Politics is not really about winning or losing. Politics is about the number of votes you get. And if you get enough votes, you happen to win. And that means something. But if you get many more votes than you were expected to get and you still lose, it is also very meaningful.
Governing is about winning and losing. If you win enough elections, you can govern. But politics is about votes.
That’s why Tuesday night was bad news for the Republicans.
In the contest to replace former GOP Rep. Tom Price in Georgia’s Sixth District, Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Osoff by a surprisingly “comfortable” margin of four points, 52 percent to 48 percent. President Trump and Republicans are celebrating. What they are not telling you is that in November, just eight months ago, the Republican Price won the seat by 24 points.
That Osoff lost is not especially good news for the GOP. It’s merely the avoidance of a catastrophe. There are many seats where the 2016 margin was much closer that the GOP will have to defend in 2018.
Meantime, in a contest to replace former Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney in South Carolina’s Fifth District, a Republican candidate who aligned himself with Trump won by three points, 51 to 48 percent. In November, Trump had won the district by 18 points and Mulvaney had taken it by 20.
People are talking about how Democrats need to change their approach, but Republicans need to do so even more urgently. Trump needs to discipline himself, which he appears to be doing more of, and do a better job of touting his accomplishments and program, like he did during the campaign.
But more crucially, Republicans in Congress need to start adopting his agenda. They’re so frightened of Democratic talking points and the possibility that someone won’t like them that they are failing to deliver on the stuff, like repealing Obamacare, that they’ve been promising for years.
But more crucially, Republicans in Congress need to start adopting his agenda. They’re so frightened of Democratic talking points, GOP consultants’ focus groups, and the possibility that someone won’t like them, that they are failing to deliver on the stuff, like repealing Obamacare, that they’ve been promising to do for years. And for which they were able to get enough votes to put them in the position of governing.
So they should try governing, and then the politics will take care of itself.