It’s worth making two salient structural points that I think are beyond dispute, and then a larger, more contentious one. As my former boss David Daley has documented extensively, both on Salon and in his book “Ratfucked,” the extreme and ingenious gerrymandering of congressional districts locked in by Republican state legislators after the 2010 census virtually guarantees a GOP House majority until the next census and at least the 2022 midterms. Yes, the widely-hated health care law might put a few Republican seats in play that weren’t before. But the number of genuine “swing” districts is vanishingly small, and it would require a Democratic wave of truly historic dimensions to overcome the baked-in GOP advantage.
As for the Senate — well, Democratic campaign strategists will mumble and look away if you bring that up, because the Senate majority is completely out of reach. Of the 33 Senate seats up for election next year, 25 are currently held by Democrats — and 10 of those are in states carried by Donald Trump last year. It’s far more likely that Republicans will gain seats in the Senate, perhaps by knocking off Joe Manchin in West Virginia or Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, than lose any at all.
Those disadvantages could be overcome if we were looking at a major electoral shift, on the order of FDR in 1932 or the post-Watergate midterms of 1974, when Democrats won 49 seats in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. I can only suppose that’s the sort of thing the blue-wave fantasists imagine. That brings us to the final and largest point: Exactly who is kidding themselves that the Democratic Party, in its 2017 state of disarray and dysfunction, is remotely capable of pulling off a history-shaping victory on that scale?