Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Vulnerable Dems Aren't Pulling Punches

Well, offense is the best defense, as they say.

At National Journal, "Vulnerable Democrats Are Showing Little Fear of Trump":

Vul­ner­able Demo­crats aren’t pulling any punches cri­ti­ciz­ing Pres­id­ent Trump’s first months in of­fice. In­stead of veer­ing to the right—as many red-state Demo­crats have tried with little suc­cess in re­cent years—2018’s most en­dangered sen­at­ors have re­peatedly voted against Trump’s Cab­in­et nom­in­ees, helped fili­buster his Su­preme Court pick, and rat­cheted up their rhet­or­ic against policies they say hurt the middle class.

While these sen­at­ors still need to win back plenty of Trump voters ahead of the midterms, strategists say the moves re­flect a new real­ity for red-state Demo­crats. After three elec­tion cycles of dormancy, the Demo­crat­ic base could sud­denly play a sig­ni­fic­ant role in their reelec­tions, even in states Trump won hand­ily.

Point­ing to the House spe­cial elec­tion he’s work­ing on in Geor­gia, Demo­crat­ic poll­ster John An­za­lone said Demo­crats are already tak­ing note of an in­flux of voters who hadn’t par­ti­cip­ated in pre­vi­ous midterms—a trend that could dra­mat­ic­ally al­ter the polit­ic­al land­scape in red ter­rit­ory in two years.

“If that holds in­to 2018, we’re go­ing to see a voter uni­verse that’s dif­fer­ent from any­thing we’ve seen in God-knows how many midterms,” An­za­lone said in an in­ter­view last week. “That’s what we should be fo­cus­ing on as Demo­crats.”

Among vul­ner­able sen­at­ors, many of whom pledged to work with the new pres­id­ent after he was elec­ted, few are shy­ing away from at­tack­ing the pres­id­ent, even in places he just won.

Sen. Robert Ca­sey of Pennsylvania, long con­sidered a quiet cent­rist, raised eye­brows earli­er this spring when he took to Twit­ter cri­ti­ciz­ing the pres­id­ent and par­ti­cip­ated in a series of ram­bunc­tious town halls. Mem­bers of the Sen­ate Fin­ance Com­mit­tee, which in­cludes a hand­ful of vul­ner­able Demo­crats, boy­cot­ted a hear­ing for Trump’s picks to lead the de­part­ments of Justice, Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, and Treas­ury. And all but four Demo­crats joined with their lead­er­ship in a fili­buster of Trump’s Su­preme Court nom­in­ee, Neil Gor­such.

As law­makers re­turned from their April re­cess last week, red-state Demo­crats wasted no time lay­ing in­to short­com­ings of Trump’s first months. In a press con­fer­ence Tues­day, Sens. Ca­sey, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Tammy Bald­win of Wis­con­sin each laid in­to the pres­id­ent for a lack of ac­tion on out­sourcing and trade. Asked wheth­er any ap­pet­ite re­mained to work with the White House, Stabenow said each of them had ini­tially been “hope­ful” about it in the be­gin­ning, but grown less op­tim­ist­ic throughout the course of the pres­id­ent’s first months.

That at­ti­tude has drawn praise from pro­gress­ive groups, who say frus­tra­tion with Trump is already driv­ing up their act­iv­ism in tra­di­tion­ally red ter­rit­ory...
I doubt Dems have much shot at taking back the Senate, especially if Trump continues to hold his main base of supporters heading into the 2018 midterms (as polls are now showing). (Dems are defending the majority of Senate seats up for reelection in 2018). But, political science shows that the president's party almost always loses seats in the midterms, so I'm not holding my breath. The Senate's vulnerable to a Democrat takeover, although the House not so much. It'll pay to refer to some of the Larry Sabato-style vote-prediction analyses in the months ahead.

But we'll see. We'll see.

I love politics right now. I love how the Democrats are all fucked up.