You might have heard that Karen Handel defeated Jon Ossof for the house seat in Georgia’s sixth district. This has been understood to be a solid Republican seat in the past. The Democrats put up a far better fight than usual this time around however almost winning it outright in what’s called a jungle primary. This has been attributed to the district slowly drifting towards the Democrats, it drawing national attention as a Trump referendum, and all the money that has been poured into it from coast to coast.
It’s those last two points I wanted to riff on a little bit this evening. It seems to me that the Democratic party has a great deal of skill at rallying themselves nationally, but they have a significant problem when it comes to turning out at local and district level elections. By now it has been beaten to death as talking point that Democrats have lost thousands of seats since Obama began his first term. Many of chosen to make this a commentary on our former president. I don’t believe it is, I believe this is symptomatic of low voter knowledge and the absurd concentration of left wing political capital.
Going back to the example of Georgia’s sixth district there were all sorts of reports during the primary vote that dozens of people were turned away from the polling places because they were trying to vote but we’re not residents of the district. This is the part of low voter knowledge that afflicts the Democratic Party like a plague, they don’t seem to know just how much representation they have in government or where that representation is from.
Some analysts who spotted this trend have chosen to blame it on partisan gerrymandering. This however is a silly approach for a couple of reasons. First of all, nothing is stopping Democrats from voting in the state level elections that determine who get to draw the district maps. If the Democrats were as motivated to win their state senates as they were the presidency then gerrymandering would never be an issue. Secondly in regard to this point specifically, it is very easy to check what district you are in. For all the complaining about how elections are executed one of the most consistent traits from district to district is the ability to check baisc facts like your polling place, if you are motivated to do so.
The second problem then is the willing concentration of liberal political capital in cities and urban regions. You can’t win these elections in all these districts if you don’t have a presence in them. It was a well publicized fact that Mr. Ossof didn’t even actually live in the district that he was running for. This isn’t even necessarily just a liberal problem because Americans are moving less and less as a whole, but it is more urgent for them because there is a lot more to the United States than just LA, Chicago, and New York.
The Republicans have now won every federal special election that they have ran a candidate in. This is bad news for them obviously because they aren’t flipping seats. It doesn’t have to be bad news for them however. If they could learn how to rally at a local level then I’m not sure that the Republican Party could actually stand a chance against them. The Democratic Party is in bad shape, if it can commit to the time and effort to help inform their voters they can fix this. If they commit to really rebuilding themselves locally there is unfortunately no reason they can’t actually dominate government themselves.
If you want to win, you need to live where the elections are and you need to vote when the elections happen.