Tags: midterms | democrats | republicans | turnout

Democratic Intensity Waning Ahead of 2018 Midterms

Democratic Intensity Waning Ahead of 2018 Midterms

By Monday, 12 February 2018 05:46 PM Current | Bio | Archive

There is a lot of speculation about what to look forward to at the polls in November. There are many factors involved. Let me try to lay out the fight as it is shaping up.

First, rules for a win.

Elections are won by getting yours out and keeping the other guy’s home. The “middle of the road voter” is largely a myth. Elections are won and lost on turnout. Getting yours to the events and eventually to the polls and demoralizing the other guy’s voters so a portion of them skip it entirely is the only true path to victory.

Both parties pay homage to this axiom but in different ways. Predictably, Republicans tend to be more decentralized and horizontal in focus and Democrats tend to be more centralized and vertical in focus. This is largely a dynamic formed years ago in the rural v. urban environment but still holds true today. In either a rural or urban race, there are three main factors making-up the victory (and the defeat).

Intensity is the first key factor. Intensity measures the degree to which the people will reliably show up in significant numbers.

Intensity is measured by the degree to which the faithful will “show up.” Showing up is more than pounding the key board, tweeting with Kathy Griffin, yelling at the TV set or calling your friends, and telling them “what for.” It is actually getting up, putting on your coat and going out to the rallies, meetings and polls. It is rarer than you think and very hard to generate (or control).

Organization is the second key factor. Both parties work to engage the best and the brightest leaders at hand and use them to direct and to develop their assigned areas. “People leading people” is the cornerstone of all political organizational efforts and is what brings the vote out. In years past, candidates really needed to overcome this hurdle themselves. But today, the party takes a huge role — even to the point of taking over campaigns at the congressional level (sometimes even involuntarily).

“Resources” is the last key factor. “Resources” can be many things like “in kind” contributions, coordinated spending activities, material donations, volunteerism, etc. But, generally, we are talking about money. Money is the mother’s milk of politics. How much you got, how much you can get, and how much you are willing to borrow is often the difference between success and failure.

While all candidates want all the money that they can get, a candidate really only needs “just enough.” What that “just enough” actually is depends on the other factors. For example in the last presidential election, Donald Trump demonstrated that “just enough” was considerably less of an amount than what others would have ordinarily believed possible.

Assuming a sufficient minimum of each of these factors, victory is a broad compilation of these three things adding-up to a specific quantity where the victor’s total measures more than the loser’s total.

Where we are:

Intensity is close to a draw trending to the right. Democrats have had an incredibly intense year built on all kinds of hate spewed through every medium available to them. Sadly, I believe that they have peaked too soon and are on the wane.

The Democrat exaggerations (and outright lies) told about the president and the Republicans generally were long supported by the remnants of the #NeverTrumpers thus giving them credibility, form, and substance. These particular Republicans are all but gone now (Jeff Flake, Anna Navarro, and the National Review notwithstanding). This leaves the legacy media on their own to argue with Trump Republicans instead of finding Rs willing to attack the president. This dynamic helps to cool the Democratic tempers and adds to the Republican interest.

Trump is proving to be competent, successful, capable, and even right in his most outrageous tweets past and present. This was a process which predictably and necessarily took some time. Reagan had to go through it and so did Obama. Every sea change has its painful period of adjustment. It is almost over. The Party belongs to Trump and the Republicans will win or lose with him at the head of the ticket.

With this consolidation and the roaring success of the tax bill (hopelessly over criticized by the Democrats and their fellow travelers in the legacy media), the Republican intensity founded in confidence is growing and the Democrat intensity founded in outrage is waning. The Trump rallies are as yuuuuugly populated as ever and the Democrat rallies, though still very well attended, lack cohesion beyond hatred for President Trump. As his approval ratings rise (as they are rising now) this hate-based intensity will dissipate. Even if this is only a small change, it will make a big difference.

The organization factor is also close to a draw. The Democrats and the Republicans alike have met and will continue to meet significant challenges but, to date and fairly said, the Democrats have outperformed in this area. In big races (congressional seats) the parties have pretty much worked to a draw. However in the down-ballot races, the national Democrats are turning out great organizational achievements. Virginia and New Jersey are testaments to organizational victories as much as poor candidates, bad maps, and internal Republican stress can be blamed.

Democrats will continue to organizationally excel so long as they have the resources to make it happen. The leftover Obama organization simply kicked-butt in Virginia and it is available all over the country. Sadly, when there is more than one race or state at a time, that organization will be overly dependent on resources. That factor is less important for Republicans and their more decentralized way of organizing but resources will factor in organizational success on both sides — importantly for the Republicans and decisively for the Democrats.

Thus, the final factor, resources. Simply put, the Democrats are broke and the Republicans are flush. The Republicans out-raised the Democrats two to one last year after coming into the year in much better shape than the Democrats were to begin with. Hillary bankrupted the Democrats and they are only now seeing the light; finally expecting their first quarter in the black since 2016. The Republicans have tens of millions on hand and will continue to raise money hand over fist through the election.

Outside money is ready as well. The Koch Bros and the Soros groups are ready to spend, spend, and spend some more but it cannot be coordinated with the parties so there is more than a little dissipation of funds wasted on missed messaging.

Today, it looks like the Democrats will have insufficient money to organize over a hundred U.S. House races that they boast they will be running — all while defending over twice as many U.S. Senate seats as the Republicans will be defending.

My Conclusion:

The map looks marginally good for national Republicans as do their “resources.” Republican organizational challenges are still daunting, but the stresses in the Republican Party over the past year account for many of the weaknesses in organization. The Republicans are healing effectively and growing stronger. Republican intensity is on the rise.

Without money to water it, the garden of the Obama organization will die on the vine — powerful though it is. To be competitive in the fall, the Democrats have to raise more “resources” to better play their strengths — and they will need to do it now. If they can do this quickly, they will be formidable. Their intensity is waning but could be rekindled quickly with a message of hope replacing the “Trump rant” that possesses them currently.

If I had to pick today, my net-net results would be: Senate +3 Rs; House +5-10 Ds; and, a very good year for Democrats at the state houses. I will do this again each quarter until we get there.

Michael Patrick Flanagan represented the 5th District of Illinois in the historic 104th Congress. Prior to his Congressional Service, Michael was commissioned in the United States Army Field Artillery. Michael and his firm, Flanagan Consulting LLC, have represented both large and small corporations, organizations, and associations. In 2009, Michael entered public service again with the United States Department of State in Iraq as the Senior Rule of Law Advisor on the Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Maysan, Iraq. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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There is a lot of speculation about what to look forward to at the polls in November. There are many factors involved. Let me try to lay out the fight as it is shaping up.
midterms, democrats, republicans, turnout
Monday, 12 February 2018 05:46 PM
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