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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Why Dems Might beat the Odds and Win the Midterms

There are lots of reasons to be pessimistic about Democratic prospects in the 2022 midterm elections, including precedent, gerrymandering and the Democratic proclivity for forming circular firing squads. But, if Dems are to buck the odds and the pundits, a little creative visualization can’t hurt. For starters, check out Jame’s Pindell’s “3 emerging reasons why the midterms might not be a disaster for Democrats” at The Boston Globe, in which he writes:

But while all signs historically and structurally point to a good night for Republicans, there are several reasons why Democrats might actually buck the trend lines in the contests, which are suddenly less than 500 days away….Here are three reasons why:

1. Biden is relatively popular

Political pundits will throw out all kinds of numbers and suggest they hold some hidden secret to predicting election results. But in midterm elections, there is only one rather obvious number that makes all the difference: the presidential approval rating.

In the modern polling era, there have been six presidents who have lost seats in midterm elections. Only one — Dwight D. Eisenhower, a war hero — had an approval rating of about 50 percent. When Republicans picked up seats in the 2002 elections, Republican incumbent president George W. Bush had a 68 percent approval rating.

Today, Biden’s average approval rating stands at 52 percent, according to a FiveThirtyEight average of polls.

This is one reason why Democrats haven’t lost some recent special elections, as they’d be expected to do ahead of a midterm election under a Democratic president. In fact, Democrats are actually doing better by an average of two to three percent in these contests than they did in the 2020 elections.

2. Donald Trump remains a driving force in American politics

Midterm elections are typically a referendum on the current president, but it is increasingly clear that former president Donald Trump wants to make them also about him. We haven’t seen a former president play this type of role in modern politics and it is unclear how this will all play out….The Washington Post found that a third of the 700 Republican candidates who have already signed up to run in the midterms are publicly adhering to the Trump-fueled lie that the 2020 elections were stolen. Independents and Democrats — along with a good number of Republicans — do not agree.

Instead of going on the offensive and discussing, say, inflation or Biden’s tax proposals, many of these Republican candidates will find themselves in a general election defending something deeply out of step with the electorate, only because Trump demands they do so.

3. The Senate map is actually good for Democrats

The good news for Republicans is that they only need to gain one Senate seat to win the majority. The bad news for them is that they will have to defend 20 of the 34 Senate seats up in 2022. Of those 20, five are seats held by Republicans who have announced their retirement, putting them further on defense….while the smart money is on Republicans gaining the majority in the House, it’s also on Democrats keeping control of the Senate. If Democrats can do that it means they will still be able to confirm presidential nominations and Supreme Court judges. In other words, these midterms could be a lot worse for Democrats.

None of this is to deny that Democrats have very little wiggle room on loaded issues like police reform and immigration. But these three factors, along with a booming economy and the GOP’s failure to get real about Covid, the 2020 elections and Trump’s growing legal problems, should help Dems a bit with swing voters – if they drive Democratic strategy and messaging in the 500 days ahead.

2 comments on “Why Dems Might beat the Odds and Win the Midterms

  1. Ron Hickernell on

    One obstacle is the Dems’ lack of messaging effectiveness. The Repub’s are the death party. So many of their actions are directly increasing deaths. Taking away healthcare through medicare cuts, reminding the ACA, closing women’s health care clinics and lying about covid in Red states and all for that matter.

    The repubs are to be called the DEATH party by any and all Dems

  2. Martin Lawford on

    President Obama was never an effective standard bearer mostly because he never tried to be one. If President Biden’s personal popularity is an electoral advantage for Democrats, then Biden should be much more active than Obama was in stumping for Democratic Congressmen and Senators.


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