I know I've said this before-- but I can't say it enough. If there's one thing we learned from this election cycle it's that elections are not only about candidates and committees raising money. If that were the case, the Democrats would have flipped dozens of Republican seats instead of having seen about a dozen of their own flip red-- and losing in all but one targeted Republican-held district.
In picking candidates to back, the #1, #2, and #3 qualifiers for the DSCC and DCCC is ability to raise money, which has tended to pre-select a certain type of individual as a candidate-- more wealthy, more white, more conservative, more status quo-oriented, more establishment, older, less bound by ethics and integrity... Pretty picture, huh? Welcome to American democracy. The party committees force Democratic candidates-- literally force them-- to spend hours per day on the phone, dialing for dollars. It becomes the number one function of any DCCC- or DSCC-backed campaign. Registering voters, inspiring voters, listening to voters, persuading voters... it's all secondary to calling rich people on phone lists and convincing them to write checks to the campaign.
In 2018, the DCCC helped revitalize the Republican wing of the Democratic Party by recruiting and supporting a plethora of really shitty Blue Dogs who spent the 116th Congress voting against anything and everything remotely progressive. They all ran up "F" scores from ProgressivePunch and half a dozen were defeated in their reelection bids, including the 4 quasi-Democrats with the worst voting records in Congress. All of this year's dead Blue Dogs out-raised their Republican opponents and lost anyway:
Rep. Joe Cunningham (49.4%)- $6,278,942
Nancy Mace (50.6%)- $4,891,696
Rep. Anthony Brindisi (44.9%)- $5,359,636
Claudia Tenney (52.9%)- $2,053,931
Rep. Ben McAdams (46.8%)- $5,137,258
Burgess Owens (47.4%)- $4,021,248
Rep. Kendra Horn (47.9%)- $5,465,349
Stephanie Bice (52.1%)- $3,089,972
Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (46.1%)- $7,509,987
Yvette Herrell (53.9%)- $2,498,130
Rep. Max Rose (42.1%)- $8,350,467
Nicole Malliotakis (57.9%)- $3,052,007
On top of that, all the Blue Dog non-incumbent candidates challenging Republicans also lost this year. The Blue Dogs recruited and endorsed 6 candidates this cycle that were backed by the DCCC. All 6 of them lost-- and all 6 of them outraised their GOP opponents, half of whom were entrenched Republican incumbents:
Eugene DePasquale (46.7%)- $3,769,843
Rep. Scott Perry (53.3%)- $3,483,114
Margaret Good (44.5%)- $3,081,236
Rep. Vernon Buchanan (55.5%)- $2,776,434
Jackie Gordon (42.5%)- $3,785,249
Andrew Garbarino (56.6%)- $1,428,928
Christina Hale (45.9%)- $3,482,526
Victoria Spartz (50.0%)- $2,610,962
Brynne Kennedy (44.2%)- $2,484,165
Rep. Tom McClintock (55.8%)- $1,937,566
Sri Kulkarni (44.6%)- $4,863,231
Troy Nehls (51.6%)- $1,532,299
Adam Christensen was the progressive Democrat who won the 3-way primary in red, gerrymandered FL-03. He's far too independent-minded and far too progressive (and far too young) for the DCCC or the Florida Democratic Party and both basically ignored his race, giving him no help whatsoever. When he started feeling their discouraging vibe, he basically ignored them as well-- which helped him do as well as he did-- turning out 80% of registered Democrats in his district's 3 biggest counties (Alachua, Clat and Marion), more than any other Democratic congressional candidate ever had. In the reddest county in the district, Clay, he won more votes-- with a 100% loud and clear progressive message (no GOP-lite crap)-- than any presidential candidate, including Obama and Biden, or congressional candidate had ever achieved in the last two decades. Christensen won 30,000 more votes district-wide than the Democrat running there in 2016. And all this with a campaign run entirely by young progressives younger than he is; he was 26 when he started running.
Christensen's experience has told him that the DCCC-recommended "cold calling donors is a dying art. As anyone who has worked in industry can tell you, cold calling is one of the least effective ways to make a sale. The average success rate is 1-2%. We found it may be even lower in our race depending on the point in the election cycle. 98% of the time candidates spend cold calling is wasted time. The candidates and campaigns that find more efficient ways to raise money and not waste their candidate's time are the ones that tend to have the most compelling messages because they are out actually talking and listening to the people in their communities."
He also pointed out that "all the money in the world doesn't matter if you are one-third as effective in delivering your message. And this is key. What we found in our race (and what appears to be happening with all Democratic candidates) is that Republican data is at least 3 times more effective when it comes to targeting. (in our race alone it accounted for a 7% swing in Clay County) because we went out and bought Republican data after testing the Democratic data provided by the party via VAN and realizing in certain counties 80% of it was wrong. Democrats across the country are completely outmatched and Republicans can spend $1 to every $3 Democrats spend and get the same results. It is the #1 explanation for what happened this year and we believe having dramatically better data for microtargeting accounted for around a 7% swing in most races. Take Donna Shalala’s race, she had way more money, and yet lost. The reason was that her data for targeting voters was ineffective and she ended up wasting around two-thirds; of her donations because of it."
Shalala, an academic with no electoral experience, served as Bill Clinton's HHS Secretary and then as the president of the University of Miami. In 2018, when longtime Congresswoman Ileana Kos Lehtinen (R) decided to retire, Shalala was swept into office in the anti-red wave. She has been an utterly pointless and ineffectual one-termer, out of her depth and so unaware that she was about to be defeated, that she contributed money to the DCCC rather than asking them for assistance. Her D+5 district should have been safe but she lost it-- 176,141 (51.4%) to 166,758 (48.6%). She spent $3,405,420 in the process. Young Christensen, who raised just $176,224, actually won more votes than Shalala did-- 167,326... in his R+9 district!