During a closed-door lunch last week with some of its most vulnerable incumbents, the House Democrats’ campaign leader issued a blunt warning: if the midterm elections are held now, they would lose the majority.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney followed this grim prediction, which was confirmed by several people familiar with the conversation, with a new poll that showed Democrats were half a dozen points behind Republicans in “A generic ballot in the battlefield districts. Maloney advised the party to correct course before 2022 by doing more to promote President Joe Biden’s platform, which remains popular with swing voters.”
What it says, in a nutshell, is this: Democrats are losing the message war.
“How do Democrats win in places like North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and Georgia? former South Carolina governor Jim Hodges asked in an interview late last month. “The circus has left Washington and Biden has already cleaned up the mess. I don’t know why Democratic candidates would stray from that message – especially in the Purple States.”
The problem for Democrats is that they are in the midst of a power struggle between the younger and much more liberal militant wing of their party and the more posed, moderate, and establishment types.
Tuesday provided a perfect illustration of this ongoing struggle.
The two camps fighting for the future control of the party could then rightly claim an important victory on their side on Tuesday. And while President Joe Biden is quite clearly a type of establishment, many other leading party voices – the senses. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – are on the liberal and militant side of the party.
Maloney and other prominent Democrats suggest talking more about the economy – through Biden’s lens and what he and his administration are doing to help voters recover from the massive downturn triggered by the pandemic – is the recipe of what afflicts the party message.
The question is whether Maloney (or any other Democratic leader) can convince the liberal end of the Democratic caucus of this fact.