Remember that TV show Hey Arnold? Helga always picked on Arnold and treated him terribly, while daydreaming about him constantly. Similarly, when I was in kindergarten, a little boy I knew would always kick me and pick on me, because he had a crush on me. This story isn’t unique by any means. Though, it does lead me to wonder why the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is acting as though it has a childhood crush on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Logically, the DSCC would be smart to focus on defending Democratic Senate seats ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. Prominent statistician Nate Silver recently wrote about 2014’s favorable environment for Republicans. In 2014, several incumbent Democratic senators will be retiring in red states (Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia), leaving room for Republicans to acquire these seats. The DSCC has been having an onerous time finding willing Democratic contenders to fill these seats. Democrats are also retiring in several “purple” states, including Iowa and Michigan, in which Republicans will now be competitive.
One would assume the DSCC would be focusing its efforts on defending these seats. However, this is not the case. Instead, they are adamantly and single-mindedly pursuing the longest long-shot — trying to acquire McConnell’s seat.
According to Nate Silver, McConnell has an 80% chance of retaining his seat. Yet, far more than half of the DSCC’s tweets and Facebook posts are focused on defeating Senator McConnell. In July, the DSCC posted on Facebook about McConnell and his opposition 18 times, and only posted about one other 2014 Senate candidate once. It seems as though they are entirely abandoning hope for 2014. Twelve of the DSCC’s last 17 press releases were fixated on McConnell. It is doubtful any Democrat running for Senate is at all pleased with the DSCC, for it is not focusing effort on any race other than the one for a longshot Senate seat in Kentucky.
The DSCC still doesn’t have candidates running in MT, SD, and WV, among other states. This is in part due to friction between the DSCC and the progressive movement within their party. Before they focus energy on a candidate who is unlikely to be defeated, why not ensure they have candidates actually running in other states?
The DSCC would be wise to set its sights on attainable seats, and then on long-shots after securing safer seats. The Democrats' current so-called strategy is perplexing, and leaves one wondering whether the DSCC is far more fond of Senator McConnell than they let on.