All of this suggests that antipathy towards Trump might not be the silver bullet Democrats — and many Republicans, for that matter — think it’s going to be in 2018. Even in states where Democrats are relatively moderate, like Texas, their problem is akin to what ailed the moderate wing of the GOP in the 1960s and ’70s: they’re “me too” Democrats.
Texas Democrats, for example, routinely make their case along the same line Republicans do — low taxes, maintaining a business-friendly environment, keeping state government limited and unobtrusive. They just argue they’d be better at all of it. Meanwhile, the identity politics and strident culture war posture that characterizes the national party leadership simply won’t play in deep-red states, especially if Trump can, say, avoid starting a nuclear war with North Korea or presiding over a massive economic recession between now and the end of 2018.
In other words, Democrats seem incapable of understanding why they won in 2006, when opposition to the Iraq War, the unpopularity of George W. Bush, and a series of high-profile Republican scandals in Congress mobilized an outraged Democratic base. In those midterms, Democrats picked up 31 seats in the House and six in the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi became the first woman to be elected speaker of the House.