It wasn't a good week for the Democrats. After losing the most promising of several competitive special congressional elections this year in Georgia's 6th District, party activists formed a circular firing squad and began taking pot shots at one another.

There was infighting between centrist and liberal Democrats, with the latter quoting Bernie Sanders in saying of defeated Georgia 6th nominee Jon Ossoff that not all Democrats are equally progressive. There were debates between whether it made more sense to turn out minorities or win back working-class white voters.

Most surprising, perhaps, was the criticism of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after she was the political figure Republicans had the most success turning into a bogeyman in the Georgia race.

"The brand is just bad," Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, complained to CNN. "I don't think people in the beltway are realizing just how toxic the Democratic Party brand is in so many parts of the country."

Asked if Pelosi was really more toxic than President Trump, Ryan replied, "The honest answer is in some areas of the country — yes, she is. I think that in certain areas, like in some of these special election districts, it doesn't benefit our candidates to be tied to her."

Ryan mounted a doomed challenge to Pelosi's leadership after the 2016 elections and got crushed. But not everyone who sounded this theme was a longtime Pelosi detractor.

"I think you'd have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top," said Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, told Politico. "Nancy Pelosi is not the only reason that Ossoff lost. But she certainly is one of the reasons."

"Nancy Pelosi was a great speaker," Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., said on MSNBC. "She is a great leader. But her time has come and gone."

"It's time for a new generation of leadership in the party," Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., remarked to CNN's Jake Tapper.

Not many household names in this group and several Democratic operatives the Washington Examiner spoke with described Pelosi as a "scapegoat." Still, pro-Pelosi forces were moved to push back against the criticism by recommending supportive tweets.

"I think the criticism of Pelosi is a red herring," said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist, though he acknowledged "Democrats have a lot of work to do."

"One of the problems with Ossoff in particular and Democrats in general is tone," Bannon added. "Ossoff had a bad case of Clintonitis and ran a cautious campaign. He really didn't go after Trump very hard. Which was odd because [winning Republican Karen] Handel maintained some distance from the president."

Much as President Trump celebrates the Republicans' unbeaten record in competitive special elections since he has taken office, nothing happened in those races that forestalls the possibility of Democrats' retaking at least the House in the 2018 midterm elections.

Special elections have a decidedly mixed track record of predicting the results of the next major election cycle. Democrats did compete well in these mostly Republican districts all year long.

Even a good week for the Republicans can easily be blown up by the failure of the healthcare bill, a new development in the Russia probe or even a few presidential tweets.

Yet many Democrats approached next year's elections with almost a sense of certitude that Trump and Republicans will be punished at the ballot box. Georgia 6th and other recent election results have injected just a little bit of doubt.

"The fact that we had spent so much time talking about Russia has, you know, has been a distraction from what should be the clear contrast between Democrats and the Trump agenda, which is on economics," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in the aftermath of the Georgia results.

All this second-guessing comes after the Democratic National Committee posted its worst May fundraising numbers since 2003. That means that the Democrats reported their lowest May money hauls while Trump's approval ratings were down and after the Iraq war.

It is this sense of missed opportunity that annoys many Democrats.

"Trump won because he was a bull in a china shop, which is what angry voters wanted," said Bannon, the Democratic strategist. In contrast, Democrats walk on eggshells and don't sound angry enough to shake things up in Washington."