OK, so I've had more time to process what happened. And I had a chance to talk with my old Cali friends at Netroots California last Saturday. And I came out surprisingly hopeful about our future.
While we did have some rough losses in Nevada, overall the picture here was much brighter than the rest of the country. Come on, all the incumbent statewide elected Democrats are reelected while Harry Reid won by over 5.6%! Reid outperformed almost all the public polls. What happened? How come "The Great Red Tide" that destroyed many Dems in many states east of The Rockies was barely a ripple here?
Basically, it comes down to what Harry Reid and Nevada Democrats did right. They invested in getting out the vote. They made our progressive message clear and concise AND accessible to regular voters. And they reached out to minority communities and actually IMPROVED Latin@ turnout over 2006 AND 2008!
It really comes down to this. Even in "wave elections", "the wave" doesn't have to be a monstrous tsunami. Good campaigns still matter. Good field still matters. And good messaging still matters. Harry Reid made all this happen and more.
Ralston explained this on Sunday.
The Reid organization’s Terminator-like single-mindedness, relentlessness and discipline turned preparation into the most satisfying victory of Reid’s career, a resurrection unthinkable most of the year by the Beltway cognoscenti. Combined with an Angle campaign that was thoroughly unprepared for the post-primary onslaught — think of a Little League batter facing Roy Halladay — that by the time the GOP nominee brought in some D.C. pros, the damage was insurmountable.
Interestingly, a similar dynamic appeared in California last Tuesday. More Latin@ voters turned out than ever before. And while Jerry Brown's campaign (for CA Governor) didn't exactly "strike while the iron was hot" on delivering his message or attacking Meg Whitman's record, California unions did. And they delivered, big time!
And Barbara Boxer followed a very similar strategy to Reid's in defining Carly Fiorina early as quite the unacceptable choice, delivering a progressive message in a practical way to attract voters (Hint: Make it real. Make it tangible. Make it about one's pocketbook/wallet/purse.), and turning out Dem voters like crazy.
Again, it comes down to whether Democrats can field good candidates, deliver a good message, and turn out as many allied voters as possible. It worked in California and Nevada... But because the national Democratic groups failed in these categories and many other state parties were in turmoil, that's why the results were so bad elsewhere.
Why didn't other Senate candidates try to turn health care reform and good climate policy into winning arguments? Why didn't other state parties invest more in good GOTV infrastructure? Why didn't the DCCC and DSCC take a closer look at the winning arguments being made by Reid and Boxer?
That's the challenge moving forward. President Obama needs to rethink his messaging. Democrats need to work harder on showing how good progressive policy means more and better jobs. And Democrats nationally need to look at places like Nevada and California to learn how to rebuild good, strong GOTV infrastructure. And if Obama can turn his numbers around and offer a strong and appealing progressive message that reveals the crap the GOP is truly offering and explains how to truly get our nation back on track, he can win handily again and Democrats can soon retake the House and keep the Senate.
It really comes down to that. Oh, and I had a great time in SF...
Then I had the joy of doing Roots Camp here in Las Vegas with many of the great progressive friends I've met along the campaign trail over the last six months.
And in these last few days, I've been able to think some more about what to do moving forward. In the next few days I'll be writing more about federal legislation, but tonight I want to talk about the state of our state.
So how is the state of our state?
Do you really need me to tell you?
That's what I thought.
Now I won't candy coat things. We're facing as much as a $3 billion deficit, and many corporate "powers that be" in this state are already telling lawmakers that the solution lies in more cuts. Yes, you heard me correctly. Even more devastating budget cuts are on the table.
Have you faced extraordinarily long lines at the DMV? Have your classes at UNLV and/or CSN been cut? Are your neighborhood parks in complete disrepair... Or even worse, closed? And are your neighborhood's roads in shambles?
This is our community here. This is our state. This is our life. This is our future.
Right now, Nevada is at a crossroads. For far too long, our Legislature has postponed so many critical decisions regarding the badly needed infrastructure our state needs and how to fund the basic services we all rely upon.
And yes, we all rely upon such essentials as schools, roads, and parks. And I'm sure you have your own horror stories of what's happened to them thanks to all the state and local budget cuts... Or perhaps these stories have happy endings, thanks to the much needed funds from the Recovery Act coming to our rescue.
So do I. And so do many of the people I talked to on Saturday. And in the coming days, I'll be talking more about the stories we all need to share. Since the corporate right will be speaking up plenty in the next few months about how such profit making clients like Wal-Mart and Kroger simply can't afford to simply pay their fair share of taxes like all the rest of us do, we need to respond by raising our voices.
We need to speak up if we want to save our state.