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Forget winning and go for a blue wave

by Eric Ferguson on June 28, 2016

Update: sorry about comments being closed. I don’t know how that happened, and no one has been able to figure it out how to enable them. I’ll just say our CMS system is very much not my favorite.
Hillary Clinton brushing her sleeve at Benghazi hearingIn this article on how the presidential election looks state by state, they spent a lot of pixels on Pennsylvania and Florida. There’s good reason, since Pennsylvania might be drifting right and Florida left. This perennial swing state Pennsylvania becoming friendlier for Republicans, and polling Hillary and Trump evenly is a legitimate story, as is Florida giving Hillary maybe they first sizable lead any presidential candidate has had there since the days of the “solid South”, but it’s also story of just two states. They buried the lead a bit. Sort of … they did put Pennsylvania and Florida in the title, but it seems the movement of two states isn’t the big story. This seems like the big story: they project Hillary has 279 electoral votes after they moved Florida to lean D and Pennsylvania to toss up, which means,

A presidential candidate needs 270 Electoral Votes to become president. In other words, if Clinton wins just the states leaning in her direction, she would be president without needing any of the toss up states — Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio or Pennsylvania.

That’s not just a win. That’s a wave. The predictable caveats apply, like it’s still June and the election is months away. Anything could happen and some things will. We don’t know the effect of the voter suppression laws a bunch of Republican state governments have put in place since 2012. Maybe Trump is as smart as he claims to be and loads of new voters will be coming out to for him. Maybe the polls are grossly wrong and he’s really way ahead. Maybe Mexicans and Muslims really do love him. Nah, I don’t buy those last three either.
Different analysts might come up with different results on a state or two, but essentially, they all come up with the same result: Hillary is winning without even winning the toss up states, let alone flipping any light red states. Not only that, but some red states are looking a light shade of red. No, I’m not buying the close vote in Utah, and even Arizona and Georgia are likely to revert to their mean and come around to Trump, but the fact we’re even this conversation means we could be looking at a wave.
Not that a blowout is a wave. A big win for Hillary doesn’t necessarily entail coattails for downballot candidates to hang on to — but it could. It will be no surprise I’m happy to hear, given my plea for Hillary to compete for winnable congressional seats in this non-competitve state of mine, that she’s pursuing a 50-state strategy. It’s the same thing Howard Dean was pursuing when he chaired the DNC, and he’s working with Hillary on this.

The bad news is that before all Democrats figured out the #TrumpEffect was ripping apart the Republican Party (assuming all Democrats have figured it out yet, and if they haven’t, well, I guess there are slow people even in our party), a bunch of filing deadlines passed. Bunches of vulnerable Republicans have the good fortune of facing no Democratic opponent. Roughly 35-40% of state legislative candidates have no opponent in the general election. This hasn’t happened just in districts safe for the other party, but even in winnable districts, since some potential candidates don’t want to run when they would be stuck in the minority if they do win.
The good news is the person who most needs convincing is the presidential candidate, and she’s convinced.
So the right response for Democrats is to go hard at it, right though the election, regardless of the polls. Pleas to ignore the polls and not take anything for granted will get hollow late in the campaign if Hillary still has over 270 electoral votes just from blue states, and the toss ups are gravy, but tell the Democrats who think it’s over that we don’t merely have a chance for a win — we have a chance for a blowout, which means a big smacking down for the ignorant nativism Trump represents, without the close result that would let them tell themselves the election was stolen. They’re only proof it was stolen will be that a Democrat won, but that’s all the proof they ever have or want.
Yet more than that, a blowout turns into a wave if we try in every down ballot race. “Wave” doesn’t mean “blowout”, it means a bunch of wins. What happens in a wave isn’t that one side wins big, but that one side wins almost every close race. A 50-state strategy, meaning an effort everywhere to find out where we’re unexpectedly close, can mean more close races that expected. That’s what we had in 2006 and 2008, when Dean’s 50-state strategy was in effect. That’s what Republicans had in their waves in 2010 and 2014: not a blowout win, but almost all narrow wins going to the same party.
Yet for all that, when you’re trying to get yourself enthused, or you’re the one recruiting volunteers, you might not need the whole explanation of what a “wave” is. Winning generates enthusiasm. Losing dampens it. Maybe it’s the bandwagon effect, or reverse bandwagon effect. Maybe people who join at the end think they were along for the whole ride, and those who jump off feel they dodged responsibility for the disaster. So when the “close election” appeal feels dishonest, then point out that no, this isn’t a close election. We’re giving Trump a thorough drubbing, and the more we turnout, the more we make Republicans regret nominating the likes of Trump — and win a bunch of elections for state legislatures, etc.
So we can narrowly hang on to the presidency, or we can make so non-introspective a bunch as modern conservatives have a good hard think about how they fell for Trump and all that he stands for.
Well, I suppose you could take “blue wave” literally:

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