By Dave Andrusko
A week from Tuesday, and we will know a great deal about the future of our politics. Personally, I can’t wait.
Lots and lots and lots going on. Let’s begin with Noah Rothman and “A Total Collapse of Democratic Morale”:
Do debates matter? The wisdom handed down to us from America’s political science departments maintains that the answer is not really. All that accumulated wisdom went right out the window in the wake of Tuesday night’s U.S. Senate debate in Pennsylvania. The shock of John Fetterman’s performance seems to have accelerated what was already a building sense of resignation among Democratic political professionals. If morale in the party’s trenches was low before that debate, it has all but collapsed since.
No one wants to be accused of piling up. However, it is obvious that Lt. Governor Fetterman has not recovered from his stroke.
The irony is, according to Rothman, how quickly things have changed:
As recently as October 3, New York Times analyst Nate Cohn devoted serious attention to the notion that Democrats could retain control of both the Senate and the House in November.
It was a false dawn. The hope that Democrats inculcated in their compatriots has turned to ashes in their mouths. It would have been less psychologically devastating had they never had any hopes for 2022 at all. But now that all seems lost, the party has succumbed to melancholy. And who knows? Maybe Democratic voters aren’t as discouraged as their party believes them to be. But the consensus seems to be that an abject disaster is imminent.
This isn’t because of one disastrous debate performance. The primary explanation is that Democrats were lulled into believing that last June’s overturning of Roe v. Wade was a kind of magic bullet, a panacea that would allow them to avoid paying the price for runaway inflation, an escalation in interest rates, and a total lack of confidence in the future: only 26% believe the country is headed in the right direction.
Let’s run through some of the data. Rasmussen Reports tells us “Republicans have a seven-point lead in their bid to recapture control of Congress,” referring to the GOP’s lead in the generic vote. The 49-42 advantage among likely voters is a three point increase from last week.
The Republican’s advantage “is due mainly to an 18-point advantage among independent voters,” Rasmussen tells us today. In addition “Fifty-five percent (55%) of whites, 25% of black voters and 44% of other minorities would vote Republican if the election were held today.”
A potentially crippling blow for Democrats is apathy among young people and a resulting turnout far lower than 2020. Politico’s Jessica Piper writes
Add this to the list of Democratic worries ahead of the midterms: Younger voters — a cornerstone of the party’s electoral coalition — make up a smaller share of early and absentee voters so far than they did in 2020.
More than 15 million voters have already cast their midterm ballots, according to the United States Elections Project. But young voters have contributed to a smaller fraction of that turnout compared to this time two years ago, according to interviews and a POLITICO analysis of voter data.
That’s just for starters. The headline for Politico’s Holly Otterbein and Elena Schneider story is “Democrats growing anxious — again — over Black turnout: Democratic strategists worry the party isn’t doing enough to motivate Black voters.”
If Black turnout were to fall this year, they write, “it would seriously complicate — if not eviscerate — Democrats’ path to victory in hotly contested gubernatorial and Senate races across the country, including Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan and Wisconsin. In a poll by POLITICO-Morning Consult released last week, just 25 percent of Black registered voters described themselves as ‘extremely enthusiastic’ about voting in this election, compared to about 37 percent of white voters and 35 percent of Hispanic voters.”
One other important metric: With a few exceptions, Democrats cannot call in a president with approval ratings bouncing between 39% and 45% to campaign for them. “Election anxiety creeps inside the White House: Despite the mounting fears, the president is keeping to a small footprint on the trail,” reports Politico’s Jonathan Lemire.
His first two paragraphs summarize the dilemma:
Despite public displays of confidence, anxiety is growing within the White House and allied Democrats that Republicans will capture at least one chamber of Congress and possibly both.
But even with those fears, President Joe Biden plans to remain largely on the sidelines during the race’s final fortnight.
You can be sure that there will be plenty of activity over the weekend. NRL News Today will bring you up to date on Monday.