Yesterday, reporting for the Washington Post, Yasmeen Abutaleb wrote that “the Democrats’ newly dark [midterm] message is a gamble. Biden is trying to draw a delicate distinction by blasting ‘MAGA Republicans’ and has said he is not talking about all Republicans, noting he can still work with many of them. But GOP leaders say the president is simply calling all of them fascists.” And basically, they are. Newly-elected Pat Ryan, a conservative Democrat from the Hudson Valley said “America faces ‘a coordinated domestic attempt to undermine our Constitution.’” Chris Pappas, a weak New Dem in a red-leaning New Hampshire district warned that if he crackpot Trumpist opponent wins and the GOP wins a House majority “It wouldn’t be a woman’s choice— it would be the government’s choice.” Even though the Republican legislature gerrymandered the districts so that Pappas would lose, polling shows the MAGA nominee, Karoline Leavitt is way too extreme for even a Republican-leaning (R+1) district in New Hampshire:
Ditto for Ryan in New York’s swingy 18th congressional district, which has a D+3 partisan lean.
Abutaleb interviewed failed former DCCC chair, conservaDem Steve Israel, who told her that “When you are the in-party in the midterms— like the Democrats are now— and the wind is blowing against you, you have to ride every advantageous breeze you can find. And the Democrats have found those breezes in the Dobbs decision and in Donald Trump… In a normal environment, this midterm election would be about Joe Biden. But this midterm, Democrats have successfully made it a referendum on Donald Trump, and he’s helping them by inserting himself in the headlines and endorsing candidates in primaries who are way too far to the right for moderate electorates.”
She wrote that “with Donald Trump’s reemergence, the proliferation of Republican nominees who reject fair elections, and the Supreme Court’s overturning abortion rights, the calculus has starkly changed. Biden now all but admits his initial approach no longer works… [T]he Democrats’ message reflects the reality that many in the GOP are openly embracing anti-democratic principles and an end to abortion rights, even as some scramble to distance themselves from such positions after previously advocating them.”
But not all Democrats can save themselves with anti-Trump, pro-abortion messaging. Tom Malinowski has a serious ethics scandal, has a horribly gerrymandered district (from D+4 to R+3)— done to him by a Democratic-controlled legislature!— and has a non-MAGA Republican, Tom Kean Jr— as an opponent. Malinowski is going to lose, in part because the state Democratic Party wanted to give Blue Dogs Josh Gottheimer and Mikie Sherrill bluer districts. By stealing Democratic precincts from Malinowski, Gottheimer’s even district now has a D+7 partisan lean and Sherrill’s D+1 district now has a partisan lean of D+11.
For all their braying about what they accomplished for working families, Democrats accomplished very little… thin gruel and don’t deserve to retain power— unless you look at the only alternative: Republicans who are 1,000 times worse. That kind of framing is the ONLY way Democrats know how to win elections— “we suck but the Republicans are worse; we’re the lesser evil.”
Democrats stress that each district is different, and say their candidates will campaign accordingly. But their increasingly negative messages signal an acknowledgment that simply touting the laws they’ve passed— including a $700 billion health, climate and tax bill; a $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package; a $1 trillion-plus infrastructure plan; and legislation to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing— is not enough.
“My dad used to say, ‘Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative,’ ” Biden said at a recent Democratic event. “This November, you have to choose to be a nation of hope, unity and optimism— or a nation of fear, division and darkness.”
…Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster and president of North Star Opinion Research, agreed that the GOP strategy of making the election a referendum on Biden has been complicated by the Dobbs decision. Women have since registered to vote in record numbers, Ayres said, and nearly a dozen Republican-led states have enacted highly unpopular laws that ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest.
Ayres also cited Trump’s looming presence, as well as the emergence of several inexperienced Republican nominees, especially for Senate. “Definition of the midterms has become more challenging because of those factors,” Ayres said. “Those three things have made the playing field substantially more level than it was in the spring.”
A memo to GOP candidates from the Republican National Committee earlier this month urged them to “finish their sentences” on rising costs and increased crime to communicate that Biden is the one at fault, acknowledging that voters, for example, do not always connect “soft-on-crime” policies with Democrats.
The memo also conceded that four-fifths of voters were “not pleased” with the Dobbs decision. On the other hand, it said education was potentially a winning issue for the GOP, as Republicans criticize covid-related school closures and what they describe as politicized school curriculums.
While Democratic strategists are optimistic that their new messaging can help boost their fortunes, they acknowledge that the country’s economic struggles still present a big problem for the party.
“The area where Republicans have the most significant advantage right now is on the economy, and we have to attempt politically to close the gap with Republicans on the economy,” said Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg.
He added, “If we could do one more thing on this election, we could get the economic approval of Democrats up.”
That said, here are FiveThirtyEight’s predictions in some of the most competitive races in the country, starting in Alaska, where they see a first round landslide against Sarah Palin— Mary Peltola winning 47.4% against Palin’s 25.0%. That means a ranked choice decision, which will probably give Peltola a full term. These are their dozen closest races… although keep in mind that they have a terrible record for predicting races until the day after the election. Example: 538 predicted right-wing fake Democrat Josh Lafazan would be the next congressman from the North Shore of Long Island. Instead, he came in third in the primary with 20.0% and is hoping to get a refund for his facial reconstruction.
AZ-01- Tom O’Halleran (D)- 50.0%, Eli Crain (R)- 50.0%
VA-02- Elaine Luria (D)- 50.0%, Jen Kiggans (R)- 50.0%
NY-19- Marcus Molinaro (R)- 50.0%, Josh Riley (D)- 50.0%
NY-22- Francis Conole (D)- 50.1%, Brandon Williams (R)- 49.9%
PA-07- Lisa Scheller (R)- 50.2%, Susan Wild (D)- 49.8%
IA-03- Zach Nunn (R)- 50.2%, Cindy Axne (D)- 49.8%
CA-27- Mike Garcia (R)- 50.2%, Christie Smith (D)- 49.8%
OR-05- Lori Chavez DeRemer (R)- 50.3%, Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D)- 49.7%
CA-22- Rudy Salas (D)- 50.4%, David Valadao (R)- 49.6%
NM-02- Yvette Herrell (R)- 50.5%, Gabriel Vasquez (D)- 49.5%
TX-15- Michelle Vallejo (D)- 48.9%, Monica De La Cruz (47.8%)
KS-03- Sharice Davids (D)- 49.0%, Amanda Adkins (R)- 47.9%)