Democrats Play Ostrich After Electoral Meltdown

Head_in_SandVia The Hill comes news that Democrats plan to keep the exact same Congressional leadership team in both chambers, with the exception of replacing Steve Israel (who perhaps embarrassed himself the least of all the Democrats on Tuesday). President Obama plans to keep his same leadership as well. More importantly, Democrats plan to keep the same message and focus on the same issues, including outside Democrat groups like American Bridge, who have promised to continue their quixotic quests against the Koch brothers. The message Democrats seem to have taken from the elections is that the deck was unfairly stacked against them, but there was nothing essentially wrong with what they were doing:

Leaders in both the House and the Senate — including [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] (D-Nev.) and [mc_name name=’Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000197′ ] (D-Calif.) — are expected to retain their spots atop the party in the next Congress, while the White House, in similar fashion, says it will keep its top staff largely intact.

“The president is somebody who doesn’t make personnel changes just for cosmetic reasons,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.

The decision to stick with the status quo sends a clear message that Democrats believe Tuesday’s disastrous outcome was caused by factors beyond their control, and that they see themselves as best suited to steer a comeback.

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Party leaders were quick to note that, historically speaking, they always faced tough odds in the 2014 cycle. They lamented the slew of unsettling international headlines that undermined their economic message — topics as diverse as terrorist beheadings in Syria, Russian incursions into Ukraine and an Ebola epidemic in Africa — and emphasized that Obama’s low approval ratings were beyond their realm of influence.

“Since we have no control over what’s not in our control we don’t wring our hands over that,” [mc_name name=’Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’I000057′ ] (D-N.Y.), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said on election night.

The main problem with this fantasy thinking is that it is contradicted by what voters actually said on Tuesday. CNN exit polling indicated extraordinarily broad dissatisfaction with the Democrats’ performance in office and with the Obama administration’s performance in particular. Voters specifically expressed dissatisfaction with the Federal government’s response to the Ebola crisis and to ISIS. According to FoxNews exit polling, voters were extremely dissatisfied with the government’s handling of the economy and foreign policy. Equally troubling to the Democrats is that the issues they spent inordinate money and energy discussing (such as the Koch brothers and climate change) barely registered in the minds of voters, and the other “issue” (if it can fairly be called that), the “war on women,” spectacularly backfired on them.

Definitely, the Republicans should not take away a rosy message from the elections as they are still perceived poorly by the public (thanks in large part to being perceived poorly by their own voters), but the voters sent a clear and unmistakable message to the Democrats that was completely separate from the difficult electoral landscape that they faced. What the Democrats have shown thus far is that, despite the fact that Obama said “I hear you,” they aren’t really listening.