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Opinion | Democrats remain clueless on how to prepare for the midterms – The Washington Post

House Democrats’ campaign arm released a memo on Monday detailing how they think they can retain control after next year’s midterms. If this is the best they can come up with, Republicans will win in a landslide.
The memo is simply a warmed-over rehash of what Democrats were saying before they got hit hard in this month’s elections. The plan is to double down on their aggressive agenda rather than curtail their ambitions in the face of public rejection. They tout their soon-to-be-passed Build Back Better plan as a salve for what ails America and contend that Democrats should also promote the covid-19 stimulus plan and the recently passed infrastructure bill. Left unexamined is why Americans in blue states and counties everywhere sharply turned against Team Blue on Election Day despite these legislative efforts.
This Democratic message amounts to pandering to the base rather than talking to swing voters. Democratic voters clearly place high priority on fighting covid-19, support the infrastructure deal and want as large a social spending package as can be pushed through Congress. There’s absolutely no evidence, on the other hand, that independents prioritize any of this. Yes, there are polls that show many of these plans are superficially popular — although the sheer size of the cumulative spending does concern many independents. But that’s a far cry from making these items political priorities.
Instead, independent voters seem to care more about things Republicans are talking about, such as fighting inflation and combating rising crime. They are upset that illegal immigration is at record highs, with scenes of chaos along the southern border erupting on a regular basis. And they are concerned that America’s positive qualities are being denigrated in the legitimate quest toward racial equality and harmony. None of this is what Democrats want to hear, but simply plugging one’s ears in response is sheer madness.
True to form, the Democratic memo does respond indirectly to these concerns by propounding the lie that Republicans are an antidemocratic cabal filled with crazy conspiracy theorists. This is nuts. Yes, there are extreme elements within the GOP, as there are within the Democratic Party. But voters can distinguish good apples from the bad. Democratic efforts in Virginia to taint Republican Glenn Youngkin with the charges that he is dangerously weak on combating covid-19 or a stooge for former president Donald Trump fell flat, as did similar campaign efforts in Pennsylvania. If Democrats really believe they can convince independents that normal Republicans are closeted lunatics, they’re the ones not in touch with reality.
The trouble besetting the Democratic Party is shockingly simple to diagnose. It beat Trump because many independents could not abide his antics and character. But Democrats nearly lost the House, against all predictions, because some of those centrists voted for Republicans despite their ire for Trump. The Democrats’ electoral majority, then, contained many non-Democrats who voted against someone they hated rather than for a party they endorsed.
This should have been a clue for Democrats to try to bind these new, rented Democratic voters more tightly to their party. That would have meant following the agendas of Democratic governors in swing states, which were primarily incremental in their shifts leftward. Instead, Democrats, with President Biden in the lead, are debating how far and how quickly to push America in their direction. This is simply not what independents voted for last November. Their misgivings have been intensified by the rising inflation that the administration has consistently and spectacularly been wrong about. It should not surprise anyone that voters who see their priorities ignored will support a party that seems to be listening to them.
Democrats remain publicly blind to this reality. The most recent Post-ABC poll showed Republicans ahead by 10 points in the generic congressional ballot, the largest GOP lead in the 40-year history of the poll. Other recent polls show Republicans ahead by seven or eight points, and the RealClearPolitics generic ballot average shows the GOP in the lead. Democrats were ahead in the generic ballot on this date in 2009, roughly a year before the epic 2010 tsunami that cost them 63 House seats and six Senate seats. If past is prologue, Democrats could be looking at an even worse shellacking next year.
Democrats back then responded to the polls by going full speed ahead and passing Obamacare, leading to the historic debacle. The memo suggests Democrats will follow the same course this year and hope for different results. That this is the definition of insanity should make House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) happy indeed.
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