Democrats are becoming painfully familiar with the agony of defeat. They saw it in 2016, in Virginia last week and before that in Ohio. Democrats have spent the last two years plotting how to avoid the pain of another primary defeat.
The Democrats’ strategies of 2018 were to do two things: stay out of primary races and at the same time not repeat 2012, when the party nominated Hillary Clinton for president. In 2016, Clinton lost to Bernie Sanders in the first round of voting, then to Trump in the second. Sanders would have won the nomination outright had she been so inclined, but she didn’t want to relive the experience of that brutal primary.
Instead, the Democrats pursued their version of a Kent County strategy: run good candidates who are super-polished and highly experienced but not too experienced.
It worked in Virginia, where Trump won by 11 points. In 2016, Clinton beat Trump by 8 points. But more troubling for the Democrats, while for the first time in modern history an incumbent president faced serious primary competition, Clinton lost in all but one competitive race: in Virginia’s 5th District.