The Political Map is Shrinking and Many Democratic Candidates Are Being Left Off

The playing field for Democrats continues to shrink. In January it was reported that Democrats were conceding the idea of retaking the House in order to focus their energy and resources on the Senate. POLITICO reported:

“With Democrats’ grasp on the Senate increasingly tenuous — and the House all but beyond reach — some top party donors and strategists are moving to do something in the midterm election as painful as it is coldblooded: Admit the House can’t be won and go all in to save the Senate.

Their calculation is uncomplicated. With only so much money to go around in an election year that is tilting the GOP’s way, Democrats need to concentrate resources on preserving the chamber they have now. Losing the Senate, they know, could doom whatever hopes Barack Obama has of salvaging the final years of his presidency.”

But now there are rumblings that even a singular focus on the Senate may be too much to handle for a party struggling to play defense on so many fronts. POLITICO now reports:

Operatives working with Democratic groups say they’ve been tasked with examining how much damage incumbents have incurred from a wave of attacks funded by Americans for Prosperity, a Koch brothers-funded outfit. They’ve been conducting polling much earlier in the election year than they initially anticipated. . .

The focus on protecting incumbents is fueling anxiety among Democratic challengers that they won’t receive campaign resources from the national party.

Or, as Mike Allen put it to the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “If you are one of those up-in-coming challengers, if you are one of those people who were recruited and the party said, ‘you’d be a great candidate, we’ll be with you every step of the way,’ they’re now having trouble getting resources.”  

Of course, it’s a little tough to worry about the Democratic Party breaking its promises to its candidates when they’ve spent the last five years breaking nearly every Obamacare-related promise they made. Chief among them was the pledge that Obamacare would reduce health insurance premiums for the typical family by an average of $2,500. And yet earlier this month we learned that premiums are showing “the sharpest increases perhaps ever” which is “largely due to changes under the ACA” according to a poll of insurance brokers.

Is it any real surprise then that as American’s wallets are thinning that the Democrats’ political map is shrinking? Or, as a new polling memo reports, that the Republican playing field is expanding?

“Republicans have expanded the map to include new (and expensive) states where Democrats will now have to play defense, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia, Oregon and Minnesota,” writes Ward Baker, the NRSC’s Political Director. “Democrats now face a map where they’ll have to defend thirteen states rather than the eight from their original estimate, and they’ll have to do it with the same resources.”

Defending an expanding map means decisions will have to be made. They can either spread their resources out, thus reducing their spend in each of the districts – a strategy that waters down their impact across the board. Or they can focus their cash on the districts where they have the best chance and cede their marginal races – a strategy that guarantees some losses and stirs anger amongst some of their recruited candidates.

It’s a no-win situation for Democrats, but it’s one they’ve largely created for themselves by forcing their candidates in conservative districts to vote for legislation—like Obamacare—that doesn’t fit with the politics of their constituents. If you’re not going to listen to the will of the voters then you can’t be surprised that voters will turn on you.