►U.S. politics is not a national contest. Victories in Congress, state politics and the Electoral College all depend on winning majorities or hefty pluralities in heartland states and areas that are not big cities. Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 mainly because she was whomped in non-urban areas where Obama had lost by far smaller margins. Media commentators and lefty advocates often speak as if the United States is one big national polity, where appeals to one demographic slice or another are decisive. But it just isn’t so. Piling up votes on the liberal coasts matters not at all, if party candidates lose in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Carolina.
►State politics and the U.S. Senate matter just as much as the presidency. No matter how many great policy plans a new Democratic president has spelled out in position papers, they will not go anywhere if far-right governors and state legislators can block them — or if the Senate stays in Republican hands. When asked about that problem, progressives promise they will call people to flood the streets. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is likely just chuckling over his whiskey at that notion.
►Politics is a team sport. This is the most important lesson — to be kept in mind by citizens who need to keep organizing at the grassroots everywhere, by candidates who need to step up at all levels, and by donors and constituency groups.