12 days until the November 8 midterm elections. What do we know?

By Dave Andrusko

We know that stories emphasizing all-out Democrat panic are likely both true and an attempt by abortion partisans to energize their constituency. Spoiler alert. The news is devastating to Democrats.

For example, the headline to the Washington Post’s Annie Linskey’s story reads

Democrats scramble into defensive posture in final stage of midterms: Less than two weeks before the midterm elections, Democrats are trying to shore up the party’s candidates as Republicans charge deeper into their terrain. 

But that pales in comparison to the headline of today’s story in the USA Today written by Susan Page and Sarah Elbeshbishi:

Exclusive Poll: Republican support rises ahead of Election Day, with inflation driving voters

The subhead reinforces a point we have made over and over and over again:

After SCOTUS reversed Roe v. Wade, some Democrats thought the issue would disrupt typical midterm factors like views of the economy. But the new poll shows many voters going back to basics.

There is so much information in just these two stories that we could write page after page. Please allow me to highlight what is most essential.

#1. Page and Elbeshbishi lead with “Republicans are resurgent as the midterm campaign heads into its final stretch, an exclusive USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds, amid angst about President Joe Biden’s leadership and the nation’s economy.

“As Americans feel the bite of inflation in their daily lives, from eating out less often to canceling vacations, voters overwhelmingly view the election as a way to send a message to the White House – and by double digits, that message is to change course.”…

“But the new poll shows much of midterm politics going back to basics. On a list of seven issues, 37% chose the economy/inflation as the most important issue determining their vote. Abortion, which ranks second, was cited by half that number, 18%.”

#2. What about the famous generic vote which asks respondents which party they intend to vote for (no names are mentioned)?

Republicans lead “by 49%-45%, a turnaround since the USA TODAY poll taken in July, when Democrats led 44%-40%. The findings stoke GOP hopes of gaining control of the House of Representatives in the Nov. 8 elections, and with that, new powers to confront the Democratic White House.”

#3. Dems losing core constituencies. Deep concern over inflation –“and the feeling that the White House hasn’t done enough to address it – is helping Republicans score significant inroads among Hispanic and Black voters, both demographic groups that Democrats have long relied on for support. Now 40% of Hispanics and 21% of Blacks are backing the Republican candidate.”

#4. The tide is so unrelenting that Democrats are forced to spend inordinate amounts of money on what were thought to be safe  seats.Annie Linskey explains.

Less than two weeks before the midterm elections, Democrats have moved into a defensive crouch, scrambling to shore up the party’s candidates as Republicans charge deeper into their terrain. The scope of their challenge has come into sharper focus in the past 48 hours, when much of the attention in the party has been on protecting swaths of the country where Democrats have long enjoyed more support.

#5. There has been a real backlash among some Democrat elders, who argue the emphasis on abortion has been counterproductive.

“On Politics War Room podcast this morning, Al Hunt said to James Carville ‘things aren’t looking great for Democrats, but is there something you can point at to give me hope?’, and Carville simply responded ‘I can’t.’”

Like other Democratic strategists, [Craig] Varoga said he worried his party put too much emphasis on abortion over the summer and should have more aggressively made it part of a broader argument that Republicans oppose personal freedom. “Politics is hard work. It’s like personal wellness — you can’t rely on one thing to fix everything,” he said.

#6. No story about politics today could ignore the catastrophic performance by John Fetterman in his debate against Dr. Mehmet Oz.

In Pennsylvania on Wednesday, some Democrats were less upbeat, hoping to turn the page from the only debate between Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz. The two clashed on Tuesday over policy issues in an hour-long showdown in which Fetterman often stumbled over his words and struggled with the rapid-fire format of questions and answers.

“It was going to be difficult for him in any situation,” said Larry Ceisler, a Democratic public affairs executive in Philadelphia. “He was like a boxer who could not defend himself against a smooth ring veteran. It was an unfair fight.”