With the GOP threatening in November to gain seats in both the House and the Senate, many liberal activists and commentators are likely to continue to point to changing demographic trends as a sign that the electoral setback is a temporary blip, reflective of the predictable electoral swing against an incumbent President's party during his second term and a particularly unfavorable mix of world events and domestic conditions.
Many will also continue to blame a perceived political spending advantage on the part of conservatives including the growing network of groups funded by the billionaire Koch brothers.
For these liberal activists, donors, and fundraisers, November's electoral defeats will just be another point of evidence that they need to dedicate themselves to raising ever greater sums of money and invest in even more aggressive forms of "in your face" activism on issues ranging from climate change to social inequality.
Among the perceived encouraging trends that liberals are likely to point to are survey findings this past summer from the Pew Research Center showing that over the past twenty years the number of Americans who can be rated as "consistently liberal" in their worldviews has increased four fold, from 3 percent in 1994 to 12 percent today.
In a country considered center-right, 34 percent of Americans today score as consistently/mostly liberal in their outlook compared to 27 percent as consistently/mostly conservative, a reversal from 20 years ago.
Moreover, those in the middle (e.g. who can't be classified in either ideological camp,) have declined over the past decade by 10 points to 39 percent.
It's not only that Americans have grown more divided in their worldviews, but the constant demonization and outrage expressed at liberal and conservative media outlets, blogs, and by political leaders and commentators has cultivated deeply unfavorable views of the "other," to the point that according to Pew, a third of Democrats and Republicans believe that the other side is a "threat to the future of the country."
For liberals, who have purposively invested over the past 15 years in an ideological message machine of closely aligned media organizations, think tanks, bloggers, donor networks, and activist groups to rival that of the Right, the Pew poll findings are likely to be perceived as demonstrating the effectiveness of such echo chamber efforts.
To be sure, demographic changes and geographic sorting/mobility play a role, but for many liberal strategists and activists the intense polarization and antipathy for the "other side" reflected in the Pew findings will likely be cited as an example of successful movement building.
But such an attribution overlooks how the liberal and conservative movements fundamentally differ. For liberals, the more polarized the country becomes, the more difficult it will be to enact major policy changes or to hold together a successful electoral coalition.
For conservatives, on the other hand, increasing polarization favors their goals of downsizing government, blocking policy reforms, and limiting political participation among young people and minorities.