Are Democrats in Trouble?

Since the November 2016 election, we've read over and over that though the GOP may be ripping apart at the seams (though maybe not), it's the Democratic Party that is really in trouble. How could Democrats have lost to such an unfit candidate, and have lost both the Senate and House and watched a Supreme Court seat be stolen from them?

It looks dire. There have been several interim Congressional elections that Democrats have pumped energy, attention and money into yet still lost to Republicans. Where's that pussy-hat rage that should be fueling turnovers nationwide? It's there.

The following chart of interim elections in 2017 comes from Ballotpedia. Most of these were elections to replace cabinet appointments. Note that though there were no party swings in the four held thus far (for Congress), margins have changed.

Mike Pompeo won by 60% in Kansas' 4th before being selected for his cabinet position. 
Ron Estes this year eeked his win with just 52% of the vote. (and the Democratic candidate rose from 30% of the vote in 2016 to 46% in 2017)
Ryan Zinke's Montana win was with 56% of the vote but Greg Gianforte barely took 50% to replace him. 
Tom Price's 62% win in 2016 fell off to 52% for his replacement, Karen Handel, a few months later. (and the Democratic candidate rose from 38% of the vote in 2016 to 48% in 2017) 
And Mick Mulvaney's 59% win in 2016 dropped to a 51% squeaker for Ralph Norman a few months ago. (and the Democratic candidate rose from 39% of the vote in 2016 to 48% in 2017)

The average vote switch from Republican to Democrat this year has been 8%. And that's a game changer. Democrats have bemoaned losing each of these but need to consider how solidly Republican these districts already are. 

A look at the national vote -- disregarding American peculiarities like gerrymandering, the allocation of Senate seats and the electoral collage -- shows a Democratic Party still in the majority but hammered by our peculiar methods of counting. Keep in mind that both of the last two Republican presidents were elected by a MINORITY of voters, while majorities cast their lot with Democrats. And in the case of the 2000 election, we learned too late that the loser, Al Gore, had likely won the electoral vote, not just the popular vote. Based on strict national voting choices, we likely would have had Democratic presidents since 1992 -- a 25-year run. 

                     National Vote Winner (Gain)                         Electoral College Winner (Gain)
2016:                Clinton (3 m votes)                                        Trump (+35)
2012:                Obama (5 m votes)                                        Obama (+63)
2008:                Obama (9.5 m votes)                                     Obama (+96)
2004:                 Bush (3 m votes)                                           Bush (+17)
2000:                 Gore (500,000 votes)                                     Unknown
1996:                Clinton (8 m votes)                                     Clinton (+110)
1992:           Clinton (6 m votes)                                        Clinton (+101)
1988:           Bush Sr. (7 m votes)                                   Bush Sr. ( +157)

And how about the US Senate? Which party would dominate the Senate if all Senate votes counted equally? USA Today did the math.
"The White House may not be the only institution in Washington that Democrats lost on Tuesday despite getting more votes than Republicans. It turns out that Democrats also got more votes for the U.S. Senate than Republicans, and yet Republicans maintained their majority on Capitol Hill. In results that are still preliminary, 45.2 million Americans cast a vote for a Democratic Senate candidate, while 39.3 million Americans voted for a Republican."
 Today's Senate majority -- and the recent theft of Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court seat -- is the result of a Constitutional system that gives massive power to small states and takes it away from larger ones. Keep in mind that a Senator from California represents 20,000,000 citizens while an equally powerful Senator from Wyoming represents less than 300,000.

And the House of Representatives?

There are 435 Representatives and Republicans currently hold a very solid 47 seat majority, an 11% advantage over Democrats. Yet because of their Tea Party-fueled sweep in the 2010 election, Republican legislatures dominated redistricting after the last census, creating advantageous maps where "legislators pick their voters instead of voters picking their legislators."

In 2016, Republicans scored only 1% more votes nationally than Democrats in Congressional elections. Gerrymandering turned a 1% gain into an 11% advantage.

The next census is in 2020. To turn this around, we need either a strong dictate from the Supreme Court in the current Wisconsin case or a strong Democratic win at the state levels in that election. Or both.

So before bemoaning how "Democrats aren't winning" or "can't win", let's consider the fact that they are in fact winning votes, but not elections. Americans vote Democratic, then see Republicans take power because of the quirks of our system.

What are we going to do to ensure all American voters have equal say in the future?


  1. A great many leftist voters are fastidious and resolute and insistent on the right kind of Democrat. Many stayed home in 2016. This includes a great many black voters less motivated by Hillary than by Obama, plus a lot of the progressive left. Republican voters voted for Trump. The evangelicals looked past the crotch grabbing and general vulgarity and saw a Supreme Court nominator and voted Republican. They were pragmatic. The left was more principled. Result: Trump. I find this unfortunate, but I am not "blaming" the voters who were not motivated to vote. Their vote is sacred and they are free to exercise their voting privilege as they wish. They wanted to send a message and they did.


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