Monday, August 09, 2021

Stacked Deck

In their "Breaking Points" podcast, Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti feature an August 3 Politico article which noted that Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) followed that bleak forecast, which was confirmed by multiple people familiar with the conversation, with new polling that showed Democrats falling behind Republicans by a half-dozen points on a generic ballot in battleground districts. Maloney advised the party to course-correct ahead of 2022 by doing more to promote President Joe Biden’s agenda, which remains popular with swing voters.

The polling was commissioned by the DCCC itself, which suggests the Democratic Party is even further behind, as Enjeti noted.  He maintained that Republicans are poised to take control of the House of Representatives with "all culture war all the time"- pandemic restrictions; a "defund the police" message amidst a soaring murder rate; critical race theory; immigration. Enjeti cited a bad "optimism number" among the American people, and co-host Ball pointed out that the out party typically loses congressional seats in an off-year election, with GOP gerrymandering another obstacle to overcome.

Democrats don't seem to understand that those culture war factors are critical, as Politico adds

A Democratic messaging blitz this month on Biden's priorities is set to get help from a White House communications war room that will activate while members are back in their districts. Around the country, Biden’s Cabinet is being dispatched to talk up jobs and infrastructure in swing districts in states such as Iowa, New York and New Jersey.

But "jobs and infrastructure" won't be enough.  Politico identifies Democrats' "strong tool in their arsenal" as that

Much of Biden’s agenda polls strongly, including the party’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill that included aid for small businesses as well as huge safety net expansions.

The problem, congressional Democrats say, is making sure they get the credit.

If the bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed and signed into law without the reconciliation bill, the legislation the Administration and its surrogates tout as the President's major accomplishment will be a bill passed with bipartisan support. The White House will crow about the President's success at "reaching across the aisle" working with Republicans.

It would be a replay of the 2020 presidential election/congressional elections. Democrats were able to retake the Senate only because President Trump's campaigning there backfired, as it was likely to do.  Still, the Democratic senatorial candidates in Georgia barely won and a Senate majority effected only with the vice-president's vote. Democrats were expected to gain many seats in the House and instead suffered a net loss of ten.

By contrast, Joe Biden had defeated Donald Trump with voters opting for the Democrat touting his bipartisan bonafides and predicting that the GOP "fever" would subside if he were elected. Why not, voters concluded, vote for Biden and for Republicans down the ballot if it would bring about comity in government? They could have their cake and eat it, too. Kumbaya, my Lord.

Those culture war issues will be difficult to overcome. Congressional Democrats must continue demanding that the bipartisan infrastructure bill be enacted only with the bolder, more meaningful, Democratic reconciliation bill, which in the Senate would need only 50 votes for approval .  Otherwise, voters are likely to conclude once again that the combination of President Biden and a Republican Congress is the perfect ticket.


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