Speed Reads

georgia special election

Where do the Democrats go from here?

Even as some analysts caution against reading too much into the Democrats' near victory, but ultimate defeat, in the Georgia special election on Tuesday, pretty much everyone agrees that something dramatic needs to change between now and November 2018 if Democrats are to stand a chance of flipping the House. "[Democrats] are outside the mainstream of the American public in districts they need to win, like Georgia 6, where not only did we win but we actually expanded the margin tonight over the presidential election in 2016," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers, who helped with the last four House special elections, told Politico.

Stivers contends that Democratic candidates are too far to the left. Stivers added that "the Democratic strategy of trying to make every House race a referendum on Trump also isn't working," Politico notes. "Democrats tried unsuccessfully to tie vulnerable House Republican candidates to Trump in 2016; most of them, however outran Trump — even in districts Hillary Clinton carried."

Many frustrated Democrats sort of agree with the Republican leader. "Ossof race better be a wakeup call for Democrats — business as usual isn't working. Time to stop rehashing 2016 and talk about the future," tweeted Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.).

Democrats don't necessarily agree with Stivers' analysis of which direction to go, though. "To Bernie-aligned progressives I've spoken with, the Ossoff loss was evidence that candidates need to be more liberal, more outspoken on economic populism," wrote Politico's Gabriel Debenedetti. "Others wondered why the party didn't spend much money at all in [the South Carolina special election between Republican Ralph Norman and Democrat Archie Parnell]. But one Dem congressman texted me a question that summed up all the exasperation early in the night: 'Lots of 'moral victories.' But when do we get actual victories???'"

Read The Week's assessments of the race, with Simon Maloy writing that "Democrats don't get points from Republicans for being polite and moderate" and David Faris writing that the Democrats completely wasted their time in the state.