Wednesday, June 21, 2017

By law I must write a post about what Ossoff's loss means

I get the whole "yeah but they overperformed" argument. But the bottom line is that argument won't appeal to anyone but the wonkiest political wonks. To everyone else, it's just four consecutive losses for Democrats.

There are two things these recent special elections could have done for the Democrats: (1) predicted a big enough victory in the 2018 midterms for the Democrats to retake house, and (2) scared the Republicans into changing their behavior right now. Those are different things (although they are related), For #2 to happen, Ossoff had to win (and if you wanted total Republican panic, they would have had to also lose in KS, MT, or SC).

The overperformed argument really only speaks to #1. It is too wonky to cause enough Republican panic to get them to buck their President and drop key elements of their agenda. If Democrats continue to overperform and beat the partisan base by 8% in Congressional districts across the country in 2018, they will take the House. But to do that Democrats need to maintain the same enthusiasm they have now for another 1.5 years. That could be tough, especially if the Ossoff loss and other inevitable losses to come become demoralizing.