Democrats Seethe After Georgia Loss: ‘Our Brand Is Worse Than Trump’

Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan called for Democrats to go “on offense” and attack the president’s perceived strength on economic matters with working-class voters.

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Some lawmakers are questioning anew the leadership and political strategy of Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader.

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Doug Mills/The New York Times

“We need to show working men and women we understand their anxieties and fears,” she said, “and show that Trump is treating them like just another politician.”

By fiercely contesting a congressional race in the conservative Atlanta suburbs, Democrats had hoped to make an emphatic statement about the weakness of the Republican Party under Mr. Trump. Their candidate, Jon Ossoff, raised about $25 million, mostly in small donations, and assertively courted right-of-center voters with promises of economic development and fiscal restraint.

That vague message, Democrats said Wednesday, was plainly not powerful enough to counter an onslaught of Republican advertising that cast Mr. Ossoff as a puppet of liberal national Democrats, led by Ms. Pelosi, an intensely unpopular figure on the right and a longstanding target of Republican attacks. While Mr. Ossoff made inroads by exploiting Mr. Trump’s unpopularity and a backlash against health care legislation approved in the House, Democrats said they would have to do more to actually win.

Representative Eric Swalwell of California, who is close to party leaders, said Democrats would “crystallize our message on jobs, on health care” in the coming months. The results in Georgia and other special elections, he said, should encourage Democrats to campaign across a huge map of districts. “We need to compete everywhere,” he said.

Representative Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, met Wednesday morning with a group of…

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