After losing both special congressional elections held Tuesday, it’s become clear that Democrats face a difficult path to reclaiming the nation’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2018.
In Georgia’s sixth district, Democrat Jon Ossoff lost to Republican Karen Handel by 3.8 percent.
And in South Carolina’s fifth district, Democrat Archie Parnell lost by a narrower 3.2 percent, according to the New York Times.
For perspective, both of these seats have been won by Republicans by 10-20 percentage points since 2010.
In the case of Georgia, current Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price won by a resounding 32 points in 2014 and by 23 points only eight months ago.
While Democrats may be tempted to celebrate closing the gap in such a tremendous way, the Editorial Board invites them to remember that a loss is still a loss.
And Democrats lose a lot.
At the national level, Republicans control the White House, 52 percent of the Senate and 55.4 percent of the House of Representatives, according to each chamber’s government website.
At the state level, Democrats perform even more poorly.
According to the Washington Post, 25 states are controlled entirely by Republicans, meaning that both legislative bodies and the governorship are Republican-held. Conversely, only 5 states are controlled by Democrats. And the remaining 20 are mixed.
This year, of the five vacancies left by Trump’s appointees, four special elections have been held and all have been reclaimed by Republicans.
One of those victories was won by Greg Gianforte (R-MT), who assaulted a reporter from The Guardian the night before the election and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management classes earlier this month, according to the New York Times.
In that election, the Democratic candidate lost to a man convicted of assault by more than six points.
In terms of 2018, Democrats will be defending 25 of 34 Senate seats up for reelection and will only be competitive in two, according to Politico.
In the House of Representatives, they’ll need to take 24 seats in order to flip the chamber.
And while Democrats have outperformed their normal metrics in traditionally Republican districts, it’ll take more than being the anti-Trump party to be victorious next November.
If the only message of the Democratic Party centers on Donald Trump, they’re hanging their hopes on a wildly unpredictable, unstable individual. And that’s just bad strategy.
Jimmy Gomez, who became the first Democrat elected to Congress since Trump’s inauguration after winning the special election in California’s 34th district, outlined three methods for Democratic success in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
In order to win back congressional seats, Democrats must unite in spite of the differences highlighted by the 2016 primary. “The voters I talk to aren’t interested in a Bernie-or-Hillary litmus test,” writes Gomez.
They must stop speaking like elitists on issues like climate change and “communicate in a way that directly appeals to people’s everyday concerns.”
Lastly, they must “throw out the old playbook for building grass-roots support” by going out to voters instead of asking them to come to you.
The Editorial Board agrees completely with the assessment of Congressman Gomez.
We believe that if Democrats stand a chance at breaking their losing-streak, it’ll be after a major party reformation.