I don't think these elections are necessarily indicative of the future of the Democratic Party for 2010. I do think that the lesson it draws is that people need a reason to vote. One of the frustrating things about writing on the Internet is that if you read a lot on the Internet you can always find someone who can phrase things better than you.
I think that Chris Bowers and Markos from the Daily Kos summed it up best.
The Bowers take is that it's basically the economy, stupid. 10 percent unemployment won't cut it in 2010 or 2012.
If the unemployment rate was rapidly dropping, real income was increasing, and health care was more affordable, does anyone really think Democrats would be facing any electoral worries whatsoever? The biggest flaw in the post-election spin is the tendency of politicians and pundits to consider most swing voters ideologically-driven news junkies, instead of the results-oriented, low-information participants in the political process that they are...When most voters believe their lives are getting better, then the party in power will benefit politically. Ideological abstractions about the size of government or appealing to the base don't matter quite as much. It really is, as Mike argued yesterday, about delivering the goods. I happen believe that progressive-left policies are the best way to make most people's lives better. Even if you disagree with that assessment, the smart post-election political argument for a governing party should be about what policies they can pass that will improve people's lives, not about how to appeal to voters on a more abstract level.
Markos sums up the situation this way:
Motivate the base
Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 11:10:12 AM PST
If I sound like a broken record, it's because the obvious lesson from Tuesday's elections is being lost on way too many people:
If you want Democrats to turn out and vote for you next year, start delivering on the 2006 and 2008 campaign promises. If you don't, Democrats will stay home. It's that simple.
There are, at best, even in the most conservative districts, only a handful of Democrats in the House that can survive reelection without Democratic support. The lower the Democratic turnout, the more Democratic casualties we'll have next year, and those losses will be inordinately high among Blue Dog and New Democrats. So really, it's in their best interest to see the Democrats succeed in Congress. Sure, it might p__s off their corporate benefactors, but corporate benefactors don't vote.
Conservadem logic is actually kind of funny:
Do nothing this year, so they can get reelected
So they can do nothing again next cycle, so they can be reelected
So they can stick around to name post offices and issue "National Bratwurst Day" proclamations
Luckily, there are Democrats who have figured out what really happened on Tuesday.
Blaming election setbacks on a drop in voter enthusiasm, Congressional Democrats said Wednesday that losses in governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey — and a striking House win in New York — should give new urgency to their legislative agenda, including a sweeping health care overhaul.
As they assessed the results, Democratic lawmakers and party strategists said their judgment was that voters remained very uneasy about the economy and did not see Democrats producing on the health, energy and national security changes they promised when voters swept them to power only a year ago.
"Most of us ran on that," said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia and president of the party’s freshman class. "We must deliver. I need to give Democrats something to be excited about."
And while conservatives may not like it, the two races that centered on federal issues -- the two federal races -- were won by you-know-who.
While not discounting the Republican wins in Virginia and New Jersey, Democrats said the New York and California House races were the only contests that centered on Congressional issues and Democrats won both despite months of Republican attacks on the legislative priorities of President Obama and Congressional Democrats.
"The governors of Virginia and New Jersey don’t have a vote on the Obama agenda," said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Again: give Democratic voters a reason to turn out, and they will. Abandon the Democratic agenda, and they won't. And if you lose because you quit on the party and the nation? We'll cheer.
I would only disagree with that last statement. I don't think the country can handle another four years of republican rule.