Do we mobilize the base or build bridges to moderate leaning conservatives who are appalled by the tone of Donald Trump, as a winning strategy in 2020?
Three days ago Politico asked Did Beto Below it? foreshadowing his lose and second guessing the strategy that plowed his $70 million in campaign funds–raised from the grassroots across the US–into tactics to motivate the left base, at the expense of resources and messaging that would appeal to the moderate leaning conservatives that don’t like the unlikeable Ted Cruz. Had the Beto campaign found 150,000 voters (out of 4.2 million Cruz voters) to vote for him with messages that were less blistering than Medicare for All and other issues that fire up the base, Beto would be Senator-elect today.
Florida’s Governor’s race is another disappointing result. Granted Gillum, like Beto, fired up many people who would not have voted in this midterm and Gillum made the Senate race competitive for the Democrats. But in the end, the “firing up the base” fell short in Florida. Again, had only 50,000 moderate conservatives been persuaded with a bit more of a centralist message (not centralists policy, but message) Gillum could have been Governor.
Now contrast this with the many Democratic victories in the House. The college educated suburban women voted for Democrats with a strong message about health care and other bread and butter issues. They may have even voted for a Democrat that was a veteran. This critical group of disenchanted Republicans voted for and provided the winning margin for Democrats with a more moderate tone, in contrast to the fire and brimstone rhetoric.
So looking ahead to the 2020 Presidential race (John Kasich will be up in New Hampshire next week) and there will be plenty of Democratic candidates to choose from. Like the GOP field in 2016, there will be so many of them, that they will be bunched in lanes: The “base” candidates like Warren, Sanders or Tom Steyer the center lane candidates like Bloomberg and Delaney (who?) and the billionaires Bloomberg or Steyer (they can buy more than one lane). As author of the post, “If you Wrestle with a Pig” I am not a fan of nominating someone who wants to out insult the undisputed insult king in the world, when it come to tone. I’ll be looking for someone that can speak to the Democratic base passionately, without alienating the significant slice of Trump voters who aren’t racists and are disturbed by the rhetoric and actions of Trump. But won’t support a Democrat whose tone cuts them the wrong way.
So what do you say…do we need a candidate that fires up the base, or one that tries to build a bridge in 202?