Democrats are locked out of power in Washington after losing the White House and failing to win back Congress. Hillary Clinton’s defeat has left the party without a unifying leader, and its hold on state legislatures has eroded significantly during President Obama’s time in office. But as bleak as current circumstances are for the Democratic party, the political landscape ahead may be even more challenging.
To start, Democrats must confront what looks like a punishing Senate map in 2018. The party that controls the White House tends to lose congressional seats in midterm elections, but it seems unlikely that Democrats will regain control of the Senate two years from now, much less the House of Representatives. Republicans significantly outnumber Democrats in the House, and only need to protect eight Senate seats in 2018 while Democrats must defend twenty-five seats.
Adding to the challenge, Democrats have senators up for reelection in states Donald Trump won by double digit margins such as North Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, Indiana and Missouri. Those aren’t the only perilous races: Democratic incumbents also need to defend Senate seats in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida, states that voted for Obama in two presidential elections before switching to vote for Trump. “There’s no question the map will be extremely difficult for Democrats,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist and president of Bannon Communications.