February 22, 2017

TOO SOON? Democrats face fierce urgency of 2018.

“The 2018 races are central not only to the individual states, but also to the federal policies in the House of Representatives,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, vice chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said in an interview. “The key that unlocks the governors’ doors also unlocks the House of Representatives. And we’ve got to get the national team to understand that.”

As Republicans captured control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, Democrats have suffered deep losses at the state and local level in recent years.

Republicans control about 4,170 state legislative seats across the country, almost 1,000 more than they held in 2009 when Barack Obama was sworn in. Today, 33 governors are Republican; when Obama took office, just 21 governors were Republican.

“Their backs are against the wall,” said Matt Walter, who heads the Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that supports GOP candidates in state-level races. “In 2018, they’re in full panic mode about it, so we’re anticipating as a result of that, that they’re going to be throwing everything but the kitchen sink to try to restore the ground that they’ve lost.”

There is one bright spot for Democrats. The party holding the White House loses an average of 26 House seats in off-year elections — enough to turn control over to the Democrats in January, 2019.

Then again, Democrats are still actively avoiding the soul-searching their party has needed since 2010.

So who knows?

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