Every time I have attended a political event over the past few weeks I’ve heard the same thing: “The President will be re-elected and we are going to pick up legislative seats.” There seems to be a cockiness that has permeated the Democratic ranks. We are more confident than we were in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2010. The only time I recall this level of cockiness, bordering on arrogance, was in 2004 and that election proved to be a disaster. Much like 2004, the Republicans are appealing to their base with great effect, polarizing the nation politically while attempting to create wedge issues. Yesterday, James Carville sounded an alarm to Democrats, saying “we haven’t won anything yet.”
Here in Florida we face our usual uphill climb. The GOP and its allied PACs will flood the state with negative ads and will be working hard to get out the vote. Today we learned, courtesy of the Republican-leaning BizPac, that the best Democratic pickup opportunity in the State Senate will be more competitive than hoped if early polling is an indicator. While this poll gives us no indication as to who was sampled, and whether Ellyn Bogdanoff was clearly identified as a Republican or if Maria Sachs was clearly idenitifed as a Democrat, it should be enough to force progressives in Southeast Florida to get moving towards the goal of unseating one of Florida’s most right wing Senators. (Bogdanoff was one of a 12 Florida Senators to achieve a 100% score from the American Conservative Union in 2011 and recently was ranked in the Senate top 10 by Associated Industries of Florida). Given that the Democrats last beat an incumbent GOP State Senator in 1992, recent history should serve as enough motivation to get progressives working for good candidates and against bad legislators. The assumption that Sachs will beat Bogdanoff because it is a Democratic performing seat would repeat the fallacies of past failed election efforts.
This election cycle will be the most critical of our lifetime as the GOP could achieve complete control over the federal government at the same time as they control the majority of Governorships and legislative chambers around the nation. Progressives of all stripes must also work extra hard to turn out voters who may have been disappointed by certain aspects of the Obama/Biden record and by the continued propensity of Democrats in Florida to cut deals and protect their own self-interest. Only by working hard on behalf of local candidates and activist groups can we maximize our potential this November. In many critical parts of the state, the local Democratic parties are broken and need volunteer help as well as creative and innovative thinking.
Do not believe this election is by any means won. As James Carville said yesterday, “we have not won anything yet.”