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What Progressive Groups Are Doing at the Last Minute to Turn the Election Around — Is It Enough?

November 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Progressives are determined not to repeat the mistakes of 2010's Tea Party rout.

The months leading up to the 2014 midterm election could not be more different than the same period four years ago—when the Tea Party peaked as a wave of older, whiter and wealthier voters turned out while the coalition that elected Barack Obama stayed home.

Whether or not Democrats hold onto their U.S. Senate majority (and the final votes for that might not be tallied until early January if there are senatorial runoffs as many experts expect), what’s clear about this election is that Democrats and progressives have tried to break the old script that says a president’s party always loses badly in a midterm year.

They have done that not just by bombarding the airwaves in battleground states, but also by clogging the online platforms used by anybody political marketing experts think are likely voters. Every successive national election cycle breaks the previous spending record and 2014 is no exception. But what’s different this year is where the messaging has occurred, especially a shift to online media. And the messages themselves are a bit different, in that many are not designed to poll well, but to provoke people to vote.

“They do have more information now,” said Travis N. Ridout, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which analyzes campaign ad trends. “Part of it is the political parties and outside groups are devoting more to mobilization than they did in the past. They figured out in 2012 that just airing more and more ads in Ohio doesn’t cut it. We know from scientific experiments that you’ve got to work the mobilization side too.” 

In 2010, the Democratic Party largely sat on its hands and expected the coalition that first elected President Barack Obama to show up. It didn’t. Young voters, people from communities of color, and women largely stayed home, disappointed that the federal government didn’t do more to end an economic downturn. Meanwhile, whiter and wealthier Tea Partiers came out and helped the GOP win a U.S. House majority.

Today, there have been deliberate efforts …read more


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