Making Sense of the Recent Congressional Elections

Pundits and partisans have been busy spinning the result of last week’s special election in a suburban Georgia congressional district. The result of the election – a narrow Republican victory in a traditionally Republican district - was indeed a disappointment for the Resistance. The Democratic candidate raised money and hopes not just in Georgia’s 6th District but nationally. This loss hurt.

We’re here to say DON’T DESPAIR! Remember, these special elections have been held in reliably Republican districts because their representatives have been nominated to serve in the Trump Administration. As nice as it would have been to win these races, it would not have changed the fundamental dynamic of the House of Representatives. To gain control of the House, Democrats need to take 24 seats currently held by Republicans. While Georgia 6th seemed to be moving more towards Democrats, it is only one of 40 seats that are in play (meaning the outcome is not a foregone conclusion) in 2018. Historically, special elections are NOT predictive of what happens in the next mid-term election, which for us is 2018.

We lost but we learned two important lessons.

First, money alone is not enough to win an election. While the Democrats raised and spent an unprecedented amount of money in the run-off election, Republican special interests spent more. Interestingly, in a separate special election on the same day in an even more Republican district in South Carolina, the Democratic candidate spent little money and received no national help but came within 3% of winning.  What this means is that starting soon we will need to be out there pounding the pavement, registering new (and young!) voters, making phone calls and engaging in conversations with swing voters wherever we live.  As David Leonhardt recently pointed out in the New York Times, if all liberals actually voted, we would be back in control of Washington.  That’s our job, to Get Out The Vote!

Most importantly, we must stand for positive change. The Democrat in Georgia 6th ran a soft campaign emphasizing his pleasant nature and a desire to “cut waste.” In the middle of the fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act and give millionaires a massive tax cut, the Democrat had nothing to say about health care. It is not politically effective to be nice and inoffensive, the Resistance isn’t going to win by not being Donald Trump. We will win by committing to meeting the needs of families and individuals and building a better, more fair country.

Trump’s approval ratings continue to be at historic lows and are dropping. Grassroots activists like MyWeeklyResistance and the Indivisible Movement must be in the fight for the long run. In all five special elections so far in 2017, liberals have out performed the 2016 results. The electorate is moving our way. We will prevail if we keep fighting.

Call to Action

  1. Be a squeaky wheel! Keep calling your representatives on the issues such as health care where our voices must be heard again and again. Call Republicans and tell them where you stand. Call Democrats and insist that they fight as hard as they can for us.
  2. Look around and encourage those you know who might be strong candidates to explore running for office. We need a deep and competent “bench” of candidates for 2018.
  3. Fight every fight. States, counties, school districts and municipalities all serve as important counterbalances to the retrenchment in the federal government. There are thousands of state, district and municipal elections in 2017. Participate early and often.  And have a good time doing it!