This is what Democrats are asking themselves after a weekend where they elected their new chairman, Randy Voller. Unfortunately, Democrats are pretty much screwed at the legislative level. Sure, it’s possible that absolutely everything could go right and they end up winning the requisite number of seats to take back the legislature (the Senate at this point is much more obtainable than the House, though still a real stretch).

They can at least console themselves that they have a formidable bench for 2016. Roy Cooper, Janet Cowell, and even Anthony Foxx would make strong candidates (so long as he stops moaning about his streetcar). With metropolitan areas in North Carolina becoming more powerful, Democrats will have an endless source of mayoral candidates who could perform strongly in races for higher office.

But none of this really matters at all if McCrory is popular by the time 2016 rolls around. Voters never oust a popular incumbent, no matter how beloved the challenger is.

Of course, they don’t have to wait until 2016, and there are a number of things they can do in the short term. They need to raise money like hell, which is difficult for the minority party, and their new chairman’s fundraising prowess is untested. They need to register as many new voters for their side as possible – their ability to do this without Obama on the ticket is again, untested. And they need to defend Senator Kay Hagan.

Many Democrats are confident that no matter how elections they lose, time is on their side. Gradually a demographic tidal wave will wash away conservatism forever, and in its wake America will be reborn, a diverse utopia of high speed rail and universal health care. But counting on some future date is always folly. This is the sort of complacency that lost them their majority at the state level in 2010. Democrats need to face the fact that the political scene in North Carolina has been turned completely upside down, and if they want to take back this state, they need to hit the ground running – hard.


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