Democrats were reeling just a month ago, worried that their party was locked out of power, rife with infighting and bedeviled by questions of how it can win coming elections.
Then Donald Trump took office.
The president’s tumultuous first four weeks in the White House — highlighted by the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and renewed questions about the Trump campaign’s connections to the Russian government — have given Democrats an unexpected lift less than a month into the new White House.
“This White House simply needs to be given enough rope to make a fatal mistake — or series of them,” said Adrianne Marsh, who managed the re-election campaign of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in 2012.
Instead of battling a popular new president working with an electoral mandate, Democrats see the White House sinking into daily controversies that have distracted from the president’s agenda and, they say, damaged his appeal. The Trump administration’s early moves have also sparked protests across the country, which Democratic leaders say have given their party an essential boost of energy and enthusiasm among core left-leaning voters when the party needed it most.
It’s enough for Democrats to forget about their own problems — at least for now.
“There’s still a lot of serious concern and worry about the direction he’s gonna take the country,” said Guy Cecil, a top Democratic strategist who’s the chairman of the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA. “But in the middle of that, I think you have found a growing sense of optimism . . . that there are levers of power that we can deploy. It’s not going to solve all of our problems, but I think it’s had an impact.”
Democrats insist they recognize that Trump is still in the early days of his presidency, with plenty of time to regain political momentum. They’re also keenly aware that no politician in recent memory has more often defied predictions of doom.
But even if they warn it’s too soon to declare victory, they say Flynn’s resignation was just the latest controversy to strike the White House that could cause political problems now and in the future.