Last week I argued that there was a path to victory for Democrats in the House. That turned out to be wrong. It was a brutal night for Democratic Members of the House. Many lost by narrow margins -- but a loss of any amount is still a loss.
What caused this disaster? First let's talk about what didn't cause Democratic defeat.
The Republicans will argue that their electoral success represented a ringing rebuke of progressive policies and values -- and a popular renunciation of the Obama administration. That reading of this election would be completely wrong.
The polling shows that Americans still very much support Social Security and Medicare and want nothing to do with the Ryan "roadmap" that would privatize Social Security, eliminate Medicare and replace it with vouchers.
Americans support Wall Street reform and the reject attempts to allow the big banks to return to the recklessness that cost eight million Americans their jobs.
Americans do not favor eliminating the new law that prevents insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.
Americans favor more investment in education, good public schools, money spent on infrastructure and spending by the government that creates new jobs.
Why then did they buy the Republican sales pitch and once again hand them the gavel of the House?
1). It's the economy stupid. Middle class Americans are frightened and angry. For two decades the largest corporations and the big Wall Street banks have, in effect, waged war on the middle class. They have siphoned off every bit of economic growth for themselves. They have left middle class incomes stagnant, and made it more and more difficult for many families to believe in the American dream that their kids will be better off than they were.
The voters threw out George Bush and the Republicans two years ago because of the economy, and yesterday they took out their frustration on Democrats in Congress.
If the recession had not been so deep, if we had been able to pass a larger stimulus, if circumstances had allowed the administration to preside over the creation of three or four million jobs over the last two years, the right would not have found the fertile soil in which to grow its Tea Party.
In the end, the wide spread popular anger and frustration is about the economy.
2). The ferocious counter attack by Wall Street and the corporate special interests worked.
When the President and Democrats in Congress were forced to confront the worst economic downturn in 60 years -- a downturn that was caused by the actions of Wall Street and the same crowd that has made war on the middle class -- progressives fought for -- and won historic legislation to rein in the power of the insurance companies, and the big Wall Street banks.
Those actions provoked a furious counter assault by corporate special interests -- that included their use of unprecedented amounts of secret and foreign money -- to take back control of the House and stop the president's agenda. Those actions were not a political "mistake" as some will no doubt try to describe them. They were necessary to lay the foundation for long term, widely shared prosperity and short term economic recovery. But they involved major short term political cost. Many Democrats knew the potential political risk and decided do it anyway.
But it turned out that you can't be out-communicated seven or eight to one for months on end and not expect negative attacks to take their toll.
Some might argue that Democrats could have done a better job taking the offense. In fact many of them did, but often they were drowned out by the massive fusillade of corporate advertising.
In this election, the Empire struck back. Or I suppose you could be that the right wingers on the Supreme Court struck back by reversing a hundred years of American law and deciding that corporations had the same rights a people to "free speech" and could spend any amount to manipulate the outcome of American elections.
Of course the irony is that the same forces that created the economic crisis, and profited from it, then turned around and played off the fear that the crisis created to convince voters to turnout Democrats who had stood up to them and reined them in.
So what do we do now?
Over the next two years it is critical that increasing numbers of Americans come to believe that their lives -- and those of their children -- are improving. And just as important they need to see Democrats fighting for their jobs.
In some cases that is no doubt true. But recriminations and disarray among the progressive forces will only help to our enemies. Unless we want to return to the dark ages of complete Republican control, we need to make sure that President Obama is strong and successful. This election should make it crystal clear that if we do not hang together, we will all hang separately.
I predict that the new "Republican revival" will burn brightly for a brief moment and flame out like a sparkler.
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," available on amazon.com.