Here’s a question. With news that former senator Dan Coats is going to challenge Evan Bayh it looks like some of our most conservative Democrats are vulnerable to defeat in November. But, aside from the overall political makeup of their particular states, what makes them so vulnerable? Why is Blanche Lincoln less popular than a case of the clap? Why do Nevadans hate Harry Reid? It’s not like they’re crooks or sexual deviants.
Here’s what’s going on. Even where Democrats are still winning, they’re suffering from an enthusiasm gap. Democrats who stall the president’s agenda and badmouth him and the party are most likely to exacerbate this enthusiasm gap. In a purple or red state, combining a kind of inherent cyclical enthusiasm gap with a self-created one is enough to put your reelect number in the thirties.
Lesson? Stop tying to save your hide by bashing the left and embrace good policy. We talk a lot about why we hate the DLC and Clintonism. Well, the number one reason we hate them is because they’re political losers. It’s not centrist policy that is the primary problem. You work with the Congress you have, not the one you might wish for. But it’s the idea that you can win elections by bashing your own party and your own party activists. Listen to Blanche Lincoln complain about left-wing blogs. Do you think that wins her any votes?