The CA-25 special election defeat will not come as a huge surprise to many Democrats. The district has a record for being a Republican stronghold. Katie Hill’s stunning victory in 2018 came in part due to a blue wave during the mid-terms. Democrats managed to win independent support, a key factor that helped them push over the line.
While the CA-25 defeat may not be a surprise for Democrats, it is certainly a point of concern.
Before delving into the reasons why Democrats lost the twenty-fifth district of California, it is important to get some context. There is a Republican president in the White House whose management of the pandemic crisis has been historically bad. The Republican Senate is holding the purse strings at a time when the country needs real relief. If anything, there couldn’t be a better time to run against a Republican, and that too in California.
Why did Democrats lose the CA-25 special election? First, let’s understand why Democrats won in 2018.
Why did Katie Hill and the Democrats Win CA-25 in 2018?
Katie Hill got elected from CA-25 in a staggering victory for the Democrats. The district, unlike most other districts in California, does not automatically go blue. There is a strong Republican base in the district. Thus, winning the independent vote becomes crucial in CA-25 for either Democrats or Republicans to win.
In 2018, Democrats campaigned together on healthcare. Katie Hill ran on Medicare for all and made it a major part of her campaign. Two years into the Trump presidency, the American public realized Trump and the Republicans won’t do anything to improve the country’s healthcare. Democrats were smart enough to sense this. Instead of running on the agenda set up by the mainstream media such as Russiagate or impeachment, Democrats ran on healthcare.
Katie Hill’s campaign was a great example. She focused on healthcare and didn’t spend most of her time attacking Trump and calling for his impeachment.
Healthcare as an issue helped Democrats win districts like CA-25 where the competition was close.
Poor Performance of House Democrats
Since winning the House back in 2018, the greatest achievement of the Democrats is impeaching the President. All the promises they made about protecting healthcare took a backseat.
While Democrats may cite the Republican-controlled Senate making it impossible to pass any meaningful healthcare legislation, their undivided attention on Trump’s impeachment seems to have backfired.
Local elections are fought based on issues. Democrats spending most of their time on the impeachment trial didn’t sit well with those who voted for them in 2018 for issues like healthcare.
The CA-25 defeat is a classic case of Democrats not doing what they told voters they would. In the run-up to the 2018 midterms, Nancy Pelosi refrained from talking about Russiagate. This was after MSNBC and CNN had spent two years drumming up Russian interference. Nancy Pelosi didn’t take the impeachment bait at the time. She knew there wasn’t much political capital to gain with voters by bringing up Russia.
Instead, she made healthcare the main plank of the Democrats and told voters to help flip the House and bring President Trump to check.
The CA-25 defeat, while disappointing, comes at a good time for Democrats. They still have time to study their faults and raise important issues in the run-up to November.