Ocasio-Cortez defends progressives from blame for Democratic ‘underperformance’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) argued Friday that progressivism isn’t to blame for Democrats falling short of expectations on Election Day.

Rather, she charged the underperformance in House and Senate races resulted from a failure to effectively address GOP attacks and invest in turnout strategy.

Ocasio-Cortez, in a series of tweets, cited an underinvestment in digital campaign strategy by “struggling” campaigns and questioned the decision by some Democrats to cease knocking on doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are folks running around on TV blaming progressivism for Dem underperformance. I was curious, so I decided to open the hood on struggling campaigns of candidates who are blaming progressives for their problems. Almost all had awful execution on digital. DURING A PANDEMIC,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.


Ocasio-Cortez did not identify specific campaigns, nor did a spokesperson clarify which campaigns she was referring to. She further took a shot at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) decision to blacklist campaign consultants who work for candidates that launch primary challenges against incumbent Democratic lawmakers.

“Ideology + messaging are the spicy convos a lot of people jump to but sometimes it’s about execution and technical capacity. Digital execution was not good, polls were off, ironically DCCC banned the firms who are the best in the country at Facebook bc they work w progressives!” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

As of Friday, Republicans have flipped seven Democratic-held seats while Democrats have only picked up two seats, both in North Carolina. The two North Carolina districts were open seats that had been expected to become Democratic pickups due to redistricting. Some races have not yet been called.

Ocasio-Cortez’s tweets came a day after House Democrats held a marathon caucus call where centrists blamed their liberal colleagues for GOP attack ads accusing them of “socialism” and wanting to take funds away from police departments. 

But like other progressives defending themselves from those charges, Ocasio-Cortez maintained that championing progressive policies is essential for Democrats to turn out their base in elections. She also argued that Democrats should find ways to blunt the GOP attacks in debates over funding for police departments or other issues by investing in year-round “deep canvassing” instead of “always running away from [conversations] about race.” 

“So the whole ‘progressivism is bad’ argument just doesn’t have any compelling evidence that I’ve seen. When it comes to ‘Defund’ & ‘Socialism’ attacks, people need to realize these are racial resentment attacks. You’re not gonna make that go away. You can make it less effective,” she wrote. 

Trying to ignore or minimize debates about racial justice, she warned, would make it harder to convince racial minorities who make up the Democratic base to vote.

“You can’t just tell the Black, Brown, & youth organizers riding in to save us every election to be quiet or not have their reps champion them when they need us. Or wonder why they don’t show up for midterms when they’re scolded for existing. Esp when they’re delivering victories,” she wrote.

She concluded her series of tweets by stressing that she is “happy to cede ground on things that aren’t working in some areas!” 

“But finger pointing is not gonna help. There’s real workable & productive paths here if the party is open to us. (After all, I got here by beating a Dem who outspent me 10-1 who I knew had bad polling),” she wrote.

While progressives and centrists in the Democratic caucus are at odds over why they fell short of expectations to gain five to 15 House seats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) emphasized that they would maintain control of the lower chamber.

“We’ve lost some battles but we won the war. We have the gavel,” Pelosi said Friday at a press conference in the Capitol, casting the divisions within the caucus as “beautiful dynamism.”

Tags 2020 election Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Nancy Pelosi

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