White House press secretary Sean Spicer has an incredibly difficult job: Explaining and defending a president in Donald Trump who views himself as the best spokesman for his own cause and isn't afraid of a little controversy — or a lot of it. From defending the president's exaggerated claims about the crowd size at his inauguration to explaining the travel ban Trump imposed via executive order last Friday, it has not been an easy 10 days behind the podium for Spicer.
But, on Monday, while making the case that congressional Democrats should be wary of outright opposition to Trump's Cabinet nominees or his soon-to-be-announced Supreme Court pick, Spicer made a very important point: that Democrats — when analyzing the overall electoral strength of the party — are not in a very good place at the moment and may want to be wary of assuming they know what the country really wants.
By the numbers, Spicer is 100 percent correct. Here's a chart — built by the indomitable Philip Bump — that makes plain just how dire the down-ballot situation is for Democrats:
Republicans now have total control of the state legislature and governorship in half — yes, HALF — of the 50 states.
By contrast, there are only six states where Democrats have total control of the governorship and the state legislature.
In the House, Republicans are now in the midst of a sustained period in which they control more seats than they have since the late 1940s. In the Senate, Republicans not only control 52 seats but have an election cycle in 2018 in which they could, plausibly, approach the coveted 60-vote plateau.
Given those numbers, it's not possible to argue that the Democratic Party is the healthier of the two national parties at the moment.
Now, the history of politics is littered with parties that overestimated their mandates and within a few years found themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to control of the levers of political power. And there is already some of that rhetoric seeping out of this White House.
"The message came through loud and clear that people want forceful leadership," Spicer said Monday of the 2016 election results. That's true — sort of. Trump did win the electoral college. But he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. And, while Republicans held onto their congressional majorities, they did lose ground in both chambers.
At the moment, it's Republicans who have every right to brag about their dominant status as a national party. But always remember that pride comes before the fall.