In a special election last week in a district of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, Republican David Jolly beat out Democrat Alex Sink for a House seat previously occupied by Republican Bill Young, who passed away in October. Republicans are celebrating the victory as a bellwether of what’s to come in the fall midterm elections and a repudiation of the Affordable Care Act, which Jolly’s campaign spent a good deal of commercial airtime criticizing. Though special election results rarely make for accurate bellwethers—and though this particular district has been Republican since 1983—Democrats are right to worry and to rethink their strategy for the midterms. In this roundtable discussion, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel calls on the Democratic Party to galvanize its base by laying out “a robust economic agenda: minimum wage, better jobs…pre-K, all kinds of things that will turn out core voters.” If Democrats are to seize this “populist moment,” she says, then they will have to be unambiguous and unapologetic in their support for progressive policies. “As my friend, longtime Texas populist Jim Hightower likes to say,” she says, “‘The only thing in the middle of the road are dead armadillos and yellow stripes.’”

—David Kortava