Well, it was just a matter of time, I guess. Perhaps upset at occasional bouts of Sympathy for the Devil being posted on his own page, Kos of DailyKos has more or less called for kicking the DLC out of the Democratic Party for being mean to other Democrats. Or at least I have no other way of understanding today’s characterization of myself and my colleagues as “the media’s handy tool for Democratic bashing. Enemies of unity of the left. Self-important fools who exist merely to advance the other side’s agenda.” Nothing much ambiguous about that, eh?The crowning “outrage,” apparently, is the recent suggestion by Al From and Marshall Wittman that maybe the leadership of MoveOn doesn’t speak for the Democratic Party as a whole, a suggestion Kos chooses to interpret as a call for the party to “purge millions of supporters from its ranks.” (Oh, yeah, Al also mocked bloggers; I somehow managed to get over it, down there in my basement).Man, talk about beams and motes. The vitriol that’s been poured on the DLC by Kos and several other netwarriors in the last couple of years is endless, personal, often obscene, and frankly, a little nuts. If we’re as irrelevant as he keeps insisting we are, why bother? Just ignore us, and we’ll go away, right? If our only value, as Kos suggests today, is to provide right-wing media with anti-Democratic quotes, then you have to wonder why so many elected officials bother to identify with us and come to our events (e.g., one today attended by Sen. Joe Biden)?Indeed, that question seems to bother Kos as well, since his very next post begins a process of “calling out” DLC-friendly Democratic pols and asking them to disassociate themselves from us. He even took the trouble to dig down in our web page–bypassing a few hundred thousand pages of policy work, which is what we do to pass the time while waiting for the next call from Fox News–and discover that Sen. Barack Obama is still listed in our data base! Scandal! (He’s in there because he recently joined the Senate New Democrat Coalition, all of whose members are in our database, which is about as controversial as a phone book). Hillary Clinton? Evan Bayh? Better get away from those people, or risk the consequences.This is more embarrassing than anything else, to tell you the truth. If Kos was screaming at us for alleged agreement with Bush or something, he’d at least have the beginnings of an argument. But being called “divisive” by a guy who’s way around the bend in hating this particular group of Democrats is just a bad joke.Well, I for one ain’t going anywhere. And having contested this particular guy’s right to show me the door, I will say no more about this or future Kos temper-tantrums. After all, I’ve got some of that deceptive Republican-bashing to do, and a few of those issues to work on that nobody cares to hear from me about. And despite this terrible anathema, I remain ready to break bread with anybody in the party who wants to talk, self-important fool that I am.UPCATEGORY: Ed Kilgore’s New Donkey
TDS Strategy Memos
Latest Research from:
By Ed Kilgore
After absorbing a lot of Democratic gloom-and-doom about the midterms, I offered some silver lining at New York:
The 2022 midterms don’t look great for Democrats, who will try to buck history by hanging on to super-slim congressional majorities. Thanks to the particular lay of the land, Democrats have a decent chance of maintaining control of the Senate. But the House? Not so much: The two times since the New Deal when the president’s party won net House seats in a midterm (1998 and 2002), the president in question had sky-high job-approval ratings. Even if you believe Joe Biden’s plunge in popularity has been stemmed or even turned around a bit, he’s not going to have 60 percent-plus approval in November 2022 unless really crazy things happen. There’s just too much partisan polarization for that these days.
Thankfully for Democrats, even if they lose their congressional majorities next year, Biden himself won’t be an underdog for reelection in 2024. After all, the last two Democratic presidents were reelected after historically terrible midterms. Democrats lost 54 U.S. House seats in 1994 and 63 in 2010. Yes, they had bigger majorities going into those elections than Democrats have now. But they lost the national House popular vote by an identical 6.8 percent in both midterms, which is pretty bad, particularly since Democrats suffer from a voter-inefficiency problem in House elections (too many voters concentrated in too few districts).
It’s possible for a president’s party to lose a midterm so badly that bouncing back in the next cycle is all but impossible. Consider the man whose unique comeback accomplishment Donald Trump will be emulating if he runs in 2024, Grover Cleveland. The president Cleveland defeated in an 1892 rematch, Benjamin Harrison, was a Republican whose party lost an incredible 93 House seats in the 1890 midterms. This, mind you, was at a time when the House had only 332 members, which means the GOP lost over half their caucus in one cycle (an even worse percentage than in 1894, when Democrats lost a record 125 House seats during the midterm after Cleveland’s comeback triumph). In this era of polarization, nothing like that is going to happen to Democrats in 2022.
Looking more broadly at the power of incumbency, there have been 13 sitting presidents since World War II who were on the general election ballot. Nine of them won. The four losers all faced special circumstances. Gerald Ford had not previously been elected to anything more than the U.S. House; he ascended to the vice-presidency and then the presidency when disgraced predecessors resigned, and he pardoned the president who appointed him, the especially disgraced Richard Nixon. Jimmy Carter was caught up in a historical realignment that he had held off four years earlier by carrying his native South, which then resumed a massive Republican trend. George H.W. Bush suffered from a terrible economy but then also a party split (third-party candidate Ross Perot won a lot of previously Republican voters). And we all know about Donald J. Trump, who was impeached twice and seemed determined to offend swing voters.
In retrospect, what’s most remarkable is that Ford and Trump very nearly got reelected despite their handicaps, exhibiting not the weakness but the strength of incumbency. And it’s with that perspective that any early handicapping of a potential 2024 rematch should be considered. Trump benefited from incumbency in 2020, as will Biden in 2024. So the idea that the 45th president has some built-in advantage over the 46th — absent the renewed election coup so many of us fear — doesn’t make a lot of sense.