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Clive Crook

A Crushing Defeat in November Would Help Democrats

The party needs to ask itself some hard questions, and a drubbing would force the conversation.

Having a conversation.

Having a conversation.

Photographer: Samuel Corum/Getty Images North America

If you dread the possibility of a second Trump administration, you should ask whether the Democrats’ improving prospects in the midterm elections are an entirely good thing. The party is much less popular than it should be, given the quality of its opponents — and it needs to ask why. A brutal beating this November would force the conversation. Anything that can be spun as a qualified success will allow the question to be shelved.

Three main factors are currently helping the party: the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the flow of new information about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and renewed hope of a productive budget-reconciliation package. But Democrats seem determined to misread these developments — bending them to fit the ill-conceived theory of unbridled ambition and transformative change that’s guided them since the outset of Joe Biden’s presidency.