*Published with the generous permission of Simon Rosenberg. Read more of his important work on his Hopium substack.
By Simon Rosenberg
Our 2022 electoral take went something like this: in the spring, a series of events - Dobbs/extremist state abortion restrictions, more mass shootings, the start of the Jan 6th Commission, extremist MAGA candidates prevailing in GOP primaries across the US - created an opportunity for Democrats to outperform expectations and make 2022 a close, competitive election and not a wave.
We then saw Democrats outperform their 2020 results in 5 House special elections in AK, MN, NE, and NY. We outperformed public polling in the Kansas abortion referendum by double digits. Voter registrations across the US became much more Democratic and much more female. We then saw this Dem overperformance, this intensity shows up in the early vote, where we, incredibly, outperformed both 2018 and 2020 in states across the US.
My colleague Tom Bonier and I used other electoral measures outside of polling to gauge what was happening, and this use of a much broader set of measures allowed us to understand what was happening in ways people using traditional polling were unable. All these measures involved the act of voting itself in some way, something that one could imagine would be useful in understanding how people are going to vote in the general election. And we were right, thankfully, and the election in 2022 was far better for us than most could have imagined.
Using this same analytical process, the voting we’ve seen so far in 2023 should deeply worry Republicans, for once again, we’re seeing very strong Dem performances in different types of elections in disparate states across the country. We received 56% in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. We flipped two traditionally Republican cities last night in Colorado and Florida. We held on to a fiercely contested state House seat in Pennsylvania. Statewide Supreme Court, GOP-held cities, swing state House seats in different parts of the country - all showing the same thing – very, very strong Dem performance (here’s Donna Deegan at her victor party last night!)
The simplest explanation for what we are seeing is that those conditions that helped drive 2022 - abortion extremism, ongoing GOP-encouraged gun violence, extremist MAGA candidates prevailing in the GOP primary (Trump, DeSantis) - are very much still with us in 2023. What is also still with us is a Democratic party, ably led by Joe Biden, continuing to make things better for the American people, and a fired-up Democratic grassroots which continues to, through their donations and hard work (calls, texts, postcards, canvassing), push our electoral performances to the upper end of what is possible (thanks everyone!!!!!!).
All of this is why I’ve been recommending that Democrats come to understand that the GOP’s escalating extremism means more is possible for us this cycle. I think we can go on offense now, grow and expand our coalition, Get to 55 (Wisconsin Supreme Court), take political terrain held by Rs (Colorado Springs and Jacksonville), and reclaim rhetorical space often more associated with them (Freedom, flags, patriotism - see these early Biden videos). We need to go big this cycle, for we only “Get to 55” if we expand our understanding of what is possible and build politics around that. They have given us a big opportunity. We need to seize it together.
As we think about expansion and growth, consider what we did in what was supposed to be a bad year in 2022. We got to 59% in Colorado, 57% in Pennsylvania, 55% in Michigan, and 54% in New Hampshire. Getting to 55 is something we are already doing in key battlegrounds. This is not pie-in-the-sky stuff. It is doable because we are already doing it in some of the highly contested states in the country.
Friends, this is a good time to be a Democrat. Joe Biden has been a good President. The country is better off. We are helping Ukraine degrade Putin. The Democratic Party is strong. Our grassroots are more powerful, more organized, and more effective than it’s ever been. In every possible way, I would much rather be us than them. Let’s put our heads down, keep doing the work, and through the power of our collective Hopium make this 2024 election the election we all want it to be.
Great work last night, everyone. Was a really good night for all of us. Let’s keep working hard.