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Should Dems bet on Beto?

Is Beto O'Rourke's loss in the Texas Senate race a springboard for a Presidential bid? Texas journalist Mimi Swartz hopes he first runs for Cornyn's seat.

Posted: Nov 12, 2018 2:21 AM
Updated: Nov 12, 2018 2:28 AM

The 2018 midterms can be extraordinarily helpful to Democrats in the 2020 presidential election.

History shows that dramatic victories by the opposition party two years into a presidency don't guarantee anything. Presidents Clinton and Obama, for instance, were reelected after midterm shellackings. But they can create substantial opportunities to achieve partisan advantage.

This is the case with 2018.

House Democrats can promote a robust issue agenda

One power that is afforded to the House majority centers on its ability to inject issues into national debate. This is the congressional bully pulpit.

House Democrats may face some difficulty finding legislation that will make it through the Senate, where Senator Mitch McConnell is waiting like Darth Vader to kill any bills. But they can shift the media discussion from the daily chaos of the Trump White House simply by proposing legislation and triggering debate.

This is important since the midterms demonstrated that Democrats support issues that are popular with the public. These include protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions, Medicaid expansion, gun control, and voter rights. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a skilled veteran of Capitol Hill and probably the next Speaker, can keep these sorts of issues on the front burner, reminding voters what their party stands for and forcing Republicans to show what they are against.

Democratic governors can change politics within key states

Democrats were finally able to reverse some of the damage from the Obama years by winning gubernatorial races in Kansas, Michigan and Wisconsin, among others. These governors can play a pivotal role in the presidential campaign. They will have the capacity to push back against voter restrictions that have been put into place in recent years, which disproportionately impact voters who lean toward Democrats.

Governors also will be able to push for state policies that energize voters, and in turn generate ideas for a national candidate. Closer to election time, the Democratic governors can help mobilize their party behind the chosen candidate. A few of them might even emerge as potential candidates themselves.

Democrats learned that grass-roots mobilization matters

When many Americans are cynical about the impact of average people, the midterms offered a template for how electoral success comes from the bottom up.

From the minute the 2016 election ended, there was a surge of Democrats who were angry about the outcome and determined to do something about it. Hundreds of thousands of people participated in the Women's March on Washington and similar demonstrations around the country just one day after President Trump's inauguration. The march rallied those who felt defeated and energized a grass-roots movement.

Educated women in suburbs dove into the grunt work of organizing and building local political networks to deliver the vote in the midterms, according to Theda Skocpol and Laura Putnam's surveys and interviews.

Some of these women didn't just prepare to vote. They ran for office and set a record in the House.

Survivors of February's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School also became fierce organizers. They may be frustrated with the possible outcomes in Florida, where two gun-rights candidates might win. But their activism boosted participation among younger voters and inspired older Americans to see why the composition of Congress matters. Gun control advocates also increased their numbers in Congress, and a sizable contingent of NRA-backed legislators won't be returning to the Hill.

The local mobilization that occurred before the midterms can be the basis for Democrats to start preparing for 2020.

Coalitional candidates are the best bet

There has been endless head-scratching and debate among Democrats about whether the party should move to the left (towards newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example) or veer to the center (occupied by Connor Lamb and Doug Jones). Democrats should instead ask which candidates have the political savvy and charisma to build a big tent. Beto O'Rourke was one such contender, and his campaign showed the strength of that combination, even in a deeply conservative state like Texas.

Democrats are now competitive in a broader portion of the electorate as Trump has narrowed his party's appeal. They should search for someone who can put together an issues package and have the Beto-like appeal to attract a diverse voting body.

Don't fret too much over the reddest states

Democrats are celebrating and breathing a sigh of relief over the House and state election outcomes, but the results in the Senate should be sobering. In October, Trump campaigned fiercely on issues like immigration and Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, which seemed to resonate in Republican states. Whether it was Trump or loyalty to the GOP, voters in red areas supported the party line and were not open to very centrist candidates like Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, who was defeated in North Dakota.

The President's bet that Republicans would come home in the end was on target. The midterms should prevent Democrats from making the mistake of thinking that they can flip states in most circumstances. Democrats should be realistic about Republican strongholds and see that putting their human and financial resources into fighting for purple states like Nevada and Colorado is the best investment.

It won't be long before the presidential campaign really begins. The candidates soon will announce their intent to run, the debates will begin, and the fundraising will kick off. Although this was not a total revolt against Trump, the midterms have provided Democrats with a massive opening to take back the White House in 2020.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 124439

Reported Deaths: 2292
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin32336965
Ramsey13342347
Dakota9251133
Anoka8093148
Stearns537035
Washington525967
Scott318534
Olmsted307029
St. Louis264763
Wright227614
Nobles214016
Clay203243
Blue Earth19707
Carver16957
Rice15789
Sherburne156221
Kandiyohi15494
Mower148912
Winona118918
Lyon9256
Waseca9129
Crow Wing87921
Chisago8552
Benton8415
Beltrami7687
Otter Tail7436
Todd7232
Steele7212
Itasca67617
Nicollet67317
Freeborn6324
Morrison6076
Douglas6043
Martin58616
Le Sueur5855
McLeod5703
Watonwan5674
Goodhue51111
Pine5090
Polk4924
Becker4893
Isanti4873
Chippewa3793
Carlton3781
Dodge3620
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Pipestone32616
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Meeker3073
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Rock2971
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Redwood25011
Murray2483
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Renville22911
Faribault2090
Jackson1951
Roseau1930
Swift1921
Wadena1880
Kanabec18610
Houston1811
Stevens1681
Lincoln1650
Pennington1631
Koochiching1624
Aitkin1542
Pope1480
Big Stone1270
Wilkin1244
Lac qui Parle1232
Lake1030
Mahnomen941
Norman940
Grant894
Marshall871
Clearwater760
Red Lake602
Traverse530
Lake of the Woods421
Kittson270
Cook110

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 107481

Reported Deaths: 1537
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk17984282
Woodbury682088
Johnson563830
Black Hawk519196
Linn5047126
Dubuque467952
Scott404134
Story385317
Dallas329143
Pottawattamie295644
Sioux229712
Buena Vista220012
Marshall192636
Webster170014
Plymouth153925
Wapello147162
Clinton135525
Muscatine133958
Crawford130912
Cerro Gordo124923
Des Moines12139
Warren11496
Carroll10288
Jasper102034
Henry9785
Marion92410
Tama90037
Lee8719
Wright6871
Dickinson6847
Delaware6798
Boone6778
Mahaska61422
Bremer6128
Washington61011
Harrison5768
Jackson5283
Lyon5147
Benton5031
Louisa49115
Clay4844
Hamilton4433
Winnebago43716
Winneshiek4339
Hardin4285
Poweshiek42811
Kossuth4220
Floyd41511
Jones4113
Emmet39914
Buchanan3933
Cedar3855
Iowa3776
Franklin37318
Guthrie36914
Cherokee3652
Sac3643
Clayton3503
Page3470
Butler3442
Shelby3441
Madison3432
Fayette3412
Mills3361
Allamakee3278
Chickasaw3221
Clarke3123
Cass3052
Humboldt2913
Palo Alto2861
Hancock2814
Grundy2804
Calhoun2644
Osceola2480
Howard2479
Monroe23811
Mitchell2300
Monona2281
Taylor2202
Pocahontas2092
Union2094
Appanoose2013
Jefferson1901
Lucas1866
Fremont1781
Ida1772
Greene1730
Van Buren1572
Davis1554
Montgomery1555
Keokuk1401
Adair1331
Audubon1291
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