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Don't Get Fooled By High Expectations - Stay On Course For 2018

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 06/22/17 14:57

by Dave Mindeman

Democrats are always litigating themselves. They truly are their own worst enemy. I have been puzzled by the recent analysis of the special elections. Apparently, Democrats were supposed to win these all along?

What's the authority on that?

Yes, the Georgia race had a lot of attention and the Democrat had some moments that looked like a win was in the offing. But still - all this hand wringing is perplexing.

Let's look at the actual numbers....

Compare the 2016 election figures with the 2017 special elections...

Kansas-4: 2016 R+31 - 2017 R+7

Montana: 2016 R+16 - 2017 R+6

South Carolina-5: 2016 R+20 - 2017 R+3

Georgia-6: 2016 R+24 - 2017 - R+4

All four went from blowouts to single digit wins. These districts have never been close. They have been Republican dominated for a long time. And these Congressional members were selected because they essentially came from "safe" districts and would not weaken the House majority.

And the DCCC came a little late to the party in all of them except for the Georgia 6th District. They contested that one heavily - and the national Democrats stepped on the local message that Ossoff was trying to deliver.

The South Carolina district is especially galling because a good candidate ran without DCCC support and came within 3 points.

Now, the pundits have analyzed this as a Democratic failure. They seem to be assuming that these were wins that were out there for the taking. But when you have gerrymandered districts like these entrenched in place, they are not supposed to be contests. These are safe Republican zones and the GOP had to spend serious resources to keep them.

Yeah, maybe Democrats are still searching for a resonant message. Maybe they need to rethink how the Trump factor really fits in. But the idea that these could ALL be single digit contests has its own meaning.

First, red districts are not guaranteed to the GOP in 2018. It would be wise for the Democrats to put resources everywhere they can.

Second, this is not about ideologic purity. The standard axiom still applies. Support a candidate that fits the demographics of the district. Yes, it would be nice to have more progressive candidates, but too many times a progressive candidate cannot win in regions like the south. We profess to be a big tent...so our candidates need to look that way as well.

Third, although Trump has altered the landscape, standard practice still applies in most cases. We need to identify our voters and we also should be looking to expand beyond that in certain areas. Trump has a consolidated base but he has ignored the expansion of it. He only caters to his support - independents should be up for grabs.

2018 is still very much in play. Let's not reinvent the wheel just because we let our expectations get out of hand. The fact that these deep red districts ended up being contestable races means that less red places can be won.

Democrats are not the enemy or the problem - we need to stay on course.
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