From Virginia to Jackson, Michigan Democratic candidates were slapped silly by Republicans because Democratic voters stayed home. If there is one lesson learned from Tuesday’s election I hope it’s that Democrats absorb the reality that they cannot win without base support from progressives, African-Americans, young people and union members.

And that base voters will abandon you if you abandon them.

Democrat Deeds in Virginia distanced himself from Obama, rejected the federal stimulus program, and was trounced. State Rep. Marty Griffin lost his Senate bid badly in the Jackson-Battle Creek district after spending the past four years testily rejecting progressives on health, environmental, energy, civil liberties and other issues.

There are other factors involved in those two Democratic defeats. Griffin was vastly outspent by his opponent and Deeds was a terrible candidate. Griffin the candidate, however, was skinny on money precisely because he went out of his way to alienate Democratic donors who are, by far, more traditional progressive than Blue Dog.

This isn’t an argument that Democratic candidates must pass a progressive litmus test. But they sure as hell can’t expect progressive voters to support them if they are downright hostile to the ideals and issues that we believe constitute good public policy and get results for regular people.

For eight years under Bush, and for many years under Engler, we had a front row seat for orthodox Republican big business, socially conservative, anti-tax government policies in Michigan and America. We know how that turned out. It left a huge mess for Obama and a Democratic Congress to clean up, and we are still dealing with the Engler hangover called Mike Bishop in Michigan.

Progressives have no taste for more of the same medicine only sugar-coated by Blue Dog Democrats.

For those following the Blue Dog path to the right in Michigan, be forewarned. You have seen the future Tuesday and it is a dead end.