We know exactly what Donald Trump's strategy is: Take this election straight into the gutter, keep it there, and make voters so disgusted that his diehard fanatics -- the only ones he has left -- will carry the day. That is his only chance, and we shouldn't let him bring us down to his level. Democrats win by talking about the issues that matter to the American people, and by giving people a reason to vote for them.
Between the public polling already available before the appalling Access Hollywood tape came out, and the stories that have broken since, it is very clear that suburban, college-educated women that were considered the key swing voters at the beginning of this race are now moving solidly to Hillary Clinton's camp. The question that remains in this race is whether the Democratic base -- people of color, unmarried women, Bernie voters, and millennials -- will turn out in big numbers to vote for her and other Democrats. And the way we turn them out and get them to vote for Hillary (as opposed to Johnson or Stein, very few are going to vote for Trump) is to give them strong progressive and populist reasons to do so.
Research and analysis by Democracy Corps and Women's Voices Women's Vote Action Fund lay this case out very well, and provide a path for Democrats up and down the ballot to turn this into a Democratic wave election:
Millennials are poised to give Hillary Clinton and Democrats a big margin in November's election if they are engaged to vote and if progressives are smart in dealing with the third party vote. Millennial voters are in a very different place than they were two weeks ago, according to a new web survey of likely millennial voters in the eleven most competitive battleground states...
Democratic millennials have started to consolidate for Clinton, but their Republican contemporaries have not done the same for Trump. Gary Johnson's millennial vote is now a repository for most of those anti-Trump Republicans. The biggest, genuine problem is whether millennials will vote. The emerging battle over the economy - centered on taxes, trickle down and corporate responsibility - is getting their attention. Millennials are in an anti-corporate mood and desperate for change, and this new focus may move them to the polls on Election Day.
The message that DCorps and WVWVAF recommends corresponds to the populist progressive economic message Hillary has embraced in the two debates and in her terrific speeches on the economy in Warren, MI and Toledo, OH. DCorps and WVWVAF sum it up:
Clinton wants to end the reign of trickle-down economics and raise taxes on the wealthy that have seen all the new income gains so they pay their fair share and so we can invest in the middle class. Trump will enact the biggest tax cut for the one percent in history, including a $4 billion dollar tax break for his family, and make inequality even worse.
It is clear that the voters we need to turn out -- especially young people -- are populist and progressive to the max. They want millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes. They want to end the destructive cycle of student debt. They want good jobs and good wages and dignity in the workplace. They want Wall Street to be held accountable. And that is exactly what Democrats have said they will do, in our party platform, in speeches all over the country, in the legislation our elected officials have introduced in Congress.
If Democrats and progressive movement leaders alike give those voters a reason to turn out, the data tells us they will respond. With Republicans in open and ugly civil war, a lot of their voters either won't vote for Trump; won't vote for the GOP candidates who aren't supporting Trump; or won't vote at all. Given that circumstance, a big turnout by young and progressive constituencies will give us a big wave election for Democrats, meaning not only that Hillary wins, but that we win the Senate and, yes, the House too.
So to all my Democratic friends, progressive bloggers, social media mavens, and grassroots activists: don't spend all your time attacking Trump. I know it is impossible to resist responding to his nastiness sometimes, and we should, but Trump makes the case that he is a bad guy every day, and we shouldn't be spending all our time telling people what they already know. The key to winning this election is to rise up and remind voters why Democrats deserve their votes, what we stand for, who we are, and what we intend to accomplish if they just give us a chance.
Disclosure: Mike Lux is a Senior Adviser at the Democratic National Committee.