DonkeyHotey / Flickr Republican Elephant amp Democratic Donkey Icons...
DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Those who complain day in and day out about the failure of the Democratic Party establishment to engage all Americans all of the time get a whole lot of flak. Likewise, those who sound the alarm bells when the polls are on the positive side get accused of being unduly pessimist.

Donald Trump has been a terrible president and for the longest time, his poll numbers reflected that. But these same polls show he has a solid base and an enormous potential for growth.

Democrats had a 15-point lead in the generic polls just over a month ago. Where does that same Monmouth poll have Democrats now, a mere four weeks later?

In a look ahead to 2018, Democrats currently hold a negligible edge on the generic Congress ballot. If the election for House of Representatives were held today, 47% of registered voters say they would vote for or lean toward voting for the Democratic candidate in their district compared to 45% who would support the Republican.  This marks a dramatic shift from last month, when Democrats held a 15 point advantage on the generic ballot (51% to 36%).

The same poll has Donald Trump’s approval rating ticking up 10 points, from his low of 32 percent to 42 percent. How could that be? Donald Trump has been tripping over himself for several months: the Russia scandal, the sex scandal, the North Korea buffoonery, and more. But many Americans don’t seem to care. Even the tax cut scam has reached parity, with 44 percent approval and 44 percent disapproval.

So what is going on? Democrats left a vacuum. After the tax cut scam became law, the Democratic Party establishment did not keep up the pressure by describing the catastrophe that it is in every conceivable media platform. Meanwhile, the right wing has been doing this—and much more.

The NBC article titled “How the Koch network aims to prevent a 2018 Democratic wave” is probative.

The network of organizations founded by the conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch is going “all in” to defend GOP majorities in Washington and around the country in 2018, planning an early investment in paid media to work against what they concede is a daunting political environment for their allies in government.

Top officials from Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch network’s chief political arm, made a half-hour presentation Monday to more than 500 donors at their semiannual “seminar,” outlining their $400 million strategy to protect like-minded incumbents while targeting vulnerable Democrats in key Senate races.

The strategy session came with a frank assessment of the midterm landscape, where President Donald Trump and the GOP brand is underwater and Democratic voters are demonstrating strong levels of enthusiasm. “We’ve never faced a challenge like this year brings,” AFP CEO Emily Seidel said. “But we see pathways to success.”

Key to the strategy is going on the offensive now, particularly in Senate races with television ads to try and define the narrative early against Democratic targets. “You don’t wait until the end when often it’s too late to make a difference,” Seidel said.

Seidel cited the Ohio Senate race in 2016 as a template for success, where AFP invested early in paid media against Democratic candidate Ted Strickland and helped turn around an initial double-digit lead over Sen. Rob Portman to a durable lead for the Republican incumbent in the fall, which allowed them to focus their resources elsewhere.

There are some notable points in the article that Democrats must learn from sooner rather than later. One does not wait until near the election to effect a winning strategy. One does not assume because the other side is down, that they won’t rebound. A party is responsible for framing a winning narrative that speaks to its base and the values of people. It should lay the groundwork to change minds.

My article titled “Democrats: Pulling defeat out of a sure win. No Blue Wave unless …”  pointed out the following.

If Democrats are to revive the possibility of a Blue Wave, the time is running out as Republicans are framing a better message even if built on lies. They are even out messaging Democrats on the current shutdown of a government that they control totally.

The right wing is in control of this county not because they support values most Americans want, but the semblance of what Americans think they need: a semblance of strength.

It does not take a lot of money to get a message and the proper narrative to the masses. So that isn’t the problem. It takes vision. Democrats should leverage independent media, alternative media, social media, and other avenues to reach people. But they don’t. They are stuck with the same high-priced consultants that have lost elections at the state and federal level.

Anyone watching network TV likely saw ads promoting the successes of the tax cut scam. They likely saw ads touting Trump’s economic “successes,” even though they pale next to Obama’s. Active engagement and repetition of these narratives are seeds and fertilizer that blossom at election time. And one side is much better at political farming than the other.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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