COLUMN: As Democrats listen to voters and win, 2018 might be a wave election
In 2016, voters were stuck between a rock and a hard place.
I witnessed this first hand.
I remember my grandma asking me, “Who do I vote for?”
To be honest, I couldn’t confidently give her an answer. I was shocked I didn’t immediately tell her the Democratic candidate represented her best interests and was her best choice. My grandmother felt Hillary Clinton was corrupt and disconnected.
I think she was right.
In 2016, the Democratic Party did very little to convince Americans they understood what voters wanted.
Today, this seems to be changing. They’re showing signs of life by reassuming the role of the working class party.
The chief example is the Better Deal, a new policy platform for Democrats which takes the populist policies of Sen. Bernie Sanders and makes them into official party legislative goals.
This platform was drafted by Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in July. It states Democrats will promote “major infrastructure investment programs, a national paid family leave program and rules to ensure fair work schedules and a raise to the minimum wage.”
Democrats are also moving to capitalize on the popularity of Sanders’ single-payer health care message. The single-payer health care legislation drafted by Sanders received 15 Democratic cosigners in the senate, and over 100 Democratic cosigners in the House of Representatives.
The Better Deal and support for single-payer healthcare reaffirms the Democratic Party’s commitment to economic policies.
But Democrats are also changing in another way — they’re winning.
Democrats won two gubernatorial races and a multitude of other statewide seats in Virginia and New Jersey. This might be signs of a wave election in the 2018 midterms.
The Virginia gubernatorial race ending with democratic candidate Ralph Northam besting republican candidate Ed Gillespie may be the most significant event.
The race mirrored 2016. Northam, seen as a moderate and party insider, ran a relatively restrained campaign and distanced himself from the more controversial elements in his party. He used many of the Better Deal policies in his platform to appeal to Virginia’s working class.
Gillespie modeled his campaign off President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, engaging in social issues like the removal of Confederate monuments and illegal immigration.
The election was supposed to be a close race, won by 3 percent with a margin of error of 3 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
Northam won by 9 percent.
The gubernatorial election in Virginia is seen largely as a reaction to the incumbent president’s first year in office and a predictor of the midterm elections. This stark electoral victory shows that voters might be turned off because of Trump’s unpopularity that he’s become an anchor.
This election bodes well for Democrats in the 2018 midterms.
The gubernatorial election and the multitude of statewide seat wins could be because Democrats are listening to voters and running the right candidates, and republicans have a large anchor around their neck.
Winning in 2018 will be about mobilizing and energizing voters. The Democratic Party has made the changes to do that.
Right now, it seems the Democratic Party has learned from the mistakes of 2016. The 2018 midterms could be a great year for Democrats to challenge republican electoral dominance.
As long as democrats continue to stress their commitment to the working class and minorities, and Trump’s unpopularity continues to be a dead weight, Republicans should be scared of a blue wave.