WASHINGTON (AP) — Their majority shrunk, House Democrats cast blame Thursday on their electionmessage, ground game and leadership under Speaker Nancy Pelosi after expectations for big wins came crashing down by a stark reversal in Trump country.
They focused too narrowly on health care, when voters were also worried about the economy.
They failed to fight back when Republicans labeled them “socialists” aligned with the party’s most liberal firebrands.
They didn’t knock on doors to meet voters, focusing instead on phone calls, digital outreach and TV ads, due to the health risks of campaigning during the pandemic.
They lost Latino votersin some places, and white, working class men in others.
They did not pass more COVIDaid through Congress when Americans needed help most.
And perhaps most importantly, Democrats are coming to grips with the fact that whether President Donald Trump is e-elected or defeated by rival Joe Biden, they still have a problem understanding and winning over Trump voters.
Lawmakers unloaded during a caucus call Thursday — Democratic freshman Rep. Abigail Spanberger, in a so-tight race in Virginia, spoke with “passion” about the party’s campaign failures, according to a person familiar with the private call and granted anonymity to discuss it.
Pelosi tried to remind them, they did, in fact, win: Biden is on the verge of replacing Trump, and House Democrats are on track to keep their majority, according to another person familiar with the call and granted anonymity to discuss it.
“We did not win every battle but we did win the war,” Pelosi said.
But expectations had been raised sky high for election night gains and that made the setbacks all the more disorienting.
Rather than bolstering their majority, as planned, Democrats lost a handful of freshman lawmakers who had just won in a 2018 midterm election backlash against the president. They also failed to add to their ranks as Republicans defeated one Democratic challenger after another.
Asked what went wrong, one Democratic strategist granted anonymity to frankly run through the list shortcomings, said: “All of the above.”
Money, with the onslaught of campaign cash flowing to Democrats in an anti-Trump revolt, was the one thing on their side.
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