The Democratic Party’s deterioration is shattering hope for the midterms
The Democratic Party has lost sight of how to build a broad-based coalition, and as a result, is finding itself in an increasingly unelectable and unsustainable position, new polling by Schoen-Cooperman Research shows.
Indeed, our firm’s survey among likely 2022 midterm election voters finds that the Democrats’ political prospects are significantly deteriorating. If the Democratic Party continues down its current ill-fated path of embracing progressive policies while overlooking manifest political realities, we will almost certainly see a landslide G.O.P. victory in 2022.
Voters have grown wary of a Democratic Party that they feel is both ineffective at governing and more attuned to their own priorities than to the concerns of the broader American electorate, our data collectively shows. This is a prevalent overarching sentiment among Independents, a decisive voting bloc, and surprisingly, among a sizeable number of Democrats.
Two-thirds of likely voters overall (66 percent) – including strong majorities of Independents (63 percent) and Democrats (59 percent) —agree that President Biden and national Democrats are not only “out-of-touch with hardworking Americans,” but moreover, that they “have been so focused on passing their own agenda that they’ve been ignoring Americans’ day-to-day concerns, such as the rising prices for goods and gasoline.”
Voters also believe that Biden has not been paying enough attention to the country’s most important problems (53 percent), rather than having the right priorities (38 percent). This assessment is even more prevalent among Independents, 58 percent of whom say Biden has not paid enough attention to the most important problems, versus just 27 percent who say the opposite.
To that end, there is an overwhelming sense that Biden is underperforming on important issues and in key roles and that Democrats are to blame for major crises. Consequently, a majority of voters (51 percent) disapprove of Biden’s overall job performance as president, while 46 percent approve.
As inflation has soared, the economy has become a particular area of vulnerability for Biden and Democrats. A majority of voters now believe that Biden’s economic policies have weakened (52 percent) rather than strengthened (36 percent) the U.S. economy.
Further, 71 percent of voters at least partially blame the Biden administration’s policies for rising inflation — including 79 percent of Independents and nearly one-half (46 percent) of Democrats. And between the two parties, voters overall blame Democrats (48 percent) rather than Republicans (31 percent) for inflation.
Additionally, Democrats trail on another key issue of importance: immigration and controlling the surge of migrants at the Southern U.S. border. Six in 10 voters disapprove of Biden’s management of immigration at the border (60 percent) and a majority of voters also blame Democrats (55 percent) rather than Republicans (22 percent) for the crisis.
And as violent crime surges in many parts of the country — a trend that 89 percent of voters are concerned about — nearly one-half of voters blame Democrats (48 percent), while just 27 percent blame Republicans. Strong majorities also agree that Biden and Democrats are soft on crime (69 percent) and overwhelmingly disapprove (62 percent) of the defund the police movement on the left.
Furthermore, on one of Biden’s core campaign promises — unifying the country — a majority of voters disapprove of the president’s performance (54 percent). Biden’s policies are also seen as more divisive (46 percent) rather than more unifying (38 percent).
Ultimately, our data paints a clear picture of a Democratic Party that no longer knows how to connect with voters absent Donald Trump or a Trump-like foe. As a result, we are seeing a demonstrable pro-Republican trend.
Voters’ preference for party control of the House has swung five points in the G.O.P.’s favor since our national poll in August. By a three-point margin, voters now would prefer to see Republicans (46 percent) rather than Democrats (43 percent) control the House. In August, voters preferred Democratic control by two points (46 percent to 44 percent).
The generic congressional vote has also swung three points in the G.O.P.’s favor. Republicans now lead Democrats by two points (45 percent to 43 percent) in the generic ballot — whereas, in August, Democrats held a one point lead (45 percent to 44 percent). Additionally, when factoring in respondents who are initially undecided but are leaning toward voting for one party, the G.O.P.’s generic vote lead grows to three points (48 percent to 45 percent).
To be sure, Republicans beating Democrats by a margin of just two or three points overall would likely be enough for the G.O.P. to take back the House, given Democrats’ narrow majority as well as the anticipated outcomes of redistricting processes in several states with key races.
The trends that we’ve isolated in our poll — which are corroborated in other public polling — send a resounding message to national Democrats: Find your way back to moderate policies and “kitchen table issues,” or suffer potentially one of the greatest midterm losses of any party in recent history.
Most importantly, Democrats should embrace a more restrained approach to spending that does not involve tax increases, though does include precise and targeted cuts and aid for working people.
Beyond that, the party needs to recognize that voters want a limited and focused amount of government that delivers targeted and practical economic and social policies — stronger borders, fiscally responsible welfare expansion and reasonable climate policies.
Without such a course correction, Democrats are almost certain to be brought down by Republicans in 2022 and 2024 and may find themselves in the minority in Congress for years to come.
Douglas E. Schoen and Carly Cooperman are pollsters and partners with the public opinion company Schoen Cooperman Research based in New York. They are co-authors of the forthcoming book, “America: Unite or Die.”