The Moose proclaims that turnout is fine, but values and ideas are divine.
Over this past election year, the donkey spent a fortune on turnout, but a pittance on idea development. Democratic turnout was impressive, but clearly not sufficient. And that turnout was largely fueled by anti-Bush sentiment. If there was a coherent Democratic message, it eluded the Moose.
Meanwhile, Republicans are making even more significant inroads into the exurbs overtaking donkey gains among youth and in urban areas. That is all explained in a marvelous piece in today's New York Times Magazine by Matt Bai. Bai dissects the Americans Coming Together turnout operation in Ohio.
This is the good news,
What was clear was that ACT had exceeded the goals it had set for the total Kerry vote in each of its target counties in Ohio. In Cuyahoga County, where ACT had set a target of 350,540 votes for Kerry, he received 433,262. In Franklin County, where the goal was 262,895 votes, Kerry had garnered 275,573. In fact, Kerry's 2.66 million votes were the most ever for a Democrat in Ohio.
And now the bad news,
But the truth was that the Bush campaign had created an entirely new math in Ohio. It wouldn't have been possible eight years ago, or even four. But with so many white, conservative and religious voters now living in the brand-new town houses and McMansions in Ohio's growing ring counties, Republicans were able to mobilize a stunning turnout in areas where their support was more concentrated than it was in the past. Bush's operatives did precisely what they told me seven months ago they would do in these communities: they tapped into a volunteer network using local party organizations, union rolls, gun clubs and churches.
The piece concludes with a deep insight by the ACT Director,
''I can't think of a thing in Ohio that we could have done more to boost our vote,'' Steve Rosenthal told me three days after the election, as the trauma of the defeat began to subside. ''The shortcoming in some ways is that the national Democratic Party has built this values wall between itself and a lot of voters out there, and the Republicans took advantage of it. The rude awakening here is that I always thought there were more of us out there. And this time there were more of them.''
As the Moose sees it, the hard truth is that the Democratic Party is perceived as a bit odd across broad swaths of suburban, rural and exurban America. In short, they seem "Godless and Gutless". All of the turnout operations are just swell, but the donkey must re-connect with middle-class America.
Lefties can kvetch all they want over voters suffering from "false consciousness" about where their real economic interests lie, but that does not change the fact that many Americans are primarily motivated by non-material concerns. Yes, we must extend health care access to children, but we must also protect them from the coarsening of the culture. Yes, we should criticize the Bush administration for its foreign policy failures, but the donkey must also be perceived as hawks in the war on terror.
The Moose quotes Chariman Mao - We should be modest and prudent, guard against arrogance and rashness, and serve the Chinese people heart and soul....