How Scared Should Democrats Be About the Midterms?

Over the summer amid the ongoing aftermath of the Supreme Court Dobbs decision and a successful legislative route for Joe Biden and his party, medium-term optimism was spreading among Democrats: maybe November wouldn’t be as ugly as some had predicted? But as the election draws nearer, their earlier doom and gloom begins to creep in again. The latest bad omen? A New York Times/Siena poll on Monday suggesting Republicans are heading into the final weeks of the race with an advantage over Democrats as economic fears surge in voters’ minds. Of most concern to Democrats in the poll is the huge surge over the past month in women identifying as independents. The same poll in September showed them favoring the Democrats by 14 points; However, they edged Republicans by 18 points in Monday’s poll, even as the GOP falls short of most Americans on abortion rights.

“It doesn’t really have much to do with my decision,” said one voter who opposed Roe’s ouster but could still vote Republican this fall Times. “I worry more about other things.”

The numbers are worrying for Democrats, who are trying to hold onto the slimmest majority on Capitol Hill in a climate with some of the highest stakes possible. If they lose the House of Representatives, the Senate, or both, they don’t just face two years of legislative obstruction. They face the unprecedented threat of a vote-resisting majority. “Nothing less than freedom and democracy are on the ballot paper,” as they say Hakeem JeffriesChairman of the House Democratic Caucus, wrote Monday. Concerns about the future of democracy, about Americans’ longstanding rights – these should be electoral issues this cycle. But Republicans have capitalized on more bad news about inflation, among other things, to remain on the offensive and lead a somber national sentiment toward their election targets. “Everyone is suffering right now,” as one GOP voter put it Times.

The Republicans, of course, had few concrete solutions to offer, but medium-term trends tend to favor the party not currently in power. Earlier in the cycle, some forecasters had warned of a red wave due to these historic headwinds. The latest poll in the Times and elsewhere doesn’t hint at the kind of 2010-like carnage that the most aggressive predictions had unleashed — that Times The poll shows Republicans are just four points ahead of Democratic congressional candidates, 49 to 45 — but the numbers should be cause for concern. In addition to the GOP advantage, the poll suggests that key Democratic issues, including abortion and gun control, have been replaced by economic worries and that Biden’s improved but still low approval ratings could hurt his party in the vote.

But if the poll should cause concern among Democrats, it shouldn’t inspire fear. As an election expert Natalie Jackson pointed out some of the results of the Times Survey — particularly the shocking shift among independent women — may be a function of their limited sample size; A poll of 792 voters, an even smaller number of whom are women who identify independently, could find some significant variations.

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That’s not to say Times The poll is wrong — even if you ignore the staggering 32-point swing among independent women, Republicans’ narrow lead shows marks with other recent polls. But perhaps the biggest takeaway from recent polling is what’s always been clear: That control of Washington will likely depend on a handful of votes, and that Democrats can’t take any of those votes for granted if they want to keep an increasingly extreme GOP of them prevented from returning to power. How Scared Should Democrats Be About the Midterms?

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