Democratic Congresswoman: Oh, We'll Easily Pick Up 25 Seats Next Year (But Omits Radioactive Pelosi Factor)

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jun 28, 2017 1:45 PM
Democratic Congresswoman: Oh, We'll Easily Pick Up 25 Seats Next Year (But Omits Radioactive Pelosi Factor)

Rep.Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) was on CNN Monday, where the Illinois Democrat was quite optimistic about winning the 25 seats needed to retake the majority. She noted that Democrats have been outperforming their margins in the various special elections held this year, while noting that Georgia Sixth, where Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in the most expensive House race in history, is pegged as one of the hardest districts for Democrats; Ossoff lost by a thin 52/48 margin. Still, it’s a loss. Democrats are 0-4 in special election losses; a fact that seems to be ignored to their peril when it comes to 2018 projections. In all, it’s a bit insane that we’re making these prognostications, given that the midterm season is still a little over a year away. Yet, Ms. Schakowsky remains hopeful saying, “If we do that well around the country, we will easily win the 25 seats that we need.”


Not so fast there, Jan. Nate Cohn of The New York Times’ Upshot blog has some cold water for you. Yes, Democratic turnout was the highest in maybe a decade for an off-year election in GA-06, but GOP turnout was especially high in the runoff, as was the spike in nonwhite and young voters, who broke for Ossoff. These spikes canceled each other out. At the end of the day, the fact that GA-06 was a Republican district, coupled with higher June 20 turnout from GOP voters, was enough to put Handel over the top. There was a high number of Republicans who did break for Ossoff though, which Cohn says is the only way he was able to reach 48 percent in a red district. Still, that’s the same share of the vote Ossoff received in the April 18 primary. The only difference is that he blew $30 million in Democratic money to get the same result on June 20. He did do better than Hillary Clinton, however, by one point. The wild card was black voter turnout, which was depressed, despite a solid ground game operation by Ossoff’s crew. Here’s where things are murky for Democrats as they look to 2018 [emphasis mine]

Democrats, unsurprisingly, are disappointed by losing in Georgia. The recriminations are already underway. There are, undoubtedly, things that Democrats can hope to do better next time. There always are.

But the turnout probably isn’t the thing that should keep Democrats up at night. The strong Democratic turnout fits a longer-term pattern of Democrats matching G.O.P. turnout in midterm elections when the Republicans hold the White House, essentially yielding the same partisan breakdown as a presidential election. If the same thing happens in 2018, Democrats will be much better off than they were in 2014 or 2012.

The bad news for Democrats, of course, is that even this sort of turnout is no guarantee of victory. The battle for control of the House will be fought in large part in Republican-leaning districts like Georgia’s Sixth, and a strong Democratic turnout alone probably won’t be enough to win a high-turnout election. In many districts, the Democrats will be burdened by the additional challenge of mobilizing young, nonwhite and perhaps especially black voters.

Even a very impressive turnout — like the one in Georgia’s Sixth — might still leave them with an electorate no more favorable than the one that elected Donald J. Trump in November.

The second issue is the Pelosi factor. She was a contributing factor to Ossoff’s defeat in GA-06 and if Republicans can continue to make her the villain in the same fashion as Hillary Clinton in these Republican-leaning districts, the high bar for Democrats in retaking the House could be raised be a few more notches. Yes, it’s a GOP poll, but it shows, as Ossoff’s defeat demonstrated, that Ms. Pelosi, the embodiment of liberal America, is just radioactive in the areas Democrats need to retake in order to leave the political wilderness (via Washington Free Beacon):

The newly released data from the Congressional Leadership Fund justifies its strategy for special elections in both Montana and Georgia, where the Democratic candidates were bombarded with ads tying them to Pelosi.

In Montana, where Rob Quist was called "Pelosi in a cowboy hat," the minority leader had a 59 percent unfavorable rating, and in Georgia, where Jon Ossoff was labeled "San Francisco's congressman," she had a 56 percent unfavorable rating, according to the CLF poll.

Polling found that Pelosi is similarly "toxic" in nine additional districts that were included in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's list of 2018 targets released earlier this year.

In Nebraska's Second Congressional District—a seat that was flipped by Republicans in 2016 that Democrats hope to win back next year—Pelosi is viewed unfavorably by 60 percent and favorably by just 30 percent.

In four California congressional districts targeted by the DCCC and polled by CLF, Pelosi's favorability topped out at 34 percent in California's 10th Congressional District, where she is viewed unfavorably by 52 percent.

The poll found similar gaps in targeted districts in Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, and New York.

Over on the Senate side of things, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) admitted to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that his party has no economic message, just as Hillary Clinton had nothing to say on this issue during the 2016 election. Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton operative, mentioned post-Ossoff how some Democrats, like Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), are admitting that their brand is worse than Trump. On a separate note, he’s also said that Rep. Pelosi is, in some parts of the country—more toxic than the president. Schumer was visibly and audibly irritated by this quote, which shows that Democrats are nowhere close to exiting their rut, or stopping their losing streak anytime soon.


“Okay, here’s the number one lesson from Georgia Six. Democrats need a strong, bold, sharp-edged and common sense economic agenda Policy, platform, [and] message. That appeal to the middle class. That resonates with the middle class,” he said.  He added that the Democrats’ agenda will be released this summer, while noting he’s been speaking with Trump voters. Yet, there was this rather ironic with this statement: “when you lose an election, you don’t blame other people. You blame yourself. We need to do it.” Uh, Democrats, especially sore loser Hillary Clinton, have been blaming Russia, James Comey, fake news, racism, misogyny, and sexism for the 2016 loss to Donald Trump and the Republicans. It wasn’t any of those things. Clinton and the Democrats had no message last year. She was a terrible candidate, with equally appalling campaign skills, and she just wasn’t able to seal the deal. In fact, in 2014, Democrats had no message either. We’ll see what’s in this economic package within the month. In the meantime, Pelosi’s toxic presence will probably linger, as there’s really no way she’s going anywhere. Even with the increased consternation among some about her continuing being the face of the Democratic Party.

Also, Jan Schakowsky is a cohort of the urban-based Democrat. The cultural bastion that shun white working class voters and really didn’t see the Trump train coming until they were run over by it. Nancy Pelosi has predicted numerous times that Democrats would retake the House—all to end in failure. These two are probably not the ones you should be looking to for crystal ball knowledge if you’re a liberal.