Successes or failures from the 2018 midterms will heavily influence Democrat’s 2020 presidential primary which will begin shortly following the midterms. There are many factors that will help to determine what kind of nominee Democrats will need for 2020.
Three important races include the governor races in Florida (Andrew Gillum) and Georgia (Stacey Abrams) and the U.S. Senate race in Texas (Beto O’Rourke). Though all three of these races are not identical, these southern red states would break the conventional wisdom on what it takes to change the states to blue. Rather than remaining relatively conservative, these campaigns are depending on building multiracial coalitions that excite the progressives. If the South can win these liberal positions, it would be a game-changer for the Democratic party. However, if they lose and more moderate Democrats in states like Tennessee (Phil Bredesen) and Arizona (Kyrsten Sinema), there will be much more criticism of the growing populist and socialist faction in the Democratic Party.
Another important factor is whether candidates with “Medicare for All” in their platforms will be successful in the midterm elections. To be able to use this issue to the Democrats’ advantage, candidates will need to win districts previously won by Trump with this issue on their platform. However, if single-payer advocates like Joe Radinovich lose to a Republican, it could damage the party’s chance of using this issue on their platform. However, even if Radinovich loses, the lost could be overlooked if candidates like Kara Eastmen (Nebraska) and Randy Bryce (Minnesota) win. If the blue wave turnout is even bigger, it could help other single=payer advocates in even redder territories like Diane Mitsch Bush (Colorado), Leslie Cockburn (Virginia) Nate McMurray (New York) and Sri Preston Kulkarni (Texas).
One debated issue dividing Democrats is gun control. The gun debate has died down a bit since the Las Vegas massacre that occurred a year ago and the Parkland school shooting 8 months ago. Several Democrats have added expanded background checks and assault weapon bans to their agenda, but some Democrats are prioritizing this issue. Lucy McBath, running for a Georgia House seat, lost her African-American son to a white man complaining about loud rap music. As her front issue, McBath skipped the assault weapons ban and instead proposed a minimum age of 21 to purchase guns, opposes states recognizing other states concealed-carry permits, and supports banning gun ownership by domestic abusers and other criminals. Her win would boost gun control advocates. However, other Democrats in races who are trying to win the red, like Maine’s Jared Golden and New Jersey’s Jeff Van Drew, support expanded background checks, but not much else. If any of these candidates win, it could help with expanded background checks, however, the right-leaning Democrats could limit the chances of gun control expanding past this.
Another deciding factor revolves around race. There is a surge of Democratic House nominees that are people of color running in predominantly white districts, and it is not surprising that they have been attached with racially charged ads from Republicans. The candidate receiving the most racially-motivated hate is Antonio Delgado who is running for a House seat in New York. Depending on if these people of color can overcome this reaction, spark a higher turnout from their diverse base, and win will affect how the Democratic Party determines whether they need a white candidate.
Another issue includes whether Democrats can be successful while simultaneously attacking or criticizing their own party. Senator Joe Donnelly from Indiana is seeking reelection and has been running ads attacking the socialist left. He’s criticized them on health care being in the hands of the government and liberals cutting defense spending. Though Donnelly is trying to keep the Republicans on his side, it’s going to be hard for him to expect the same response from his own party.
The last issue concerns Democrats making their campaign based around Trump. Richard Ojeda, a Democratic running for a House seat in Virginia, voted for Trump in 2016. He’s certainly not conservative and has fiery populist ads. He has said that Trump “hasn’t done shit”, but he has also given him credit for helping the coal industry. If Ojeda wins, it will show Democrats that to win, your campaign doesn’t need to revolve around Trump and can be more about your own successes, views, and campaign.
Click here to read the full 10/24/18 article with links to the various important candidates and races by Bill Scher from Politico.