By Ward Baker
In almost every democracy in the world, political parties who lose landslide elections respond by deposing their leaders and conducting autopsies on their strategies. But Senate Democrats, routed in 2014, have instead doubled down on failure and that’s why they will fail, and Republicans will win again in 2016.
In 2014, voters deliberately fired Democrats – with cause – from control of the United States Senate. Americans were fed up with years of inactivity and dysfunction, and said enough is enough. But losing the Senate majority was just the latest in a long line of electoral defeats for Democrats.
Since President Obama took office, Democrats have been decimated at every level, from the Senate to state legislatures. Since 2008, they have lost 13 Senate seats, 69 congressional seats, and over 900 state legislative seats.
The American people are not buying what Democrats are selling. One year out from Election Day 2016, it’s clear that Democrats have learned nothing from the last eight years.
Despite years of rejection, Democrats are offering voters more of the same in 2016. They are running the same old, tired, campaigns. They are not recruiting unique, different candidates. To the contrary, all of their top recruits look an awful lot like the crop that voters threw out in 2014.
Take the battleground states of Wisconsin and Ohio. Democrats’ so-called prize recruits are both retreads who voters have already rejected. Furthermore, Democrats have bruising, costly primaries in at least four key states. They failed to recruit a top tier candidate in North Carolina and don’t have a credible candidate in Iowa, a state Barack Obama won – twice. If the DSCC manages to pull all of their endorsed candidates into the general, they will arrive badly damaged. If they don’t, they will be stuck with candidates like Joe Sestak and Alan Grayson, who they have already deemed unelectable.
The few policy ideas they are promoting are stale and outdated. Their signature policy item from 2015 has been the disastrous Iranian nuclear deal that Americans do not support and fear will make us less safe. This tone-deafness strikes a similar chord to another recent experience: Every Democratic senator who crafted Obamacare lost re-election or chose to resign instead of facing their fate at the ballot box.
Republicans will maintain control of the Senate because we have better-prepared candidates running better, more coherent, and more thoughtful campaigns. We have studied both parties’ successes and failures over the last several cycles. We have learned from our mistakes, improved our strengths and looked out new, innovative ways to reach voters.
The same cannot be said for our friends across the aisle. Democrats lost in North Carolina, Colorado, Alaska, and Louisiana last year because they ran the same campaigns they have run for years. Voters have grown tired of their malicious, dishonest campaigns. But Democrats clearly learned nothing because they are running the exact same campaigns in 2016 they did in 2014.
Republicans will not make the same mistake in 2016.
Despite our electoral successes in 2014, we have thrown everything out and started over from scratch. Every Republican campaign this cycle will be at the very forefront of technology and innovation in critical areas such as digital outreach and voter contact.
Make no mistake about it; Republicans have our work cut out for us. Fortunately, we have been blessed with great candidates who do an excellent job representing their constituents. But we’re taking nothing for granted and we’re making sure they have every tool they need to be successful.
In 2014, Republicans ran on a promise to get the Senate working again. Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) and the entire Republican caucus have delivered on that promise, and will continue to do so. One year in, the Republican majority is off to a productive start, but there is much more work to be done. We understand nothing will be handed to us. That is why we have spent the last year relentlessly recruiting candidates, building sophisticated campaigns and raising the resources needed to win.
We’re ready for the challenges ahead of us over the coming year, and on Election Day, Republicans will again hold the majority in the United States Senate.
Baker is executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign (NRSC).