The Wounded Beast
SOUL SEARCHING: Trump and the GOP leave Democrats searching for answers.
Democrats also hoped to picked off as many as six or seven GOP Senate seats, but once again it appears that every close race — with the exception of the election to replace outgoing Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — went to the Republicans. And they might end up losing only the seat belonging to incumbent Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) — although incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) remains locked in a too-close-to-call battle with Democratic challenger Gov. Maggie Hassan. Ayotte was clinging to a narrow lead in the early morning hours Wednesday. It also appears, stunningly, that Republicans may have held serve or better in the House, where Democrats were hoping to pick up between 10 and 20 seats.
Democrats were so confident of victory — at least in the presidential race — that they appear to have engaged in absolutely no contingency planning for a Trump victory. Texas Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey brashly stated last week that a Trump victory was “never talked about in much depth or detail” among Democrats: “[T]he guy is such a joke. We can’t fathom it and therefore are not planning for it.” Team Clinton is already producing spin suggesting that they saw this defeat coming, but even if that is true, most Democrats are waking up this morning to a sobering reality: Their party has a major problem connecting with American voters. Worse, the problem is so acute that they lost to a candidate who seemed, in so many ways, to be a poor caricature of the worst qualities of their partisan opposition.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the Democrats.
It's worse than even all that.
The wave elections of 2010 and 2014, and now the Trump-GOP victories of last night, have left the Democrat bench so depleted that... Tim Kaine might be the closest thing they have to a standard-bearer. Kaine, who could barely get three Democrats to stand in line to shake his hand.
Who picks up the Democrats' banner tomorrow? And which other Democrat will steal it away from them for not being Progressive/Liberal/Angry/Minority/Whatever enough? The torch must be passed, but there's no one holding it and no one to pass it off to. Lots of Dems are going to get burned trying to pick it up.
The GOP underwent similar antics after the previous two presidential contests, and an ongoing civil war since Trump started scoring primary wins. Trump's GOP, for better and for worse, is not the Old GOP -- and its painful evolution isn't complete.
The Democrats are going to have to go through the same wrenching processes, but from an even weaker position politically than the GOP was in from 2009-2011.
Complete list of States where the Democrats could pick up Senate seats in 2018:
Not a lot of easy targets.
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) November 9, 2016
As another tweeter added, Democrats "also have to defend Indiana, Montana, Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia. Simply put, they're screwed."
The magnitude of their loss, their precarious future, is dawning on them now, if it hasn't already. West Virginia Democrat Senator Jim Manchin knows -- he knew last night -- and is rumored to be considering switching parties.
And yet things for the Dems are worse than even all that, too.
Barack Obama will remain beloved by the rank-and-file, but party leaders and would-be party leaders understand that he has done more damage to a party's brand, structure, and standing than any American politician since Herbert Hoover. The GOP took decades to recover from Hoover's debacle.
Conservatives not only had electoral tailwinds going into 2010, they also enjoyed the organic rise of the Tea Party to bolster spirits and provide the electoral shock troops necessary for winning back the House after just one election cycle. The Democrats have tried for seven years now to create a similar movement, and failed. Remember the "Coffee Party"? No? You're not alone.
The closest thing Democrats managed to a grassroots success came in the form of an aging socialist named Bernie Sanders -- who likely would have faired even worse in the general election than Clinton did. Even Sanders has dropped his short-lived party membership, although he will still caucus with the shrinking party which not only spurned him, but that lied and cheated to do so.
All of that, just to nominate the worst campaigner since Dukakis, and the dirtiest politician since Nixon. A political party doesn't just say "Oh well!" and get on with life, not with so much money and power in the balance, and so many giant egos fighting over a smaller share of the spoils.
The Democrats control the bulk of the media and our educational institutions, but those proved no good to them last night. I expect the coming frenzy will engulf them too, if to a lesser degree.
For now then the Democratic Party is a wounded beast, and it will lash out ferociously. The interior fights will be ugly; the desperate attacks on the GOP will be uglier.
Try not to get too near.