The Democrats have a lot to learn from their recent loss in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia election. The special election saw Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, lose to Republican Karen Handel. There are a number of talking points that need to be highlighted regarding this race. Although Ossof managed to cut last year’s 23 point gap to just 4, it’s really not something Democrats can be proud of. To start with, the kind of money that was poured into this campaign deserved more. The Republican incumbent, Tom Price, had retained the seat for six terms and the special election was called after he vacated the seat to become the secretary of health and human services.
During the 2016 race, Price had raised slightly over $2 million for his campaign and still won compared to Ossoff who spent over $20 million in this race. Although, to be fair, his opponent Karen Handel was also bankrolled by her Party and other outside groups to a tune of nearly the same amount, the money bonanza that this race degenerated to couldn’t have been a point of pride for any of the Parties. Ossoff’s campaign expenditure for the race was way above what the Democratic Party candidate in last year’s election spent yet the only success the Democrats can take from this is the fact that their candidate reduced the margin of loss by 9.4 percentage points.
Although it’s not always wise to read too much into special elections, no doubt there are lessons that can be learned from the democratic experience here. After all, they did manage to get closer to the victory compared to last year in a district that has traditionally voted Republicans. But Rep. Seth Moulton from Massachusetts sees it differently. He termed Ossoff’s loss as a wake-up call to the Democratic Party. He went on to note that the time for rehashing the 2016 election is over and it would be best for the Party to start looking into the future with progressive ideas that can accommodate more Americans.
The biggest concern for the liberals would be their inability to beat President Trump and the members of his Party on the ground despite the ongoing drama that has engulfed his administration. Trump is, at the moment, the least popular president in recent times after 150 days in office and you’d think this would provide an advantage to the Democratic Party. But things don’t seem to be following the expected script. Analysts have echoed Moulton’s call for the Party to start working on its new message that would reach out to people.
There is also the need to have more progressive politicians come through the party. At the moment, it appears as if the most prominent people in the Democratic Party are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Although the two still have something to offer, many will argue that perhaps their time is over and would be better off backing someone else from the sidelines. The Party has also been blamed for making poor decisions in the special elections, focusing too much on the Georgia race where the chances of victory were a little bit less compared to other close races in Kansas and South Carolina.