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Bill Maher returned to Real Time on inauguration day. During the Overtime segment, he and his guests did the usual rigmarole of delineating what the Democrats did incorrectly leading up to the election. You can watch the video here:

About halfway through, former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez jumps in with his suggestion of what needs to be done (“Organize, organize, organize.”) and diagnosis of what went wrong: “We got enamored with data analytics, and we ignored the old persuasion. You can’t go to a church every fourth year in October and call that an organizing strategy.”

It’s TV, so there’s probably more he would add had he the time, but that’s the talking point he ran with, one I’ve heard relentlessly since the election. It usually comes in the form of “fight back,” and barring the significant exception of the women’s protests across the country over the weekend, I don’t know what “fighting back” entails. (And as I’ve said about protests before, they’re great at generating energy, but unless that energy is transferred to channels of power it’ll go the way of Occupy.)

Maybe it’s because of the places I’ve lived that either party decided beforehand that it was a sure thing/complete wash, but I’ve never had anyone knock on my door for a presidential candidate. I get the occasional flyer which promptly goes in the trash, and that’s it.

I’ll tell you what concerns me. Talk “organize, organize, organize” all you like, but Democrats have a geographical problem more than just an organization problem:


3 million more Democrat votes in the presidential race. 11 million more votes in the senate races, yet Democrats control 46 seats to the Republicans’ 52. In the House, Republicans got about 1.5 million more votes than Democrats, but geography (and gerrymandering!) gave them nearly fifty more seats. The margins aren’t even close.

But another piece is that numbers shifted in Trump’s favor in places it mattered. Why a state like Wisconsin was believed to be in the bag for Democrats is beyond me. (Why? Because Obama did 400k+ votes better than McCain? Even though that number dropped in half in ’12 against Romney?) The split in ’04 was Kerry 1,489,504 to Bush 1,478,120. In ’00 it was slimmer: Gore with 1,242,987 to Bush 1,237,279.

Organize, organize, organize. Sure, get to it. But understand that the current electoral system allows for outrageous disparities between popular support and power.