So Why Did The Democrats Lose So Many Seats?

Posted by | November 3, 2010 18:06 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

The Democrats were absolutely destroyed last night, no doubt about it. The questions of course is why? Democratic pollster Mark Penn looks at this election as the perfect example of liberal overreach on the part of an overly ambitious president, and that the answer for the Democrats is to become more like the Republicans. Well, there is a reason Hilary Clinton lost to Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primaries, and it’s because Mark Penn was the one managing her campaign. There are two reasons the Democrats were crushed, and neither problem can be solved by becoming more like the Republicans.

The number one issue of course is unemployment. Talk to any political scientist and they will tell you the same thing; there has always been a direct correlation between unemployment rates and performance in midterm elections. When voters were asked in exit polling who they blame for the current economic situation, number one on their list is Wall Street at 34%, number two is President Bush at 29%, and number three is President Obama at 24%. So if an overwhelming 63% of voters blame Bush and Wall Street for their problems, why did the Democrats get hammered so badly? Because Republicans had an 11 point advantage last night among voters who blame Wall Street for the struggling economy.

Somehow, the Democrats allowed themselves to become the party of Wall Street. This perception exists despite the fact that Wall Street was so angry with the Democrats for daring to regulate them (barely) with the financial reform bill, that they shifted their campaign contributions to the Republicans. Republicans were seen as the populists of this election by the voters, while also being able to use Wall Street’s money to buy votes. Speaking of campaign contributions…

The second reason the Democrats lost so many seats is the unprecedented avalanche of corporate money spent against them this election. Thanks to the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, independent groups were able to flood the system with more than quadruple the amount of money they spent last midterm cycle. These shadowy groups are backed by Wall Street banks, health insurance companies, oil companies, and various other multinational corporations frustrated by Obama’s agenda. These groups coordinated with the Koch brothers at secret little group therapy sessions, along with Supreme Court justices and members of the conservative media, to plot the path to victory in the 2010 elections. Last night represents the fruits of their labor.

A mocking editorial by the Wall Street Journal yesterday laughs at “good-government liberals” having to watch “elections become more competitive,” thanks to the increased political spending that Citizens United allows. What the Wall Street Journal fails to mention is that while increased corporate spending did allow many new Republican challengers to unseat Democratic incumbents this election cycle, those newly elected politicians are now wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporations that funded their campaigns. As the Wall Street Journal gleefully endorsed the corporate takeover of our democracy, they did get one thing right. The flood of corporate money put many more seats into play this cycle than ever before, which helped amplify the already scheduled losses for the Democrats as the party in power during a crippling recession.

If the Democrats want to correct the problems that led to this debacle, they need to do more to create jobs for average Americans, differentiate themselves from Wall Street, and attack the corporate stranglehold on the electoral process. Otherwise 2012 will be even worse than 2010.

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