Everything seems to be going Democrats’ way. But many in the party just can’t get 2016 off their minds.
President Donald Trump is down or within striking distance in nearly every battleground state, his approval ratings are stubbornly low and he’s threatening to bring down the GOP Senate majority with him while helping to douse Republican chances of House takeover. Some Democrats are even beginning to feel confident about their prospects this fall.
Yet many can’t let themselves enjoy it.
“I’m not confident at all. I think the easiest way to ensure Trump’s reelection is to be overconfident. Too many Democrats are looking at national polls and finding them encouraging,” said Sen. Chris Coons, (D-Del.), a close ally of Joe Biden. “Too many Democrats assumed that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in and didn’t vote or didn’t work.”
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who calls herself “Debbie Downer” for repeatedly raising the alarm in Democratic circles, said she heard directly from people in her district that they plan to vote for Trump in 2020.
Everyone will roll their eyes and say, ‘that’s Debbie.’ But I was right in 2016,” Dingell said in an interview.
Yet in interviews with more than a dozen Democratic senators, including many from swing states, there’s an emerging feeling that this moment is not like four years, ago when Trump shocked the world. Trump is doing worse in the polls, has a controversial record as president and is facing a more popular opponent in Biden than he did in Clinton.
Some Democrats are even envisioning a blowout where Trump loses not just in the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that won him the presidency, but in places like Iowa, Ohio, Florida and Arizona as well.
“We’re going to beat him in November, and I think we’re going to even beat him in Ohio. And Ohio will mean an Electoral College landslide,” argued Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who won reelection handily in 2018.
“People are worn out. They’re tired … people are really craving for changes and some normalcy,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who squeaked out a reelection win two years ago. “And you’re seeing that frustration in the polls. So unless they change drastically, I think there will be a big change” at the White House.
Still, it’s impossible for some Democrats to fully accept what’s been a rolling wave of good political news over the past few weeks. For one, polls are merely snapshots in time, they say, and less than five months until Election Day offers plenty of time for those snapshots to change, particularly if the economy stabilizes and coronavirus is contained.
Good. Complacency is what did them in back in 2016, and it could again. Four years ago it seemed impossible that America would elect a sexist racist megalomaniac over a competent and experienced candidate, and even when the impossible happened, who could have imagined how dangerous he could be. Well, now we know, and going around and saying that he is an existential threat to our country and even the world isn’t just fear-mongering; it’s as real as it gets.
So yes, the Democrats should be wary and planning everything they can to defeat not just Trump and do it to a degree that there’s no room in a reasonable mind to question the win, they need to win handily in the House, the Senate, and local races. Winning the presidency but keeping the Senate in Republican hands would accomplish nothing. It has to be a blowout on a scale of 1964 was for them and 1984 was for the GOP.