January 7, 2019 by stephenshubert
Introduction In October 2017, a team of progressive researchers published “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis,” which probed the causes of the disastrous 2016 election defeat. The report came in the wake of the party leadership’s failure to do its own autopsy. The Executive Summary:
Sample of Findings
The Party’s Base
• Aggregated data and analysis show that policies, operations and campaign priorities of the national Democratic Party undermined support and turnout from its base in the 2016 general election. Since then, the Democratic leadership has done little to indicate that it is heeding key lessons from the 2016 disaster.
• The Democratic National Committee and the party’s congressional leadership remain bent on prioritizing the chase for elusive Republican voters over the Democratic base: especially people of color, young people and working-class voters overall.
• After suffering from a falloff of turnout among people of color in the 2016 general election, the party appears to be losing ground with its most reliable voting bloc, African-American women. “The Democratic Party has experienced an 11 percent drop in support from black women according to one survey, while the percentage of black women who said neither party represents them went from 13 percent in 2016 to 21 percent in 2017.”
• One of the large groups with a voter-turnout issue is young people, “who encounter a toxic combination of a depressed economic reality, GOP efforts at voter suppression, and anemic messaging on the part of Democrats.”
• “Emerging sectors of the electorate are compelling the Democratic Party to come to terms with adamant grassroots rejection of economic injustice, institutionalized racism, gender inequality, environmental destruction and corporate domination. Siding with the people who constitute the base isn’t truly possible when party leaders seem to be afraid of them.”
• The DNC has refused to renounce, or commit to end, its undemocratic practices during the 2016 primary campaign that caused so much discord and distrust from many party activists and voters among core constituencies.
• Working to defeat restrictions on voting rights is of enormous importance. Yet the Democratic National Committee failed to make such work a DNC staffing priority.
Populism and Party Decline
• The Democratic Party’s claims of fighting for “working families” have been undermined by its refusal to directly challenge corporate power, enabling Trump to masquerade as a champion of the people. “Democrats will not win if they continue to bring a wonk knife to a populist gunfight. Nor can Democratic leaders and operatives be seen as real allies of the working class if they’re afraid to alienate big funders or to harm future job or consulting prospects.”
• “Since Obama’s victory in 2008, the Democratic Party has lost control of both houses of Congress and more than 1,000 state legislative seats. The GOP now controls the governorship as well as the entire legislature in 26 states, while Democrats exercise such control in only six states [eight states, after the November 2017 elections]…. Despite this Democratic decline, bold proposals with the national party’s imprint are scarce.”
• “After a decade and a half of nonstop warfare, research data from voting patterns suggest that the Clinton campaign’s hawkish stance was a political detriment in working-class communities hard-hit by American casualties from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
• “Operating from a place of defensiveness and denial will not turn the party around. Neither will status quo methodology.”
The full report can be found at: Status of the Democratic Party