Democrats begin the Donald Trump presidency in sad shape. They lack a clear power base, they’ve got no distinct national leader and party brokers are searching for a formula to counter the new Republican-dominated government and figure out how to win again.
It’s a curious and dispiriting position for a party that has led the national popular vote six out of the past seven presidential elections. Yet Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College count, while Republicans maintained their largest House majority since 1928 and kept control of the Senate — with 2018 advantages that offer the potential of a Senate supermajority in two years.
Outside Washington, Democrats now have just 16 governors and run 14 state legislatures, compared to 33 Republican governors and 32 GOP-run legislative bodies.
“We haven’t been in this shape in a while … but we will rebuild,” insists interim Democratic Party Chairwoman Donna Brazile.
Party insiders will choose Brazile’s DNC successor next month, a campaign that has revived fissures between the party’s liberal and centrist factions. The next chairman will jockey with Congress’ Democratic leaders and perhaps Obama as the party tries to settle on a national standard-bearer.
Around the country, Democrats are quietly looking to the 2018 midterm elections, with a focus on governor races that will give the party its first tangible shot at climbing out of the present crater. Republicans will be defending more than two dozen seats, including in Democratic-leaning states like Massachusetts and Maryland.