There are a lot, I mean A LOT, of hot takes out there today about what happened in the Gillespie/Northam race in Virginia.
It’s alternately “this is the worst drubbing Republicans have seen since the appearance of the Tea Party and it’s an indictment of Trump!” to “Meh. Virginia is blue. Gillespie was milquetoast. The smaller races were reflective of a higher Democrat turnout. We’ll get em next time kids.”
Well let me add my two cents: I agree with something the boss wrote earlier today:
If you want to learn something here, forget learning anything about Donald Trump. You, Republican lawmakers, cannot change him. Instead learn something about yourselves. The voters want a win. If you don’t give them one, come 2018, they won’t give you one.
That said, in order to get the wins, it’s useful to understand your opponent and play at the same level of intensity. And right now, at least according to their favorite media outlet, the Democrats are all about winning the House.
Yes, the political divisions of the 2016 presidential election wound up working pretty well for Democrats in Virginia, a highly educated state. But this might not be the case for Democrats in a lot of the rest of the country. There are only 11 Republican-held congressional districts in the United States where Mrs. Clinton won by five points or more. Even if Democrats swept those 11 districts, it wouldn’t get them far toward the 24 seats they need to flip the House.
To my surprise, it’s not obvious that a rerun of the Virginia House of Delegates election on a national scale would yield Democratic control of the House. Without greater strength in areas that supported Mr. Trump, it would still be a tossup.
The good news for Democrats is that they did run well ahead of Mrs. Clinton in white working-class areas during this spring’s special congressional elections. And on Tuesday, Mr. Northam ran ahead of her in some areas, too, even if he landed short of prior Democratic benchmarks.
The big question in 2018 might prove to be whether Democrats can have it all: Will it be possible to combine a Virginia-like near sweep of Republicans in Clinton districts with a broad Democratic overperformance in white working-class districts?
Pay attention to that last question because it’s the game plan: making sure their voters turn out in droves in the districts they already own and “overperforming” in white working class districts.
It’s how they achieve the overperformance that’s sketchy with the modern democratic party. Because essentially they’ll have to flip, in all the smaller races, those same people that Hillary couldn’t be bothered with in 2016 — the rust-belt, blue-collar American who’s just trying to feed a family and put some kids through college.
And they’re already putting their strategy out for public consumption:
Following Hillary Clinton’s stinging loss to President Donald Trump in 2016, Democrats got a jolt and realized they needed to rebuild its long-neglected state parties.
[Associate Chairman of the DNC Jaime] Harrison, though, faces all sorts of daunting challenges — such as his party’s fiscal constraints, stubborn establishment insiders and historic resistance to change.
Prospects appear promising so far. With Harrison’s help, the DNC is implementing an “Every Zipcode Counts” initiative. Every month, the DNC will hand out $10,000 to each state Democratic party, up from $7,500 previously. As a condition of receiving that allowance, each party will submit to a “SWAT analysis” of its internal operations, and the DNC’s goal is to complete all by the year’s end.
The DNC is also establishing a $10 million grant program, with state parties able to apply for additional money to bolster specific initiatives.
The Dems, it seems, are going to use the almighty dollar to shore up their voting apparatus in the states. That same article notes that Harrison needs to make sure “the right people are listening.” The GOP will serve themselves well if they also lend an ear.