November 14, 2016

60 in '18:

The whole Democratic Party is now a smoking pile of rubble (Matthew Yglesias, Nov 10, 2016, Vox)

[A]t the sub-presidential level, the Obama years have created a Democratic Party that's essentially a smoking pile of rubble.

Republicans control the House, and they control the Senate. District lines are drawn in such a way that the median House district is far more conservative than the median American voter -- resulting in situations like 2012 where House Democrats secured more votes than House Republicans but the GOP retained a healthy majority. The Senate, too, is in effect naturally gerrymandered to favor Republicans. Two years from now the Democratic Party will need to fight to retain seats in very difficult states like North Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Indiana, and Missouri along with merely contestable ones in places like Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

In state government things are worse, if anything. The GOP now controls historical record number of governors' mansions, including a majority of New England governorships. Tuesday's election swapped around a few state legislative houses but left Democrats controlling a distinct minority. The same story applies further down ballot, where most elected attorneys general, insurance commissioners, secretaries of state, and so forth are Republicans. [...]

Meanwhile, Democrats' very weakness down ballot threatens to breed more weakness. The 2010 midterm elections went very poorly for Democrats, pushing the blue-to-purple states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio into total Republican control. In all three states, the new GOP regimes used their newfound clout to enact anti-union measures. Those measures, by weakening the progressive infrastructure in the states, helped contribute to an ongoing reddening trend that reached its fruition in Trump seizing those states' electoral votes.

This same basic pattern threatens to reassert itself across large swaths of the country.

In states where Democratic Party politics can't be anchored in a large cosmopolitan city or a burgeoning nonwhite population, a heavy labor union presence seems necessary. (In Nevada, the one state whose local Democratic Party has been getting stronger lately, there's both.) But Republican strength in state politics eats away at union strength, begetting further Republican strength.

More prosaically, an attorney general or an insurance commissioner is someone who could be a good future candidate for a Senate seat or a governorship. When you don't hold the lower offices, it's hard to move up to the higher ones. And when you don't hold a majority in the state legislature, it's hard for a legislator to author bills that pass and become a track record of accomplishment that can boost you in a race for House or an insurance commissioner gig.

And after they get waxed in the mid-terms, who do they look to for the next presidential cycle?  Their qualified candidates--Jerry Brown, Joe Biden, etc.--are too old.  The ones who appeal to the base--Elizabeth Warren--repel voters.  Wouldn't Michelle Obama be their best shot at this point?

Posted by at November 14, 2016 5:52 PM