Few pundits are giving the Democrats any chance of holding the House of Representatives or clinging to the narrowest of leads in the Senate as a result of the 2022 midterms. There are significant reasons for the long odds.
One, history is not on the Democrats’ side. The party that controls the White House almost always loses seats in the midterms regardless of how the president is polling. It makes no sense, but that’s just the way it happens. Secondly, with most states controlled by Republican legislatures, gerrymandering congressional districts will give the GOP a significant boost. They know this, and they act like they are playing with house money.
Furthermore, with COVID-19 still attacking our bodies and the economy in whiplash mode depending on how the pandemic plays out between now and next November, the uncertainty will clearly be blamed on Democrats and the Biden administration. Again, it makes no sense but that’s how it goes.
And with McConnell-led Republican obstructionism in full swing and two Democratic senators who are loath to change the filibuster rules, Biden’s agenda will have hit a brick wall, so the GOP will point out the failures of this administration to accomplish anything.
Then there is the decrease in turnout by voters of the party who controls the White House.
Despite these daunting headwinds, the Democrats still have a chance of not only holding the House but gaining seats in the Senate. There is one thing that’s going to help them in this unlikely quest that no amount of fundraising or good fortune from the economy could ever do: their Republican opponents.
The Republican Party is tethered to Donald Trump and Trumpism and the Big Lie about the November 2020 election that led to a violent and deadly insurrection on January 6 in an attempt to overturn the election results.
To be sure, gerrymandering could be a potent obstacle to success, but the Republican Party has not added new voters to their flock. In fact, many have taken flight from the GOP principally because of the Big Lie that continues to be perpetrated by Trump and his acolytes and the horrors of January 6. Control of the House will be determined by suburban voters in swing districts, and they are not too thrilled with the Republican Party writ large. Voter suppression laws passed by Republicans are not helping their image either.
The more Trump dangles his interest in running again for president in 2024, the more it will help Democrats across the board. Not only is a majority of people around the country disgusted by Trump’s clear incitement of the riots at the Capitol and his failure to do anything to quell the violence as he joyfully watched the events unfold on TV, they are sickened by a Republican Party whereby a vast majority of Congressmen opposed the certification of a free and fair election.
Moreover, McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate blocked a bipartisan commission to look into the run-up of January 6, what transpired, who may have coordinated the attacks and how such an episode could be prevented in the future. They obviously don’t want the truth to come out because all roads will likely lead to Trump, at least that’s what they fear. Trump is still the top dog of the GOP until such time he is indicted as a result of the multiple investigations still underway.
In the meantime, Democrats will benefit from the fact Republican candidates will be primaried by Trump-light crazies who will do anything to receive his endorsement. The MAGA base will turn out for these clowns and send them to the general election.
Keep in mind, at no time did Trump ever break 49 percent approval during his term in office. After January 6, it plummeted to 29 percent. Republicans just don’t get it. Trump is only popular among his shrinking base and nowhere else—not independents, not suburban Republican voters and certainly not Democrats. Thus, placating Trump to head to a general election with Trump-like candidates is a perilous venture.
In Deep South Georgia, two Democratic candidates for Senate prevailed in a runoff mainly because of exceptionally high voter turnout among Democrats and independents largely seen as a rejection of Trumpism and the former president’s antics following his defeat. Key swing districts around the country could follow that model.
Yes, Joe Biden can succeed in getting an infrastructurebill passed. The economy can rebound. COVID can finally get under control. Democrats can and should tout any successes that manage to come their way. But it will take more.
“If Democrats want to prevail in 2022, good government won’t be enough,” Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons penned in the Chicago Sun-Times. “They need to turn the midterm elections into a referendum on the Trump cult and GOP sycophancy toward his alarming assault on democracy.”
They also need to make Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Green, Jim Jordan, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy and many others as well as Trump himself the faces of the Republican Party during the campaign.
They should run ads depicting McCarthy’s and Lindsey Graham’s initial outrage over January 6 and then display them reversing course and verbally dropping to their knees at Mar-a-Lago.
And don't EVER let Trump and the Republicans off the hook regarding Jan. 6.
For Democrats approaching the midterms, this is golden, and they can thank the Trump Republican Party for this opportunity. Dems can do this and surprise the experts if they manage to muster the courage and play some hardball. That, too, would be a surprise.