A Republican won the first post-Trump Congressional election Tuesday night in a narrow victory that has caused many to applaud the effort of the Democrats who turned out to vote.
Trump won the 4th district of Kansas by 27 percent and Republican Ron Estes beat Democrat James Thompson by less than 10 percent.
But a victory is a victory, and Democrats should not be praised for their failed attempts.
Sure, Estes’ victory came after a last-minute outpouring of cash from the Republican Party, robo-calls from Trump and his vice president and a rally on Monday with Sen. Ted Cruz.
But he still won.
After Trump won the electoral vote in November, Democrats vowed to take back Congress in order to keep a semblance of functioning checks and balances. They promised they wouldn’t let the polls remain empty, promised to make sure they acted on their right to vote and promised to elect leaders who shared their values.
Instead, when Thompson went toe-to-toe against Estes, Republicans were the ones to show up in masses.
Yes, the district is a heavily conservative area. And the fervor showed by the Democrats who carried Thompson to a close defeat does bode well for elections in more moderate areas.
But the battle was never in heavily liberal or even moderate areas. It is in these conservative, historically Republican districts and states.
The map following the November election showed that far more people, 2,864,974 more to be exact, voted for Hillary Clinton than Trump. But Clinton’s voters were isolated in large cities and more liberal states.
The Republicans, though they voted in lesser numbers, are all over the nation. And Trump won geographically. Thus, he won. End of story.
Now, congressional seats are up for grabs. There is a chance Democrats can take back control of Congress. But they won’t do so unless they start turning red districts blue.
Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is despised in his state. His approval ratings are at an abysmal 27 percent, according to a Morning Consult poll. And Estes was one of Brownback’s favorites.
If Democrats couldn’t gain a seat in a state where the Republican governor is hated, how can they be expected to have a victory in a conservative state where its Republican governor and representatives are loved?
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) practically ignored the campaign in Kansas until Monday, when they launched some pathetic, last minute attempts at “Get Out To Vote” phone banks.
The DCCC doesn’t need to waste its time in more liberal or moderate areas. If Democrats are as angry as they’ve claimed to be since Trump took office, they will win those areas in a landslide.
Though to be fair, November did teach us all what happens when you expect a landslide victory.
Instead, Democrats need to make an effort to heavily campaign before the week of elections in conservative areas. Trump isn’t exactly holding a lofty approval rating.
The GOP is increasingly befuddled and angry over his statements and actions. Morale is low, and if Democrats work hard, they will not only be able to get more of their own party out to vote, they will also be able to sway unhappy Republicans and Independents to their cause.
A close defeat is still a defeat. Democrats shouldn’t be praised for failing to claim a seat in Congress.
If they want to be taken seriously, if they want to truly show their anger toward the results in November, they need to hit the streets and start turning red counties blue. Otherwise, Trump will have a heavily conservative Congress nodding along with whatever he wants to do.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.