The Associated Press is usually a reliable cheerleader for the Democratic Party, so this morning’s analysis piece by Erica Werner on Jon Ossoff’s defeat is notable for its objectivity:
Instead of a win or even a razor-thin loss by Democrat Jon Ossoff that many had expected, Republican Karen Handel ended up winning by a relatively comfortable 4 percentage point margin in the wealthy suburban Atlanta district previously held by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
That followed another recent Democratic disappointment in Montana, where the Republican candidate won even after last-minute assault charges, and an earlier loss for the Democrats in Kansas.
[F]or Democrats, having failed to unseat a Republican in four special House elections in a row despite an extremely energized base, it’s now a time for soul-searching — and finger-pointing.
Werner quotes a range of Democratic reaction to the special election losses, but I think the most sensible comment comes from Congressman Seth Moulton:
The outcome “better be a wake-up call for Democrats — business as usual isn’t working,” Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., said over Twitter. “Time to stop rehashing 2016 and talk about the future.”
I think that is right. The Democrats need to move on from their 2016 defeats. So far, running campaigns on the political equivalent of road rage isn’t working.
The AP’s conclusion is sober:
The Georgia race was the most expensive House race in history, with many millions spent on both sides. The fact that that level of investment failed to pay off with a win against a Republican candidate widely viewed as uninspiring left Democrats frustrated and dispirited heading into the 2018 midterm elections.
the string of special election wins, especially in Georgia, sent a powerful message to Republicans that they must be doing something right, even though Trump’s approval ratings are low by historical standards and the GOP has yet to notch a single major legislative accomplishment on Capitol Hill. Far from rethinking their support for Trump or their plans to undo former President Barack Obama’s health care law, Republicans seem likely to stay the course.
And as for the Democrats, they, clearly, are doing something wrong. What exactly it is, and whether they can fix it, will be debated in the weeks and months ahead.
For my part, I hope the Democrats heed the counsel of Jim Dean of Democracy For America, who says Ossoff and the others lost because they failed to “[run] on a bold progressive vision.” In 2018, it would be great to see 435 Democratic House candidates who are all bolder and more progressive than Jon Ossoff.