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State Democratic Party leaders around the country are bracing for the worst possible scenarios next November: Midterm elections that not only see a House blowout but also loss of the Senate, though seeing Republicans take either chamber would effectively make President Joe Biden a two-year lame duck.
“Democratic Party leaders moved quietly this week to lower expectations for the midterm elections as they met for year-end talks against the backdrop of an increasingly bleak electoral landscape,” Politico noted on Saturday, adding:
Interviews with more than two dozen state party chairs, executive directors and strategists suggest party officials are reframing the 2022 election as a defensive effort, with success defined as maintaining the Democratic Senate majority and holding back a Republican tide in the House.
“Success looks like we hold the Senate and we hold the House, or we narrowly lose it, so if Republicans take control, it’s a razor-thin margin,” Colmon Elridge, the chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party, told Politico.
“I would hope [the Republican margin in the House] is less than 20,” he noted further.
Democrats were meeting in Charleston, S.C., to plot strategy and take stock of the political landscape, the outlet noted, which, by the way, looks increasingly dismal. Biden’s approval ratings are tanking, Vice President Harris’ approval is worse, and while the economy is chugging along, inflation continues to rise, cutting into Americans’ increased wages and hurting the lowest earners the most.
Meanwhile, though Democrats managed to pass multitrillion-dollar infrastructure and COVID relief measures this year, Sen. Joe Biden, D-W. Va., has tanked (for now) the biggest prize for the left: Biden’s gargantuan “Build Back Better” legislation that contains a tidal wave of new social and climate spending, after announcing Sunday he’s not for it.
“If Democrats can keep the chamber close enough, they believe they can make a credible run at the majority again two years later, when a presidential election year could make conditions for the party more favorable,” Politico reported, noting that the party’s strategy is to keep the House and Senate as close as possible and set up the party for 2024.
But, Politico noted, the mood in Charleston wasn’t positive among many Democrats:
At the Charleston Marriott, where Democrats met for training, presentations and receptions, one state party chair called the midterm prospects “awful.” Another state party chair said, “I don’t see any way we keep the House.” And one strategist said, “If we’re in the 10 to 20 [loss of House seats] range, that will be better than we thought.”
“I’m scared,” noted Peg Schaffer, vice-chair of the Democratic Party in New Jersey, whose Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, won reelection this year, but the race was much closer than expected (and a GOP newbie truck driver unseated the long-serving Democratic Senate leader). “We need to get the vote out, and in the midterms, it’s hard.”
Oh, and there’s COVID-19, the “Omicron Variant.”
“Omicron is going to lead to a surge in January, which is undoubtedly going to depress people,” said Karl Sandstrom, a campaign finance lawyer working with Democrats.
Still, some held out hope for a favorable result next year.
“If we could get the Build Back Better plan passed and get a strong voting rights bill passed, Democrats will have a strong possibility of at least keeping the Senate,” Hendrell Remus, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, told Politico.
“It’s tough. It’s a tough reality,” he said.
That’s for certain, as Manchin made clear during a “Fox News Sunday” appearance.
“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation, I just can’t. I tried everything humanly possible, I can’t get there” he said to host Bret Baier.
Back in Charleston, while some state party leaders continued to sound upbeat, others saw a different reality.
“Asked about the party’s prospects next year, one state party’s executive director shook his head and said, ‘Let’s get a drink,'” Politico reported.