יום שבת, 16 בדצמבר 2017

Did Democrats Get Lucky in Alabama, or is a blue wave coming in 2018?

Rubén Weinsteiner
Ruben Weinsteiner

  The victory of Democrat Doug Jones in deep-red Alabama has roiled the Republican Party and invigorated Democrats, who are hoping to seize back control of Congress next year. MARCA POLITICA asked 13 of the sharpest political analysts we know to interpret Tuesday night’s stunning upset, and to tell us what it means for 2018. Are Democrats poised to win big in the midterms? Or was Roy Moore’s loss just a fluke, the inevitable result of running a flawed candidate who stood accused of sexually assaulting teenagers? And who should Republicans blame for their defeat? Here’s what the pundits told us:


‘A majority of Americans want their elected officials to embody integrity and decency’
Beth Myers is former campaign manager for Mitt Romney.
Doug Jones won his election for U.S. Senate because a majority of Americans want their elected officials to embody integrity and decency, and on Tuesday in Alabama they voted accordingly.

Democrats saw a unique opportunity to elect Jones in deep-red Alabama and smartly committed enormous resources without hesitation to get him across the finish line. And on the Republican side, there were many instances of patriotism over party tribalism. Sen. Cory Gardner held firm and didn’t allow any precious funds from the NRSC, the GOP’s Senate campaign arm, to flow to Moore; Alabama’s senior senator, Richard Shelby, announced his refusal to vote for Roy Moore and gave his supporters permission to do the same; party leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan signaled the troubles Moore would face in D.C.; and Mitt Romney stirred conservative consciences with his strongly declared belief in the veracity of Moore’s accusers and denunciation of Moore.

But for 2018, lessons gleaned from the night’s biggest losers are of paramount importance. The RNC squandered its credibility by actively supporting Moore after many women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. Can they keep their major donors and remain a force after this? Steve Bannon’s arrogant promotion of an unworthy candidate over a solid incumbent, Luther Strange, cost Republicans a seat they may need to hold the majority in 2018. Will Bannon continue to find funding for candidates who can’t win general elections? If so, his recklessness might mean no more Trump judges after the midterm elections, and could seriously damage the rationale for a Trump second term. And finally, the Alabama results starkly illuminate the electoral limits of Trumpism. The Senate and House majorities are slim, Democrats see a path to control both houses and Republicans now understand they must run on something other than Trump’s coattails.

‘Alabama is changing’
Howard Dean is former governor of Vermont and a former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Reasons Doug Jones won:
1) He is a good candidate: an Alabama native in tune with Alabama values.
2) Alabama is changing. Roy Moore represents the worst of Alabama’s stereotyped past. The state remains conservative, but its business and civic leadership has changed and has been building a modern state for some time, despite the backward political leadership.
3) Strong and well-organized African-American leadership, both political and civic. The African-American vote, particularly women, made the biggest difference and will in the future.
4) The first global generation of voters is determined to build the country they envision and they are taking over in every state. This is just the beginning.

‘Steve Bannon deserves every penny the Democrats are paying him’
Frank Luntz is a Republican communications strategist and pollster.

Steve Bannon is the best Democratic operative since James Carville. I hope Chuck Schumer is paying him well. He deserves every penny.

‘Democrats recruited an excellent candidate’
Stephanie Cutter is a Democratic strategist and former deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.

Much of the conversation today is about Republicans’ ill-advised strategy of running an alleged child molester and then sending a historically unpopular president, who faces his own credible accusations of sexual harassment, to campaign for him. It’s important we don’t lose sight of the good signs for Democrats. We recruited an excellent candidate, and he ran a very principled, robust, high-enthusiasm campaign with a strong field operation and a sophisticated online strategy. The enthusiasm gap meant that Democrats poured small-dollar money into the race even when it looked pretty unwinnable, which fueled Jones early on. The 2018 election is a referendum on Trump and his party, and their bad policies that hurt their own voters, but Democrats need to be ready to ride that wave. Good candidates and good campaigns allow us to do that.

‘Democrats will now be emboldened’
Douglas Schoen is a political analyst and former adviser to President Bill Clinton.

The Doug Jones victory is primarily a repudiation of Roy Moore, but of course, it has wider implications. It lays bare the divisions inside the Republican Party and suggests the possibility of Democrats potentially picking up Senate seats—and potentially controlling the upper house of Congress—in states like Nevada and Arizona where the GOP faces divisive primaries.

The Jones victory also calls into question the Trump administration’s ability to pass the remainder of its agenda after tax reform in 2018. Put simply, Democrats will now be emboldened going forward, and you are likely to see more frontal attacks against President Trump, as we saw when New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called for his resignation.
In ways never thought possible, the Jones victory in Alabama puts control of both Houses of Congress in play next year.

‘The GOP’s congressional majorities are in great jeopardy’
Matthew Continetti is editor of the Washington Free Beacon.

In 2012, in an influential article entitled “The case of the missing white voters,” the election analyst Sean Trende argued that poor enthusiasm among the white working class in the Rust Belt might have cost Mitt Romney the presidential election. That analysis, I believe, was confirmed by the voting patterns that brought Donald Trump to the White House four years later.

But the votes of working class and rural whites are not the only ones that can go missing. College-educated suburban voters can also fail to show up at the polls—or, worse from the Republican perspective, they can turn out and vote for Democrats.

That is what happened last month in Virginia, where President Trump’s unpopularity combined with longstanding demographic trends to produce Democratic gains. And it is what happened on Tuesday night in Alabama, where the toxicity and extremism of Roy Moore cleaved the state GOP in two and motivated supporters of Democrat Doug Jones.

Parties maintain power through unity, discipline, responsiveness to public concerns, and the selection of appealing, dynamic and mainstream candidates. To the extent that the GOP fails to accomplish these tasks in the coming months, the party’s congressional majorities, already undercut by Jones’s win, are in great jeopardy.

‘The Democratic Party is ready to come out of the political wilderness’
Donna Brazile is former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Tuesday’s victory in Alabama along with the results last month in Virginia, New Jersey and other races demonstrated that the Democratic Party is ready to come out of the political wilderness. Much like Scott Brown’s election in the bluest of states staggered President Obama’s progressive agenda, this red-state Democratic win was a blow to Donald Trump and his form of divisive politics.

The coming year will test the party’s resolve to run everywhere and support down-ballot races from the state house to the Congress. Again, the lesson is simple: All politics is local. The Democratic Party can compete everywhere with good candidates and a strong message that emphasizes kitchen-table issues. It’s time to put the past behind us and get ready for the future.

‘Republicans need to adjust to a new political reality’
Alex Castellanos is a Republican political consultant.

Doug Jones won because Republicans ran a morally compromised, spiritually constipated candidate. Roy Moore ran as the candidate of Alabama’s past, to make his narrow faith, not our broad nation, great again. That may fill some pews on Sundays but left voting booths barren on Tuesday. Moore won the Republican nomination, however, because the GOP, controlled by yesterday’s self-interested elite, remains as weak, visionless and leaderless as the day Donald Trump crushed it — and when good people leave a vacuum, bad people fill it.

The GOP has grown old. The world has changed and it has been left behind. Yesterday’s Republicans need to adjust to a new political reality: Women are now allowed to vote. Minorities and millennials, too. The Republican strategy of winning 148 percent of its shrinking base will no longer cut it. In a connected world, the GOP needs to be the party that is going to open up the future for all Americans, an outsider’s party that supports natural, organic economic growth, not old, top-down, political and artificial solutions from Washington. Somewhere, there is a Republican Party of the future that fights for a strong and powerful nation and its values, open to and shared by all Americans, whether they take an Uber or drive a Ford F-150. I doubt we will find that GOP before we are wiped out in 2018.

‘Democrats can’t build a 2018 wave without a broad and diverse coalition’
Bill Scher is a contributing editor to Politico Magazine and co-host of the Bloggingheads.tv show “The DMZ.”

It all came down to turnout: Doug Jones largely won because Democrats showed up and Republicans didn’t. Jones’s vote total was only 8 percent less than Hillary Clinton’s in the state, whereas Roy Moore could only scrape up half of the Donald Trump’s haul. While that’s a particularly stark discrepancy—obviously due to the allegations of Moore’s sexual misconduct— it fits the pattern of 2017: In every congressional special election this year, Republican turnout relative to 2016 was worse than Democratic turnout. If that trend continues in 2018, the blue wave shall be mighty.

But Democrats should be careful with their post-election analysis. The strong African-American turnout was no doubt a huge factor in Alabama, and a reminder that the party should not ever take African-American voters and their issues for granted. But it is also true that no single demographic can ensure a Democratic victory. There’s no upside in condemning whites, or white women, as a whole because majorities of those demographics voted for Moore. Jones won because he had robust black turnout and a bigger than usual percentage of the white vote (30 percent of whites, 34 percent of white women). Democrats can’t build a 2018 wave without a broad and diverse coalition. They should celebrate and study how Jones was able to put one together, instead of demographically keeping score.

‘The Democrats just need Republicans to let Trump be Trump’
Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of The National Interest.

In out-hustling Roy Moore, who spent the weekend lazing about Philadelphia and watching the Army-Navy game, confident that he could gull the rubes in Alabama into sending him to Washington, Doug Jones showed the kind of moxie that Democrats will need in 2018. He delivered a body blow to Trump and his reality-show presidency. Where were Moore’s myrmidons, the base that Trump promised he could deliver? MIA. True to form, Trump, a sunshine warrior if ever there was one, already started ducking responsibility in a farrago of tweets on Wednesday morning, claiming that he knew all along that Moore would get waxed. But his horrible political judgment has been ruthlessly exposed by the failure of sweet home Alabama to go sweet on Moore. Trump is almost single-handedly helping to revive the Democratic Party, which is on course to capture both the Senate and House in 2018. Does it need a program? No. The Democrats just need Republicans to let Trump be Trump.

The truth is that Moore’s defeat has shattered the nimbus of power that surrounded Trump and his flunkeys in the White House as they expostulate and bluster and rant about a putative “deep state” and “fake news.” Trump’s ability to intimidate is gone. In testifying on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod G. Rosenstein made plain his disdain for the deplorable—yes, the word is fully merited in this case—attempts by the Wall Street Journal editorial page and other right-wing outlets to trash special counsel Robert Mueller: “Based upon his reputation, his service, his patriotism ... I believe he was an ideal choice for this task.” Every day, Trump’s maneuvering room shrinks. His fiercest critics—Norm Eisen, Bill Kristol, Peter Wehner, David Frum and others—will be galvanized by the weakness Trump is displaying. And as Jones prepares to enter the Senate, Trump’s true judges—a Republican Congress—will be scrutinizing the extent of the damage. The verdict will not be pretty. Lenin’s stern maxim “Kto-kgo?” or "who-whom?", is what now faces Trump’s enablers in Congress, whether it’s Mitch McConnell or Lindsey Graham or Paul Ryan. The day is looming larger when the GOP will have to destroy the Donald before he ends up utterly destroying it.

‘Democratic women are more motivated than ever’
Stephanie Schriock is the president of EMILY’s List.

It’s simple. Doug Jones won because women voters—especially black women voters, who have always been the backbone of the Democratic Party—came out in huge numbers. Frustrated and energized to act by a president and a Republican Party who endorsed a sexist, racist, homophobic, alleged child predator, they instead made the clear choice and stood by Jones—a champion for women’s rights who has fought for justice and progress his entire career.

Tuesday’s election should quash any idea that the energy we’ve seen from women across the country, from Virginia to Alabama, is losing steam. Democratic women are more motivated than ever. They’re marching, they’re protesting, they’re running for office in record numbers—and they’re going to win in a wave of elections, from coast to coast, in 2018. EMILY’s List women are fired up and will provide the candidates we need to take back the U.S. House and win the two seats needed to flip the Senate. Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and the entire GOP should be in crisis mode.

‘A rejection of the vile extremism of the Bannon wing of the Republican Party’
Nina Turner is president of Our Revolution.

The U.S. Senate contest in Alabama was a complicated mix of race and rage. Decency and honor were on the ballot as much as Doug Jones and Roy Moore.

Jones won because the African-American community, particularly black women, turned out in huge numbers in the urban areas of the state. Couple this with the 1.7 percent of write-in voters and it becomes clearer to see the victory path. On a deeper moral level, the Jones win was a rejection of the vile extremism of the Bannon wing of the Republican Party.

There is certainly a lot of excitement around the win last night among Democrats, as they see a glimmer of hope in places like Alabama, where there has not been a Democrat in the U.S. Senate in 25 years. The true sustainable political progress for Democrats in 2018, though, is rooted in engaging and building relationship with an ethnically and economically diverse constituency and connecting with the struggles of the masses. Anything short of this is staring at fool’s gold.

‘Boring can be beautiful’
Jesse Ferguson is former deputy national press secretary and senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Tuesday night is another chapter in the story of 2017—the year America fought back. In Alabama, President Trump’s candidate underperformed Trump’s 2016 campaign by 30 points. That isn’t an outlier, it’s part of a clear trend: From special elections for Congress in Kansas, Montana and South Carolina, where GOP margins shrunk between 21 and 15 points, to Virginia, where Democrats won all three statewide races by larger margins than last cycle and flipped 15 state House seats, to others in New Jersey, Washington state and beyond, the erosion is real. In fact, across about 65 special elections for the U.S. House and state legislatures, Democratic candidates have run, on average, about 9 points ahead of Hillary Clinton. If Republicans continue to insist on supporting an unpopular president and voting for his harmful agenda, giving Democrats a 9-point bump in 2018 would imperil an additional 28 House GOPers beyond the 23 who are already in districts Clinton won.

Maybe we shouldn’t warn them.

Democratic candidates can take advantage of this moment by being authentic—people who voters can trust to be the antidote to Republican-controlled Washington. Doug Jones in Alabama and Ralph Northam in Virginia focused on demonstrating to voters who they really are. Voters in Virginia knew that Northam was a veteran and a doctor who would stand up for kids, much like Alabamians knew Jones was a prosecutor who would fight for them. Voters will reject candidates—of either party—if they seem to be contorting to fit some pundit’s version of “the right candidate” and they will embrace candidates who are a true reflection of what they believe. We answer the salacious and harmful of Republicans with stable and honest Democrats. As I wrote after Northam won in Virginia, the Alabama race again proves that “boring can be beautiful.”


Rubén Weinsteiner

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