I think there are a few things that anyone would have a hard time disputing:
- Only fifteen months from the primary, the Democrats have no clear, strong challenger or even a slate of candidates to take on Republican Governor Scott Walker.
- A significant part of the party's identity and support base, the big public employee unions, have been substantially weakened by Act 10.
- Because of gerrymandering taken to a dark and high art, the Republicans are all but guaranteed control of at least one house of the legislature for the remainder of the decade no matter how much the public disagrees with their policies.
- There's a tug-of-war within the party between what I'll call the political professionals who want to use statistical analysis to target races and what I'll call the grassroots activists who want to try to compete in every district no matter the odds.
This all looks pretty dismal. So, let me give you a few reasons to take heart if you're a Democrat:
- Every time an older voter passes on and is replaced by a younger one the electorate becomes a little more liberal. Millennials just don't understand why we're even debating marriage equality or human-caused climate change. Once they're in control they will act to deal with both as well as a host of other social and environmental issues. They'll make a better world.
- The electorate is becoming browner and blacker and with that more progressive. Mitt Romney got a record number of white votes and yet lost the election convincingly. The Republicans see their problem with black and Hispanic voters and yet seem paralyzed to do anything meaningful about it. Serves them right for co-opting the tea party movement.
- Scott Walker has a thin 50% approval rating, while his record on jobs -- the centerpiece of his administration -- is demonstrably dismal. We rank 44th among the states in job creation. Walker can be beaten in 2014.
- The party is in the best shape it has been, from a technical and organizational standpoint, in recent memory. Party chair Mike Tate knows what he's doing.
But here's the main thing the party needs to be successful: a clear message about what it will do with power once it has it again. Democrats need to stop hedging on their agenda and start emulating the Republicans in one respect: being decisive about what to do with government once they control it.
Have a good weekend.