It should be clear that Democrats need to work on their strategy for Presidential elections. If one is willing to listen to me, I have the following observations.
Simply getting out the vote will not work. It seems the conclusion drawn from 2016 is that Clinton lost because not enough Democrats voted. The thinking is based on the belief there are more Democrats than Republicans in the United States. The problem is, increating vote count only works in a pure democratic nationwide election, aka the popular vote, and we don’t elect Presidents in the United States by popular vote. (The founders feared a pure democracy.)
Republicans have simplified the path to the White House: win rural votes by > 50% margin and if you get 30% of the urban vote, you win, and that strategy aligns to the electoral college. In short, Democrats have to get more rural vote, which leads me to the one overriding fundamental that Democrats have to understand..
Fear of socialism trumps everything else!
People are not really voting on issues, which I think is why polling is not working. People are voting on fear and mostly fear of the other side. The Republican message is simple, Democrats are socialists, socialism = communism = evil = unAmercan, so vote Republican to save America! A significant number of people are convinced they can never vote for a Democrat because that is a vote for Socialism. Add to that another significant number of people, call them evangelicals, who are convinced voting for a Demorat is a vote for killing babys and you have this result. And evangelials equate socialism to atheism which adds another reason why they fear Democrats. Then, sadly, add to the fact that there are too many who fear a vote for a Democrat is a vote for people of color over white people.
If you consider that Republican votes are mostly all about fear of what Democrats will do, I think you see how the Democrat primary and compaigns of 2016 and 2020 make the election strategy for Republicans easy because policies considered to be socialist AND politicians considered to be socialists (Bernie Sanders) dominated the campaigns.
In short, I think Bernie Sanders created a lot of fear among voters AND was a easy target. Even after Biden secured the nomination Republicans simply claimed Sanders would have significant influence over Biden because Democrats do want the Sanders followers support. I think this is true, hard to dispute and personally frustrating to me because Bernie is not even a Democrat!
Why does this matter? It matters because for extremism to be successful it needs an equally extreme opposite. The antidote to extremism is the middle and unfortunately that is shrinking rapidly. I think the only way the middle, call them moderates, can be recovered is via a third party but how we finance and run elections in the United States in the 21st century really makes it impossible for a viable third party.
In summary, fear of socialism trumps everything. It don’t matter whether the Republican candidate is authoritarian, unqualified, and incapable of leading, it only matters that at Democrat doesn’t get power and destroy the country.