Progressive Wins And Democrats’ Losses: Who And What Are To Blame?

This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis. We will run a series of articles in the coming days on progressive victories that came out of the 2020 election at the state and local level. 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

The idiots who voted for trump are to blame, and the slimeballs who lied to those idiots.


I’m not a landing-page Nazi, but I’ll say it here: the column deserves a better and far less click-baiting headline.

C’mon, y’all–DO BETTER.


Must we?


That’s right media, gin up those Democratic divisions!

One thing’s clear for sure, though. Trump’s to blame for Trump’s losses.


What a load of horse shit. If it was “voter supression” why the hell did Biden run 2-3% better in swing districts than the democrats (who got tagged with the “socalist” and “defund the police” and in Texas “defund ICE” tags…)? Did they suppress the votes for the house, but not the presidency?

Get real, learn some math.

P.s. and I was yelling about Kara Eastman running on a “progressive” agenda of medicid for all and green new deal in 2018 in NE-2. While Democrats romped in similar districts in 2018, she lost 51 to 49.

This year, Biden won 56.4% of the vote in NE-2 (Metro Omaha), the “progressive” Eastman? She got 46.2% of the vote, and the R got 50.9% of the vote.

progressives did not win a single, not ONE, election this year not in a safe seat. And at last 6 seats were lost, and arguably more, due to very successful anti-progressive messaging.

But hey, live in your fantasy world, republicans really appreciate the assist. The ideas that got folks elected in +30D districts are electoral poison in swing districts, particularly the suburban districts Democrats need for a majority.


I live in one of those swing districts that should have kicked out its Republican finger-alwys-in-the-wind-but-in-a pinch-never-let-down-Trump rep, but instead he won 57% of the vote. His challenger was anything but progressive, but we were papered with mailings pinning on her “defund-the-police” memo pasted on pictures of burning cities. The district is spread out, making door-to-door hard in non-Covid times, and nearly impossible this time. The lesson of this election for Democrats is centrism is the new left, like it or not. Goals like good public education (as opposed to massive amounts of funds for religious and charter schools that benefit those who run them and qualify their kids for sub-par college educations), law enforcement reform (it is absolutely maddening that in nearby Philadelphia, which has had three black police chiefs over the last twenty years, still has not completed a 15 year old plan to train and equip every police officer with a taser so that every confrontation does not have to end in a shooting, and its solution rate on showings in now only 16%). Republicans here too believe in basic environmental goals— many of them are drinking bottled water because of pollution from two military bases. OAC and the Squad— do what you have to do to win your districts, but like Jim Cliburn implores, don’t get in the way of the rest of us who want to win ours.


Lots of corporate democrats had a massive fail. They lacked any coherent message, and were thus vulnerable to ridiculous “socialists”/“defund the police” attacks. That isn’t the fault of progressives. Progressives SAVED the election for Biden by turning out in droves where they are strongest.

Part of the problem was that Biden simply failed to project strength. His campaign was way too passive – far too reliant on a message that consisted of “I’m not a jerk like Trump” to have any of the “coattails” a better candidate would have had. It attracted a lot of highly educated voters, especially women. But it did nothing for the less educuated people who vote with their guts. Those people want leadership in their President, and they define leadership as aggression when there is danger at hand…


What the progressives need to prove is that they can win where they shouldn’t be capable. They need to focus locally and state level. Pull off victories in other locals and build a base that can eventually redefine the narrative.

AOC, the squad, they’re great to their communities and some fans across the land. But they are still firmly in the fringe of what passes as an acceptable/winning brand outside their own constituencies.

Stop the naming and shaming of your own brand. Focus, build internally and expand your message locally. Make your tree grow.

It’s a long haul. But that’s what it takes to redefine politics.


I am not going to blame progressives and I am not going to blame moderates. I am going to blame the Democratic establishment. I don’t use the word party because it really isn’t a party. It doesn’t have a coherent message that is easy to understand and repeat. The progressives have the closest to a coherent easily understood popular message, and that is why they are tarred by Republicans at every turn. Republicans can’t let progressives be heard. If they do people will realize that they are really asking “why can’t we regular Americans have nice things?”

Democrats need figure out what it means to be a Democrat and then they need to sell the hell out of the message they come up with.


By the way I am not sure American democracy didn’t die in Detroit tonight. That is a real story that might have real consequences.

The founding fathers did not create the electoral college because they didn’t trust the popular vote. They created it as a accommodation to allow slavery to continue in the South. It was a way of counting enslaved people as part of the population while they were enslaved but not allowed to vote. If they hadn’t the population of the North would have been much larger than the South even though they were equal if enslaved peoples were counted. We have the words of James Madison explaining their purpose.


The story I want to know is how and where the gop found all those extra voters this time around.

While clear eyed examination is necessary I think 2020 is an anomaly

It may be a mistake to conclude too much from it.

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79 Million votes and counting…


IKR, what the hell…

being deliberately obtuse isn’t the same as making an actual point.


Yes, if we want to operate purposefully in the real world as a reasonably coherent and efficacious political and governing entity.

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While confronting voter suppression is an important part of the ongoing battle, it is not the only one or even the most important. Mediocre leadership, an inconsistent message and poor campaigning are just as problematic for Dems. Lefty cultural messages just don’t resonate the way lefties think they should in purple areas.


The problem is you put up a candidate that had been demonized since the 70s in the form of HRC, and refused to even address the issue other than to wave it off. The problem is corporate democrats have historically been nanny state, getting in bed with local police, for example, to restrict cannabis, fire works, and any questionable computer games. People don’t forget this stuff. The problem is you are putting up old school, old politics candidates, that were too old to run a decade ago. The problem is you let the other side dictate the terms of the ‘fill in the blank’, because you are too conservative to take even the slightest political risk. I can go on if you’d like.