New Orleans – The huge sigh of relief by Democrats after the midterms could be heard across the country. There was no red wave. It wasn’t as bad as many expected. The House was lost only narrowly, and by less than usual in a mid-term election, and the Senate was not only held, but improved its margin by a hair. All of this was good news for Democrats, but it also may have hidden the fact that they could have done so much better, if they had done the job in the cities which have usually been their stronghold.
Early analysis indicates that there was significant falloff in the vote totals in the urban core of traditional Democratic strength. Reports indicate that…
In Detroit, about 22,000 fewer voters came to the polls than in the 2018 midterm elections, a 12% decrease. Philadelphia tallied about 55,300 fewer voters than four years ago, a 10% drop. In Columbus, Ohio, the shortfall topped 50,000, down 17%.
That’s not all. Even though more of the detail needs to come out as voter lists are analyzed, it seems that the falloff was most remarkable in Black and Hispanic precincts, where Democrats can little afford slippage. The Wall Street Journal reports,
…analysis of Philadelphia precincts and census data [indicates]…In heavily Black precincts, those in which Black residents make up 70% or more of the population, vote totals declined by an aggregate 20%, far higher than the 10% decline citywide. Vote totals fell by nearly 29% in precincts where Latino residents make up 70% of the population.
It looks like the party and many of the campaigners neglected to make the investments in the field program. Maybe they were thinking that social media and television were enough to do the job, despite the fact that they would have the significant record of the Biden administration and the real dollars poured into critical programs as huge campaign tools in moving the vote to continue to advance. Maybe the problem was simply trying to defend, rather move forward?
Not minding and nurturing the base carries costs. Mandela Barnes, the lieutenant governor in the critical battleground state of Wisconsin lost his race to January 6th apologist and archconservative Ron Johnson by 26,000 votes, and arguably the difference was in Milwaukee where voting turnout fell by 17% with 36,000 fewer voters. Had Barnes maintained his 80% share that would have netted him 22,000 votes, and given similar problems in other Wisconsin cities, he could be in his first weeks as US Senator, rather than seeing Johnson enter his third term.
Sure, urban voters come out heavier in presidential years, but this is a problem that the Democrats could have and should have anticipated and fixed, rather than just hunkering down and trying to weather what they thought was going to be a storm.
Mind the base or lose the race.