Democrats ponder the unthinkable: What if they lose?

Most in the party believe that the path they will go down will be the former; that they will gain a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time since former President Barack Obama’s first term. But paranoia is part of the Democratic DNA, especially after the shock of the 2016 election. And in the final stretch of the midterm campaign, a scenario in which the party is unable to flip the requisite 23 House seats looms in the dark recesses of the mind.

“It will be paralyzing for a while, it will,” said Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. “Candidly, I think there will be a fair amount of soul searching and people will feel back on their heels… We will have to rebuild. But the resistance is built on opposition to [Donald] Trump’s extremism. And the more extreme he is, the more we will have.”

Or, as veteran Democratic strategist Paul Begala put it: “After all this work, all these volunteers, it would be absolutely shattering.”