By Ezra Levin, Indivisible co-founder
Last night we witnessed a history-defying rejection of MAGA Republicans. On a little sleep, I wrote up some initial context and reflection, and I hope you’ll join me, Leah, and the Indivisible team for a deeper debrief call tomorrow Thursday, November 10 at 8pm ET/5pm PT.
Before I get to my top three takeaways, I first have to say one thing clearly:
This is a stunning, historic over-performance by Democrats. All the smart money headed into Tuesday was on major Republican gains. Those expectations were turned on their head last night. The much-touted “Red Wave” never appeared. Democrats are on track to win most of the toss-up House races, to gain governorships and state legislatures, to welcome Senator John Fetterman, and more.
We didn’t win everything, and there’s a lot still up in the air, but let’s be clear: This outcome defies political gravity. There are few more ironclad rules in politics than that the party in power loses the midterms — usually badly. That didn’t happen last night. And that is a huge, huge deal.
Every election cycle includes some painful losses — it’s inevitable. But we should feel like we made history, because we did. With that as preface, here are my three top takeaways:
My three top takeaways:
- Voters roundly rejected MAGAs
- Delivering for voters works
- The grassroots drives wins
This was a rejection of MAGA extremism.
For the last two years, the Indivisible movement has fought to call out and marginalize MAGA extremism, to put the threat to our right to abortion and to our democracy in the spotlight. The results last night demonstrate the power of this movement and this strategy.
Let me tell you a little insider story. After Sinema and Manchin joined McConnell to kill democracy reform, there were intense debates in Democratic circles about what the strongest message would be headed into the midterms. Many in leadership argued Dems should ignore MAGA and focus on other things. As recently as this past summer — after the Roe decision! — senior Dem officials were still arguing that abortion was a loser issue to avoid.
But we at Indivisible disagreed. Loudly. We said our only chance was to run against MAGA extremism. Run against abortion bans. Run against seditionists. Run against book burners. We knew what we were hearing from Indivisible leaders around the country — that this was where the energy was, and this was our best shot at winning. Take the fight to these MAGA extremists, and rally people to protect our freedoms. That, we argued, was our only shot at a good midterm result. We pushed, criticized, cajoled.
And, ultimately, President Biden and Democratic party leadership agreed. Heading into yesterday, the Democrats’ message was unified — more unified than I’ve seen in any national election before. The president’s closing message was a defiant defense of democracy from MAGA extremists. It was messaging we could have written ourselves.
And today we see the results. We defied the historical trends. The red wave evaporated. The voters rejected MAGA in unprecedented numbers.
I’m saying this not because it makes Indivisible look good, and prescient, and smart — although Indivisible is all those things :) . This is important because it clarifies our strategy moving forward. President Biden and the grassroots were right, and we should continue to embrace this strategy headed into next year and 2024. Take the fight to the MAGAs and we will win.
Democrats went big and voters rewarded them.
The Indivisible movement has pushed for two years for Democrats to use their trifecta and their administrative powers to deliver for people in real, tangible ways. From prescription drugs to climate action, from gun violence prevention to infrastructure, the Democratic majority passed as much as it could get by Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate. And President Biden used the power of his pen to forgive student debt, to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, and more.
All of this helped to dispel the classic midterm dropoff. Young voters saw their top issues addressed by Democrats — and they turned out for Democrats in return. This is huge.
Nor was this a foregone conclusion. Democrats like Kyrsten Sinema, Josh Gottheimer, and Henry Cuellar argued against this strategy. They killed or delayed our bills. They watered down Biden’s economic proposals. They advised Biden to stop moving forward on big administrative actions. Most infuriatingly, some of them sided with Mitch McConnell to kill John Lewis’ democracy bill that would have ended gerrymandering, reinstated the Voting Rights Act, and protected our democracy from election subversion.
We couldn’t overcome all of their opposition, but we overcame enough to deliver big, meaningful things for voters. And the voters rewarded us by showing up. And it’s clear that if the Sinemas and Gottheimers of the world hadn’t diluted and delayed our agenda, a great night would have been even better. We take this lesson to heart as we head into the next congress.
The grassroots is driving our wins for democracy
- Focus public attention on MAGA extremism locally.
- Do massive voter contact to get out the vote (GOTV)
- In Pennsylvania, Indivisible Mayday mercilessly birdogged Oz in giant broccoli costumes and and forced questions on abortion.
- In Arizona, Indivisible’s in Arizona 6th confronted the MAGA candidate on abortion and he literally ran away.
- In New Mexico, I had the pleasure of joining a statewide convening of a couple hundred Indivisible leaders and focusing on the extremism of their seditionist MAGA representative who is now going down in defeat.
All over the country, Indivisibles wrote letters to the editor, held public events, dropped banners, sang songs, marched, bird dogged, orchestrated earned media operations, and found ways to focus attention on MAGA extremism to define what this election was about. And that put us within the margin where GOTV could make the difference.
A good GOTV program can close the gap by around 1%. That might not sound like much, but dozens of the races we won yesterday were decided by less than that. We postcarded, we texted, we phonebanked, we canvassed. Day after day, week after week, month after month, we reached out to millions of voters all over the country and we produced the margins we needed to clinch victory in places the pundits had counted us out. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but we sure as hell won that 1%.
You did this. WE did this. Together we chose the ground to fight on, and then we fought like hell on that ground.
Please join us tomorrow
This was somewhat hastily written, so I hope you’ll join me for some deeper discussion of what just happened and what comes next on our debrief and strategy call tomorrow night Thursday, November 10 at 8pm ET/5pm PT. I’ll close with just a final bit of reflection:
2018: We built the largest midterm margins in history.
2020: We made Trump the first one-term president in a generation.
2021: We won two “impossible” Georgia senate runoffs.
2022: We orchestrated a history-defying midterm for an incumbent president.
We’ve won. We’re winning. We will win. And I am so incredibly proud to be in this movement for democracy with you.