We’re assuming Republicans will have a 52-48 seat majority in the Senate next year. That’s likely the case. But it’s not a done deal yet. There’s still one Senate race to be decided. It’s the Senate runoff in Louisiana on December 10th. Louisiana is a pretty red state. And the most recent poll – albeit from a Republican polling firm – shows Republican John Kennedy with a big lead over Democrat Foster Campbell. But there are two big reasons why Democrats should move quickly to make a race of it.
First, we’ve talked about how Democrats need to go back to the 50 state strategy which rejuvenated and drove them to victory in the 2005-2009 era. Louisiana is one of the 50 states. As pretty red states go, its politics are sufficiently distinct from its neighbors that Democrats can win elections there. Not often. But it happens far more than in neighboring states like Mississippi. Democrats need to commit to fighting to win races everywhere. The fact that it’s a serious uphill climb isn’t relevant. Of course it is. That’s the point. Focusing on blue states is the present model. The point is you field candidates everywhere. Slowly you expand the playing field and you learn things as party you would not otherwise learn.
Second, it’s worth the investment and effort even if it ends in defeat. Democrats are in for a long two years with close to no hold on the levers of power in Washington. They need a message of opposition. This is a chance to try one out, test it, refine it, broadcast it in Louisiana and nationwide. Donald Trump ran as a populist who would make Washington work for the average American, for the middle and working class. But he is already prepping to phase out Medicare, throwing roughly 20 million Americans off the insurance rolls immediately, supporting an ‘infrastructure bill’ which is actually a tax giveaway to wealthy developers which won’t build anything new. Whether this is Trump’s own view or whether he’s captured by the Ryan privatizer Republicans is irrelevant in political terms. Trump is prepping to unleash a series of policies that will devastate not only Democrats but they very people he purported to champion.
This is a strong political message and it has the virtue of being what Democrats do believe in and have for decades. It is simple: Trumpism is a swindle. He said he was going to drain the swamp but he’s already partying in the swamp, prepping to phase out things like Medicare which Americans hold dear.
Whether the Democrats can mobilize in just two weeks or get that message out effectively in such a short period of time is not clear. But you run elections not only to win them but to refine messages and build coalitions so you have a better shot at winning them the next time.
One might say, well, isn’t it a waste of money if victory isn’t likely? Couldn’t that money be better spent elsewhere? Well, are there races in the spring you’re waiting to spend your money on? If you contribute $50 now are you less likely to donate for the 2018 cycle? Of course, not. This is the race that’s happening now. Every contested election builds experience and knowledge for the next one. It signals that you’ll fight everywhere. The Democrats are on their backs at the moment. But they have a strong message that needs to be argued. No better time than the present.