Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Why Jon Ossoff (and the Democrats) will lose

Why do I think Jon Ossoff, the Democrat seeking to represent Georgia's 6th congressional district, will lose to Republican Karen Handel in today's special election, even though he's raised far more money and seems far more popular? Because Republicans vote and Democrats don't.

Obviously, Democrats vote, but their turnout is typically far lower than Republicans', especially in off-year elections. And the 6th has been a reliably Republican district since the late 1970s, when Newt Gingrich won -- and held onto the seat for 20 years (to be replaced by two more middle-aged white males).

And despite what they may say or write about a Republican candidate, when it comes down to a vote, Republicans almost always vote for the person with an R after his (or occasionally her) name. So it's doubtful that Ossoff will have managed to sway 15 or 10 percent of Republican voters to vote for him, even if they don't like Trump or Trumpcare/The American Health Care Act.

Moreover, Republican campaign strategists are very good at staying on message and getting Republicans to the polls. Their strategy: fear. Vote for the Democrat and you'll be paying higher taxes! (They'll grab your hard-earned money and give it to lazy minorities and illegal immigrants!) Vote for the Democrat and you'll be less safe (cause they'll take away your guns and will let criminals roam the streets)!

And despite plenty of proof to the contrary, the strategy always works. Just tell the people what they want to hear, even -- or especially -- if it's a bunch of lies. Because who's going to fact check? Most voters don't read anymore, let alone check the accuracy of what they're reading, especially on social media, or what they see on TV. And when faced with any facts that contradict their beliefs, they cling even harder to their beliefs. So it's really a no-lose situation for Republicans.

So what can Democrats do? I think part of the solution has to be going back to grass roots, old-fashioned campaigning, like what Ossoff's been doing -- and what Obama did in the 2008 presidential race. Going to lots of events that "real people," not just wealthy donors, attend. Going door to door, and/or to supermarkets, and the local car wash; attending sporting events at local high schools and colleges; holding town halls. And making people feel that you're listening to them.

Democrats also need to come up with some catchy soundbites, because when it comes down to it, people don't read or remember or really care about policy positions anymore. They want something short and pithy that you can put after a hashtag.

And Democrats need to register young people to vote and make sure they go to the polls on election day. Because the only real way to effect change is by voting.


VB said...

This district has highly educated and has mid 30s approval of the President and has been getting more liberals with transplants. So yes to all your points, but Ossoff might get GOP voters.

Fingers crossed!

VB said...

Well, that blows.