WASHINGTON – The Democratic Party’s state and local candidates “were not connecting with voters” in recent elections, a new party report said Tuesday, as officials outlined a series of changes in how Democrats operate.
“We lack a clear message about what unites and animates us as Democrats,” the report said. “This has contributed to a disjointed style of communicating through long lists of policy statements, which are not well understood or embraced by voters,” even though polls find that most voters support those policies.
Since 2008, Democrats have lost 69 House of Representatives seats, 13 Senate seats, more than 900 state legislative seats, 13 governorships and 30 state legislative chambers.
While the party won the White House twice, the Democratic message is not getting out as party officials want.
Their 18-page blueprint for change includes developing and communicating a “clear, values-based message on the core tenets of the party,” as well as strengthening the nuts and bolts that make a party run. The party has significantly increased funding it provides to state parties, and implemented training programs for state party executives.
It is also beefing up efforts to use social media, and has invested in methods that target sympathetic voters.
But party officials know they’ve got a tough job ahead. “Unfortunately, loud rhetoric can be enticing,” said Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, a member of the Democratic Victory Task Force, which wrote the report.
As a result, he said, “we need now more than ever to claim our mantle as the political party of reason and fairness. We also need to continue to promote innovation and prosperity for all.”
Republicans were quick to note that succeeding Beshear will be Republican Matt Bevin, who defeated Democrat Jack Conway this month.
“It’s only fitting that this report was led by a Democrat governor whose seat was just picked up by Republicans and that their proposed state-level efforts will be led by another Democrat governor [Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe] who lost critical legislative races this November,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.