“I think it has taken a lot of angst out of the party,” Democratic strategist Brad Bannon says. “It’s not completely gone. But in terms of party unity, we are in a helluva lot better shape than Trump and the Republicans are.”
“The conventional laws of gravity and political physics do seem to be reasserting themselves,” says Craig Varoga, another D.C.-based Democratic strategist.
Though Democrats are pleased with the Clinton campaign’s general-election pivot — and in particular with her sustained attack on Trump’s multiple bankruptcies — they credit most of her newfound dominance to her opponent’s own actions. “Trump is doing more damage to his candidacy and the Republican party overall than any Democrat, on his or her best day, could possibly inflict,” says Varoga.
Still, Democrats are understandably hesitant to declare outright victory four months before the first votes are cast. The phrase “cautiously optimistic” crops up repeatedly, and skeptics point to Clinton’s diminishing leads in Ohio and Pennsylvania — Rust Belt states with a high percentage of the white, working-class voters Trump hopes to persuade with his NAFTA-bashing, anti-free-trade rhetoric.
“Five minutes in politics is 25 years in everything else,” says Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist from New York who once worked for Clinton. “And [Trump’s] economic argument has value.”