The darkest moment in the 2014 midterm campaign was when Allison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, refused to admit that she had voted for President Obama.
Grimes was once thought to have a good shot at defeating long-term Republican incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell, but she wound up losing by a significant margin. Running away from the President didn't work.
And it didn't work anywhere else that approach was tried. Democrats who attempted to "localize" the election -- a consultants' euphemism for focusing away from the President -- lost right along with those who accepted Obama's help.
But what if Grimes hadn't ducked? What if she explained that Kentuckians had benefited more from Obamacare than residents of almost any other state, and that's why she voted for him? What if she had simply taken a stand?
Well, for one thing, Grimes couldn't have done any worse. For that matter, she would have gone down fighting, gone down making a case for Democratic policies.
And she just might have won. Voters know it when you're being less than candid with them. Sometimes they even appreciate it when you tell them something you know they don't want to hear. When a candidate does that, voters get a sense that they're not just being pandered to, that they're actually being treated like adults.
The funny thing is that polls show Americans side with Democratic positions on most issues, including the minimum wage, immigration, gun background checks, gay marriage and more. They even like almost all the elements of Obamacare, even if they hate the amorphous thing called "Obamacare."
Above all, Democrats should have had the upper hand on the most fundamental issue of all in the recent election. It has been said that this was an election about nothing. But it wasn't. This was an election centered around voter frustration over a sense of insecurity. Minor contributors to the feeling came in the form of ISIS and ebola, but the fundamental gnawing unease is over stagnant wages and job security.
Since the recovery began in 2009 corporate profits are up 46%, the stock market is up 92%, and median household income is down by 3%. In fact, 95% of income growth created in the recovery has gone to the richest 1% of Americans. The Democrats are the party that cares about that. The Republicans are the party that would be happy to make it worse.
And yet, in an era when Democrats should be riding high, they got shellacked. It happened because the party and its pollsters and consultants saw the election in purely technical terms. Raise lots of money, attack your opponent, localize, get the vote out. They missed the step about giving people a reason to vote.