progressive magazines are devoting entire issues to analyzing the white working class.
Two Major Problems with Ongoing Flawed Strategy
First of all, the narrative on why we lost is simply untrue.
- Democrats didn’t lose because white working class voters defected to Trump (some did defect, but that’s not why Democrats lost).
- Democrats lost because of lower Black voter turnout and Obama voters defecting to Jill Stein and other third- and fourth-party candidates.
Second, indulging the white working class fetish wastes money and diverts precious time and resources from doing what’s necessary to win:
- Investing in Black voter mobilization institutions and leaders.
- Focusing on massive turnout operations for 2018.
- With large turnout in 2018, Democrats can take back the House and pick up strategic governorships that will help win the White House in 2020.
What Happened in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin 2016 Presidential Election Results
There was no surge of voters to Trump in Wisconsin
What Happened in Michigan?
Michigan 2016 Presidential Election Results
There was no surge of voters to Trump in Michigan
What Happened in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania 2016 Presidential Election Results
The combination of energized Democrats and traditional drop-off during midterms of those voters whose party currently controls the White House presents a golden opportunity for Democrats to take back control of the House.
Democrats can also lay the groundwork for 2020 by strengthening the cornerstones of the growing New American Majority by winning governors races in strategic states.
Take Back the House
Currently, widespread convention holds that this administration’s outrageous acts will alienate voters who will defect to Democrats, enabling them to win back the House.
That conventional wisdom is incorrect.
Midterms are about turnout, not persuasion.
- Even 2006 was about turnout, not fielding moderate Democratic candidates, as many believe.
- Likewise, in 2010, control of the House flipped due to turnout, not backlash against Obama’s policies.
How the House was won in 2006: Republican Votes Dropped Off
How the House was Lost in 2010: Democratic Votes Dropped Off
Cement Cornerstones of the New American Majority
Population trends are propelling South and Southwestern states toward Democrats.
- Democrats came closer to winning in Florida, Georgia, and Arizona than in Ohio.
- They are closer to winning in Texas than in Iowa.
2018 presents a chance to seize significant opportunities.
- Florida, Georgia, and Arizona all have rising stars of color running for governor in 2018.
- To flip those states will require massive mobilization of people of color.
Recommendations to Take Back the Country
Allocate $500 million of the $700 million that will be spent in the upcoming midterms to the following:
- $200 million to Black Voter Mobilization Crusade (Black voter turnout).
- $100 million to Latino voter turnout R&D project. (e.g. Texas has 3 million eligible, non-voting Latinos).
- $200 million to a robust voter mobilization operation in the 28 House districts that are the best pick-up opportunities.
- Fearlessly focus on and highlight the racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and sexist policies and actions of this administration.
- Initiate a discharge petition for impeachment to define the 2018 contests and put everyone on record.
- Wage bold policy fights to end economic inequality through a wealth tax, livable wage, and free higher education.
Remember, We Are The Majority
Federal Election Commission
Democracy in Color Methodology
Federal Election Commission Presidential Election Results 2000-2016
CNN: Senate Democrats search for their path forward in West Virginia
NY Times: Democratic Response to Trump’s Speech: Video and Transcript
Politico: Democratic Party rethink gets $20 million injection
Prospect.org: The White Working Class
[8-10] Democracy in Color calculations based on Federal Election Commission election returns, National Election Pool exit polls, and US Census Report "Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2016."
 Federal Election Commission Election Returns 2004 and 2006
 Federal Election Commission Election Returns 2008 and 2010
 US Census data compared with 2016 voting records.