Stacey Abrams, the Georgia gubernatorial candidate who not only hasn’t conceded a clearly-decided race but actually insists she was the real winner, would like to explain to all of you exactly how it is Democrats win.
Even though, you know, she didn’t win.
— The Hill (@thehill) May 23, 2019
And here’s a bit more from The Hill:
Speaking at the Center for American Progress’s Ideas Conference, Abrams warned that the term “identity politics” had been twisted by those aiming to silence emergent minority voters seeking political power for the first time.
“The notion of identity politics has been peddled for the past 10 years and it’s been used as a dog whistle to say we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the voices coming into progress,” Abrams said. “I would argue that identity politics is exactly who we are and exactly how we won.”
The Georgia Democrat argued that identity politics had “brought new folks to the process,” and that a failure to focus on racial differences would give minority voters the impression “they have no reason to engage and no reason to show up.”
“When I hear Democratic candidates, progressive candidates, American candidates decrying the identity of their voters, I’m deeply worried for our democracy,” Abrams said.
Here’s a fun fact: Voter turnout and enthusiasm for Stacey Abrams was great right up until her campaign started to talk about the black vote being “suppressed” by various issues, including a lack of voting machines at precincts, precinct consolidations, and a good old-fashioned purge of the voter rolls. The implication was, of course, that Abrams was going to have the race stolen from her by the racist, white Republicans.
Except, there were a few issues with that claim. The precinct issues were initiated by Democrats, including polling booths being under lock and key by the courts after progressive groups sued. The closed precincts that raises eyebrows? Democrats in a Democratic county did the consolidating. Actual Governor Brian Kemp “stealing” the election because he was also Secretary of State and therefore in charge of elections? He wasn’t allowed to be involved in the voting process except to certify the results.
What did Abrams and her campaign accomplish by making these claims? Well, there are two possibilities.
The first is that she was trying to stir up black voters – a group that typically (see: 2008, 2012, Barack Obama) doesn’t have a high turnout – enough to get them out to the polls and get ensure victory.
The second is that they were setting up their talking points for why she lost as it suddenly became clear the votes might not be there.
The fact of the matter is, though, that she didn’t win.
You see, what likely happened is this: Abrams and her campaign sabotaged themselves. As they and their allies pushed this narrative that the fix was in, they actually suppressed the vote themselves by sapping the hope and optimism their voters had. The identity politics turned on itself, and she lost the race.
Identity politics rarely works the way it’s used by the Democratic Party. Barack Obama, who won by uniting various “identities”, did so in 2008 without using identity politics to the extent it’s used today. Then, in 2012, he won re-election largely through the weakness of Mitt Romney in uniting conservatives in the Republican Party with the more moderate faction.
In 2010, the Democrats were swept out of the House. In 2014, they were kicked out of the Senate. In 2016, they were denied the White House and Republicans made incredible gains. In 2018, Democrats took back the House over anger/dissatisfaction with Trump, not identity.
If the Democrats run on identity in 2020, as Abrams wants them too, they won’t have success in many areas. The economy under Trump is not only doing better than it has in decades, but satisfaction with the economy is polling as high or higher than it ever has before.
Also, again, Stacey Abrams did not win at all, much less under identity politics. I feel like that isn’t getting said enough.