November 13, 2017 13:19 GMT by nytimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist: How Victory Could Trick Democrats

Op-Ed Columnist: How Victory Could Trick Democrats

The more that I dug into last week’s election results, the less impressive I thought they were for the Democrats.

This article is part of the Opinion Today newsletter. You can sign up here to receive more briefings and a guide to the section daily in your inbox.

Virginia. New Jersey. Washington. Maine.

In all of those states, progressives celebrated election victories last week, and deservedly so. The wins were important. But do you know what else those states have in common? Hillary Clinton won them last fall, and her coalition obviously wasn’t large enough to win the White House.

The more that I dug into last week’s election results, the less impressive I thought they were for the Democrats. Again, Democrats had a good night — better than many people expected. But they also made relatively little progress peeling away Trump supporters.

To win big next year — to win back the House of Representatives or the Senate and to win back control of more state governments — Democrats will probably need to do better. In my column today, I lay out the evidence, as well as some thoughts about how Democrats can win more white working-class votes.

Alabama Senate race. The Republican Party has a big Roy Moore problem. Either the detailed, credible accusations of child molestation against Moore may cost Republicans an otherwise easy Senate victory in Alabama next month — or Moore could win and become a national symbol of the party.

And it’s not clear that party leaders can push Moore out of the race, even if they started trying harder to do so.

Why does the party currently look so weak? Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report argues that Republicans are suffering from a combination of institutional weakness and voters’ strong partisanship.

Party leaders once would have found a way to push out a candidate like Moore, she said yesterday, on CBS. But they no longer have the power they once did. Meanwhile, party labels are more powerful than they once were.

As a result, many Republican voters will “stick with their party even though the party leaders are abandoning the person who represents the party,” Walter said.

Media-criticism misfire. “Many other explosive stories about sexual assault that are well-sourced have fallen apart,” said The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway on Fox News this weekend. Hemingway was trying to cast doubt on The Washington Post’s original story about Moore’s behavior and she called the paper “part of the resistance” to President Trump’s agenda.

As an example of a discredited assault story, Hemingway cited a 2014 Rolling Stone story about an alleged fraternity rape at the University of Virginia. The media, she claimed, “reflexively accepted this story, and it turned out that it was completely misreported.”

She is right that the Rolling Stone piece was misreported; you can read the magazine’s retraction here. But she is wrong that the rest of the media reflexively accepted the story. The most important follow-up reporting on the U.Va. story — reporting that helped show that the alleged victim’s claims didn’t add up — came from a publication called The Washington Post.

In The Times. “Mitch McConnell and other Senate leaders have the constitutional authority to prevent Mr. Moore from actually serving if he is elected,” argues Ronald Krotoszynski, a University of Alabama law professor. “The real question is whether the party’s leadership is prepared to use this authority.”

Read more at nytimes.com