News and Commentary

Claire McCaskill, Who Lost Re-Election, Has Some Advice For How Democrats Can Win

Few things in politics are more odious than a failed politician giving anyone, anywhere, advice on how to win an election.

It’s why no one wanted to hear from Mitt Romney or John Kerry after their failed bids for the presidency, and why people didn’t buy tickets to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s strange, “hey, we’re still relevant” world tour last year.

You lost. Go home for awhile.

When candidate’s lose, they really don’t have much room to tell others how to win. They can, however, reflect on why they lost, though they often aren’t honest when doing so.

Former Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has failed on both counts. After she lost her re-election bid in November, she blamed her loss on Democrats’ (not her own) failure “to gain enough trust with rural Americans” and their abandonment of moderates. She also said she was hurt by the way Democrats handled the flimsy sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“I don’t think my vote [against Kavanaugh] hurt me as much as the spectacle that occurred,” McCaskill told NPR host Rachel Martin in December. “There were mistakes made by my party in terms of how that was handled. I don’t think that communication [from Christine Blasey Ford] to the judiciary committee should have been kept private as long as it was. The FBI deals with a lot of confidential information, and that would have absolved [judiciary committee ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein] of the very real perception that this was an 11th-hour attempt to gut a guy.”

But here’s McCaskill on Sunday, offering advice for Democrats going forward.

“Are any 2020 Presidential candidates paying attention to this?” McCaskill asked on Twitter. Her tweeted included a picture of results from a recent poll of Democrats on which direction the party should move.

According to the Pew Research poll conducted in mid-January, 54% of Democrats think their party should be “more moderate,” while (a frightening) 40% wants the party to be “more liberal.”

This is in line with what McCaskill said after she lost — Democrats need to reach out to rural voters and moderates. She’s definitely speaking from experience, but offering this kind of advice after failing to follow it and losing isn’t helpful.

It also doesn’t help that she’s offering this advice so tepidly. Democrats aren’t going to try to return to the middle — their acceptance of infanticide has clearly shown that — and they’re especially not going to take this advice from someone who couldn’t win re-election.