Nancy Pelosi continues to live in her own cozy world. The House Minority Leader faces her Democratic caucus in the 114th Congress with depleted ranks and depleted confidence, but she hasn’t learned much. She tells Politico, the Capitol Hill daily, that the blowout on Nov. 4 was “no wave of approval for the Republicans,” and there was no rejection of her party.
Mrs. Pelosi has replaced Cleopatra as the queen of denial, and her court joins her in misdiagnosing the illness in the Democratic ranks. Many insist that the party’s agenda, listing even farther left, is just what the American people want. It needs only fine tuning. The party’s candidates — just not those thrown out a fortnight ago — must do a better job of “getting our message out.”
“The Democrats need a stronger message for the middle class and to people who aspire to the middle class,” Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who can be thankful he wasn’t running this year, told The Washington Post. “They haven’t reached voters with that message. It wasn’t said emphatically enough or, for whatever reasons, persuasively enough.”
Edward G. Rendell, the party chairman from 1999 to 2001, blames it on the Democrats’ lack of a national brand. “The Republicans have a very good, simple national brand message, that they’re for less government, less regulation and less taxes,” he told The Hill, the Capitol Hill journal. What he didn’t say was that the Democratic “national brand” is the opposite of that — more government, more regulation and more taxes. That’s a tough sell even for the slickest of messengers. “We’re not doing a very good job of getting our message across to the people,” Mr. Rendell says.
The “we didn’t get our message out” meme was the consensus at an invitation-only gathering of the Democracy Alliance, a network of wealthy liberal donors who have given millions to an array of left-wing think tanks and advocacy groups and got a miserable return on their money. Amid the “could have, would have, should haves” offered last week they faulted the party for failing to deliver a “full-throated” message of economic populism, and for failing to properly credit President Obama for improving employment numbers and a growing economy.
“There’s a strong sense that we weren’t full-throated enough about jobs and the economy, both in talking about accomplishments and what we need to do,” one participant at the gathering, speaking off the record, said. The White House didn’t offer a compelling argument that everything has, too, improved on Mr. Obama’s watch.
These Democrats posed a simple question: “Who do you believe — us, or your lying eyes?” They just don’t like the simple answer. Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber says the American people are stupid. They were smart enough to see through the phony claims of an official jobless rate under 6 percent, of a resurgent economy, and of the many broken promises of Obamacare, chief among them that it will lower the cost of health care. That’s why the exit polls of Nov. 4 revealed that the voters who worry about the direction of the economy broke for the Republicans by a stunning 18 points.
Only the delusional can believe that losing eight Senate seats (soon likely to be nine) and at least a dozen seats in the House is a result of “messaging failure.” New Coke didn’t catch on but not because the marketing executives at Coca-Cola sent the wrong message. Nobody liked the taste of the new recipe. That’s the message that every marketing maven should take to heart.
What’s clear is that the Democrats got their message out, full-throat and all, and the voters heard it and didn’t like what they heard. They said so loud and very clear. If the party leaders have learned anything they are keeping it well hidden. Harry Reid, the Senate leader, and Mrs. Pelosi have been chosen to continue to lead the party, and they’re looking for another cliff. They saw on Nov. 4 where that leads.
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