At his last press conference, President Obama said:
And I think that that the thing we have to spend the most time on -- because it's the thing we have the most control over -- is how do we make sure that we are showing up in places where I think Democratic policies are needed, where they are helping, where they are making a difference, but where people feel as if they're not being heard and where Democrats are characterized as coastal, liberal, latte-sipping, politically-correct, out-of-touch folks. We have to be in those communities. And I've seen that when we are in those communities, it makes a difference.
That's how I became President. I became a U.S. senator not just because I had a strong base in Chicago, but because I was driving around downstate Illinois and going to fish frys and sitting in VFW halls and talking to farmers. And I didn't win every one of their votes, but they got a sense of what I was talking about, what I cared about, that I was for working people, that I was for the middle class, that the reason I was interested in strengthening unions, and raising the minimum wage, and rebuilding our infrastructure, and making sure that parents had decent childcare and family leave was because my own family's history wasn't that different from theirs, even if I looked a little bit different. Same thing in Iowa.
And so the question is, how do we rebuild that party as a whole so that there's not a county in any state -- I don't care how red -- that we don't have a presence and we're not making the argument. Because I think we have the better argument. But that requires a lot of work. It's been something that I've been able to do successfully in my own campaigns. It is not something I've been able to transfer to candidates in midterms and sort of build a sustaining organization around. That's something that I would have liked to have done more of, but it's kind of hard to do when you're also dealing with a whole bunch of issues here in the White House.
2016 congressional candidates Thomas Mills reports that the national party organization gave him the back of its hand:
I’ve spent 20 years working on political campaigns, and the political organization I encountered in 2016 was an utter disappointment. Back in the ’90s when I started out, the DCCC was tasked with contesting as many races as possible and providing staff, training and direction to the campaigns in the field. Today, they’re narrowly focused on a small number of highly targeted races. Other campaigns get little attention or support.
Democrats need to be sharper going into the next election cycle. With a 50-plus seat deficit in the House, the party will have to win more than just the most competitive seats. They’ll probably need a wave in which they figure out how to win some longshot races. That won’t happen unless the party actively recruits good candidates around the country and treats them with respect and encouragement. And it also won’t happen unless the party provides campaigns—especially in the toughest districts—with the training, support and infrastructure to create or take advantage of opportunities.