Could Trump’s Victory Be Exactly What The Ailing Democratic Party Needed?

March 14, 2017

By Marty Carlino

The Democratic Party is in shambles. Speaking from the standpoint of elected officials, the Democrats are facing one of the worst outlooks the party has seen in decades.

The results of the 2016 presidential election provided us with several takeaways. The newly found voter coalition that Barack Obama turned out in staggering numbers in both 2008 and 2012, that many believed would be the new voter base that would turn the Democrats into the dominant party moving forward, seemingly disappeared for Hillary Clinton. 

Clinton failed to turn out the same voters that helped Obama win two terms of the presidency and ultimately ran what several political researchers have dubbed as one of the most disappointing and underachieving presidential campaigns in recent memory.   

Perhaps the most surprising and most concerning takeaway for the Democrats moving forward are indications that the party have developed a strictly coastal nature.

If the electorate were comprised of New York, Massachusetts and California, Hillary Clinton would have run away with the 2016 election. But, as we all know, that is not the case. Clinton dominated those three states to the tune of nearly 65 percent of the vote. However, her performance over the other 47 states was far less than desirable.

To even further demonstrate the coastal nature of the Democratic Party, let’s look at their current elected officials and the states they represent. Sixty-six of the 194 total democrats in the House of Representatives come from the same trio of states that Clinton dominated in the election-New York, Massachusetts and California. That number represents more than a third of total representatives in the House.

The gap between the two parties is far less in the Senate. The Democrats actually picked up two Senate seats in November narrowing the gap to just a four-seat advantage for the Republicans. But, indications from 2018 Senate races are pointing to the Republicans gaining those seats, and more, back.  

At the state level, the outlook isn’t any brighter. Per research from The Atlantic, Republicans now control 34 governorships, which is the largest amount since 1922. Republicans also control an all-time high 69 of 99 state legislative chambers.

Republicans even increased their hold on state governments this past November. Republicans now hold the governing trifecta (control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature) in 24 states, while the Democrats control just five; Washington, California, Oregon, Delaware and Rhode Island-all of which are coastal states.

With these numbers present, one thing is clear: Democratic support throughout the U.S. is far more concentrated than the opposing Republican Party.

Although the widespread dominance of the opposing party should be a top concern for democrats, what’s even worse is the party’s lack of structure and young leadership moving forward.

Clinton, 69, is likely done holding a high profile within the Democratic party. Her defeat also signified that Barack Obama, who will remain a party leader for years to come, but will never top a ballot again, cannot place his support behind a candidate and propel them to victory.

Bernie Sanders, who without question demonstrated an ability to excite voters throughout the U.S., will be almost 80 years of age come the 2020 election, likely ruling him out of consideration on the party’s ticket.

Vice presidential nominee, Tim Kaine, demonstrated his lack of appeal on Clinton’s 2016 ticket and party heavyweight Elizabeth Warren is both aging and possibly nothing more than a product of the heavy Democratic leaning Massachusetts.

The Democrats lack a roster of young, exciting candidates that can help dig the party out of this hole. The party appears to have backed their interests in New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker, who at 47 is spry in comparison to other Democratic Party leaders. Booker, Warren and Kamala Harris, a newly elected senator from California, are the likely early favorites to headline the bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

With the surplus of bad news for the democrats, you may be left wondering where the party can look for hope.  Their search for hope starts in the Oval Office.  

With each passing day, President Donald Trump’s approval rating continues to slip so much so that it is approaching a record low for a first-term president. Trump’s first 60 days in office have drawn harsh criticism and left many Americans counting down the days until his term is up. This should have democrats salivating for the 2018 mid-term elections.

There should be little to no doubt that the Democrats will capitalize on Trump’s rash behavior and turn it into a sizable gain in both Congress and State Legislators in 2018. An additional reason for optimism comes from the large lead Republicans have in the House.

Throughout the course of history, the U.S. electorate has developed a checks and balances system of their own. Whenever one party gets too much control in either chamber, voters have in turn, elected members of the opposing party in the following cycle to even the scale a bit.  Our system has been incredibly consistent with this characteristic.

Although the outlook for Democrats is bleak, they will gain strength in 2018. Maybe the election of Trump is the best thing that could have happened for them.        

carlmart@my.dom.edu