While Republicans emerged victorious from the 2016 elections with more wins than losses, the Democratic party felt the pangs of loss and rejection by American voters.
Reeling from the most gruesome election loss in years, Democrats brace themselves as they prepare for the next four years with a Republican president and head back to the drawing board to rebuild their party.
For Democrats the task will not be easy. Walking into 2016 optimistically, with an anointed candidate and ownership of the White House, the deck was stacked in their favor. Until it wasn’t. Republicans dug in and jumped on the Trump Train, derailing the Democrats and the Clinton machine. Licking their wounds, Democrats have turned inward to figure out where they go from here.
Looking ahead to 2018, Democrats will have to defend difficult Senate seats across the country, while at the same time defending Obama’s legacy as a minority on Capitol Hill. Playing defense for the Democrats will have its fair share of challenges. Between the lack of party leadership and the end of the Clinton Dynasty, Democrats will have to spend time in 2017 regrouping and finding new talent instead of focusing on a battle plan to dominate the 2018 elections.
As Republicans control most of the government at all levels across the country, Democrats are faced with the grim reality of a weak party and possible election loss for the next two election cycles, unless they are able to secure the Governorship in key states in 2018.
Between 2017 and 2018, many Republican-held governorships will be open after eight years, giving Democrats a chance to identify emerging leaders for the next generation and dig out from under the 2016 rubble. The path to recovery for Democrats will be paved through governor races across the country, starting with Florida, Ohio, and Virginia in 2018. Democrats have a history of struggling in midterm elections, though, especially in the battleground state of Florida.
If Democrats want a viable chance at getting their party back on track and having a shot at being a player in Congress and in key state legislatures, they will need to focus on state races. In order to do this, they will need a new party leader who is as charismatic as Obama, who will have no problem outcampaigning Republicans.
According to my Magic 8 Ball, the outlook on Democrats finding such a leader is not so good. Even though Obama will leave office with a strong popularity rating, he will never again be at the top of the ballot, nor is his popularity enough for Democrats to leverage in order to win elections.
Just as the Republicans did in 2012, Democrats need to perform a post-election autopsy, take notes, and learn from their mistakes, if they want to be a viable party with candidate options in 2018. Otherwise, they may find themselves on the losing side of history for the next few elections.
Mary Anna Mancuso, Political Strategist and Founder of PoliticalHype.com. She is a regular contributor to Political Storm.