The Wilderness: Democrats Ponder Revival, While Top Strategist Throws Wet Blanket On Their Senate Hopes

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jul 17, 2017 4:00 PM
The Wilderness: Democrats Ponder Revival, While Top Strategist Throws Wet Blanket On Their Senate Hopes

We’re already months into the Trump presidency and Democrats still have no clue how they’re gong to mount a comeback. Admittedly, I’m not all that upset about that, but we should always have in the back of our minds that a robust and competent resistance to Donald Trump will emerge on the Left, though it might not occur in time for the midterms—and that can be related across the board. First, The Associated Press’s story that shows how Democrats are still chickens running around with their heads lopped off. To complicate matters, there appears to be differing views on how to push back against this White House. We have the laser focused on health care route, health care is important, but don’t forget about the Russia section, and the impeach/invoke 25th Amendment because Trump is crazy cohort:

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley hesitated when asked about his party’s core message to voters.

“That message is being worked on,” the New York congressman said in an interview this past week. “We’re doing everything we can to simplify it, but at the same time provide the meat behind it as well. So that’s coming together now.”

The admission from the No. 4 House Democrat — that his party lacks a clear, core message even amid Republican disarray — highlights the Democrats’ dilemma eight months after President Donald Trump and the GOP dominated last fall’s elections, in part, because Democrats lacked a consistent message.

The soul-searching comes as Democrats look to flip at least 24 GOP-held seats necessary for a House majority and cut into Republican advantages in U.S. statehouses in the 2018 midterm elections. Yet with a Russia scandal engulfing the White House, a historically unpopular health-care plan wrenching Capitol Hill and no major GOP legislative achievement, Democrats are still struggling to tell voters what their party stands for.

[…]

Several liberal groups that had been laser-focused on health care have intensified calls for impeachment in recent weeks, including MoveOn.org, Indivisible and Ultraviolet.

“We need to be talking about impeachment constantly,” said Scott Dworkin, co-founder of the recently formed Democratic Coalition Against Trump. He warned on Twitter, “If you’re an elected Dem & you’re not talking impeachment or 25th amendment then find a new party.”

Yet one of the left’s favorites, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is focusing almost exclusively on health care.

[…]

Democrats would make a mistake if we thought pounding Trump and not having an authentic message of our own is a winning strategy,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “The message of Democrats has to be about issues that matter to people at their kitchen table.”

In South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Democrats don’t have to retreat from their opposition to Trump, including talking about Russia, but they must tie it all together with a consistent theme that goes beyond day-to-day news cycles.

The AP quoted Democrat Jason Crow, who says he’s getting questions regularly about Russia. Crow is challenging Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado’s sixth congressional district, one of the 24 districts that Democrats will try and flip next year, though the notion that Russia is resonating outside of the beltway should be taken with some skepticism. In June, Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post wrote that Democrats running in next year’s races are saying that the party needs to move on from Russia, which he reiterated on CBS’ Face The Nation:

Spent most of the week outside of Washington talking to these Democrats who are starting to run, and they made very clear, stop talking about Russia, they said to party leaders. Nobody out here cares. Talk to us about the economy, about how you defend or preserve Obamacare. Let's see whether party leaders actually pay attention to that.

Well, we’re back on Russia due to the latest and ill-advised meeting Donald Trump Jr. took with a Russian lawyer under the pretense of having dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s efforts to help his father win the election.

The House will be hard to win back. While Democrats are eyeing these 23-24 House Districts that broke for Clinton, but voted for a Republican member of Congress—Trump won 12 Democratic House districts. It remains to be seen if Democrats can find solid candidates after the collapse of their recruitment machine. Moreover, based on some reports, if Democrats were able to turnout every 2016 Clinton voter who backed a GOP House member and had them flip, it wouldn’t be enough to win the House. The road to the majority for Democrats rests with winning in red districts, which took a punch to the gut when Democrat Jon Ossoff lost to Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s sixth congressional district. Even with Democratic turnout the highest in ten years in GA-06, it wasn’t enough, meaning that the 2018 electorate could mirror that of the 2016 election, which favored Republicans.

It doesn’t get much better for the Senate, where there are fewer pick-ups for Democrats. James Carville, the top strategist for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, threw a lot of cold water on this one speaking with John Catsimatidis on our own AM970 WNYM station (via Salon):

“I think right now most Democrats are trying to focus on the 2018 elections and trying to recruit people and keep incumbents, and you know I would say we have a pretty good chance of taking the House back. The Senate is very, very difficult”… “The problem in the Senate is we have a large number of seats we have to hold in states that Donald Trump carried. Indiana, Missouri, you know, places like that we have to hold seats,” Carville added. “The only places where we have an opportunity for pick up are, you know, Nevada is pretty good. After that Arizona is less good, then you’re down to Texas and Alabama, and for Democrats to win the Senate back, they have to pick up three seats.”

Carville seemed resigned that Democrats won’t do well next year, saying that the party should focus on candidate recruitment and keeping incumbents in power. He also admitted that the Democratic Party has no leader.

Please read Guy’s take on this as well. As of now, a majority of Americans think that Democrats are only against Trump and don’t stand for anything else by a 52/37 margin. As John Kerry and Mitt Romney found out the hard way, you have to be more than just the “anti” candidate. You need to offer something else and while Democrats have multiple doors to flesh out a new narrative, along with plenty of avenues of attack against the GOP—they have nothing. Could it be because deep down they know they need to reach out to white working class (i.e. Trump) voters?