Opinion | Muftic: Democrats, don’t blow it
Democrats scored heavily on Nov. 6 in the midterms. There were significant gains in the suburbs and in bringing new voters to the polls. The result was a large shift to blue in many state legislatures, seven governors and in the U.S. House of Representatives. The structural foundation has been laid for Democrats in the 2020 presidential year, especially in the Senate and in states where redistricting and gerrymandering activities would be in control of more Democrats than in 2016. The GOP remained in control of the Senate and gained some seats in the Senate though some races are still facing recounts. In 2020, many more sitting Republican Senate seats will be contested in blue states.
Democrats can build on this if they do not blow it.
Colorado went deep blue. GOP Congressman Mike Coffman lost his suburban seat to Democrat Jason Crow, and the state Senate flipped from red to blue, as did every single state office currently held by Republicans. The governor’s seat and state House legislature remained in Democratic hands. Joe Neguse, a Democrat, won Jerad Polis’ vacated seat as Polis won his race for governor. Neguse will be Grand County’s representative to Congress.
Grand County has always been very red, but it went pink this year. Grand County’s registration’s most recent party affiliation (February 2018) numbers were 21.6 percent Democrats, 38.3 percent Republican, and 40.1 independents/Libertarians/Green. However, in the midterms Democrats impressively outperformed their registration share especially when compared to 2016 results of Trump (52 percent) – Clinton (38 percent), a 14 percent difference. In the 2018 midterms, Grand County GOP voters trumped Democrats by only a 5 percent margin of total votes in the Governor and Congressional race and 8 percent in the other state wide positions. Grand County, part of a state House district with the county’s majority voting for the GOP candidate, found its Democrat state representative, KC Becker, re-elected and named Speaker of the House for the next two years.
Democrats can take a lesson from their national midterm success. The winners and the near winner gainers emphasized solving local problems, red tide, water quality, roads and bridges, and focusing on access to health care. Protecting the pocket books and health of middle income Americans was a winner.
However, fundamentally contributing to Democrat’s wins was Donald Trump. He made the midterms an election about himself and voters took him up on that. The Democrat’s pitch, check him by turning the House blue, appeared to have resonated. Per PBS exit polls. race, gender, age, and education levels were also determining factors per Pew Research. Per Politico, race and age were not factors in Colorado, but the richer, more educated counties tilted to Democrats. Trump’s constant belittling and insulting women, especially women of color (horse face, pig, empty barrel, a graduate of Yale law school, state legislature minority leader was unqualified) who challenge him resulted in a 19 point gender gap for women, doubling the 2016 gap per pollster Fivethirtyeight.
Here is how the Democrats can blow their growing advantage for 2020. Democrat’s control of the House and a slightly increased GOP control of the Senate makes impeachment unlikely, but it also saves Obamacare and meaningful coverage of pre-existing conditions from GOP Senate efforts to repeal, and not replace. The Democratic House turns any GOP Senate initiative to sabotage and repeal Obamacare a futile exercise. A Senate still in GOP hands makes impeachment unlikely. If Democrats had a weakness at the beginning of 2018, it was viewed as just “anti-Trump” and no one knew what it stood for. Saving Obamacare (ACA) Medicare and Social Security, emerged as their plank. Not only must Democrats make an effort to deliver, they also must be perceived by the middle class voters as looking after their family budget concerns. Having every news cycle dominated by sensational House investigations into Trump administration misdeeds could drown out efforts to develop Democrats’ credibility as advocates for middle class pocket book issues. In 2020, Donald Trump may not be the GOP candidate.
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