Five ways Democrats could prevail in November: columnist
Midterm elections have been historically unkind to the incumbent majority party. Democrats currently control, albeit narrowly, the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and the White House. Past trends indicate that Republicans should be poised to reclaim power in one or both chambers of Congress in November.
The American political climate in 2022 is unlike any that has come before, however. On Tuesday, Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman wondered whether this year's complex dynamics could give the Democratic Party an edge.
Waldman laid out five factors that he believes have the potential to upend tradition.
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The GOP's descent into zealotry encompasses the first three of Waldman's points.
"Right now the GOP is gripped by two forces that are distinct but operate in concert: an ideological extremism born of backlash politics, and an opposition to democracy that increasingly manifests in outright lunacy. While that’s just what many Republicans want, it also could alienate voters in the middle and motivate Democrats to vote," Waldman wrote.
Voters, Waldman said, may be inclined to reject right-wing policies because they are so far detached from the mainstream. This sentiment carries over into the slate of controversial hopefuls that clawed their way through primary contests.
The GOP "has nominated a number of weak or problematic candidates. No one exemplifies that more than Herschel Walker in Georgia, whose campaign has been a string of embarrassing revelations, ridiculous lies and comical policy faceplants," Waldman explained. "Other candidates are underperforming as well, including J.D. Vance in Ohio, whose fundraising has been weak and who is polling even with Rep. Tim Ryan in a state Donald Trump won by 8 points in 2020. In the end, one or two poor candidates could make the difference."
Furthermore, Waldman continued, the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe versus Wade "has not only angered Democrats, but also produced a wave of national news about state-level Republicans devising evermore draconian abortion laws, and the horrific effects those laws are already having. Combined with other unpopular court decisions, this could move independent voters away from Republicans while motivating Democrats to turn out."
Waldman's fourth component of a Democratic upset is the economy and its unpredictability.
"No one, not even the best-trained economist, really knows what it will look like a few months from now. The Federal Reserve is poised to continue hiking interest rates, which could produce a recession. On the other hand, job creation has been spectacular during Biden’s presidency," he stressed.
But the biggest element – and the final thread in Waldman's piece – is former President Donald Trump.
"It has become clear that Trump intends to run for president in 2024, and the more he’s in the news — holding rallies, shouting paranoid election fantasies, indulging in childish whining — the better it could be for Democrats. He lost in 2018, he lost in 2020 and he could help Republicans lose again in 2022," Waldman stated, adding that the Trump effect could supersede Biden's abysmal job approval ratings.
Waldman then noted that past unexpected events are worth considering as well, recalling that "in 1998, voters recoiled from Republicans’ impeachment of President Bill Clinton. In 2002 the public was still gripped by the shock of Sept. 11 and war fever amid the imminent invasion of Iraq."
Nonetheless, Waldman concluded that "if the chaos of our current politics shows one thing, it’s that while history is an important guide, anything could happen."
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