Edi­to­ri­als: The bad day for the Democrats

The ‘toxic brand’ sinks an­other at­tempt to gain trac­tion for the mid-term elec­tions

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY -

The morn­ing af­ter an elec­tion is al­ways a time for por­ing over the en­trails of the cam­paign, and Wed­nes­day the Democrats spent the whole day try­ing to fig­ure out how they could spend $25 mil­lion on a spe­cial elec­tion in Ge­or­gia, and still lose.

The short an­swer, as al­ways, is that the loser was try­ing to sell some­thing a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers didn’t want to buy. Ge­or­gia was one of the most re­li­able Demo­cratic states barely more than a decade or so ago, and is now ruby red with pock­ets of Demo­cratic strength. In this week’s elec­tion, Ge­or­gia vot­ers, many of whom are skep­ti­cal of Pres­i­dent Trump and his tweets, demon­strated they nev­er­the­less want more from an op­po­si­tion than rants and ado­les­cent rage over los­ing an elec­tion.

Karen Han­del, the win­ner of the seat rep­re­sent­ing a district rang­ing over the north­ern sub­urbs of At­lanta, looks and talks like a kindly grand­mother. She was the loser of sev­eral statewide races be­fore she was elected sec­re­tary of state, a ti­tle con­sid­er­ably less grand than it sounds. Jon Os­soff, the man she de­feated, is only 30 (and some­times looks 16), a pleas­ant fel­low with no po­lit­i­cal record who was picked by the Democrats a lit­tle be­fore his time. He in­her­ited a national fol­low­ing be­cause he isn’t Don­ald Trump. On Tues­day, that was not enough.

Repub­li­cans lately have been treated kindly by two prom­i­nent Demo­cratic ladies with­out ac­tu­ally mean­ing to. One of Pres­i­dent Trump’s elec­toral strengths was that he is not Hil­lary Clin­ton, and Tues­day in Ge­or­gia the vot­ers said they don’t want a con­gress­man who has been hang­ing out with Nancy Pelosi.

A decade of Repub­li­can cam­paign­ing against Mrs. Pelosi has made her the gift to Repub­li­cans that keeps on giv­ing. She’s the ul­ti­mate ex­pres­sion of “San Fran­cisco val­ues,” and no­body’s buy­ing those any­where but in San Fran­cisco. “It’s pretty dif­fi­cult to undo the de­mo­niza­tion of any­one,” says Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey of Tues­day’s re­sult.

The de­mo­niza­tion of Don­ald Trump, how­ever, has not worked in any of the four spe­cial elec­tions held so far to re­place Repub­li­cans who moved on to other jobs. The Grand Old Party has now won spe­cial elec­tions in Kansas, Mon­tana, Ge­or­gia and Tues­day in South Carolina, where the Demo­crat did come close enough to rat­tle the Repub­li­cans. Close, but no cigar.

The national Demo­cratic ma­chin­ery had hoped a vic­tory in Ge­or­gia would give the party mo­men­tum for next year’s midterm con­gres­sional elec­tions, where it needs to win a net of 24 seats to re­gain con­trol of the House, and 3 to wrest con­trol of the Se­nate. The Tues­day re­sults demon­strated force­fully that money alone won’t do it. The Os­soff cam­paign said it had knocked on half-a-mil­lion doors, hired a hun­dred staffers, re­cruited 12,000 vol­un­teers and spent more than $11 mil­lion on tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tise­ments, some of them on national tele­vi­sion and some of them on lo­cal ra­dio and tele­vi­sion.

What The New York Times called “a de­mor­al­iz­ing spe­cial-elec­tion de­feat,” deep­ened a wide divide within the Demo­cratic Party be­tween those who are wary of try­ing to sell an undis­guised left-wing agenda, and those who know bet­ter. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio says the Demo­cratic “brand” has be­come “toxic” be­cause vot­ers see Democrats as “not be­ing able to con­nect with the is­sues they care about. Our brand is worse than Trump’s.”

Some Democrats con­sole them­selves with “moral vic­to­ries,” hav­ing come close in a cou­ple of the spe­cial elec­tions. But oth­ers un­der­stand that only the real thing counts, but when your brand stinks, life is not easy.

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