Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren’t guarantees of midterm failure

President Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) arrive to the Mansfield Room to speak to family of the late Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as he lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday, January 12, 2022.
Greg Nash

It could be the dark night before the dawn of a bright new day for Democrats. But if dawn doesn’t break over the horizon by spring, Democrats will be in big trouble in the fall.

The danger signs are as clear as the azure blue water off a Caribbean beach. Democrats who ignore the peril are simply whistling past the graveyard. More than half of the public disapproves of President Biden’s performance and most Americans feel the country is moving in the wrong direction.

The most troubling sign of Democratic decline comes from Gallup. At the start of 2021, Democrats had a 9-point edge in partisan identification. By the end of the year, Republicans enjoyed a 5 percent edge.

Poll-driven predictions of disaster are not guarantees of Democratic failure. The president and congressional Democrats still have time to turn things around. We’re still in the first quarter of election year and there’ll be lots of twists and turns before the buzzer sounds at the end of the fourth quarter. 

To win the midterms, Democrats need to highlight Biden’s accomplishments, hold Republicans accountable for their contributions to the nation’s woes and erect a firewall between national GOP transgressions and democracy at the state level.

The best predictor of a party’s performance in midterm elections is the president’s job rating. Biden’s approval rating according to the Real Clear Politics rolling average is currently 41 percent. Democrats will be in a much better position once it gets over 50 percent.

In only one year, the president has fought successfully for principles that Americans hold dear. He’s already undone much of the damage that former president Donald Trump did to the economy. Biden has brought back more than 6 million of the jobs that his predecessor killed during his reign and unemployment has dropped from 6.2 percent under Trump to 4.6 percent.

In his first year in office, Biden has persuaded Congress to pass two significant laws, The American Rescue Act and the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that started the nation on the road to recovery after the devastating four years of Trump’s term. 

The list of the president’s accomplishments is not complete without a litany of Republican failures. To win the midterms, Democrats must be much more aggressive in calling out Republican responsibility for the problems facing the United States.

The best way to understand the nature of popular distress is to watch the nightly half-hour horror show, also known as nightly network news. In 30 short minutes, you can get more than your fill of omicron outbreaks, the aftermath of deadly natural disasters and gas pump sticker shock.

Opposition to the president’s agenda has kneecapped his efforts to deal with all these problems. Every single Republican member of Congress voted against the American Rescue Act which provided almost $2 trillion for state and local governments to fight the deadly effects of the COVID-19 epidemic.

A successful fight against the pandemic is the key to a vibrant economy. The GOP’s reluctance to aggressively fight the pandemic has put a lid on a remarkable economic recovery under the president after a disastrous decline during the Trump years.

Republicans are unanimously opposed to Biden’s big and bold Build Back Better bill. The proposal would create even more jobs, fight inflation with financial assistance to hard working families burdened by corporate price gouging and attack climate change responsible for the trail of devastation, death and destruction that weather disasters have swept across the United States.

This week, all 50 Republican senators supported keeping the Senate filibuster, which will deny many American citizens of the right to vote by blocking the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The death of voting rights maybe a done deal, but the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is using the vote to put Republicans on the spot. 

He should conduct the same exercise with votes on the most popular parts of Biden’s Build Back Better bill and allow Republicans to show their true colors when they vote against cheaper insulin prices and Medicare coverage for dental, eye and hearing care.

The final plank in the Democratic strategic platform for the midterms is an effort to build a firewall between right-wing extremists in Washington D.C. and friends of civil liberty in the states.

Republicans in Congress have thwarted the president’s efforts to preserve voting rights, meanwhile the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to end a woman’s right to legally and safely access abortion. A strong Democratic commitment to fight these threats will help generate turnout among the party faithful in November.

The last line of defense against right-wing efforts to turn back the clock in America is the election of more Democratic governors. Fortunately, notable Democratic candidates like Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Beto O’Rourke in Texas have stepped up to the plate to take on Trump acolytes and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Gov. Greg Abbott.

None of this will come easily for Democrats but the tough get going when the going gets tough. The president and congressional Democrats must demonstrate a firm resolve and work closely together to focus voters on their many successes and highlight Republican obstruction.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, “Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon,” airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter: @BradBannon

Tags Brad Bannon Brian Kemp Chuck Schumer Democrats Donald Trump economy Greg Abbott Jobs Joe Biden John Lewis Midterms elections Republicans White House

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