In this episode we continue our discussion of the anti-Trump movement by taking a look at Elizabeth Warren’s potential impact on the 2018 Midterm elections around the country. We then move on to a discussion of the current polarization in the Colorado statehouse, whether it is simply the “new normal” given the state of our political parties and to what extent it can be attributed to President Trump’s actions.
Segment 1: Elizabeth Warren, The Race for DNC Chairmanship and the Future of the Democrat Party
- Much has been made about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s use of Senate rules to prevent Senator Elizabeth Warren from reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King during the debate over the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. The move has been described as a terrible blunder and as carefully planned strategy, and everything in between.
- Which side you fall on depends upon how you view Senator Warren – is she a champion of progressive values who shows the way to future Democratic success, or does she symbolize how far left the national Democratic Party has become, which hurts the chances of the 10 Senate Democrats who are up for re-election next year in states where President Trump won?
- This all feeds into the discussion we had last week about the Women’s March and the Tea Party, and it’s important to remember that all this anti-Trump energy does not automatically translate to Democratic success. It still matters where in the country the Democrats are trying to win elections. Dan McLaughlin has a useful breakdown of the 2018 Senate Races here at National Review. Clearly, Democratic senators are up for re-election in states that will be incredibly tough: West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, Indiana and Missouri are all states were Trump received 60% or more of the two-party vote for President.
- Whoever prevails in the race for DNC Chair will also presumably play a large role in determining the party’s success next year. James Hohmann at the Washington Post has some great reporting about the race for DNC Chair, and he highlights the fact that the candidates all give a similar explanation for why Hillary Clinton lost: She talked too much about Trump. Yet, as Hohmann points out: “Ironically, every person who complained about how the party was too focused on attacking Trump in 2016 also tried to out-do the other candidates in promising to go after the new president. Ellison called Trump “the most misogynistic person to ever become president.” Perez called him “the most dangerous and destructive person to ever hold the presidency.” Buttigieg described the new commander in chief as “a chicken-hawk.”
- Most of the DNC Candidates also highlight the need for a 50-state strategy – basically, strengthening local and state parties across the country from the ground up. What they don’t acknowledge is that the party’s move to the left makes this more difficult. Quite simply, the voters who Democrats need to reach in red states and most swing states are not going to respond to this kind of reflexive, anti-Trump sentiment. They are going to view it as either exaggerated or inconsequential. They care far more about kitchen-table economic issues, and they are not going to be animated by the same issue set that concerns the liberal base (immigration, women’s and minority rights, etc…)
Segment 2: Polarization in the Colorado State House
- In Monday’s Denver Post, Brian Eason and John Frank write that anti-Trump sentiment is influencing the Colorado legislative session, as Democrats face pressure to push back against Donald Trump.
- House Democrats introduced a resolution urging Trump and Congress to rescind his executive order restricting travel from 7 majority-Muslim nations, and a second resolution defending women’s reproductive rights and health care. Both drew criticism from House Republicans as purely political moves that undermine the possibility for bipartisanship and cooperation. At the same time, Republican Rep. Dave Williams introduced a bill targeting sanctuary cities, and House Republicans have also introduced three abortion-related bills, which were all rejected along party lines.
- The danger for both parties in all this political posturing is that middle voters will witness the back-and-forth arguing over President Trump’s policies and it will just further convince them that legislators are incapable of working together to solve the issues that they care about.
- Still, it’s important to remember that this kind of polarization is not exactly new. There have always been contentious debates during the legislative session. But if the battle between support for and opposition of Donald Trump’s agenda overshadows the real bi-partisan work that needs to be done on transportation and education, it’s unclear who exactly stands to benefit.
In this episode we discuss the possibilities of the Women’s March growing into a political force like the 2010 Tea Party movement.
Segment 1: The Tea Party Brought New Voters Into Republican Primaries…Will the Women’s March Do the Same for Democrats?
- Across the country, Tea Party candidates have been successful in Republican Primaries since 2010 by appealing to voters who are not traditional Republicans and do not traditionally vote in primaries.
- Two clear examples of this phenomenon include: Rand Paul in Kentucky in 2010, who was unpopular among a large number of Republican voters (Grayson’s Supporters, PPP, May 18, 2010) and Congressman Dave Brat who famously defeated House majority leader Eric Cantor (GOP pollsters missed big in Va., Politico, June 12th, 2014).
- If we see a lasting impact from the women’s marches, we may see the beginnings of the impact in Democratic primaries beginning in 2018. For an interesting article on how the women’s marches may impact Democratic Party politics, see this article from NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald. Clearly, the women’s march may develop into a movement that will resist being completely overtaken by the Democratic Party.
Segment 2: How Will the Women’s March Impact the 2018 General Election?
- In the aftermath of the women’s marches, President Trump sent a tweet implying that these women did not vote. In reality it is highly likely that they did, as a group of political scientists suggest on The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog.
- The real question will be whether the historically large size of the women’s marches points to an uptick in voting in next year’s midterm elections, which would be to the detriment of House and Senate Republicans in swing states and districts.
- However, there is evidence to suggest that the impact of the women’s marches may be only or mostly felt in Blue states. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight points out that 80% of the total crowds in the women’s marches came from states where both President Obama and Hillary Clinton won. He compares that number to the original Tea Party protests on April 15th, 2009, where only 42% of crowds were in McCain/Trump states and an impressive 33% were in Blue states. So, where Senators like Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania were able to capitalize on Tea Party energy in 2010, it remains to be seen whether the energy from the women’s marches will have much of an impact beyond areas that are traditionally Democratic strongholds.
- On another note, it’s important to also remember the fate of Tea Party candidates like Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle in 2010. Simply because candidates are able to harness the energy of the women’s marches in a Democratic Primary does not mean that that energy will translate to success in a General Election.
Segment 3: What Are the Issues That Will Likely Drive the Women’s March Movement?
- While the women’s marches do share some common characteristics with past successful social movements, as discussed here on The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, the one question that remains to be answered is whether there is a sufficiently coherent goal that they are directing energy toward.
- CNN contributor Salena Zito raised this point in a column for CNN.com.
- Simply put, it remains to be seen whether the women’s marches will evolve into a movement with long-standing influence, but the sheer number of marchers on the weekend after President Trump’s nomination suggests a movement that the Republican Party and, especially, the Democratic Party need to understand in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.