Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Netroots Aren't Responsible for Creigh Deeds Losing by 18 Points

In the week since the devastating election last Tuesday there has been a relatively public discussion about what went wrong during the campaign. When the Democratic gubernatorial candidate loses by 18 points after the Democrats have had a lot of success on the statewide level for several years, I tend to agree that activists should examine what happened to see what issues need to be addressed. I know this process started in the blogosphere even before the election was over as netroots activists were trying to figure out if there was anything we could do to help turn the race around.

Despite the fact that many bloggers were frequently talking to the Deeds campaign trying to help Creigh win, it appears as though there are many folks who are blaming the netroots for the horrific results of last week's election. One commenter over at Blue Virginia seems to typify the comments being made as he tried to blame to netroots for bringing down Creigh's candidacy.
By the way, I've yet to hear anyone in the blogosphere admit that you all played a part in the massive tidal wave last Tuesday. It's fine and dandy apparently for you all to take some ownership in the victories of Barack Obama, Jim Webb, and Tim Kaine... but you all spent several months inflicting harm on Creigh Deeds since the primary over his "progressive" credentials and policy views. Like it or not, the progressive grassroots in this state read you as their news source for VA politics, and if they read negative stories for months on end it will demoralize them just as much as Creigh Deeds gaffes. I remember a time when the blogosphere was a force for good in this state. Can we try going back to that?
What's also very noticeable is that before he made that comment he also attack Lowell's character. Lowell's offense in this person's mind was having the audacity to actually point out that there probably should have be more money invested in some of the close House of Delegate campaigns. Considering the fact that we had a net loss of 6 seats in the House, investing more in the 4 races that we lost by 2 points or less could have lead to a salvageable election day. The fact that the commenter couldn't see that helps to show that he's likely just looking for someone to blame for Creigh's loss. Since bloggers have voiced their concerns with Creigh's campaign makes us the easy targets for people looking to blame someone.

But can anyone really claim that bloggers are responsible for Creigh losing by 18 points? The plain and simple fact is that the netroots simply isn't powerful enough to account for that much of a swing -- especially when you consider that Creigh's campaign refused to work productively with the blogosphere. The problem that the netroots had with Creigh is the same one that so many Virginians had with his campaign -- we weren't given a reason to vote FOR Creigh and, on top of that, he kept running away from the values of the Democratic base.

If Creigh had spent more time talking about his positives and had actually run as a Democrat, then the netroots could have served as a way to get more people involved with the campaign and potentially put Creigh over the top in a close race. But bloggers aren't miracle workers and we can't get people excited about a candidate if there's nothing there to get excited about. What we can do is help to strengthen a campaign by pointing out what's going wrong and making some recommendations of how to improve the campaign.

In a campaign that was consistently down in the polls by huge margins, you'd think they'd want to listen to folks who are extremely knowledgeable about the activist base and the electorate in general. Creigh's campaign definitely had plenty of netroots activists who fit that description and were willing to help out. Nonetheless, many of Creigh's staffers simply wouldn't listen and some of his more loyal supporters tried to dismiss the criticisms by claiming that bloggers just weren't being loyal Democrats. There's therefore no legitimate reason anyone can claim that the blogosphere was responsible for Creigh Deeds losing by 18 points.

The way things have been going, however, I have a feeling that we're going to see more and more people trying to blame the netroots for a loss that clearly was a result of other factors. This is a shame because we shouldn't really be examining the real reasons for the huge loss to make sure that doesn't happen again in the future.

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