Thursday, March 13, 2014

Same old lesson for Dems in FL-13

By Frank Moraes 

David Weigel continues to be essential reading every day, but "bleeding heart libertarianism" seems to have morphed into old fashioned non-crazy conservatism these days. That's not too surprising, given that libertarians are, regardless of the number of holes in their hearts, conservatives. It is all based upon the conceit of their personal power and the delusion that they aren't entirely dependent upon their communities. See, for example, Weigel's total whitewash of Paul Ryan's recent racist remarks, "Paul Ryan Accused of Racism for Suggesting That There's Endemic Poverty in Inner Cities." So I wasn't shocked when Weigel seemed to take a certain delight in Alex Sink's defeat to David Jolly in the Florida 13th District special election.

But that doesn't mean that he isn't as insightful as ever. Yesterday, he wrote, "Hey, Democrats! This Election Will Make You Feel Less Sad About FL-13." Actually, the article itself is a confused jumble. But his point is clear enough: it's the turnout, stupid. As he noted:

I should admit that smart analysts predicted the result with one number. Two-hundred thousand. If that many ballots showed up in FL-13, Democrats were hitting their turnout models and winning the race. If fewer, they were losing. There were about 180,000 votes cast in the race, and the Democrats lost.

And then he goes on to document a number of elections (not one!) where the Democrats invested in turnout and won. We liberals have long known this. In fact, I have long argued that turnout is the only thing that matters and that Democrats should stop going after what are mostly mythical "swing" voters.

What did strike me in the article, however, was the tone that Weigel set in talking about this. And this is largely the reason for my tone here. For example, he wrote, "They won... But barely." It's a though he is trying to make a larger point that his Republican friends aren't that unpopular. But they are.

What's more, he seems to be implying that that Democrats aren't aware that they have an difficult task getting out their voters in off year and special elections. I would say that the Democrats are doing well when they even make such races competitive. (Weigel pooh-poohs this idea as it relates to the FL-13 election.) All I can think is that Weigel is falling for the recent libertarian rhetoric coming out of the Republican Party these days. And all I can say is, "Good luck with that!" Libertarian rhetoric leads to old fashioned anti-individual conservatism.

But the bottom line is clear enough. The Democrats have to spend a lot more money on turnout. That is the key to Democratic electoral success. And that should be clear to everyone, even libertarians. Because when I was a libertarian, I was painfully aware just how unpopular my philosophy was. It's nice to now have a political philosophy where I cheer for more people to vote.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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  • Alex Sink is a very good person but she does not arrouse passion about politics, indeed the opposite.
    It ends up in retrospect it was not a good thing for the Florida Democratic party to move out the previous candidate, the women State Senator whose name I forget right now, to have Sink run.
    The USF political science professor who moderated the candidate debate and followed this election vey closely said Sink's perception as a carpetbagger was likely the differance.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:19 AM  

  • Somehow I managed to bolix my previous comment as the first part did not appear. Turnout was slightly higher among Democrats in this race, 54% , than Republicans, 53%. Republicans have about a 15,000 advantage in registrations in CD-13 but independents are about 35% of registered voters and that is where Sink's lack of a clearly articulated vision and her apparent lack of passion in her campaign hurt her.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:55 AM  

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