Reports of the Democratic Party's death are greatly exaggerated

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Election Day. (Lisa Hornak/European Pressphoto Agency)

Victor Davis Hanson writes the flip side of what we kept hearing before the election about the supposed "implosion" of the Republican Party:

In the aftermath of defeat, where goes the Democratic Party?

It is now a municipal party. It has no real power over the federal government or state houses. Its once feared cudgel of race/class/gender invective has become a false wolf call heard one too many times. The Sanders-Warren branch of the party, along with the now discredited Clinton strays, will hover over the party's carcass.

It might be a bit early to talk about "the party's carcass" just yet, or to dismiss its appeal to racial minorities, to women, or, under the right circumstances, to the poor—or the rich:

  1. The Democratic Party won a plurality of the popular vote.
  2. It dominates California, the most populous state; it has huge power in New York and Illinois, two of the next four states by population.
  3. It won the last two presidential elections before this one, by substantial margins.
  4. It would have won the electoral vote in this election if there had been tiny swings in a few states.
  5. The mainstream media, which continue to be extremely influential (though less so than before), overwhelmingly lean Democratic.
  6. The incoming Republican president—though undeniably, if surprisingly, effective at getting elected—has shown himself quite capable of unforced errors.
  7. Precisely because the party will have control of the presidency, the Senate and the House, as well as a Supreme Court that will be seen as sympathetic to Republicans, it will be held responsible if it fails to adequately address the nation's problems—and those problems, foreign and domestic, are going to be very hard to address.

There's no "carcass" of the Democratic Party—there is a powerful force which commands the allegiance of much of the nation's population, and which is likely ready to capitalize on the Republican Party's inevitable missteps. It was let down by a candidate who proved to be weak, and a party establishment that (along with most of the rest of the country) badly erred in evaluating the political mood of a substantial chunk of swing voters.

The Democratic Party surely has its own structural and ideological problems. I think it's wrong on many policy matters. But those who overestimate the supposed direness of the Democratic Party's condition are likely to end up the same way as those who overestimated the supposed direness of the Republican Party's condition.