Wednesday, June 21, 2017
More on the Georgia Special Election
From David Leonhardt:
The NY Times' David Leonhardt wrote the following in this morning email. I think it's worth a read. These two states/districts are so conservative they make David Duke look like a liberal. Trump's machine also pumped a few dollars into the races for the GOP candidates. And they bitch about Soros's meager contributions to Democrats.
"Democrats just can’t seem to win an election in the Trump era. With last night’s losses in Georgia and South Carolina, Democratic House candidates are zero-for-four in special elections against Republicans this year.
It’s easy to look at this pattern and think that Democrats are doing something fundamentally wrong — that they can’t close the deal with voters and are destined to keep coming up short in next year’s midterms.
But if that’s the easy conclusion, it’s also the wrong one.
Politically, Democrats are doing fine for a party out of power. It obviously would have been better to have won one of last night’s races, especially given the hopes in Georgia. But the party still has a real chance to retake the House next year. A disappointing loss doesn’t change that fact.
I hesitate to use sports analogies, because a lot of readers are not sports fans. I hope you’ll permit one in this case, though, because it’s the most clarifying comparison I’m aware of.
For years, sports fans and athletes believed that some teams “knew how to win” — and found out a way to pull out close games — while others tended to choke. It certainly seemed to make sense to anyone who watched or played sports. You can see how the analogy applies to recent politics, right?
In sports, it turns out that the conventional wisdom about knowing how to win was mostly wrong. Teams that won a lot of very close games didn’t possess some special sauce for victory.
Instead, they were benefiting from a combination of circumstance and good fortune. Winning a bunch of close games had little predictive value. In fact, teams with a pattern of winning close games were also good candidates to start losing more than their win-loss record would have suggested.
Recent editions of baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, football’s Miami Dolphins and basketball’s Oklahoma City Thunder are all good examples. They looked clutch in the regular season, and then wilted in the playoffs.
Back to politics: The Republicans have won several tight races this year in districts that are favorable to them. The whole reason these special elections were happening is that Trump had appointed sitting House members to his cabinet. Winning close races in these districts is not a sign that Republicans will keep winning close races in less favorable places.
“Worth remembering,” Philip Bump of The Washington Post tweeted last night, “that the two seats tonight that are both running close were won by GOP candidates 7 months ago by 23.4 and 20.5 points.”
To be clear, the Democratic Party has an enormous amount of work to do. It doesn’t hold the White House, the Senate or the House, and it holds only about one in three governorships and state legislatures. Yet a handful of close losses in conservative districts shouldn’t make Democrats panic, no matter what this morning’s punditry says. . . ."