For awhile now, I have been looking for a way to become more active politically outside blogging here. Dailykos is such an amazing and wonderful community, though, that I find it hard to get motivated around anything not centered on this community.
However, this diary about what DocDawg is doing in North Carolina got me really excited.
Last week, when I started issuing the call for North Carolina activist Kossacks to KosMail me their first names, ZIP codes, and email addresses, I figured the resulting list would take quite some time to grow to useful size, and that sooner or later the result would come in handy...although I really wasn't quite sure how.I want someone to do this for my state: no, that's not quite right.
Organizing Kossacks locally is an important and powerful tool...especially here in reddish-purple North Carolina, where we are struggling to take back our state.
I want to do this for my state.
I think that with 2016 looming, organizing in this way can somehow be useful.
In 2016, there are quite a few challenges, but at the same time, these challenges represent opportunities.
If I had to put them into words, I would focus on the following:
Unseating Pat Toomey.
Retaking one or both houses of the General Assembly.
Any or all of these may safely be called long shots. However, I also think that if Democrats throughout the state mount a strong campaign, and some top-notch strategy, these could all be in play.
Pennsylvania represents one of the largest entrenchments of political obstacles. Namely, gerrymandering and incumbency.
Though the effects of gerrymandering can sometimes be hard to quantify, its role can still be hinted at in the results of the 2012 Presidential election. Even though Obama won the state's popular vote 52-47 in 2012, Republicans still ended the year with 55% of the PA House seats.
Meanwhile, the power of incumbency is alive and strong in the state's General Assembly. Out of the 203 House seats in 2012, only two switched parties, and of the 25 Senate seats up for election in 2012 (the same ones that will be up in 2016), only three switched parties. Incumbency, perhaps in tandem with the party politics, then, makes any sort of substantial shifts very tough to accomplish.
However, in these disadvantages, there are still openings.
For one thing, many of these Republican wins in the House came with very slim victories. Out of the seats where Republicans won in 2012, five were within 1000 votes of losing to the Democrat, 16 were less than 3000. Now, it may not be entirely useful, demographics-wise, to focus solely on raw numbers. Still, I think such numbers demonstrate the possibility of stealing some of these so-called longshots, often perceived as far more improbable than reason would suggest.
Furthermore, probably also due to the power of incumbency, of those House seats that were won by Republicans, 50 had no Democrat challenger in the general. For offices so high, even with so many red districts, this represents a glaring free pass for Republicans that Democrats should make more challenging this time around. While the thought of running as a Democrat in some of these deep red districts may prove too unappetizing to many of the usual suspects - who knows? Maybe someone in our midst would heed the call. At the very least, they represent thousands of wasted Dem votes.
Of course, Democrats would need to pick up 19 seats in the House to regain control; realistically, never more than a long shot, even under the best circumstances. However, what this hopefully shows, is that the path to victory is out there. Even if the pick up number is small this time, it could potentially build momentum through future cycles.
In the PA Senate, Democrats would need to pick up five seats to regain control. But considering they managed to pick up three in 2012, five is not too unrealistic, albeit ambitious.
Let us also not forget that the DNC will be held in Philadelphia. This provides an amazingly rare opportunity to further energize local Democrats, get more people involved, and mount a serious campaign to retake PA offices.