From Red 2 Blue: Doug Jones Wins in Alabama

How Democrats can win elections even in the most red state

It has been a long and bizarre special election for U.S. Senate in Alabama and it finally came to a close on Tuesday. Once a long shot, Doug Jones, a Democratic former prosecutor turns Alabama from red to blue by defeating Republican and former Judge Roy Moore.

Even amidst the allegations against Roy Moore, Moore was still the favorite going into Tuesday’s election according to the polls, but Jones was just a normal polling error away from winning.

Alabama is a deeply red State that carried President Trump by 28 percentage points in 2016. So normally this race really shouldn’t be as close or as competitive as it was. But Judge Moore, however, was an extremely divisive figure in Alabama politics before his campaign began.

Moore was already significantly underperforming compared to Trump’s margin in polls before The Washington Post first reported on Nov. 9, that Moore had been accused of sexual misconduct. Since then the polls swung in favor of Jones and then back to Moore.

The obvious flaws in candidate Moore help narrow the small margin Moore had over Jones. But now Doug Jones is Alabama’s first Democratic Senator in 25 years! So how did Doug Jones rally the Democratic base in Alabama and extend a torch to disenfranchised Republicans?

Messaging & Communication

Although the demographics of Alabama favored the Republican candidate, Jones’ campaign strategy targeted specific groups which would give him the required momentum to push him across the finish line. His campaign focused on African-American voters with a rigorous get out the vote effort and appealed to educated white voters to turn their backs on the Republican Party and Moore.

We saw a similar strategy used in Virginia last month, but appealing to disenfranchised Republican voters is different in Alabama than Virginia. Trump is extremely popular in Alabama, he won by the largest margin since Reagan. But Jones’ path to victory lied in the suburbs as Republicans and Trump have a serious suburban problem. Doug Jones’ campaign targeted this group heavily just like we saw in Virginia and was able to get affluent whites which would be normal GOP voters to abandon Moore and the Republican Party.

GOTV Efforts

The Doug Jones campaign relied heavily on a huge get out the vote effort and also energizing the Democratic base in Alabama. This momentum was mostly propelled by progressive and African-Americans voters who have been long-waiting for a revolutionary like change in the divisive brand of Politics that has flourished in Alabama. According to CBS News Exit Poll, Doug Jones was able to get 96% of the African American vote and 98% of the democratic vote. This is exactly what getting out the vote looks like and this is what Doug Jones needed to do to win. In addition Doug Jones turned out 51% of independents, 60% of young voters, 57% of women and 8% of Republicans flipped their vote from Moore to Jones. Getting 8% of Republicans to switch their vote from party affiliation is daunting especially in a racially and politically polarized state like Alabama. But this will become a focal point going into 2018 for Democrats and there will be low hanging fruit for them because of the GOP party and the candidates they allow to run on their platform.

Ridiculous Candidates

One huge issue for Republicans is they are suffocating themselves by their own devisiveness. The constant use of fear & hate-mongering and overall craziness of some of their candidates is slowly pushing moderates away from their party and into the arms of the Democratic party. For example, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), a long-time GOP darling had a gem a while back which was a typical Republican talking point. Why should men pay for prenatal coverage when they cannot become pregnant, I think Rep. Shimkus forgot how babies were made. Or when Rep. Shimkus said global warming isn't something to worry about because God said he wouldn't destroy the Earth after Noah's flood. And some in the GOP like to take it even further, Texas Rep. Randy Weber once compared Obama to Hitler. These types of crazy actions and insane behavior are not only allowed in the Republican party but are encouraged by the Republican leadership. These members don’t get scolded for their actions or outbursts in fact they get encouraged by the small percentage of their base and the top leaders among their party for fueling a politically polarizing environment.

While the GOP was able to amass just enough to claim victory in 2016 they will lose in the long run for allowing candidates to run on their platform who are overtly racists, misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic. Democrats need to seize this opportunity to be inclusive to EVERYONE of any group and take a hard stance on being the party of morals and values where the GOP seems to continuously fall short.

The blue wave is building and it is gaining more & more momentum everyday. Now is the time for Democrats to tap into the political energy and revitalize the base and the party. There has never been a better time to run for office as a Democrat. We are seeing long-shot candidates win in the most red states and this is just the first of many red states that will turn blue in 2018.

Democrats looking to win big in 2018, winning starts early.

On election day last year many Americans weren’t prepared or foresaw the eventual results of the Democratic party imploding on itself. There we were beckoning in a new era of GOP control and a businessman turned reality star as our next President. Once the dust had settled we were left with President Trump, GOP controlled Legislature, 33 Republican Governors and 32 state Legislatures (both chambers).

Fast forward one year to Wednesday morning the day after Election Day 2017 and Republicans are waking up in total shock that they got destroyed in the first round leading to 2018. Republican strategist, consultants and candidates should worry for their future and what 2018 will hold.

Just as many Republicans benefited from Donald Trump’s rise in popularity and Presidential victory, they are now feeling the fallout. With an approval rating that hovers around 38%, it is hard for Republican candidate to distant themselves from President Trump or completely fall in line. While Trump’s overall approval rating is very low for a new President, he is still polling well within his base, around 85% approval. Republican candidates are stuck between a rock and hard place, Ed Gillespie is a perfect example of this.

Ed Gillespie just lost the Governorship of Virginia to Democrat Ralph Northam. Ed Gillespie’s campaign is a perfect example of the conundrum that Republicans will face running in 2018. He specifically chose to mimic a Trump style campaign that played into divisiveness and cultural hot buttons. Then after he lost his race by 9 points, Trump thumbed out a tweet which said “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for.”

So Republicans are going to have hard decisions in 2018, either fall in line 100% with President Trump or veer-off course and risk rejection by their base and Twitter mentions from the President. Either way Republican candidates are going to have a difficult time walking that fine line. The times being what they are, this is the Democrats’ opportunity to take advantage of a splintering Republican party. Thankfully Democrats are in great position and extremely optimistic going into 2018.

There are plenty of large and small victories Democrats can take away from this first win, but the two biggest lessons center on messaging and technology. Dems thinking of running in 2018 or wanting to win in 2018 need to hone their communication strategy and double down on technology usage in their campaigns. The political environment is perfect for Democrats to run in 2018 and should further clear the path for 2020.

People interested in running should read the results from last week like a giant “You’re Invited” card.  Now is a great time to run and join the Progressive Democratic party. The results from last Tuesday indicate growing support for Americans candidates that tout progressive policies and ideas. The best example of this is voters overwhelming pass to expand access to medicaid under the Affordable Care act, making the state the first in the nation to settle the issue by referendum. Democrats should be taking advantage of this and healthcare should be front and center in their platform for 2018.

Dems should be jumping for joy over the results in Maine with Medicaid Expansion passing by 17 points! The political environment has Republican lawmakers in a pinch. A large percent of their base and top donors demand that they repeal the Affordable Care Act, but a large majority of the country demands they don’t. If Republicans go too far in any direction they risk alienating party activists or they mobilize swing voters against them. Either way this is just another peril which will befall all GOP candidates in next year’s midterm election. And one of the many policies Democrats should be leveraging for their 2018 platform.

The art of communication is the language of leadership.
— James C. Humes

When it comes to issues or policies, Dems are on the same side as the public, and they should be leveraging this and communicating more effectively! To do this, Democrats need to embrace technology and use it to their advantage in 2018 and forward.

Don’t be swayed by the results from the 2016 election, Democrats are making huge strides against the GOP at all levels. In Virginia, House Delegate candidate Danica Roem, a transgendered women, defeated 26 year GOP incumbent Bob Marshall who ironically co-sponsored a failed “bathroom bill”. Roem campaigned on infrastructure projects and job creation in Virginia.

According to Politico, Ed Gillespie spent over $4 million on television ads alone in the Virginia gubernatorial race. In the digital age, why are campaigns still spending this much money on TV when we know these ads don’t equate to votes?

Democrats need to lead the way not only in government and policy but in adapting and embracing technology that’s more targeted, more relevant, and more engaging.. We know the importance of digital strategy and messaging across all platforms, but when are we going to see campaigns move away from these old ineffective strategies and focus on strategies and communication tools that are proven effective?

We saw the impact of social media campaign in the 2016 election and the immense reach it had. Now equipped with the knowledge after the fact and the same technology Democrats should be imposing these strategies and focusing on getting their message out in front of as many people as possible.

Democrats, you are in a great position going into 2018, now let’s utilize technology and out-strategize the other side. We aren’t going out without a fight, let’s fight together!