In two recent off year gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, the Democrats managed to defend two important Blue state governorships. That they had to spend a great deal of money and energy to defend the Virginia governorship is a sign that the Democrats are still on the defensive going into the 2018 Mid-term elections. Naturally, the media is largely silent about Democrat Party woes choosing instead to taut these narrow, desperate wins as a sign of growing momentum for the Left. How bad is the situation for the Democrats?
The National Scene
As Aaron Blake notes in this article published in the Washington Post, Americans on the Left like to comfort themselves with the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the most recent presidential election. In social media debates they cite that over and over again – as if they hold a plurality of voters. Mr. Blake, himself, notes a few caveats apply to Hillary’s plurality of the popular vote. Obviously, it was not a national campaign but one predicated upon the Electoral College. In ten or twelve battleground states, each campaign ran ads in favour of their candidate and attacking their opponent. Why would Trump run ads in California where he was certain to lose? Why would Hillary run ads in Texas for the same reason? Who knows how nationwide GOTV efforts on both sides would have affected the election. As Mr. Blake notes, if Trump had run ads in a few blue states or turned out more votes, he could have won the popular vote; but why? This is not how presidential elections are won.
2016 Presidential Election Electoral College Map
I would add a few more caveats to that list myself. First and foremost, a majority of voters in 2016 voted to the right: when you add up the votes for Trump, Johnson, McMullen, and Castle they collectively earned a majority (50.4%) against Clinton and Stein (49.6%). There were also a large number of “never Trumpers” who voted for Clinton but are nominally on the right. It is difficult to quantify that number but it must be taken into account. Voter fraud also played a role with an untold number of ballots in Detroit being counted as many as six times, counties in California and citifies in Michigan with more registered voters than residents, people voting in multiple states, and an as yet unknown number of votes cast by illegal aliens.
Former Vice President Joe Biden
The Democrats are also desperately short on Presidential candidates.
Since 1900, only four presidents who sought reelection failed to be reelected. A major national movement behind a stellar and inspiring candidate is required to unseat an incumbent President. On two occasions, strong third party candidates were helpful toward that end. For the Democrats going forward, that charismatic candidate is nowhere to be found and third party candidates are more likely to damage the Democrats than Donald Trump.
LEt’s start with the former Vice President “Joltin’” Joe Biden. He hardly inspires confidence. Democrat and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, son of former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, is another possibility. Neither, however, are likely to convince working class voters in the rust belt that they can do better job for these voters than Donald Trump.
Cuomo is also facing a massive budget shortfall in the coming year. Either of them could, however, lose with grace and help the Democrats build strength for future elections. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris have some name recognition but would be embarrassing candidates who would only cause the Democrats to lose ground in key constituencies. The less said of a Hillary Clinton rematch the better.
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), the former Mayor of Newark, is a more charismatic young candidate, but he is inexperienced and would have a better chance in 2024. There are a small number of celebrities or business leaders who might also run, but again, they are unlikely to be able to form a movement strong enough to achieve Trump’s ouster.
So, when it comes to elections in the more distant future, from where are the Democrats going to develop talented candidates? Well, their senators and congressional leaders are aging and the Republicans hold twice as many governorships as the Democrats. All in all, there are few rising stars on the horizon for the Democrats after their bench was wiped out during the Obama years. As a result, the Presidency may well be held by a Republican for the foreseeable future.
The Congressional Scene
When it comes to the House of Representatives, the decrepit state of the Democrats becomes clear: the GOP has a long-term majority and Democrat Party efforts to rebuild their majority face an uphill struggle.
In 2010, the Republican Party swept into a strong majority in the House and the GOP looks likely to keep it. Having 240 of 435 seats (218 constitutes a majority) the GOP has a safe long-term majority. The GOP will also control the redistricting process in 26 states and will have some say in 18 more which will prevent the Democrats from drawing district lines in their favour. Republicans can count on a stable majority in the House for many years to come and a strong effort toward the enactment of conservative reforms thanks to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).
2016 House of Representatives Districts by Party
The Senate is another matter: the Framers of the Constitution set Senate terms at six years and arranged that one-third of the Senate is elected every second year. Thus, the Senate is slow to change and has a constraining effect upon the popular will; and constrain it has. Efforts at repealing and/or replacing Obamacare have come to a halt in the Senate this year. Tax reform also threatens to fall prey to an intransigent Senate; a ban on late-term abortions and immigration reform may also die on the Senate floor.
Unlike the House, it can take several elections to win a majority in the Senate.
In 2014, the Republicans finally earned a majority four years after sweeping into power in the House. In 2016, that majority narrowed slightly as there were few seats to be gained while and the GOP had to defend many seats with close races. The next class of Senate elections is made up of 34 seats of which Republicans have only to defend eight, while Democrats must defend 23 and two Independents (in Vermont and Maine) who caucus with them.
Many of the Democrat seats to be defended are in strong red states in which Donald Trump won by double digit margins such as Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia. The Democrats are also threatened in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Meanwhile, the GOP has only to be remotely concerned about Nevada.
2018 Senate Elections by Party
The GOP is likely to net between five and eight seats and will have a stronger majority that will be able to enact many of the reforms that have stalled in the current Senate. With just eight more seats the GOP will have a filibuster proof 60 seat majority. Perhaps the greatest variable in this race will be the desire of right-leaning voters to punish the Republican Party for failing to deliver on the Trump mandate.
Will some voters stay home?
We can rest assured, President Trump will make his presence and his mandate felt with full effect in this election, he will certainly draw his most avid supporters to the polls. Meanwhile, the Democrats have turned to desperate tactics like character assassination in Alabama due to the lack of enthusiasm for their candidates and a slew of sex scandals that have disgraced the left recently.
If the Democrats can prevent their caucus in the House from shrinking and the GOP from reaching 60 seats in the Senate, they can count the 2018 mid-term elections as a relative success; this is not much to show for all of their opposition efforts. In all likelihood, there is only still more depressing news to come for congressional Democrats.
The State Scene
The Republicans control 34 governorships and 69 of 99 state legislative houses. Technically, Nebraska’s unicameral legislature is non-partisan but in practice it is led by Republicans. The maps below show the state of legislative houses in the states and the 26 states in which the Republicans control the governorship and both houses of the state legislature. Note that while the unicameral Nebraska state legislature is technically non-partisan, it is nominally controlled by Republicans.
The map below shows the 6 states where the Democrats control the governorship and legislature. In 18 more states the GOP controls either the governorship, one or more houses of the legislature or some combination. If this continues to be the case until 2021 the GOP will have the greatest influence on the drawing of congressional and state legislative districts. This will prevent the Democrats from granting themselves an unfair advantage in congressional races as they did in the early 70’s and 80’s. Another problem for the Democrats is the fact that governors are often excellent presidential candidates. With so few governorships the Democrats will be at a loss for qualified candidates for many years to come.
America’s Future is Conservative
The youth and energy in the country leans to the Right. Many young and talented politicians can be found on the right side of the isle to provide new ideas, energy, and leadership for the coming decades. For the Democrats, there is a dearth of young leaders and talent. The Democrats and their allies in the media, far from courting the voters who cost them recent elections, continue to insult these voters.
We have heard the tired mantra time and again that anyone who voted for Trump is a racist, misogynist, homophobic, bigot. Meanwhile, the Democrats themselves have no answer for the growing intolerance of dissenting opinions their party and their ever escalating anti-Semitism. In fact, they have set about punishing Democrats who refused to support Hillary Clinton in the most recent election.
The Dems will have to change their message. We have heard recently that patriotism is racism, America is the real problem in the world, and we are oppressing people at home and abroad. The Left has brought their extremism into the entertainment world with bloodied face masks, profane raps, and kneeling athletes.
The result has been predictable: careers have ended, sales have dropped, and falling ratings are squeezing the sports world. One might come to the impression that these tactics are backfiring. The violence of fascist anti-free speech groups like “Antifa” and “Black Lives Matter” have only confirmed the growing suspicion of average Americans that the left has taken a dive off of the deep end. It is no surprise that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is throwing ice water on Democrat expectations for the coming elections.
Chicago Mayor and Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
How did we come to this point? How did the Democrats fall from their high water mark in 2008 to the condition they find themselves in today?
In 2008, Republicans lost because the Party had failed to deliver on its promises, chiefly balancing the budget, growing the economy, and government reform. The bank bailouts left Americans reeling and confused. When Republicans abandon their core principles and values, they lose.
Democrats are in this decrepit state because the delivered on their promises, especially on Obamacare. Environmental regulation and deep government interference in the economy have led to increasing poverty and dependence. Americans want a strong nation with a healthy economy above all else. Voters have thus driven the Left from power at all levels of government.
The Democrat Party will need to stop insulting voters and reach out to them instead. They will need to develop some new ideas and new approaches to the country’s problems. They had their chance to do whatever they wanted and the result was stagnation and misery. The Dems will have to give up on the prospect of winning national elections or controlling Congress in the near future and refocus their efforts at state legislative and local races. A fresh start, new ideas, and a new message may help them to recover locally and return to the national scene in the coming decade. In the meantime, history and the voters will punish those who ignore the new reality. Those who stand in the way of the Trump Mandate will continue to suffer losses.