Clendenin said it is his sense that the Democratic Party is more popular than Republicans to “a growing diverse population.”
“If you look at the political landscape, a majority agrees with us,” he said. “You look at people who call themselves independents, they prefer us.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee, said “it’s just unbelievable the appeal we have in the South.” While Democrats have the public’s back, she said, “the other side gives them the back of their hand.”
“We are forever attempting to expand the map and the way we’re going to do it is right through Georgia, Texas and Arizona, from red to purple to blue,” she said. “We have an opportunity to turn them blue. It’s not pie in the sky.”
Wasserman Schultz pointed to the DNC’s track record.
“A few years ago if we had said we were going to turn Virginia or Colorado blue we would have been laughed off the television screen,” she said.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights pioneer, agreed that Democrats “have an opportunity in the heart of the Deep South.”
“We can take it back,” he said. “The people are ready. We need to get out there and lead. So be hopeful. Be optimistic. Never give up. Even in Texas, I tell you, the people are ready. When Texas goes blue they can kiss it goodbye on the other side. It’s going to happen.”
Despite the brave rhetoric, it appear Democrats are painting a picture that either appears too rosy or, at least, premature.
Three Deep South Democrats up for re-election this year, Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Sen Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and, especially, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, appear to be treading water at best and could sink like rocks when November rolls around. It’s very possible that after the election the only Democrats left in the upper chamber from the old Confederacy will be Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida.
Cobb-Hunter acknowledged troubled waters could still lie ahead, noting “we can do it if we stop feeling sorry for ourselves.”
“We need to quit acting so freaking defeated,” she said.
Regardless, Wasserman Schultz insists that the worm is about to turn.
“Several states have turned from red to purple,” she said. “Can you name one state that is turning from blue to purple? You can’t.”
Democrats also are looking hopefully at gains in the Midwest, another area that has proved to be fertile ground for Republicans in the recent past. Doug Brooks, a Democratic committeeman from Missouri, called it “the area where most change can take place.”
“People have much more of a positive feeling that’s genuine than I have sensed in a long time,” Brooks said.
Democrats are within four votes of capturing the state legislature in Iowa “and they’re going to do it,” Brooks said. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, one of the nation’s most conservative leaders, is losing ground in the polls.
Elleithee predicts continued Democratic gains, noting that “inclusion, empowerment, these are our values as Democrats.”
“And I can’t want to rub their (Republicans) face in it,” he said.