A number of prominent Democrats are looking forward to the 2018 midterm elections with anticipation as they predict excitement among the party’s voters will lead to important congressional wins.
Jim Messina, who served as campaign manager during President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, shared that sentiment during a recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
When co-host Katty Kay asked whether he believed the 2020 presidential election would also undoubtedly tilt in his party’s direction, however, he hedged his bets.
“Can he do it again?” she asked, referring to President Donald Trump’s ability in 2016 to rally supporters in key states and eke out an electoral victory.
“I think Donald Trump can absolutely be re-elected,” Messina said.
The enthusiasm he expressed earlier in the interview, he explained, dealt specifically with the upcoming midterms. As in previous election cycles, he said “turnout that is lower than in presidential years” tends to benefit the party out of power.
“In that scenario, it matters how intense your voters are,” he said. “It matters how excited your people are to come vote in an election that is not as sexy, is not as big as a presidential campaign.”
Even if the White House is not at stake, Messina noted that 2018 offers Democrats the opportunity for executive-branch victories.
“If you care about the presidential race, you actually care more about the governorships,” he said.
With perennial swing states Florida, Ohio and Michigan holding gubernatorial elections, Messina said he will be focusing on these races.
“Those matter even more and that’s where intensity really matters in some of these close governorships,” he said.
While he expressed optimism in the Democratic Party’s effort to make Trump a one-term president, Messina cautioned that it would take a combination of the right candidate with the right message for the time.
“We have to nominate a candidate who can move forward an economic message that motivates this country,” he said.
Until that is accomplished, he said, nothing is certain about the 2020 election.
“Democrats should be absolutely not confident in our ability to beat Donald Trump until we can do some of this,” Messina added.
The field of potential contenders is already crowded, according to Messina. He said a recent trip to Iowa, home of the earliest campaigning each presidential election cycle, led to his realization that there are “over 20 people currently considering running for president of the United States as a Democrat.”
Though it remains far too early to predict the final lineup of candidates, Messina said Democrats, in general, seem far more engaged in the process than he has seen in the past several cycles.
“I have not seen excitement in Iowa Democratic voters like that since 2006, since before the 2008 election,” he said. “And that is really important.”
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