Tuesday's general election highlighted a decision among Democrats focusing on the 2020 presidential race: Are they passionate or pragmatic?
An energetic segment within the party saw in the results a need for Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke of Texas or a candidate like him who can inspire large crowds with an authentic and optimistic plea that rejects President Trump while he only rarely mentioned.
Others pointed to victories in the upper Midwest, suggesting a completely different formula on which candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden or Sen. Sherrod Brown from Ohio relied to bring together the coalition of working-class voters for decades had helped deploy the Democrats to the White House.
"I think we know what the ingredients are," said Rebecca Kirszner Katz, a Democratic strategist. "And I think we're trying to figure out if that person exists."
Candidates and party strategists have been working through the interim results in the last few days, looking for clues about what can resonate with voters, as shown by interviews with nearly two dozen candidates, volunteers and strategists.
Some are discouraged by Trump's strength and resilience, even in a tough stalemate, suggesting that it's harder to solve than many realize.
"This was not a historical charge," said a Democratic strategist working for a potential candidate for the year 2020, and spoke about the condition of anonymity to make an open assessment. "He got his base twice … I just do not think anyone should have confidence, how many times have you had to rely on Trump and then proven wrong? People felt like a godsend in 2016. And people underestimate him again. "
Others are optimistic about what they see as a relaxation of Trump's influence on working-class voters who abandoned Democrats for him in 2016.
What the interim results did not do was pick a field that could be bigger and more cumbersome than at any time lately. Almost anyone who considered a bid could find a score that would give a reason to act, or just as quickly find a reason to take a pass.
"The fact that the Blue Wall has re-established has given some of the 2020 candidates an argument that they can use to say," I can appeal to the Rust Belt voters, and that's the way to victory. "And I think they will manage a fair hearing," said Brian Fallon, a Democratic Advisor who served as Press Secretary for Hillary Clinton in 2016. "But I still believe activists in Iowa are still going where you go Heart leads them, and does not necessarily make a kind of pragmatic decision about who can address the voters of Obama-Trump. They tend more to the candidate who inspires them the most. "
The dispute between these options, which played silently in the two years since Trump shocked the party and put it in a leadless tailspin, will be resolved next year as a large field competes openly for different parts of the mainstream voter. Candidates are already recruiting staff and identifying financial teams to help them raise money during the first of many tests.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Has aggressively built a national fundraising and political network, while Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) Will continue several recent trips in primary states with a high-profile book tour. Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick returns to South Carolina on Friday while Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she is now considering a presidential petition, even though she ruled it out.
So far, one of the fundamental questions about the forthcoming presidential campaign has been whether Democrats will argue that a candidate with Trump should act in a blatant style that drives the partisans on either side or stands up for someone more positive and inclusive better behavior is aimed at unifying message. Many of the party's successes on Tuesday tended to the latter.
"The way to defeat Trump is not to be like him," said David Axelrod, a Democratic Advisor and former senior strategist for President Barack Obama. "There is this kind of debate about:" Do you campaign with a clenched fist or an open hand? "The candidates who won did not win Donald Trump as an instrument of destruction, they ran for an alternative vision that was constructive and positive, and spoke to people's everyday concerns."
Candidates like O'Rourke and Gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia ignited the passion of Democrats across the country. They managed to raise huge sums of money from everyday donors and create viral moments that would turn their nationwide candidacy into national prestige.
"It was a template," said Axelrod. "What distinguished Beto O & Rourke was not a single problem. It was his fundamental call to character, his fundamental call to the community. I think there is a big lesson. We tend to be very tactical and smart about how we think about these things. But something is happening out there. I think the country is hungry for it. "
But O'Rourke did not focus on Trump. And as the democratic primaries begin, there are still thirsty demands for a more aggressive stance against the president.
"You will not defeat this guy when he talks about puppies and daisies," said lawyer Michael Avenatti. "You have to inspire people, but you can not motivate them to win against Trump. Not in 2020. It will not happen. You have to get into the gutter with this guy and shoot. You have to take a lot of punishment and give a lot of punishment. He will roll over a candidate who wants to be a cheerleader. "
Avenatti gained national attention by representing Stormy Daniels, who claimed she and Trump had an alliance. He said he is considering a presidential bid on the basis that he is uniquely positioned to work with Trump.
"It's not the one who can make the best president among the Democrats. If the Democrats answer this question, they will probably lose the election in 2020, "said Avenatti. "The question is: who is meeting with this particular person at this time?"
Warren may try to formulate himself as a person who can unite the various desires within the party – as the author of a populist message that might play a good role in the Midwest, but also has a passion for passionate and viral moments use.
She differs from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Who took a similar political space in the 2016 campaign and might try to run again, hoping to unlock the enormous new energy of female candidates and activists.
"Two years ago, on a very dark election night, millions of women watched in horror as Donald Trump was elected president," she said in her victory speech on Tuesday. "They did not like it. But they did not whimper. They did not complain. They resisted. , , , And so begins the actual change. "
There are also calmer candidates hoping to penetrate the national scene. Some have told Mitch Landrieu, former mayor of New Orleans, that he has a raw political talent and a protocol that has spoken out strongly against racism. Colorado's outgoing governor John Hickenlooper, who supported the campaign for candidates during the mid-term, plans to test in the coming months whether he should run on a platform of bipartisan governance.
"Throughout the Midwest, we have seen good pragmatic candidates who really wanted to achieve something. They were not looking for a soapbox and a place to call out their ideas, "said Hickenlooper. "It's almost the opposite of Trump. it is the antidote to Trump, where neither side is enthusiastic or enthusiastic about compromise. But everyone recognizes that this is progress. Such was politics earlier in this country. "
But his candidacy would examine the question of whether there is room for this kind of politics.
"That's the $ 62,000 question," he said. "Because it does not create media."
On the way to electoral polling, many Democrats hoped that their eye-catching new stars – notably O Rourke, Gillum and Abrams – would win decisive victories and definitely prove that blatantly liberal, young and dynamic candidates are not just the Party, but also the future belong to rapidly diversifying country.
"People want us to chase this unicorn, the Obama Trump voters," said Bakari Sellers, a political commentator and former representative of the state of South Carolina. "We have to focus on the energy in our party. We just can not do the same thing we did. "
But none of the three wins on Tuesday – O'Rourke was defeated, and the races of Gillum and Abrams remain in the air. Some claim that the boundaries of Passion candidates, who tend to both sides, are underlined. Democrats who are more pragmatic ambassadors for working-class voters in Trump-winning states could at least be successful.
Brown, who was re-elected in Ohio and is known for his crumpled suits and rough voice, raised his eyebrows with an electoral rollback that prompted Democrats to follow his path, if not particularly.
"Populists are not racists. Populists are not anti-Semitic, "he said. "We do not appeal to some by depressing others. We do not lie We do not engage in hate speech. And we do not tear babies on the border out of their families. "
"We will show America how we celebrate organized workers and all workers – the Dayton waitress, the Toledo office worker, the Columbus nurse, the Coshocton miner," he continued. "That's the message coming from Ohio in 2018, and that's the blueprint for our nation in 2020."
Senator Amy Klobuchar shares this road after winning a simple reelection in Minnesota. Biden, who has made a career by calling himself a "middle-class Joe," is also a beneficiary of a strategy that goes through the Midwest.
Without a candidate who can deal with voters there, some Democrats argue, Trump has a chance to get back on track exactly where he won the presidency. Even with democratic victories in the Midwest on Tuesday, there were signs that Trump had improved his reputation.
In Michigan, where Democrat Gretchen Whitmer won the governorship, the polls at Trump had a 44 percent approval. When Trump won the state in 2016, his suitability rating for exit surveys was 39 percent.
"The way for the Democrats is through the rust belt. I do not think there is anything, "said Larry Rasky, a longtime Biden confidant and campaign strategist," where Trump won, where he turned the tables and lost on Tuesday night. "
"If you just count on 2020, it's difficult to see a path for Democrats that does not start in Pennsylvania and end in Minnesota," Rasky said. "This formula was proved again on Tuesday evening. There are no other ways to get there, but if we want to leave Texas and Florida for victory in 2020, we just have to find a pair of aces for a full house. "