Why Democrats can’t just obstruct their way back into power

The reason I say this is polarization in this country favors Republicans more than Democrats, at least when it comes to Congress. Republicans have something of an inherent advantage in both the House and Senate, and polarization helps reinforce those advantages these days.


Republicans, they point out, stood firmly against most anything Barack Obama did for much of his presidency, and while they didn’t unseat him in 2012, they won back the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and after 2016 they’re in as powerful a position as they have ever been. Call it what you want — “obstruction” or “principled opposition” — it seems to have worked out quite well for the GOP.


But there is a difference between doing what feels good and what is strategically sound. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said it well this week: “You’ve got to pick which ones you’re going to fight about; not every pitch has to be swung at.”


Democrats are preparing to try to stop President Trump’s agenda at all costs. Senate Democrats have voted more and more in unison against Trump’s Cabinet nominees, and now there is even talk of an unprecedented filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. It’s what the party’s base is demanding right now.


… in the big GOP wave of 2014, Republicans only took over four districts that leaned toward Democrats, according to the Cook Political Voting Index (PVI). Were Democrats to win back the House this year, they would likely have to win a dozen or more seats that clearly lean toward Republicans, just by virtue of how friendly the map is to Republicans (both because of natural partisan sorting and gerrymandering). Republicans have an inherent advantage in holding the House that serves as essentially a sand dune beating back whatever wave Democrats can produce.



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