Debbie Wasserman Schultz's message to Democrats: Let's face it, our party has a problem

Via Larry O’Connor, remember last week when Baghdad Bob here predicted Democrats would hold the Senate? We’re almost done with the post-election gloating. But not yet, my friends, not yet.

This is fun as a rare admission of defeat from one of Washington’s most robotically optimistic mouthpieces and also as a contrast to Obama’s post-electoral defiance, in which “self-reflection” means staring at yourself in the mirror admiringly while you sign an order amnestizing five million people. In fact, what she’s promising here sounds a lot like what the RNC promised after Romney got stomped in 2012 — with one key difference. The RNC’s autopsy was mainly about changing the GOP’s message in certain ways to appeal to different demographics. The DNC’s message will likely emphasize ways to boost Democratic turnout during midterm elections over changing the message. (“We know we’re right on the issues,” says Wasserman Schultz here.) The Republican base has turned out in every cycle recently; the Democratic base hasn’t. What if their leadership had figured out how to get them to turn out last Tuesday? Hmmmmm:

[I]f Iowa gives Republicans their biggest reason for hope, Colorado and North Carolina offer reasons for caution, even though Republicans won Senate seats in both. In those two states, the Republican victories appeared to rely on low turnout, and Democrats fared very well among college-educated white voters. In Colorado, Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, lost by two points in a state that Mr. Obama won by five points. But Mr. Udall ran what was widely considered to be a mediocre campaign, focused relentlessly on Mr. Gardner’s past support for a “personhood” amendment that would confer constitutional rights at conception.

Had young voters and registered Democrats turned out at the rates they did in 2012, Mr. Udall would likely be looking forward to another term, according to an Upshot analysis of voter file data from the Colorado secretary of state.

Mr. Udall maintained nearly all of Mr. Obama’s support among college-educated white voters. He even outperformed Mr. Obama among college-educated white voters, according to exit polls. Jefferson County, a suburban county consisting mainly of well-educated white voters west of Denver, and a bellwether in statewide elections, went to Mr. Udall, narrowly.

The story was similar in North Carolina, where Ms. Hagan also ran ahead of Mr. Obama among college-educated white voters, according to the exit polls.

In 2012, when Obama narrowly defeated Romney in Colorado, voters age 29 or younger made up 20 percent of the electorate. Last week, in the Gardner/Udall race, they made up just 14 percent. Obama also topped Romney among both men and women, 51/46 and 51/48 respectively. The Gardner/Udall race had a gender gap: Udall won women by eight points (52/44) but Gardner won men by 17 (56/39) — and, crucially, men made up most of the electorate, 53 percent compared to 47 percent for women. In fact, among the key Democratic constituency of single women, Udall won 66/30, a wider margin than the 61/36 split that Obama pulled two years ago. In other words, as Ace noted, the obsessive “war on women” campaign run by Senator “Uterus” actually worked among the target audience. They’re just weren’t enough single women at the polls to drag Udall over the finish line. Maybe that was inevitable — it could be that a key reason male turnout was higher this time in Colorado was because so many men were irritated by Udall’s messaging that they decided to teach him a lesson. What would have happened, though, had Udall’s message been a bit more refined and this had been a presidential election year, with Democrats enjoying their traditional turnout boost? What would have happened if Democrats had the first woman presidential nominee at the top of the ballot? The DNC would be foolish to pass on an opportunity to refine their platform to make it a bit more attractive to whites, marrieds, and men, but if they want to solve their midterm problem through turnout alone, they could probably do it. I’m not sure the RNC has the same luxury when it comes to presidential elections.

Exit question: How optimistic should we be about winning Colorado in 2016? Cory Gardner was arguably the most impressive candidate in the field this year, ran a terrific campaign against a dumb incumbent who fixated on a one-note message, and had a national GOP wave beneath him — and he still won the state more narrowly than Obama did two years ago. Hmmmm.