Back in December I penned a ‘dare to dream’ piece in which I imagined the slim possibility that Republicans could get absolutely crushed in November. I can’t claim responsibility for originating the scenario—it was something conservative commentator David Frum had opined about in a podcast I listened to.
But it’s a theme Markos and I returned to this week in discussing the current political landscape, and the truth is, a Democratic electoral rout is no longer an optimist’s pipe dream, it’s a possibility—even if it’s nowhere near a done deal.
So having knocked on wood several times over here, let’s remember that this prospect doesn’t really come down to Democrats playing a masterful hand. It largely depends on Republicans screwing the politics up six ways to Sunday—something they’re well on their way to doing.
Yes, there’s five months left, no one is declaring victory, and all those other caveats. All that being said, here’s something to hope for and work toward as our country takes a beating under the leadership of Trump and his Republican minions in the Senate.
Let’s take a brief look at the landscape five months out:
- Trump never got the usual “rally around the flag” polling bump from this crisis, but he’s already more than squandered that advantage and is headed in a negative direction by almost every indicator (his approvals, people’s satisfaction with the U.S. government’s response, people’s confidence in Trump versus his experts, the mounting death toll, the crushing unemployment numbers). By every conceivable measure, Trump is screwing this up, and voters’ perceptions of the economy are typically set by the end of the second quarter.
- Trump is tanking among key demographic groups: older voters, independents, suburban women, and even voters who don’t like either Trump or Biden (the “double haters” as Markos calls them).
- More Senate seats are in play for Democrats than anyone ever expected. At the beginning of the year, everyone’s focus was trained on the GOP senators from Maine, Colorado, Arizona, and North Carolina. Not only are Democrats looking very competitive in those states—now there’s pickup prospects in Montana and maybe even Iowa. And even though they are particular long shots given the state’s electoral laws, Georgia might just provide two targets while North Carolina’s other seat, held by scandal-ridden Sen. Richard Burr, might put two GOP-held Tar Heel senate seats in play.
- Finally, as bad as things are right now, they are likely to get worse because Trump has set the country up for failure. By not organizing a national testing, tracking, and containment plan for new outbreaks, he has practically ensured a second wave will hit the U.S. That wave might be worse than the first or it might tend to be worse in areas that weren’t as impacted by the first wave, such as smaller towns and rural areas, particularly in red states. However that wave plays out, Trump will almost surely head into the fall with a struggling economy, a devastating death toll, and nation looking for leadership he’s proven entirely incapable of providing. His entire campaign strategy will revolve around creating a reality distortion field that throws voters off his scent. It will undoubtedly be ugly but it will also be pretty damn difficult to distract people who got sick, lost a job, and/or lost a loved one.
In short, the dream I hypothesized last December has a stronger likelihood of actually coming to fruition now than it did then and, during a very dismal time, that’s an energizing goal to work toward. Once more, if Democrats do manage to win unified control of government this coming fall, they will have both the responsibility and the opportunity to rebuild the government from the ground up. Great change often flows from incredibly trying moments in history, and we may be witnessing just such a moment.