Despite spending a record amount of money, Democrats loss a Georgia special House race that some hoped would be a referendum on President Donald Trump and bolster opposition against Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
Instead of winning or losing by what many believed would be a razor-thin margin, Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff by a relativity comfortable 4 percentage points.
Democrats also lost in Montana where the Republican candidates won even after assault charges against him and also suffered losses in Kansas and South Carolina.
The losses are causing some Democrats to do necessary soul-searching and others to do unhelpful finger-pointing.
But the losses should be taken in perspective. The Democrats were defeated in heavily Republican districts. In the Georgia special House race, the suburban Atlanta district was previously held by Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price. It also did not help that the Democratic candidate ran an overly careful campaign and did not actually live in the district.
Still when Democrats lose four special House elections in a row there is cause for concern.
Republicans control the White House, and House of Representatives and the Senate. Republicans also control most of the state legislative chambers, and most state governorships.
The only way for Democrats to become more politically relevant is for them to win seats now held by Republicans.
The Democrats have to translate an energized base into some electoral wins. Coming close will not be good enough.
Some are insisting that Democrats must draw brighter contrasts with Republicans if they plan to regain control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats will need to pick up 24 House seats to take back the majority.
The outcome “better be a wake-up call for Democrats — business as usual isn’t working,” Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., said over Twitter. “Time to stop rehashing 2016 and talk about the future.”
Even though Trump’s approval ratings are historically low, Republicans have yet to achieve retaking any previously Republican held seats.
Democrats are clearly doing something wrong. In the weeks and months ahead, the must find what is and fix it.