Any little victory Democrats have eeked out since Donald Trump "stole" the presidency last year is going to be heralded as the end of the GOP's reign and the beginning of a return to Democrat control. Just look at the mileage they got from a Virginia state house race. And they're still hiccuping about Jon Ossoff (remember, the guy who lost in an expected way to Karen Handel in Georgia's 6th CD).
Now there's Roy Moore, perhaps the most damaged-goods candidate to run for office since Greg Gianforte body-slammed liberal reporter Ben Jacobs the day before Montana's election.
I happen to think Moore will win by a small margin. I think Doug Jones would have to overperform by more than practically any Democrat seeking statewide office in the last decade to have a chance, and like Jon Ossoff, there just aren't enough people who will show up to vote for him (a few weeks before Christmas) in a special election. I think that the live-caller polls Fox News ran self-select a lean toward Jones.
But it doesn't matter what I think, because the Democrats are doing to milk this race like Ben & Jerry's cows. If Moore wins, they plan to have him trotted out in every race the 2018 cycle. If Moore loses, they'll see it as a bellwether and proclaim the bird entrails foretell a massive D-sweep in 2018.
They're already planning for 2020. But they're wrong.
Democrats overestimate the impact of Moore's loss, or his win
First, they have to know (but ignore) that they won't have the moral high ground they think sacrificing Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Al Franken will buy them. There are surely more scandals waiting in the wings in Congress, and more sexual harassment claims to come. The Moore allegations will, I predict, fade into the political maelstrom and in fact might give Republicans ammunition to bring up more heinous cases.
These things don't happen in a vacuum and don't have a neat, clean velocity that we can measure, so on both sides, political analysts tend to overestimate the effect of individual scandals and downplay the overall political diorama in which they're contained.
Democrats simply don't have the bench or the horsepower to exploit a Moore loss. They might pick up a few Senate seats in 2018, and having Jones in the Senate will change the balance of power for the next few years. But Moore winning can only be used in races where Democrats have a good chance of winning in any case. In 2018, they might pick up the Senate. They might narrow the GOP lead in the House, but it's unlikely they'll take a majority.
It's unlikely that Trump will be impeached in his first term. Democrats don't want to impeach Trump anyway, because then they'll get President Pence, who would be far more damaging to the left's agenda than liberal President Trump. Their real goal in 2018 is to take the power balance in Congress (the Senate) and raise funds.
And who are the Democrats going to run against Trump in 2020?
Democrats have no Obama-type contenders for 2020
Elizabeth Warren? Kamala Harris? Really? They have little chance of beating Trump. Bernie Sanders will be lucky if his wife stays out of prison, never mind him riding a socialist wave--however at this point he might have the best chance of getting the nomination. That would ensure Trump's win.
Joe Biden? No. Cory Booker? Martin O'Malley? Tim Ryan? They might run, but they'll end up where Mike Huckabee ended up in 2016. The 2020 crop of Democrats just don't have the star power to get name recognition.
Perhaps they can look outside of politics to Mark Zuckerberg (or George Clooney? or--gag--Oprah Winfrey?). Though it's tempting, can you imagine with Donald Trump will do to a non-politician?
Democrats have already lost in 2020, they just haven't admitted it outside certain cocktail party circuits.
We actually need a strong Democrat party
One more point: I actually want a stronger Democratic Party. I want it because it makes Republicans accountable. Remember what happened to cities like Detroit, Baltimore and New Orleans after decades of Democrat single-party rule. If Republicans face no real competition, corruption, self-interest, and personal loyalty over party principles will take over.
A two-party system might suck, but it's the best thing we've got until a reasonable third party emerges. But one thing I know for absolute certain: a one-party system sucks more.