Heck? Darned? Tom Perez doesn’t work blue on cable TV, especially in the early hours, apparently. “I’d rather be Jon Ossoff right now than Karen Handel,” the DNC chair told Morning Joe earlier today after $8.3 million and a fractured Republican field failed to keep their special-election candidate from a runoff in June. “He’s already at 49% of the vote, and there’s a heck of a lot of energy out there,” Perez bragged after Joe Scarborough questioned the strategy of Democrats in investing heavily in TV spots. Perez pledged full Democratic Party support, saying that they had a “darned good ground game” and have room to do even better in the runoff.
Mika Brzezinski wasn’t quite buying it, and neither was USA Today reporter Heidi Przybyla. After declaring that Democrats won a series of “moral victories,” she wonders when that will translate to actual victories:
Color CNN’s Chris Cillizza skeptical, too. Cillizza isn’t exactly impressed with Perez’ claims of superior energy and Przybyla’s “moral victories.” They still haven’t demonstrated that they have any momentum, although Cillizza thinks that the June runoff might be a showcase for that claim:
What’s difficult to know is how Ossoff’s showing will be viewed by the Democratic base and the donor community. Will it be evidence that even seats in the solid South can be won thanks to Trump’s unpopularity? Or will Democrats regard it as a disappointment given the perfect storm of factors that seemed to be lining up in Ossoff’s favor for Tuesday’s vote?
What I know is that winning and coming close to winning aren’t the same thing. And this is the second time in as many weeks that Democrats had high hopes and didn’t see their best case scenarios realized when all the votes were cast.
Democrats, out of power in Congress and the White House, need a spark to convince themselves they can take back all that they had lost. Georgia’s 6th district was seen as the best chance for that spark. It didn’t happen on Tuesday night — and now Democrats will have to wait almost two months to see if they can start to build momentum for the November 2018 midterms.
Perhaps this result will wake up others in the media, who have been trawling these special elections looking for support for a narrative about voters abandoning Trump to no avail. As I write in my column for The Week, it’s a case of wishcasting rather than newscasting:
Exhibit C: A New York Times feature of a swing district in Pennsylvania offered up anecdotal evidence of a loss of confidence, but not much data otherwise. The headline of the story framed Trump voters at a loss for “when the ‘winning’ will start,” but only one person in the story seemed to have actually changed her mind about Trump. The 8th congressional district lies mainly within Bucks County, where Hillary Clinton actually edged out Trump in November by 3,000 votes, despite the R+2 advantage, and even though Pat Toomey won his Senate race there by over 18,000 votes. A handful of precincts in PA-08 come from Montgomery County, where Clinton won 59-37, making PA-08 an odd choice for an argument about a post-inaugural letdown. …
Perhaps there will come a time when Trump voters actually do turn on him and either vote for Democrats or don’t turn out at all. So far, though, there is no actual evidence that’s happening now. There is enough polling and anecdotal evidence to conclude that Trump voters have enough patience to give their candidate more than 90 days to get his agenda accomplished. They seem to have more patience than the media does in jumping to conclusions, at any rate.
Few seem to be paying attention to one key fact from yesterday’s election, which is that Republicans got more votes yesterday in GA-06 than Democrats and unaffiliateds combined — even after the air-dropping of $8.3 million into Jon Ossoff’s campaign. Perez and the DNC had a huge organizational advantage and the normal opportunities afforded in special elections, and still couldn’t pull off the steal. Not everything fits a narrative, but this narrative so far fits almost nothing except fantasies in the media.