Frank Rich is asking:
If the GOP’s only overriding strategy was to run against Obama, the Democrats’ only coherent national message was to run away from Obama, including his signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. It’s only on social issues that the Democratic party has a clear profile, and as was seen last night most spectacularly in Mark Udall’s defeat in Colorado, running a narrowcasting campaign focused on the GOP “war on women” is not a blueprint for victory.
Yuval Levin calls the election “a warning about [the Dems’] overwhelming intellectual exhaustion”:
They have very nearly nothing to say to or offer the country at this point, and their approach to politics has been reduced to little more than a series of tired rote gestures and slogans disconnected from the present and the future. The cupboard is bare and the energy is depleted. That is President Obama’s fault in part, but it is also the fault of the Left’s broader failure (shared in common with the Right to some extent of course) to think seriously about some basic realities of 21st-century America.
This exhaustion is powerfully evident in the Democrats’ preparations for 2016, which at this point are astonishingly lacking in energy and intensity. The Democrats appear to have just one reasonably plausible presidential contender and may be embarking on an essentially uncontested and content-free primary in a non-incumbent year. This kind of extended yet empty process — no excitement and no tussle, just the long, grim coronation march of an uninspiring leader whose followers dearly hope is in fact “likable enough” — could seriously exacerbate their problems.
Scott Shackford argues along the same lines:
Up until this point in Obama’s presidential career the party has rallied around him and served him. Whatever Obama stood for is what the party stood for. Without Obama, the party is left with a bunch of progressive platitudes and outcomes that they find desirable (raise the minimum wage, reduce college debt) and no strategy on how to get there, especially now. When identity politics play much less of a role in an election outcome—note the lack of gay marriage issues on the ballot—they’re struggling. Illinois Democrats manufactured some progressive-friendly “advisory” votes in order to try lure out voters, and yet their incumbent governor still lost.