Our Work Post-Mortem

Our Challenge

Democrats went into the 2020 election confident they would not only hold their House majority, but expand it. When election results did not meet those expectations in the House and Senate, Democrats nationwide asked: “what happened?” Democrats lost races they felt sure they would keep, and on election night there were warning signs that Dems vastly underperformed expectations with Latino voters, in particular.

A diverse coalition of interests including Third Way, Collective PAC, and the Latino Victory Fund tasked 270 with answering “what happened in 2020?”, specifically in the US House and Senate.

Our Approach

Over six months, we devoted the bulk of our time and effort to gathering first-person observations based on the campaigns’ lived experience. We spoke with more than 140 candidates and staff, Members, Party leaders, external organizations that were major players in the 2020 cycle, major funders, and top strategists and vendors. We explored the national and regional message themes that played out in targeted campaigns’ media and other assets. We reviewed the infrastructure and ecosystem that supported these campaigns, and conducted our own deep dive into the data and analytics using both final state voter files and public and proprietary polling.  Throughout the project, we sought out additional relevant data, integrated new analyses of 2020 demographics and outcomes, and incorporated the wisdom and experience of expert voices from across the Democratic political spectrum.

To prepare the stakeholders for the report’s release, our team prepared three versions of the report: a briefing version, a reader version, and the full 408-slide detailed version. With this information, Third Way, Collective PAC, and Latino Victory Fund are well-informed and supported with the materials to make an impact in future cycles and do their own media following the release of the report.

Our Results

Leading up to the report’s public release, our team (in partnership with Third Way, Collective PAC, and Latino Victory Fund) briefed senior leaders and elected officials of the Democratic party, Congressional Caucuses, and influential PACs on our takeaways. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, and the report is now in the hands of senior party officials and people who are key decision makers in the 2022 midterms and beyond.

In the weeks following its public release, this analysis drew significant positive media attention, including in the New York Times where the report was called “perhaps the most thorough soul-searching done by either party this year.” Mentioned on NPR and discussed on Pod Save America, the report’s nuance and thoroughness was in the news for weeks after the release. Additionally, the analysis was reported on by NBC News, Yahoo News, CNN Politics, USA Today, and dozens of other news sources across the American media ecosystem. The reader version of the report can be read in full here.

We are planners