Democratic consultants blame Democrats’ defeat in Virginia on ‘media coverage’

Virginia Democratic voters may have been dismayed, but not so surprised, to learn that their party had just been beaten by a Republican. Party consultant Josh Messina released a memo on Friday summarising polling…

Democratic consultants blame Democrats' defeat in Virginia on 'media coverage'

Virginia Democratic voters may have been dismayed, but not so surprised, to learn that their party had just been beaten by a Republican.

Party consultant Josh Messina released a memo on Friday summarising polling for the midterm elections that found that Democrats had surged in enthusiasm until election day.

The memo, titled “A Wake-Up Call: Why Democrats Lost In Virginia And Need To Recapture Voters Over And Over And Over Again” was made available to several news outlets on Friday night but heavily redacted before the document was published by Buzzfeed News.

Blaming the Democrats’ defeat in Virginia on numerous polls, Messina argued that the party’s efforts to ramp up turnout were undone by media coverage that painted a starkly different picture.

“Polls on Election Day showed a clean sweep: Democrats winning down ballot, taking seats in the US House of Representatives, and winning the governorship,” Messina wrote. “But to hear from the pundits and the media was, to say the least, not as rosy.”

He went on to argue that a lack of enthusiasm from Democrats and a mishmash of messaging offered by his own party’s staff contributed to the defeat.

After noting that there was little national media coverage of the days leading up to Election Day, Messina added: “Part of the story was that the Democrats did not run strong down ballot campaigns.”

“Sadly, some of the decisions made by the Democratic party in Virginia – to raise millions of dollars to defend vulnerable Republican seats in Congress and pass a tax cut that will overwhelmingly benefit wealthy Americans and large corporations at the expense of working families – have left voters feeling disaffected,” Messina wrote.

He then listed a slew of tweets by prominent Democratic leaders, as well as Barack Obama’s own efforts on behalf of Doug Jones, who narrowly beat Republican Roy Moore in a special US Senate election. Messina stressed that the attacks on Trump were certainly a factor in the party’s performance in Virginia, saying: “In Virginia, the skyrocketing national enthusiasm of the Trump campaign and the President himself – instead of the ascendant Democratic enthusiasm against him – was a major reason for the Republican sweep.”

Virginia’s top Democrat, governor Ralph Northam, and a number of his fellow state legislators won re-election on Tuesday. But they did so at a point when the Democratic party and Democratic groups were working to save their party’s congressional majority, and almost as late as Tuesday night as Americans made final evaluations of their choices, with Democrats touting a poll that had found them in a 10-point lead in the new Congress and warning Republicans of an impending defeat.

The Democratic activists not feeling euphoric at the moment may not be entirely to blame for their party’s defeat. As the party has extended the money it takes from big donors beyond the single digits to millions of dollars, former donors have been slow to return. And even if big donors made the money transfers in the summer of 2015, they failed to prevent the collapse of the the party’s campaign to retake the Senate.

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