Democrats Have Some Work to Do

NBC News: “When President-elect Donald Trump replaces Barack Obama on January 20, the Democratic Party will find itself more removed from power than at almost any point since the party’s creation. Scorned by the same voters who once embraced the New Deal, built the Great Society, and put their hope in the nation’s first black president, Democrats are now locked out of power in Washington and out of two-thirds of state legislative chambers across the country.”

“Simply put, Democrats’ once vaunted coalition of the ascendant — younger, multiethnic, educated, and urban — failed them in 2016, and in 2014 and 2010 before that. That coalition proved to have major handicaps, part demographic and part geographic, that have been hollowing out the party for years.”

Divide Re-Emerges as Democrats Seek New Leader

“The Democratic fissures exposed in last year’s presidential primary campaign between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have roared back to life, with party officials wary the split will hamper their ability to fight President-elect Donald Trump,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

An example: “There are few major issues of substance that divide DNC members and party activists, but one key sticking point is Mr. Sanders’s refusal to share his fundraising list with the DNC. Not turning over the list, which raised more than $200 million from two million donors, echoes a complaint party members had with President Barack Obama, who didn’t share his supporter list with state Democratic parties until after he won re-election in 2012.”

Democrats Were Not Decimated Under Obama

Ron Brownstein: “Most analyses overstate the Democrats’ down-ballot losses under Obama because they only start counting after he took office in 2009. That denies him credit for the candidates he helped elect during his resounding first win in 2008. As I’ve written before, the fairest way to measure a president’s impact on his party is to compare its electoral position just before he first appeared on the ballot with its position just after the election to succeed him. That gives the president responsibility for any other officials initially swept in with him, the outcomes during his tenure, and the shadow he casts over the election to replace him.”

“Under that approach, we would measure Obama by comparing the Democrats’ standing after the 2006 election—just before his first race—with its position after November’s contest. Using that standard, Democrats will end the Obama era with 39 fewer House seats (233 to 194), three fewer Senate seats (51 to 48), and 12 fewer governorships (28 to 16).”

“Those losses are formidable, but hardly unique. Parties almost always lose ground elsewhere while they hold the White House.”

Both Parties Are Built on Unstable Coalitions

Amy Walter: “Most important, both parties are built upon unstable coalitions. For Democrats, it is a coalition driven by demographics. The Democratic mantra for the last eight years has been built around the idea that an increasingly diverse and urbanizing electorate was going to build them a permanent Electoral College majority. But, as we saw in 2016 and every midterm election since 2008, the only Democrat who was able to mobilize the ‘Obama coalition’ was Barack Obama himself.”

“Republicans, meanwhile, have a shaky coalition of their own. As we saw throughout the Obama years, the House GOP leadership had very little capacity to rein in its rogue members. Having a GOP controlled Senate and White House will help heal some rifts (winning is the greatest unifying force in the world). However, there’s a new wrinkle for the GOP to grapple with this year: the fact that the Trump coalition and the traditional Republican coalition aren’t necessarily on the same page.”

For members: Does the Republican Party Stand for Anything?

Where’s the Outrage Over the DNC Hacking?

Robby Mook: “Imagine the headlines if, in 2015, Russian agents had leapt out of a van at 2 a.m. in Southeast Washington and broken into the Democratic National Committee offices using sophisticated tools and techniques to steal tens of thousands of documents, including the names and Social Security numbers of donors and employees, and confidential memorandums about campaign strategy for the presidential election.”

“The world would have been aghast. It would have been, people would say, worse than Watergate.”

“Something similar did, in fact, happen at the D.N.C. two years ago, and it was worse than Watergate. This wasn’t just one party spying on the other; these were hackers under orders from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who were trying to ‘undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process,’ according to a report released Friday by the office of the director of national intelligence. But the immediate reaction to the break-in was nothing like what followed Watergate.”

Indiana Mayor Running for DNC Chairman

“Warning that beleaguered Democrats cannot afford a replay of their contentious presidential primary in the race to lead the Democratic National Committee, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, entered the contest for party chairman on Thursday, presenting himself as an alternative to the two leading candidates,” the New York Times reports.

Said Buttigieg: “This is not a time to relitigate an old battle. We’ve got to transcend the narrative that this is some kind of proxy fight.”

FBI Never Sought Access to Hacked Servers

“The FBI did not examine the servers of the Democratic National Committee before issuing a report attributing the sweeping cyber intrusion to Russia-backed hackers,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“Six months after the FBI first said it was investigating the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, the bureau has still not requested access to the hacked servers… No US government entity has run an independent forensic analysis on the system.”

Democrats Need to Rebuild Their Bench

Charlie Cook: “Barack Obama’s two White House vic­tor­ies ob­scured dev­ast­at­ing losses in 2010 and 2014 on the state level in both le­gis­lat­ive and gubernat­ori­al races. An aging con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship and little turnover due to high reelec­tion rates caused stag­na­tion in the House, prompt­ing many up-and-com­ing Demo­crats to leave be­cause they saw no near-term pro­spects for ad­vance­ment.”

“Those state-le­gis­lat­ive losses amoun­ted to des­troy­ing the seed corn for the fu­ture in the lower cham­ber, and gubernat­ori­al losses de­pleted the ranks of fu­ture Sen­ate and pres­id­en­tial as­pir­ants.”

“Scour­ing the coun­try like base­ball scouts look­ing for new and un­re­cog­nized tal­ent is something that the Demo­crat­ic Party hasn’t done in years. Rather than just re­cruit­ing for spe­cif­ic races, the party needs to find and groom pro­spects for fu­ture races. Many of the com­pre­hens­ive train­ing pro­grams that the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee sponsored in the 1960s and 1970s are a shad­ow of what they used to be, if they ex­ist at all.”

What Democrats Can Learn from the Tea Party

Ezra Levin, Leah Greenberg and Angel Padilla: “We served as congressional staff members during the early years of the Obama administration. It was an exhilarating time to be a progressive in Washington: An inspirational new president was taking office, accompanied by a majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate. But by February 2009, something had begun to change. Small protests calling themselves ‘tea parties’ were popping up all over the country. In April, their Tax Day demonstrations dominated the news.”

“Their tactics weren’t fancy: They just showed up on their own home turf, and they just said no.”

“Here’s the crazy thing: It worked.”

Quote of the Day

“You have to understand, I think that the Clinton days are over. This idea that we’re going to be this moderate party that’s going to move in this direction, that’s going to throw blacks under the bus for criminal justice reform, and for prison expansion, that’s going to throw workers under the bus for NAFTA, those days are over.”

— Political commentator Van Jones, on CNN.

South Bend Mayor May Run for DNC Chief

Politico: “Pete Buttigieg, the mayor here who national Democrats often mention on the shortlist of rising stars in the party, said he is nearing a decision about whether to run for DNC chair and would step down as mayor if he were to win the job.”

“If Buttigieg does decide to jump into the race, he would be joining Rep. Keith Ellison, New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley, South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Idaho Democratic Party executive director Sally Boynton Brown in the field.”

Democrats Must Make Inroads Into the Heartland

Charlie Cook: “In­creas­ingly Demo­crats are be­com­ing a party of urb­an areas, col­lege towns, minor­ity voters, and the East and West Coasts. The heart­land, of­ten de­rided by Demo­crats as ‘fly­over coun­try,’ is now be­com­ing a no-fly zone for the party.”

“Simply put, Demo­crats need to ex­pand their sens­it­iv­ity-train­ing courses to in­clude people who live in small-town and rur­al Amer­ica—middle-class white voters, people who live paycheck to paycheck, and whites who at­tend church at least once a week. Frank­lin Roosevelt’s New Deal co­ali­tion of voters is now of­fi­cially dead. Demo­crats were los­ing these voters be­fore Don­ald Trump came along and will con­tin­ue to do so bey­ond his pres­id­ency un­less they show genu­ine con­cern for these con­stitu­en­cies. To be sure, the coun­try is chan­ging and be­com­ing more di­verse, but it is not do­ing so at the same pace every­where. Demo­crats are run­ning up the score in places that do not help them win ma­jor­it­ies in the House, Sen­ate, and Elect­or­al Col­lege.”

Was Obama Bad for Democrats?

Stanley Greenberg and Anna Greenberg: “His legacy regrettably includes the more than 1,000 Democrats who lost their elections during his two terms. Republicans now have total control in half of America’s states. Why such political carnage?”

“Faced with the economy’s potential collapse as he took office, Mr. Obama devoted his presidency to the economic recovery, starting with restoring the financial sector. But he never made wage stagnation and growing inequality central to his economic mission, even though most Americans struggled financially for the whole of his term.”

“At the same time, Mr. Obama declined to really spend time and capital explaining his initiatives in an effective way. He believed that positive changes on the ground, especially from economic policies and the Affordable Care Act, would succeed, vindicating his judgment and marginalizing his opponents.”