I do not find Robert Draper’s extensive analysis of Maryland politics in the New York Times Magazine to be especially compelling. And yet, within it he offers a fascinating analysis of the current state of the Democratic Party.
Consider the source. Normally, left-leaning commentators put a positive spin on things. They explain how the Democrats can win. Republicans generally do the same.
And yet, here, in the New York Times Magazine, Draper explains that the Democratic Party has suffered grievously for the sin of having foisted Barack Obama on America.
Read Draper on the problem Democrats face:
For all the much-discussed ailments of the Republican Party — its failure to win the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections; the corrosive bickering between its mainstream and its Tea Party stalwarts; and the plummeting number of Americans who identify themselves as Republicans — the inescapable reality is that the Democrats have fallen into a ditch arguably as deep and dismal as the one Republicans have dug for themselves. “It isn’t that the Democratic Party is struggling,” says Jonathan Cowan, the president of the centrist policy center Third Way. “It’s that at the subpresidential level, it’s in a free fall.” The Democrats lost their majority in the Senate last November; to regain it, they will need to pick up five additional seats (or four if there’s a Democratic vice president who can cast the tiebreaking vote), and nonpartisan analysts do not rate their chances as good. The party’s situation in the House is far more dire. Only 188 of the lower chamber’s 435 seats are held by Democrats. Owing in part to the aggressiveness of Republican-controlled State Legislatures that redrew numerous congressional districts following the 2010 census, few believe that the Democratic Party is likely to retake power until after the next census in 2020, and even then, the respected political analyst Charles Cook rates the chances of the Democrats’ winning the House majority by 2022 as a long shot at best.
Things get even worse for the Democrats further down the political totem pole. Only 18 of the country’s 50 governors are Democrats. The party controls both houses in only 11 State Legislatures. Not since the Hoover Administration has the Democratic Party’s overall power been so low. A rousing victory by Hillary Rodham Clinton might boost other Democratic aspirants in 2016; then again, in 2012 Obama won 62 percent of Electoral College votes yet carried 48 percent of Congressional districts and a mere 22 percent of the nation’s 3,114 counties. Through a billion dollars of campaign wizardry, the president did not lift up but only managed to escape a party brand that has come to be viewed in much of America with abiding disfavor.
For a giddy moment seven years ago, Democrats dared to believe that Barack Obama’s election would significantly reconfigure partisan alliances. Instead, his presidency has only calcified them. “When Obama swept the 2008 primary and general elections, Democrats’ image suddenly came to be defined by a city-dwelling law-school professor whose life experiences had been far different from those of most working-class whites,” said David Wasserman, a congressional analyst for The Cook Political Report. “It was the culminating moment of a half-century of realignment. Democrats had already ceded Southern whites, but in the last few years they have lost droves of Midwestern, small-town and working-class whites who feel like they have little in common with the party anymore.”
To me this is solid analysis. It is well worth a read.