04/14/2016 01:23 pm ET
The moderators at Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate shouldn’t have a hard time thinking up questions. It’s been more than a month since Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders met on stage. Since that time, the campaign has become far more contentious — with nasty arguments over everything from whether Clinton is “qualified” to whether Vermont’s lax gun laws caused crime in New York, which is the site of next week’s primary.
Still, the folks at CNN, which is hosting the debate, would do the public a favor by asking basic, straightforward questions about how Clinton and Sanders would address the economy, health care, and other key issues. Yes, they covered this material before — at length, back when the campaign was getting underway. But at that time, everybody was sure Republicans would hold at least one house of Congress, making it impossible for either Democrat to win more than token legislative victories. In other words, the agendas that Clinton and Sanders were proposing seemed largely theoretical.
Now the political environment has shifted, in ways that put the GOP at a bigger disadvantage. The phrase “Democratic House” no longer evokes laughter among mainstream political professionals. It’s actually possible that Clinton or Sanders could get stuff done.
To be clear, a Democratic landslide remains unlikely. Clinton, the former secretary of state, and Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, each have serious political liabilities. Either could easily lose. And while Republicans will struggle to keep their Senate majority because they hold most of the vulnerable seats in this cycle, they are in much stronger position in the House, where they have a majority of 59 seats. Wiping that out — i.e., flipping 30 districts from Republican to Democrat — would require a win of historic proportions.