That’s what Al From offers Politico readers:
After last week’s senatorial and gubernatorial elections, it’s time for the Democrats to think about retooling our message once again.
Today’s Democratic Party has not fallen to the depths of the 1980s. But we need to face up to the breadth of our losses. Not only did the Republicans win control of the Senate, they also elected more House members than any time since the 1940s and won key governorships in Democratic strongholds of Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois. They now control 31 statehouses and more than two-thirds of state legislative chambers across the country.
And there are warning signs that we cannot afford to ignore as we look ahead to 2016. On the two issues of most concern to the American people — the economy and their dissatisfaction with government — our message did not connect and voters overwhelmingly favored the Republicans.
Our principal strategy this year was a turnout strategy — to “fire up the base” and turn out groups of voters — young millennials, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and women — who tend to vote Democratic. That strategy worked spectacularly in 2008 and 2012 with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. Much of our campaign message was part of that strategy, directed at those Democratic constituencies. But this year, with the president not on the ballot and his approval ratings down, turnout favored the Republicans.
From has made several fundamental errors here. The first is that while it’s true that the Democrats “fallen to the depths of the 1980s,” that’s not a good thing. In fact, from the statehouses on up, the Democrats have fallen to the depths of the 1920s. When somebody is off by 50-plus years and 25 or so election cycles, they may have a perception problem big enough to render their advice suspect. For example, if I told you to mix 1.5 quarts of vodka into a 5-ounce glass of Steve’s Bloody Holiday Mary Mix, you might not even bother reading down to the part where I tell you what kind of pickle to use for garnish. (Trü Kosher Dills, FWIW.)
Secondly, From insists that what the Democrats have is a messaging problem, when that’s simply not the case. Bill Clinton really and truly moved his party rightwards towards the center, and achieved some stunning political and practical success. Barack Obama moved the party further left than it has ever been since 1972, or maybe ever, and then enjoyed a two-year honeymoon in which his every leftwing dream was turned into real policy. It’s those policies, not the messaging, which the American people rejected two weeks ago.
Finally, From has yet to internalize what the White House admitted last week, that Obama’s voters are not necessarily Democrat voters. There’s a lot of overlap, but the Venn circles do not perfectly mesh. It’s more like a three-note chord, played by Obama, the Democrats, and the Mainstream Media — on a piano that can only be played in presidential election years. (Weird piano, eh?)
From begins his political recommendations saying that “The cornerstones of our retooled message must be economic growth and government reform.”
The question is whether voters will be willing to trust the party which choked off the recovery and weaponized the IRS, with future growth and meaningful reform.