by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democrats are still plagued by many of the same problems that bedeviled them in 2016. Bitterness lingers between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders that has played out in multiple Democratic primaries and the Democratic National Committee chairmanship race. The Sanders wing is ascendant and skeptical of party institutions, after the way the socialist Vermont senator, actually elected as an independent, was treated during last year’s presidential nomination fight.
The party also remains divided over how to recover from losing last November, and many Democrats are advocating the same strategies they championed before Trump won and the Republicans won. Should they win back working-class whites in Rust Belt states they lost to the president? Should they improve turnout among demographic groups, such as minorities and millennials, who helped former President Barack Obama win two terms? Should they tack to the center or move further left? Or should they simply focus on how Russian interference cost them the White House?
It may not matter. Where Democrats are largely unified is in their disdain for Trump, a man they view as unfit for the office he holds and as someone who has proven unable to deliver on his lofty campaign promises. Obama, Clinton and, to a lesser extent, former Vice President Joe Biden have all remained important party leaders, ginning up outrage against Trump even at the expense of the Democratic bench.
All of that failed against Trump and Republicans last year, yet Democrats are convinced that circumstances have changed enough to yield a much different result in 2018.