The reports of the Democratic Party’s demise have been greatly exaggerated

Big wins on Election Night show Democrats are doing something right. Now they must stay the course.

November 8, 2023 5:28 pm

‘I’m a little disappointed, to be clear,’ Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Wednesday on the steps of Virginia’s Capitol in his first public remarks about the outcome of Tuesday’s election. Democrats held the Senate and flipped the House, an outcome that leaves Youngkin with less legislative power than he had before. (Graham Moomaw/Virginia Mercury)

A recent poll published by the New York Times stirred up a great deal of chatter about President Biden’s vulnerability against Donald Trump in next year’s presidential election. Not a week later, Democrats nationwide celebrated major victories on this year’s off-cycle election night. This discrepancy between media narratives and actual results show that Democratic candidates and policies remain popular with voters. 

While punditry on the airwaves and the platform formerly known as Twitter have called for hand-wringing and panic, Democrats, the president included, remain in a strong position heading into a major election year. Party activists, campaigns, and those who care about the preservation of democracy in our country need to ignore the noise, put in the work, and continue to turn out votes for next year’s election. 

Evidence for this forward march can be found locally here in Rhode Island. Congressman-Elect Gabe Amo, despite a poll showing a closer than expected race between him and his Republican opponent, handily defeated Gerry Leonard Jr. in the CD1 special election. Amo took as much as 90% of the vote in Providence. On an even more local scale, Democratic Cranston City Councilor Dan Wall was able to secure over 50% of the votes in a four-way race for the city’s Ward 6 seat back in October.

Across the nation in the Nov. 7 election, voters voiced their dissatisfaction with MAGA Republican policy and their support of mainstream, Biden-backed Democratic positions. This is evident up and down the ballot. Gov. Andy Beshear won re-election in Kentucky — a state Trump won in 2020 by 26 points. Local Democratic candidates in the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania were successful in both school board and county executive races. Ohioans voted to protect abortion access.

Conversely, local candidates aligned with the extremist positions of MAGA Republicans performed horribly in this year’s election. Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Virginia Republicans lost their majority in that state’s House of Delegates and failed to boost their position in the Senate. In ruby-red Iowa, 12 of the 13 candidates endorsed by Moms For Liberty, a right wing group that supports book bans in public schools, lost their respective school board races.

Across the nation in the Nov. 7 election, voters voiced their dissatisfaction with MAGA Republican policy and their support of mainstream, Biden-backed Democratic positions.

Democrats’ message that the government does not have a place in personal health care decisions following the fall of Roe v. Wade is both salient and durable. Inflation continues to ease and ongoing infrastructure projects are improving quality of life across the nation. Voters, despite their personal opinion of the president’s age, know that the country is headed in the right direction under this administration’s and local Democrats’ leadership. 

They are also keenly aware of the chaos and disruption that has been embraced by the new mainstream of the Republican Party. The federal government is once again on the brink of a shutdown in no small part because of House Republicans’ speaker vote debacle.

This off-cycle year, Democrats successfully — and correctly — convinced Americans that their policies are working for them, and that Republicans have lost touch. Equally important were their efforts to actually get voters to the polls without the flashy banner of a presidential or midterm election at the top of the ticket.

Despite headlines and musings prophesying the downfall of President Biden and the Democratic Party, the tick marks in their win column have only increased since the summer of 2022. They must be doing something right.

All this is by no means to say that Democrats can let their foot off the pedal, even if signs of moderation in the Republican Party are essentially nonexistent. Rather, it is time to double down on the work that has brought about key wins.

The next 12 months will see no shortage of tweets, articles, and analyses driving a narrative that Democrats are in trouble. The party must stay the course and continue the work that has delivered victories in the past two years. Both here in Rhode Island and across the nation, Democrats must not allow that narrative to become a distraction.

We know what it takes to win and deliver positive change for Americans. We cannot quit while we are ahead.


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Mark LeBeau
Mark LeBeau

Mark LeBeau is a political and communications consultant based in Cranston, Rhode Island