After the 2012 presidential election, it became apparent that Mitt Romney was very surprised that he lost the election because his internal polling had indicated that he was not just ahead, but solidly ahead, in most of the key battleground states. Progressives found that disconnection from reality quite amusing and attributed it, in Bill Maher’s phrasing, to Romney’s having been trapped inside the Right-wing bubble, in which the only reality is what the Right wants the reality to be.
Well, in the aftermath of this midterm election, I think that we may need to begin talking about the progressive bubble.
In Ohio’s gubernatorial election—yes, there was a gubernatorial election in Ohio, though it was such a lopsided race that the national media gave it almost no attention whatsoever—Democrat Ed Fitzgerald received just 34% of the vote. I will have more to say about what happened in Ohio in another post, but the key point that that race serves to illustrate here is that a candidate who does not receive 40% of the vote has suffered a defeat of considerable proportions: that is, he or she has taken a shellacking—has lost in a landslide. In fact, any margin above 8% in politics is, I think, generally considered a very decisive win.
So, with that baseline in mind, let’s look at the results in a number of other races that the progressive media and Democratic fundraisers treated as if they were competitive.
David Perdue: 53.97
Michelle Nunn: 45.12%
Nathan Deal: 52.81%
Jason Carter: 44.83%
Mitch McConnell: 56.19%
Alison Lundergen Grimes: 40.42%
Greg Abbott: 59.30%
Wendy Davis: 38.89%
Sam Brownback: 49.96
Paul Davis: 46.06%
I include this last race because despite the fact that 100 prominent Republicans asserted that Brownback’s austerity programs have been an unmitigated disaster and announced that they would therefore be supporting the Democratic candidate, about 50% of Kansas voters still voted for Brownback—and, as the map very clearly indicates, most of the state’s counties remained “red.”
Many solidly “red” states” may, indeed, be trending toward “purple,” but it is clearly not anywhere close to being there yet. Democrats clearly need more than candidates whom they find appealing and believe ought to be elected. They need candidates that appeal to a majority of those in their states who are motivated to vote—or, more precisely, they need candidates who can motivate many more non-voters to go out and vote.