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It’s been a year since Trump’s win. What have both parties learned?

This week marks a year since President Trump won the White House. What lessons have Democrats and Republicans learned since then? Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR join John Yang to discuss how the parties have moved on, plus the politics of guns after another mass shooting, the closely watched Virginia governor’s race and Donna Brazile’s new book.

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  • John Yang:

    It's been a year since Donald Trump won the White House. What lessons have Democrats and Republicans learned since that divisive 2016 election?

    For answers, it's time for Politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Tam, Amy, welcome to you both.

    The big story, the headline tonight, of course, is this horrible shooting in Texas. Five weeks ago was the horrible shooting in Las Vegas.

    Tam, is anything going to happen?

  • Tamara Keith:

    I'm pretty sure that Amy and I were here on this set a month and a week ago saying probably not.

    And, really, not much has changed since that shooting in Las Vegas. There was some talk, very briefly, about looking at bump stocks, which was this modification that was made to the weapon in Las Vegas. That talk has pretty much gone away.

    Now it's another mass shooting, and in this one, there are a lot of children, and it's tragic, it's in a place of worship, but the conversation really doesn't change. It sort of follows this cycle, and it seems to speed up, where almost immediately it's either gun control or mental health, and people go into their corners, and they are very much in their corners already.

  • John Yang:


  • Amy Walter:


    One thing I would say, too, is that while we may not be seeing any change in the way the politics of this play out, I don't think we should discount the way in which these events, which seem to be happening with really painful regulatory, are chipping away at Americans' sense of safety and security, raising anxiety.

    When these shootings are taking place in places that should be places of safety — they are churches, they are schools, they are cinemas, they are concerts — you know, I think it really underscores the sense of instability and anxiety that so many Americans are feeling now just about the state of the world in general, but when they look at home, the feeling that they can't quite be sure at anytime, anywhere, that they will be safe, and that the ground seems to be shifting constantly underneath them on so many issues, this issue of safety prime among them.

  • John Yang:

    Instability, anxiety, shifting ground takes us to our next topic very likely, on a much sort of less threatening scale.

    It was a year ago this week that, Tam, you and I were in the Javits Center in New York, and the entire political world shifted, when both parties, I think it's fair to say, were confronted with an election result that neither one really anticipated.

    A year later, where are the Republicans and the Democrats in trying to get their footing, get their — sort of reoriented in this world?

  • Tamara Keith:

    Well, it turns out that winning for the Republicans didn't paper over all of the problems.

    There are definitely divisions within the Republican Party, much the same divisions that we were discussing in 2016.

    As for the Democrats, losing didn't prompt like a miraculous overnight rethinking and vision and thinking, like, oh, now we no how to proceed.

    I was talking to some women who had voted for Hillary Clinton, had volunteered for her campaign in the Cleveland area, and they actually said that they weren't surprised by the election results. All three of them had predicted, they said, that she would lose before she lost.

    But as for what the next steps are, they are pretty frustrated with the Democratic Party. They are like, we thought by now the party would have figured this out. And there's a sense that party hasn't figured it out.

  • John Yang:

    Amy, what — tomorrow, we have a big election in Virginia, the governor's race. Is that going to give us a clue about where the parties are and where they are heading?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, we will read probably read too much into the results, as we always do, of one race.

    But let's just look at a couple of things. The first is that the two candidates, the Democrat and the Republican, are not exactly fitting into the sort of traditional post-Trump stereotypes.

    The Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie is a longtime Republican, establishment Republican, moderate Republican, worked in the Bush White House. He doesn't fit the stereotype of the outsider, brash kind of candidate that Trump is.

    On the Democratic side, you have, in Ralph Northam, another longtime establishment candidate. He's got a Southern drawl. He comes from a part of the state that's not the sort of fast-growing, urban Northern Virginia suburbs. He doesn't act or speak like Bernie Sanders.

    And what both candidates are finding in this Virginia race is that there are sections of their party that want them to be more like the insurgents that they saw in 2016. Both of them are trying to thread the needle there, and we will find out in the next 24 hours or so which one was successful.

    We are also going to get our first real sense of whether there is a real enthusiasm gap between Democrats, who still are frustrated and furious about the results of 2016, and Republicans who, as you pointed out, John, were even surprised themselves that Donald Trump won.

    We saw in special elections in this last year and House races that Democrats did have something of an enthusiasm advantage. Is it going to translate into a state like Virginia, which is, unlike those special elections, it is more Democratic-leaning and it's a state that Hillary Clinton carried?

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes, Democrats are under a lot more pressure with this Virginia race than the Republicans are, because Democrats have an edge. As Amy said, Hillary Clinton won the state. So, if Democrats lose, that's going to be a really, really big story.

    If the Republican loses, well, you know, often that happens in Virginia, that the opposing party of the president ends up winning. And so, there's more to lose for Democrats here.

  • John Yang:

    And, Tam, we had more sort of — more fallout from 2016 over the weekend with Donna Brazile's new book talking about having — sort of airing her complaints about the Hillary Clinton campaign, about the fund-raising agreement her campaign had with the Democratic National Committee.

    What do you make of all this? Why is Donna doing this?

  • Tamara Keith:

    And then Donald Trump, President Trump, jumps in and tweets and says, look, it really was rigged against Bernie. That's what I have been saying all along, because 2016 will never end.

    Donna Brazile has — is trying to sell books, for one thing, and so why do the juiciest parts come out? Because she's trying to sell books. And also she has some real grievous from the way the 2016 campaign was handled and, you know, how the WikiLeaks affected her life and existence and what she thought she would be doing with her life.

  • John Yang:

    Amy, is this division, this sort of fissure between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wings that is now from 2016, is that going to animate the party through 2020, do you think?

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes, I think the division that Democrats are facing is not so much between the Bernie and Hillary wing, but it is a general sense of where their strategy is, it's more tactical, and it's more fundamental to the kinds of voters that they want to see turn up and vote for Democrats.

    Barack Obama, when he ran for office, there was something called the Obama coalition, these younger voters, more diverse voters, who came and turned out in record numbers to support him.

    Since that election in 2008, those voters have turned out for nobody else other than Barack Obama. They didn't turn out in midterm elections. They didn't turn out for Hillary Clinton.

    So, there's a group of Democrats saying, we have got to find a way to get those voters out and animated without Barack Obama on the ballot.

    There's another group of Democrats, though, that say, our real challenge is that we lost white working-class voters by a bigger percentage than we should have in 2016. We need to win those voters back.

    They have got to figure out how to bring those two groups together under one banner and one message.

  • John Yang:

    Not an easy task, it sounds like.

    Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, that's Politics Monday. Thanks for joining us.

  • Tamara Keith:

    You're welcome.

  • Amy Walter:

    You're welcome.

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