Off-year elections are base elections. The party with the most motivated voters is the party that wins. Almost by default, that’s Republicans, unless extraordinary circumstances bring out our voters (like in 2006—anti-Bush and anti-war sentiment and … that’s pretty much it in recent history).
This cycle, we have extraordinary circumstances, and the signs are clear we are headed for a massive Democratic wave, whether it’s the results of the November elections, or the slew of special elections all year (like in Alabama), where the Democratic coalition is turning out in real numbers and significantly outperforming Hillary Clinton’s 2016 numbers.
Republicans base voters, on the other hand, are pissed and demoralized. They LOVE Trump, but they f’n hate Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and their party. You spend any time listening to wing-nut radio or the wing-nutosphere, and it’s hard to miss both the hagiographic love for Donald Trump, and the contrasting vicious hatred for McConnell and Ryan. In their views, Trump was elected to get shit done, and the only thing standing in his way is … the Republican Congress. It’s hard to understate just how angry and betrayed they feel.
So that’s the first part to winning big next year: Keep the demoralized conservative base down by keeping Donald Trump off the ballot.
The second? Avoid issues that energize conservatives, easy to do since we have two really good ones to focus on. In short? No issues move numbers better among the general public than health care and taxes, and we’ve got decisive advantages on both. That’s what every Democratic candidate should and will talk about next year. They can read the polls like everyone else.
Impeachment does motivate liberal voters (like me!), but the liberal base is already energized. And talking about impeachment in campaign settings effectively puts Trump on the ballot. And if Trump is on the ballot? His supporters will turn out.
We don’t want his supporters to turn out. We want them home, sulking about the swamp and how McConnell and Ryan have stood in the way of Trump’s efforts to Make America Great. Let the GOP’s overall shitty governing performance depress their own vote (just as liberals stayed home in 2010, dooming us for most of this decade to a GOP Congress).
That also means staying clear of some of the GOP’s hottest buttons, including gun control.
Health care is a particularly ideal issue to focus on. Voters strongly back the Democratic approach (even giving single-payer high marks!), and it’s a winner among Democratic and independent voters. Furthermore, it demoralizes Republicans! Every time the subject comes up is a reminder to those conservative voters of their party’s failure to repeal it after nearly a decade of promises.
Taxes is almost as good an issue. Not only does the GOP tax scam poll like absolute shit among the general public, but polling shows that even Republican base voters are unhappy, presumably feeling abandoned by their leaders catering to the donor class.
That’s it! Health care and taxes. We don’t have to talk about impeachment because it is implicitly on the table. Everyone knows a Democratic Congress’s first act will be to investigate the fuck out of that Orange Asshole. We don’t need to trumpet the obvious, giving conservatives reason to turn out.
And when 2020 rolls around, everyone will be engaged and energized, so we can go full-throttle on guns and other key liberal priorities, no matter how energizing they might be to conservatives. Trump will already have them amped up to 100 percent. We can run the campaign we really want to run.
So the choice is tactical: Republicans are doing a good job of demoralizing and suppressing their own base vote. Let’s give them an assist by staying quiet on their hottest-button, most-motivating issues, and keeping Trump off the ballot by avoiding impeachment talk.
Except here at Daily Kos. Amongst ourselves, we can talk impeachment all we want!