Dems blowing winnable races across the country

Interesting piece in the National Journal about how Democrats are failing to take full advantage of all their electoral advantages and may be blowing several winnable races across the country by nominating kooks and crazies.

They use as a case study the gubernatorial race in deep blue Maryland which pits GOP incumbent Larry Hogan against the former head of the NAACP Ben Jealous.

Hogan’s ability to build a broad coalition is testament to his engaging personality, record of economic growth during his tenure, and an eagerness to split from President Trump on myriad issues. But the governor’s commanding lead over Democrat Ben Jealous is also a product of the Democratic Party’s leftward lurch in Maryland, a dynamic that is replicating itself in other pivotal governors’ races across the country.

Democrats nominated Jealous, a former NAACP president, to face Hogan. He’s a dream candidate for progressives: a Bernie Sanders acolyte who advocates for single-payer health insurance, free college tuition, and the legalization of marijuana among other liberal priorities. He defeated a relatively moderate, business-friendly opponent in Prince George’s County executive Rushern Baker III, making the argument that the only way to defeat the popular Hogan was by rallying the base across a liberal state like Maryland.

So far, that strategy hasn’t panned out. Republican-aligned groups have spent millions tagging Jealous as an extremist, targeting his single-payer health care proposal. He dropped an expletive at a Washington Post reporter who asked if he was a socialist at a press conference. Public polls show his negatives unusually high for a first-time candidate, and he’s struggling to consolidate support in majority-minority Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. Jealous hasn’t raised money to match his national profile, and is running low on campaign cash, according to new campaign finance filings.

Hogan is an outlier for the GOP - a true moderate running in a heavily Democratic state. In fact, most Democrats running in blue states and blue districts are expected to win with relative ease.

And therein lies the Democrat's problem. If they want to take control of the House and Senate as well as win more governorships, they are going to have to win in some red states and some red districts.

There are pluses and minuses this electoral season for Democrats. The pluses include running against a first term president - historically, a big advantage for the party out of the White House. Then there are more than 40 open seats, most of them in Republican districts, where the advantage of incumbency has been negated. Finally, the Republican party is in bad odor - even with many Republicans. This may tamp down GOP turnout in races where it is vital for  the base to rally behind the candidate.

But the Democrats are none too popular either. More to the point, they have nominated far left candidates in many red states and districts. While this may enthuse their base, it will cost them dearly with swing voters and disaffected Republicans. 

So the question of who controls the House next year may come down to how many voters in conservative districts will cast a ballot for a far left candidate? By definition, the liberal base vote in those districts is much smaller than the GOP base vote. They may have all the enthusiasm in the world to get out and vote, but the math is against the Democratic candidate.

Democrats could potentially pick up 30-50 seats, needing 24 to take control. But they won't. If they manage to win the House, it will be by a far narrower margin than it could be, simply because they are running the wrong kind of candidates in many districts where a less radical Democrat would have a better chance of success.  


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