Michael Swartz / June 16, 2021

The Democrats’ Woke Postmortem

Party players and activists will probably ignore a report indicating that something’s very wrong.

After Mitt Romney squandered the opportunity to oust Barack Obama in 2012, losing despite Obama’s “jobless recovery” and because of the less-than-enthusiastic backing of a Tea Party movement determined to overturn the still-nascent ObamaCare, Republicans commissioned a navel-gazing report in early 2013 to find out what happened. It told them, among other things, that they needed to moderate on immigration and social issues and improve their outreach to minority voters. The report was so effective that the party’s next presidential nominee ran on a get-tough border security platform and embraced the pro-life movement … while increasing the GOP share of both black and Latino voters.

Far be it from the Democrat Party to consider such a move after the ultimate party man won the 2020 presidential election, but three Democrat-allied groups scratched their collective heads enough about the lack of results at the congressional level that they commissioned a report of their own, asking why the success at the top of the ticket didn’t translate down.

In worrying about the 2022 midterms, the trio — the Third Way think tank, The Collective PAC, and Latino Victory — spent over 70 pages (and thousands of dollars) to learn that the Democrats had an excessively “woke” message that really didn’t sell and they were overly optimistic after success in the 2018 midterms. Heck, longtime Democrat consultant James Carville could have told them that for free. In fact, he did so about a month ago.

One key complaint in the report’s narrative was that Republicans (read: Donald Trump) effectively messaged them into a defensive posture, having to argue they really didn’t mean what they said about defunding the police and of course more lives mattered than just black lives. As political analyst Steven Hayward helpfully pointed out, “I am guessing many Hispanics, who endlessly hear Democratic leaders chant ‘black lives matter,’ rightly wonder — what about us? I doubt they are impressed by being ‘included’ in the broad BIPOC banner the left is offering them as a consolation prize.”

The report goes on to note, “Our assumptions about Dem support among voters of color — and the lack of differentiation in our messaging and outreach within demographic groups — cost us support in key races. … We heard that there were substantial Party and campaign misfires for engaging key demographic groups as a monolith — most notably Latino and Hispanic voters.”

Yet while the report concedes that the GOP is making inroads against “their” Latino vote, Democrats aren’t changing their stance on immigration. Moreover, blue states and cities are only grudgingly opening up their economies, which negatively affects the working class that’s most populated by minority groups.

On the other hand, the authors were pleased with an increase in black voter turnout, albeit this news came with a caveat that their support of Democrats dropped to some degree. Still, they determined that getting a slightly less overwhelming percentage of thousands more blacks to the polls was how they won the Georgia Senate runoffs.

Despite that resounding success, the progressive angst has continued past the election. As one major Democrat donor quoted in the report said, “The primary problem with Defund was not Defund, but the lack of an economic message. We became the party of shutting down the economy, the party of wearing masks, the party of taking kids out of school — not the party of solutions and science.” (And they still aren’t that party.)

And Defund is a problem because it tells the truth about the Left. Elites can afford their own private security, but a party that simultaneously tries to disarm the law-abiding while coddling the law-breaking will not appeal to those suburban voters who still turn out the most. Political analyst Rick Moran may have summed it up best: “[The report] was a waste. All they had to do was ask any Republican who didn’t live in New York or Los Angeles.”

“It’s doubtful that Democrats will learn anything,” concludes Moran. “Activists are already whining that the report blames them for the disaster. It’s true, but party leadership can’t point the finger at them and upset them even more. They need the activists to have any hope of winning in 2022.”

It turned out Republicans were correct in ignoring their 2013 report, but it took the right candidate to forcefully seize the narrative and those don’t come along every day. So it’s a sure bet that the Democrats — who think they’re smarter than all the rest of us — will be convinced that they can fool enough voters to stay in power for another two years despite ignoring any sound advice the report authors dished out.

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