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Democrats unveil their autopsy report on 2014 election

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Five months after Mitt Romney was defeated by Barack Obama, a Republican National Committee task force issued a brutal 100-page autopsy on what the GOP needed to improve upon if they wanted to start winning presidential elections once again.

Flash forward two years, and it’s the Democrats turn to look inward after they were dealt a devastating takedown in the 2014 midterm elections. Immediately afterwards, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz appointed the “Democratic Victory Task force,” whose mission is to examine the last several election cycles by getting good ideas “from the entire Democratic family” as to how they can improve the long-term strength of the national party.

That group (which includes Wasserman Schultz, strategist/commentator Donna Brazile, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear among others) has been meeting with whole lot of folks over the past few months since the election debacle: experts in message and research development, targeting and voter mobilization and voter advocacy, elected officials, campaign managers, general consultants, academics, donors and conducted a post-election poll with 100,000 supporters from across the country.

The preliminary report lists areas where the DNC can raise their game:

Having a clear, values-based narrative that unites us as Democrats and engages and appeals to the broadest swath possible of the American electorate.
Creating strong accountable partnerships with active Democrats and all those who share our values in all 57 states and territories and Democrats Abroad.
Proactively protecting and expanding every American’s right to vote.
Building a three-election strategy for redistricting – at the state and federal level.
Identifying and promoting the next generation of Democratic leaders, including citizen activists
from a cross-section of backgrounds and walks of life.

The report also says that “no area of this review caused more debate or solicited more ideas than the belief that there is no single narrative that unites all of our work and the issues that we care about as a community of Democrats. It is strongly believed that the Democratic Party is loosely understood as a long list of policy statements and not as people with a common set of core values (fairness, equality, opportunity). This lack of cohesive narrative impedes the party’s ability to develop and maintain a lifelong dialogue and partnership with voters.”

The answer? A “National Narrative Project” to create “strong values-based national narrative” that is aimed at motivating voters to identify with Democrats.

The paper says that Democrats need to reclaim voters they’ve lost in recent years such as Southerners, and excite blacks and Latinos. But no info on how they’ll pull that off simultaneously.

And the conclusion?

The circumstances that led to the series of devastating electoral losses did not develop overnight. Instead they have been building over decades as the political system has been irrevocably changed by the passage of McCain-Feingold and the Citizens United decision. Republicans, in many cases, have been quick to respond to these changes and take advantage of this new moneyed and murky environment.

In just under twelve weeks, the Democratic Victory Task Force has examined all aspects of the recent election cycles and identified a number of areas for further study. This Task Force’s work is only just beginning and a full action plan – including additional research, pilot programs, narrative development and collaboration with our allies – will be in place by May 2015.

This plan marks the start of our fight to reclaim state houses, win governorships, take back the House and Senate and protect the White House. Our work has only just begun!

As has been mentioned by others who have read the report, there isn’t much that is critical here. The Task Force will produce its final recommendations by mid-2015.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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