Democrats have a messaging problem as Americans head to the polls, according to leading political strategists.
“You can see it in the closing days of the campaigns,” Media Matters founder David Brock told Observer. “From the day Kavanaugh was confirmed to now, the Republican message is stronger and is penetrating in a way that the Democrats’ is not.”
“I think that we’re still running the risk of having our main message be anti-Trump rather than a positive vision,” added Leah Hunt-Hendrix, co-founder of the progressive fundraising juggernaut Way to Win. “People turn out when they’re excited about a vision. They stay home when they’re scared.”
Brock, who worked as a Republican operative before pivoting left and founding his liberal watchdog agency, pointed to the GOP’s newest slogan “Jobs vs. Mobs” as successful messaging. The phrase originated across Twitter before becoming a rallying cry at President Trump’s campaign rallies.
“It started with this idea of mob rule,” explained Brock. “Trump through Twitter, and being out there on the stump, is driving a message. That’s seemingly the dominant storyline out there. There is not a strong, national narrative on the Democratic side other than the healthcare issue.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC, both of which bolster congressional races, have infused campaigns with a last-minute flurry of TV ads focusing on healthcare policy. But Brock and others worry that by relying too heavily on television, Democrats are missing an opportunity to drive home a clear message online.
“Democrats are still fighting the last war and investing too much in traditional media and not as much in digital,” added the Media Matters founder.
“I think there are many individual candidates who are breaking through that, but I don’t think the party as a whole has come together around a cohesive, unified, positive narrative,” Way to Win’s president Tory Gavito told Observer, citing gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum as a Democrat who “has been incredible with advocating for a positive vision.”
Other Democrats think it’s too early to evaluate the party’s success in selling its platform to the American people.
“Ask me Wednesday,” responded Hillary Clinton’s former advisor Philippe Reines.