Earlier this week, a special Congressional House election in Kansas suggested that Republicans could have a turnout problem, with Republican turnout down by 62 percent compared to Democratic turnout which dropped only 33 percent (this is important–we’ll return to this). Meanwhile, the DCCC is, as usual, excusing their ongoing glorious epic of failure (boldface mine):
Months later, the first congressional campaign of the Trump era took place. And once again, the Democratic Party played possum. Instead of investing resources into the special election in Kansas’ 4th District that took place on Tuesday night, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee kept their distance under the assumption they only would have motivated Republican voters had they engaged.
The Democratic candidate James Thompson, an attorney and Army veteran, ended up losing the race by 7 percentage points. And because he was never expected to make it that close, Democrats now are asking not just whether more could have been done, but why the party continues to assume it can’t help out (some of) its own without hurting them.
“I don’t buy that if the race is close, that you can hide it to the other side and they’ll fail to nationalize it the way they could,” said Jeff Hauser, a longtime progressive operative. “The DCCC couldn’t prevent [anti-Thompson] ads from happening by staying out. He’s a Dem. If the best way to attack him is to claim he would support [Nancy] Pelosi, well, it is true. The notion that they can suddenly prevent that is bullshit.”
Nobody is expecting–or even wants–many national Democrats parading around their districts. But the key to this loss was turnout. If everyone who had voted Democratic in 2016 also had voted for the Democrat (Thompson), it would have been a blow out–he would have won by 18,000 votes, 56-44 percent. Put another way, had 79 percent of those who voted Democratic in 2016 also voted for Thompson, he would have won by a thousand votes.
This is all about turnout: phone banking, lawn signs (Robbie Mook notwithstanding, they matter), organizing rides to vote, and so on. It’s not that expensive, and, as we learned with Clinton’s Victory Fund, it’s very easy to shuffle money around: the DCCC could have donated to the state party, or current congressmen could have donated from their campaigns and PACs, and then have been reimbursed by the DCCC.
Of course, if you don’t try, you can’t be accused of failing…