“We’re toxic in the Midwest, and we’re toxic in the South”

There was a stiff-jointedness to the whole spectacle, a sense of the Democrats’ trying to regain the use of muscles they had let atrophy over the previous eight years. Obama, after all, used to make this sort of thing look easy. Conflating the American story with his own — “This is who we are” — the president conveyed, even in policy irresolution, an unshakable sense of his and America’s place in the world. “I love the guy, I miss him,” Scott Peters said of Obama. “But organizationally, the party is in disarray. We’re at the lowest level of elected officeholders since Hoover. We got a bit lazy and found ourselves relying on Barack Obama’s charisma, and it left us in bad shape.”…

But the Democrats’ path back from the wilderness is not a short one. No president since Ronald Reagan has won the presidency as convincingly, twice over, as Obama did — but those victories papered over an extraordinary decline in his party that became suddenly unignorable on Nov. 9, 2016. The Democratic National Committee today is an understaffed, demoralized bureaucracy. It has raised less than half of what its Republican counterpart has taken in so far this year. (Other party organizations — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — are faring better.)

Democratic presidents have generally been less than attentive to the financial and electoral health of their party, during and after their presidencies.