Big picture 🔥take: Donald Trump is uniquely toxic among upscale GOP voters in cosmopolitan suburbs, & also uniquely successful in getting would-be GOP voters to the polls in less affluent & less engaged places. Hence contrasting down ballot results 2018 vs 2020
The full picture, much less granular data, is still to come. But consistently disappointing results for Dem candidates of widely varied ideology across the country should I hope inspire rethinking that goes beyond usual "moderate" vs "Left" or mobilization vs persuasion sniping
The kitchen sink was thrown at this election, and in a context of extremely narrow victories of course anything & everything mattered: "the 10,000 votes due to [x] were crucial!" is a defensible take for any single x people tried, in a world where key states are won by 20,000
So [caveat caveat]. But fwiw: an idiosyncratic list of things I'm downgrading in my mental list of how to impact elections: Phonebanking; textbanking; postcards to voters; distributed digital organzng in general, incl relational apps; short-term candidate-specific paid advertisng
In contrast things I think matter alot, & where GOP/rw advantage has persisted/intensified: longterm communication infrastructure; control of information space esp virtual; intentional shaping of info flows w/in it; longterm party branding; synergy of all this w/informal f2f ties
(timely example of some of the preceding:👇) w
Broad engagement in politics matters: this is a hill I will die on. But we need to see serious soul-searching about how vast engagement👇is channeled: incl where the missing communications layers are that prevent local action fr gearing & gaining traction…
What on the Dem side did work? Sustained place-based political organizing that is both directed & executed by local people organicly connected to the would-be voters they seek to mobilize or persuade. That's the story of the upscale Philly suburbs AND Lucha in AZ AND La Culinaria
So on the one hand everyone should be re-reading @hahriehan on the lessons of LUCHA & similar orgs…
... and also reading @eitanhersh on doing the work close to home rather than cheering from afar: even when it feels like that battle over there is more clear & urgent (maybe if you were closer it would look more complicated, too)…
But after an election in which there was genuine, impassioned local activism across the center-to-Left spectrum in place after place that fell far short, I'm not going to claim that just doing a better job of patient local building w/in our current political terrain is the answer
The terrain itself is a problem. In ways that so hamper local electoral organizing on the Dem side in many places that it undercuts the incentives to do it at all.
@JosephONeillx describes some of the dynamics here…
(Ooh—must-read thread just in from @hahriehan too👇)
So locally-run local organizing is critical. But the angry recriminations being flung by national 👇& local [not linking] candidates—arguing that some people's community-engaging activism generated media hooks that cost others winnable seats—shows problem
You might think about this problem👇as reflecting moral or strategic failures by Individual leaders. But you can also see it as a result of GOP dominance of last-mile communication structures, which make it so easy to generate & exploit context-collapse
Expecting local organizing to counter massive infrastructural failures & resultant disinformation flows 👇is like asking parents to become chemists & set up neighborhood labs to combat lead in the drinking water
Similar diagnosis here👇, in a smart piece that should encourage people to step away from the intra-Dem Your Message Screwed My Message flame wars currently underway (but probably won't☹️)…

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More from @lara_putnam

4 Nov
With so many eyes on PA let me offer a thread of threads pointing to reporting by amazing journalists here in the last 6 months or so, which capture some of the contradictory forces pushing in opposite directions. 1st: @CharlotteAlter on the COVID/disinfo epistemic fracture
2nd @Chris_Maag on the swirl of false rumors & fears spread on social media regarding #BlackLivesMatter .…
3rd an earlier piece from @Chris_maag capturing the fraught navigation and deep courage of young people of color in Central PA doing their best to become movement builders in spite of that
Read 7 tweets
4 Nov
Gonna re-up this article now for the midnight obsessing about Pennsylvania county level results crowd: Wrote it 16 months which is to say a century ago but holds up pretty well…
As a reminder this is what Pennsylvania looks like through @AmCommPro's very helpful categories. Many "rural middle America" counties, lots of ex-industrial/partly recovered "middle suburbs", then exurbs & urban suburbs in the Philly collar & around Pittsburgh
Fully half of the population of PA lives in a Middle Suburb or Rural Middle America county. But also: fully half does not: concentrating instead in Urban Suburbs, Exurbs, College Town, or Big City (=Philadelphia) counties
Read 33 tweets
3 Nov
Aggregate two-party presidential margins held rock steady in Allegheny county from 1996-2016, hovering between D+14.5 & D+16.5 as upscale suburbs turned from red to purple, while working-class Dem strongholds lost population, Dem allegiance, or both…
Read 5 tweets
9 Aug
Three carefully reported articles from non-metro PA that should be read together. They offer radically different takeaways, but by listening carefully to diff voices capture the same reality: very real currents moving in opposite directions, w/gender & esp generation key divides
First, from @JuliaTerruso a really thoughtful account of aging white men continuing to move away from the Democratic party in Carbondale, as union jobs & allegiance forged 2 generations ago fade, & messages about "far left" extremes resonate... with some…
But note the civic stalwart aging moms rejecting the Trump msg... & the 20something daughter sad about political division but outspoken on racial injustice: “My heart hurts for the minorities in this town because I don’t feel like they’re treated properly." Image
Read 22 tweets
17 Jun
#GeorgeFloyd solidarity protests have been held in over 135 different communities across PA already. Here's one way to think about the new geography they trace. I've mapped them on top of the @AmCommPro map. Notice how many are in Rural Middle America & Middle Suburb counties.
Fully half the state's population lives in those two county types. But "rural middle America" doesn't match stereotypes (few folks work in agriculture; more are middle income than poor). And "middle suburbs" don't look like the upscale sites of privilege the term suburb may evoke
PA's more rural counties swung extra hard for Donald Trump in 2016. But because the Middle Suburbs are home to fully a third of the state's population, the swing there was critical. These are the state's former industrial heartlands: and onetime union & Democratic strongholds
Read 20 tweets
3 Jun
It's hard not to read the PA HD 34 primary results as evidence in the debate over whether protests in response to the murder of George Floyd will cause white suburban backlash. (quick thread)
(First pausing to emphasize that any debate over electoral consequence should not distract from the existential issues of race-based structural and physical violence Floyd's death reflected—nor from the urgency of supporting protestors putting themselves on the front lines now).
If suburban whites were going to react to the events of recent days by pulling back from progressive candidates or those speaking up for racial justice, we should have seen that yesterday in PA HD 34. It's a 70% white district, whose past was riven by court-ordered integration
Read 13 tweets

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