Juan Williams: Dems need a better strategy

Editor's note: The following column originally appeared in The Hill newspaper and TheHill.com.

For all the talk about how President Trump has stumbled in his first 100 days in the White House, there has been almost no examination of how the Democrats are doing as the party of opposition.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., summed up liberal sentiment about Trump’s administration when she recently exclaimed, “God, it's like dog years or something. It feels like so much has gone on!”

Warren added: “We've got to get focused on what we're going to do in the next week, in the next month. This man is truly dangerous.”

As a Democrat I feel your anger, senator.

But despite disgust with Trump’s Russia scandals and failure to keep campaign promises, the hard fact is that Democrats have yet to prove they can revive their political prospects in the next two years, or stop Trump from winning a second term.

In fact, a Washington Post/ABC News poll last week concluded that in a rematch right now against Hillary Clinton, Trump would win the popular vote 43 percent to 40 percent.

Democrats have to admit that Trump has consolidated his political power and established himself as the undisputed leader of the Republican Party.

Independent voters are moving away from Trump. But according to the most recent Gallup poll, 86 percent of self-described Republicans approve of the job he is doing.

In April, the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced a record fundraising haul of $41.5 million for the first quarter of 2017.

Meanwhile, the Democrats’ troubles begin with the fact that they have no clear leader.

Former President Barack Obama is still a towering figure in the party, as is Hillary Clinton. But their presence threatens to starve a new generation of Democratic leaders of oxygen.

Warren is certainly vying for the mantle of leadership, crisscrossing the country to promote her new book.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer , N.Y.,  and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Calif., have maintained unified opposition on Capitol Hill.

The new chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Tom Perez, is high energy and gets good marks for his tour with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.. But it will take more than a tour to bring the party’s left wing together with its establishment.

According to the most recent FEC filings, the DNC is way behind the RNC in terms of fundraising. It has just $10.8 million cash on hand and $2.8 million in debt.

In two special elections, in Kansas and Georgia, Democrats failed to translate Trump’s historic low approval ratings into wins for their candidates. Comedian Bill Maher quipped that the party’s new slogan should be “Democrats: Now losing by slimmer margins!”

Fifty-nine percent of Americans in the Washington Post/ ABC News poll said Trump does not have “the kind of personality and temperament… to serve effectively as president.” Fifty-eight percent said he is dishonest and untrustworthy. And 56 percent said he lacks the judgment to be an effective president.

So why did the poll find that Trump would still beat Clinton in an election rematch?

Well, 67 percent said the Democrats are “out of touch” with ordinary Americans. That’s more than the 62 percent who said the Republican Party is “out of touch” or the 58 percent who said the same about Trump.

Voters may not like Trump, but Democrats have yet to come up with a positive alternative vision. All the Democrats have going for them is the anti-Trump enthusiasm of their grassroots, the so-called “resistance.”

“Taken together, all signs are looking up for the movement,” New York Times columnist Charles Blow argued in a recent column. “The Trump administration, from pillar to post, is an unmitigated disaster…Americans are not taking it lying down.”

The Women’s March in January, the pro-ObamaCare disruptions at GOP town halls and the recent nationwide tax day protests show there is populist energy that Democrats could be tapping to change their electoral fortunes.

Over the next seven months, Democrats have the opportunity to win House seats in special elections in Georgia, Montana and South Carolina. Polls show they stand a decent chance of winning back the governor’s mansion in New Jersey and holding the Virginia governorship.

But Democratic voter turnout in midterm years is traditionally low, giving the GOP a huge advantage in Congressional elections.

It is the job of the Democratic Party and its leaders to translate the raw, visceral anti-Trump energy that exists in the country into votes for their candidates.

But for all of Trump’s self-destructive ways, there is little evidence that Democrats have found the right counterpunch to knock him out.