OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Democratic strategists are declaring that the party’s “entire brand” is in shambles — a “wreck” — as evidenced by recent key electoral losses in Virginia and elsewhere.
The realization comes even after the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill that many of the same strategists thought would repair the party’s image, as well as bolster President Joe Biden’s sagging approval ratings, neither of which has yet to happen.
Worse, recent focus groups found that even voters who cast ballots for Biden have no idea what the party really stands for.
In the days after the Democratic Party’s collapse in the Virginia governor’s race, party strategists descended on the commonwealth to figure out what went wrong and understand just how bad the national outlook might be next year.
What they discovered, largely through focus groups and polling, was even worse than expected. The problems cut far deeper than the failings of their gubernatorial nominee, Terry McAuliffe, or President Joe Biden’s flagging approval ratings. Rather, the Democratic Party’s entire brand was a wreck.
“Voters couldn’t name anything that Democrats had done, except a few who said we passed the infrastructure bill,” the center-left group Third Way and its pollsters said in a report, obtained first by POLITICO, on focus groups they ran in Virginia.
Recent polling has found that approval ratings for both Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, have cratered in recent months.
“A year before the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans hold a clear lead on the congressional ballot as President Joe Biden’s approval rating sinks to a new low of 38%,” USA Today reported earlier this month, adding that Harris’ approval rating is worse: Just 28%.
Noted USA Features News, “The paper claimed that with Friday’s passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a better-than-expected jobs report for October, that Biden and Harris, as well as Democrats in general, are “poised” to recover.
“But the survey is also likely reflective of the fact that Americans are paying more for virtually everything, the southern border is a mess, there is an ongoing supply chain crisis, and left-wing agendas are permeating public schools,” the outlet continued.
“Also, last week’s elections saw historic gains for Republicans in traditionally blue states like New Jersey, Virginia, and New York,” the report continued.
As for the Third Way, officials said most suburban Virginia voters who participated in focus groups “could not articulate what Democrats stand for. They could also not say what they are doing in Washington, besides fighting.”
The revelations come amid growing expectations among party strategists that Republicans are nearly a shoo-in to win back the House next year and, quite possibly, the Senate. Winning the House alone will thwart Biden’s and Democrats’ agenda, but taking control of the Senate will also prevent the worst of Biden’s judicial nominees from getting a lifetime appointment to the federal bench and/or the Supreme Court.
Also, despite the fact that the House last week advanced Biden’s massively expensive “Build Back Better” bill filled with trillions in social and climate spending, one Democrat strategist who advises big donors declared, “Too late. We’re f**ked.”
“Generic ballot tests, pitting unnamed Republican candidates against unnamed Democrats, are also shifting in the GOP’s favor. More than 6 in 10 Americans say things generally are off on the wrong track, and similar majorities rate the state of the economy as bad,” Politico reported further, citing recent surveys and data.
“Voters believe the economy is bad, and no amount of stats can change their mind (at least in the short term),” said the Third Way report. “Jobs numbers, wage numbers, and the number of people we’ve put back to work don’t move them.
“We should still talk about these (more the wage and back-to-work numbers), but we should realize that they will have limited impact when people are seeing help wanted signs all over main street, restaurant sections closed for lack of workers, rising prices, and supply disruptions. Even where things are getting better, Biden doesn’t get credit,” the report added.
According to Third Way’s Matt Bennett: “It’s not great news. Any [focus group] report that starts out, ‘Our weak national brand left us vulnerable’ is not great news.”