Would the Democrats be better off losing the presidency in 2020 and winning the Senate? If you think that the economy is headed for a crash, then Democrats would prosper from having Donald Trump in office to shoulder the blame. In holding both houses of Congress, they could successfully stymie Trump and head towards impeachment. Winning the presidency but losing the Senate, by contrast, might well be an exercise in futility. The grandiose legislation that most of the Democratic candidates for the presidency, apart from former VP Joe Biden, are proposing would be snuffed out.
But a trifecta would be even better, putting the Democrats in the same position that the GOP enjoyed for the first two years of the Trump presidency. The cluster of candidates running for president is increasingly viewed as a millstone around the neck of the party, compromising its chances to regain the Senate in 2020. This is why there is mounting speculation in the media that a number of Democratic candidates for the presidency, including John Hickenlooper, Beto O’Rourke and Steve Bullock, will say hasta la vista to Iowa and return back to their home states. Hickenlooper is being urged to face off against Cory Gardner, who has been hugging Trump, in Colorado. Beto may have failed to topple Ted Cruz, but a run against John Cornyn is just what liberal pundits would like to see. Texas, we are told, is going blue and they would have the blues if Beto doesn’t give it a go. Ditto for Bullock, who is held to have a good shot, so to speak, at knocking off freshman Sen. Steve Daines in Montana. Stacey Abrams has said no dice to running in Georgia, but has averred that she wouldn’t be averse to accepting a vice presidential slot.
Democrats would need three, maybe even four seats to capture control of the Senate. But it’s clear that they’re already thinking about what they would do with their newfound powers. Already they’re noisily indicating that they would seek to reboot the Supreme Court in their own image. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal, Mazie Hirono, Richard Durbin, and Kirsten Gillibrand indicated that the Supreme Court needs ‘healing’ and potential ‘restructuring’ in a brief that they joined to a New York court case on gun law.
How they would conduct this American version of perestroika is not hard to imagine. Franklin Roosevelt threatened to pack the court in 1937, but a ‘switch in time, saved nine,’ as the saying had it, when the court suddenly reversed course and stopped eviscerating New Deal measures. This time around, the stakes might be as high, or even higher, as conservatives, who have engaged in a decades-long project to remake the court in the hopes of rolling back the New Deal, are now dizzy with success. To see their achievement snatched from them almost overnight would make current political battles look mild by comparison.
Still, the Democrats may simply be building castles in the air. It’s undeniably a tall order for them to win the Senate. For that they may need to rely more on Trump to fumble the election than upon the merits of their own candidates.