While Democratic leaders point to a divisive president and the tendency of midterms to tilt toward the out-of-power party as positive indicators ahead of November’s elections, plenty of pundits warn those factors alone will not be enough to secure a congressional majority.
As Townhall reported, a recent CNN panel discussion speculated on the Democrat Party’s outlook for 2018, generally concluding there are some fundamental issues it needs to address to remain nationally competitive.
Nia-Malika Henderson began the segment with a stark comparison of the resources available to the two major U.S. political parties as of November.
The Republican National Committee had more than six times as much cash on hand as the Democratic National Committee, she reported — $39.8 million to $6.3 million. Additionally, national Republicans had outpaced Democrats by a factor of 2 to 1 in fundraising efforts as of the same period.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper similarly referenced the Republicans’ “fundraising superiority” in a tweet emphasizing the impact he believes the disparity could have in upcoming elections.
Julie Bykowicz of the Wall Street Journal offered two factors she believes are working against the Democrats’ ability to raise funds.
“The small donors haven’t come home to the Democratic Party because of the 2016 election, because so many of the people feel, have this perception, that the party forced Hillary Clinton on them, didn’t give Bernie Sanders a fair shot,” she said.
That feeling of disenfranchisement, she said, “stopped people from wanting to give money on the small donor side.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, Bykowicz pointed to billionaire hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer as an example of wealthy progressives’ apparent disconnect with the party.
“On the big donor side you’ve got people like Tom Steyer out there freelancing, spending $20 million of his own money on an impeachment project instead of supporting the party,” she said.
Though many Democrats feel momentum is on their side heading into midterm elections, Bykowicz noted that the fundraising problem will likely persist.
“It’s a tough year for the Democratic Party to try to rebrand itself and market itself in a way that’s attractive to small donors and big donors alike,” he added.
The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty agreed that it is a difficult political environment for Democrats trying to show a united front.
Some of the responsibility for that, she said, rested on the party leaders who have struggled to make a cohesive pitch to the American people.
“At this point, the Democrats really have not sort of articulated their rationale for being put back in power, other than they would block Trump, they would stop Trump,” she said.
While Tumulty said only time will tell whether the party is able to make that argument, but she also mentioned Steyer as one of the possible impediments.
She called his effort to “get everybody on the record with impeachment” a “big distraction” from the issues Democrats should be emphasizing.
Even under more favorable circumstances, though, she conceded that Democrats would still have difficulty reaching voters with their message.
In addition to dealing with “actors like Tom Steyer,” she said it is “hard to make that argument when the other party will be controlling the White House.”
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