For a party that believes they got a House majority and a president elected, the Democrats are in total disarray.
They were expected to do better. They thought they’d do better. The media was telling them they’d do better. Pollsters were telling them they’d do better.
The voters said otherwise.
Instead of walking away with the presidency, the Senate, and an increase in their majority in the House, Democrats came up short. Republicans have won at least five additional seats in the House and are leading in three others that Democratic incumbents are trying to defend. Republicans were projected to lose 12-15 seats. Instead of a diminished minority party with Democrats looking to run all over them in 2021, there will be a robust minority party that will look to assert itself next year.
The Senate Democrats are still trying to figure out what hit them. They were expected to gain 5-7 seats. The gained one. The outcome is still in some doubt as there are two Georgia Senate races heading to a runoff on January 5, but chances of Democrats taking both seats in Georgia are slim.
Recriminations began before the final results were in. Less radical Democrats pointed the finger at the radicals. The radicals said that all those red-state candidates should have run on socialized medicine, free college tuition, and the Green New Deal. The red-state Democrats just sighed and turned their eyes skyward in disbelief.
Republicans, as many on the right expected, ran against that agenda and cleaned up.
Still, some frustration is bubbling up in the Senate as well. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who lost by 20 points to Republican Tommy Tuberville last week, blamed getting tied to GOP “catch-phrases” as the reason red- and purple-state Democrats took a beating.
“We’re not some demonic cult like we’re portrayed to be,” said Jones. “I was fighting the same battle that Jaime Harrison was fighting, that Mike Espy was fighting, that Cal Cunningham was fighting, that Steve Bullock was fighting. And Democrats have not been able to fully counter the Republican narrative.”
It’s hard to counter the truth with spin. There are some things you just can’t hide by putting lipstick on the pig. And when national Democrats are running around the country talking up Medicare for All, why should any voter believe a Democratic candidate who claims not to support socialized medicine or any other wacky liberal scheme they’re going to try to pass in 2021?
They will try again in Georgia, but how successful can they be when prominent Democrats like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez say that all Democrats should support the progressive agenda?
Amazingly, very few in the Democratic leadership are in danger of being fired by the members.
The fallout in the House has been swift. Though Nancy Pelosi’s speakership appears safe, the chair of House Democrats’ campaign arm, Cheri Bustos, announced Monday she wouldn’t run for another term after more than a half dozen Democratic incumbents lost their races.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Senate Democrats are expected to easily reelect their leadership team headed by Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is in the minority at least until two Georgia Senate run-offs in January — and possibly far longer.
They should listen to Senator Joe Manchin — one of the most successful politicians in the history of West Virginia.
“I’ve watched the last three elections: 2016, ‘18 and ‘20. We truly should have been in the majority and it didn’t happen,” said Manchin, who won reelection two years ago in a deep red state. “Whatever our message is, it hasn’t worked. And I would hope that our leadership from the top to bottom understands that. It has not worked. And if we’re going down that path again, we’re in trouble.”
So Democrats will scrub their message, find new ways to hide their true intent, rinse, and repeat. And if 2020 is any indication, 2022 is going to be another Republican year.