Democratic outreach beyond traditional areas is sorely needed (UPDATE: Redaction)
A redaction -- Democrats were at the event, are on the right path towards fixing things
A redaction: It was brought to my attention earlier that Democrats did indeed have a booth at the Jefferson County Fair, within the Commercial building on the fairgrounds. As I stated in my original post, I didn't go out seeking either Party, yet I did notice the Republicans there and missed seeing the Democrats. However, I stated that I didn't see the Dems, and that I was disappointed by the fact that "it seemed as if the Democrats didn't even bother to reach out at all at the Jefferson County Fair
That statement, as well as others in the original post (kept in its entirety below), was based on a broken assumption: that Democrats hadn't made an effort to outreach within the events at Jefferson County this past weekend. I maintain that in order to make gains, the Democrats need to make greater strides at events like these -- as an average "fair-goer" who wasn't looking for any party before showing up, it's still disheartening that I wasn't able to get information about the Democrats simply by walking the main strip of the fairgrounds.
Nevertheless, my original posting was wrong -- the Democrats WERE at the event, they HAD made efforts to be at a public forum. I was wrong, but there is a silver-lining that goes along with being errant in this particular case. I'm actually HAPPY to be wrong about this one -- it means that Democrats ARE taking recent losses seriously, and are working to correct the problem by reaching every Wisconsin community, not just the largest two.
Hopefully, by continuing to do so, they'll be able to make Wisconsin realize that the Republican vision for our state is leading us on a path of destruction.
I ventured eastward today, to the Jefferson County Fair. It was an enjoyable experience, a gratifying excursion that included rides, carnival games, food that I'll likely regret ingesting, and livestock of many varieties.
Walking around the fairgrounds, I noticed a man holding a sign for Mitt Romney. Though I didn't come to the fair to witness political activities, I did store this event in the back of my mind.
I knew it was typical for political parties to distribute literature and talk to people at such gatherings, so I didn't think much of it beyond noticing the event itself and carrying on with the festivities. I enjoyed the rest of the day, and even waved at the folks at the Republican Party booth later on.
I was saddened, however, when I was unable to find the Democratic Party's booth. I walked all over the fairgrounds, not necessarily actively looking for them -- I was enjoying a nice afternoon with my family, after all -- but keeping my eyes peeled nonetheless in hopes of maybe giving them a "thumbs up" to let them know that support was out there, even if it was from a guy from Dane County.
I may be mistaken. As I said, I didn't do a thorough search. But it seemed as if the Democrats didn't even bother to reach out at all at the Jefferson County Fair.
There may be reason why their presence was limited -- being neighbors to one of the reddest counties in the state (Waukesha), Jefferson didn't exactly carry huge numbers for Democrats in the recall election this year. In fact, Jefferson County voted 60 percentin favor of keeping Scott Walker in office, versus just under 40 percent in favor of his opponent. That was only a slight improvement from 2010, when Walker won in Jefferson County by 61 percent to Barrett's 38 percent.
A gain of only two percent is, understandably, a bit uninspiring. But missing the fair altogether was still a lost opportunity for the Jefferson Democrats. In a county where Barack Obama won by just over 350 votes against John McCain, there IS indeed potential for progressive wins in the area. It would take hard work, no doubt, but it's a goal that can be achieved, given the right conditions.
If Obama is going to go for a repeat in the county this year, he'll need the help of the Jefferson County Democrats to get out there and win it for him on the ground, as well as having a presence at events like county fairs and other public venues where political parties typically visit.
In fact, Democrats in ALL counties need to "step up their game." People ARE responsive to progressive issues if you take the time to talk about them. Polling shows that Americans support issues like health care reform, help for the disadvantaged, and taxing the wealthy a bit more when it's framed in a context outside of Republican talking points.
If areas like Jefferson aren't hearing the Democratic Party's side, they're only going to vote the direction of a message that they're exposed to. And right now, the Republican Party is making strides in areas the Dems should be taking advantage of.
The simple point is this: while traditional strongholds are important, elections in Wisconsin aren't won in Dane or Milwaukee Counties alone. Conversely, they're not won in Waukesha or Washington Counties either. They're won in areas where the tide is prone to shifting, where every bit of influence matters.
Reaching out to people in counties like Jefferson is the first step to turning things around in Wisconsin. It's an action that needs earnest consideration by the Wisconsin Democrats if they're serious about winning, in the short- and long-term.