On election day last year many Americans weren’t prepared or foresaw the eventual results of the Democratic party imploding on itself. There we were beckoning in a new era of GOP control and a businessman turned reality star as our next President. Once the dust had settled we were left with President Trump, GOP controlled Legislature, 33 Republican Governors and 32 state Legislatures (both chambers).
Fast forward one year to Wednesday morning the day after Election Day 2017 and Republicans are waking up in total shock that they got destroyed in the first round leading to 2018. Republican strategist, consultants and candidates should worry for their future and what 2018 will hold.
Just as many Republicans benefited from Donald Trump’s rise in popularity and Presidential victory, they are now feeling the fallout. With an approval rating that hovers around 38%, it is hard for Republican candidate to distant themselves from President Trump or completely fall in line. While Trump’s overall approval rating is very low for a new President, he is still polling well within his base, around 85% approval. Republican candidates are stuck between a rock and hard place, Ed Gillespie is a perfect example of this.
Ed Gillespie just lost the Governorship of Virginia to Democrat Ralph Northam. Ed Gillespie’s campaign is a perfect example of the conundrum that Republicans will face running in 2018. He specifically chose to mimic a Trump style campaign that played into divisiveness and cultural hot buttons. Then after he lost his race by 9 points, Trump thumbed out a tweet which said “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for.”
So Republicans are going to have hard decisions in 2018, either fall in line 100% with President Trump or veer-off course and risk rejection by their base and Twitter mentions from the President. Either way Republican candidates are going to have a difficult time walking that fine line. The times being what they are, this is the Democrats’ opportunity to take advantage of a splintering Republican party. Thankfully Democrats are in great position and extremely optimistic going into 2018.
There are plenty of large and small victories Democrats can take away from this first win, but the two biggest lessons center on messaging and technology. Dems thinking of running in 2018 or wanting to win in 2018 need to hone their communication strategy and double down on technology usage in their campaigns. The political environment is perfect for Democrats to run in 2018 and should further clear the path for 2020.
People interested in running should read the results from last week like a giant “You’re Invited” card. Now is a great time to run and join the Progressive Democratic party. The results from last Tuesday indicate growing support for Americans candidates that tout progressive policies and ideas. The best example of this is voters overwhelming pass to expand access to medicaid under the Affordable Care act, making the state the first in the nation to settle the issue by referendum. Democrats should be taking advantage of this and healthcare should be front and center in their platform for 2018.
Dems should be jumping for joy over the results in Maine with Medicaid Expansion passing by 17 points! The political environment has Republican lawmakers in a pinch. A large percent of their base and top donors demand that they repeal the Affordable Care Act, but a large majority of the country demands they don’t. If Republicans go too far in any direction they risk alienating party activists or they mobilize swing voters against them. Either way this is just another peril which will befall all GOP candidates in next year’s midterm election. And one of the many policies Democrats should be leveraging for their 2018 platform.
When it comes to issues or policies, Dems are on the same side as the public, and they should be leveraging this and communicating more effectively! To do this, Democrats need to embrace technology and use it to their advantage in 2018 and forward.
Don’t be swayed by the results from the 2016 election, Democrats are making huge strides against the GOP at all levels. In Virginia, House Delegate candidate Danica Roem, a transgendered women, defeated 26 year GOP incumbent Bob Marshall who ironically co-sponsored a failed “bathroom bill”. Roem campaigned on infrastructure projects and job creation in Virginia.
According to Politico, Ed Gillespie spent over $4 million on television ads alone in the Virginia gubernatorial race. In the digital age, why are campaigns still spending this much money on TV when we know these ads don’t equate to votes?
Democrats need to lead the way not only in government and policy but in adapting and embracing technology that’s more targeted, more relevant, and more engaging.. We know the importance of digital strategy and messaging across all platforms, but when are we going to see campaigns move away from these old ineffective strategies and focus on strategies and communication tools that are proven effective?
We saw the impact of social media campaign in the 2016 election and the immense reach it had. Now equipped with the knowledge after the fact and the same technology Democrats should be imposing these strategies and focusing on getting their message out in front of as many people as possible.
Democrats, you are in a great position going into 2018, now let’s utilize technology and out-strategize the other side. We aren’t going out without a fight, let’s fight together!