An alternative strategy for Democrats to secure midterms
With just eight weeks to go until the midterm elections, things are starting to look up for Democrats.
They are now leading the generic vote after trailing Republicans for months: Nearly half (47%) of registered voters say they would vote for a Democrat, compared to 44% for a Republican, according to a recent Wall poll StreetJournal.
Additionally, gas prices are falling, President Biden’s spending bill has passed, and voters in Kansas — a state Trump won by 15% in 2020 — have resoundingly rejected a Republican-led abortion ban, indicating that protecting abortion rights could be a motivating issue. for voters in November.
Democrats are also beating expectations in special elections across the country. This week, Democrat Mary Peltola beat Sarah Palin for the vacant Alaska seat, and last week Democrat Pat Ryan scored an upset victory over Republican Marc Molinaro in New York’s 19th congressional district.
While these developments are encouraging for Democrats, it would be a mistake to say the party is not yet electorally vulnerable. Inflation continues to destroy Americans’ purchasing power, gasoline prices – though they have been steadily falling – remain high, gun violence terrorizes cities, and Southern states continue to see huge surges. of illegal immigration.
Ultimately, for the Democrats’ momentum to continue through November, the party must adopt a third-way agenda — and more specifically, demonstrate its ability to exercise fiscal prudence and lead both crime and immigration reform, while continuing to advocate for abortion. gun rights and safety.
Practicing fiscal prudence is a key part of a new Democratic approach. Rising prices and the high cost of living are weighing on American families, and Democrats can’t afford to be dragged further left on economic policy. The party must communicate how it will cut costs, secure America’s energy independence, and avoid the tax increases that are strangling American businesses and families.
Plus, as crime rates rise across the country — with nearly 9 in 10 (89%) of Americans saying crime is a “very” or “somewhat” important issue to them, according to an Economist/ YouGov — Democrats should commit before midterms to pursue a big bargain with Republicans on criminal justice legislation in the new Congress.
This deal would involve funding and strengthening local law enforcement, while making the criminal justice system fairer for Black Americans, who disproportionately experience police misconduct and abuse under the current system. .
Beyond the necessity and practicality of such reforms, by prioritizing crime reduction, National Democrats can protect their party’s electorally vulnerable members from GOP attacks linking Democratic policies to the rising crime rates.
Importantly, National Democrats must also make a concerted effort to reject irresponsible bail reform policies, which allow dangerous criminals to go free. This has become a signature marker of the current class of liberal district attorneys and emerges as a major vulnerability for Democrats in 2022.
Even in Blue City New York, nearly two-thirds (64%) of voters believe these bail reform policies have led to an increase in crime. As a result, the New York District Attorney, along with those in other liberal cities — Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, among others — faced significant national backlash, with some even facing recall elections over of these policies.
Immigration is another key issue Democrats can double down on ahead of the midterm elections. Given the crisis in our country — both at the border and in terms of the status of millions of hard-working, undocumented immigrants — Democrats need to make a visible effort to move to the center on this issue.
Over the past year and a half, Americans have been bombarded with news of record illegal border crossings and overcapacity ICE detention facilities. For their part, Republicans have successfully tied the border crisis to the failed policies of the Biden administration and the broader national trend of rising crime.
At the same time, progressives criticized Biden for not doing more to deliver on his campaign promises to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and to protect the Dreamers.
So over the next eight weeks, Democrats can advocate for balanced, moderate, and targeted immigration policies that secure the border, permanently protect Dreamers, and create a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million immigrants without papers.
Last Thursday, in an address to the nation, President Biden demonstrated — in the main — the kind of centrist, conciliatory leadership that Democrats must practice if they hope to maintain momentum in the medium term.
Addressing current divisions in the United States, Biden made it clear he was not seeking to demonize all Republicans by calling out the Trump wing of the party for its attacks on democracy, and said he hoped to work with them. the majority of the GOP. find common ground for the good of the nation.
“Now I want to be very clear, very clear from the start. Not all Republicans, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans…I know that because I’ve been able to work with these traditional Republicans…I’m an American president, not a president of red or blue America, but of all of America,” Biden said.
Later in the speech, he urged the country to build a future that does not dwell on “the past, or divisive culture wars, or the politics of grievance”, but “a future we can build together”.
While other segments of President Biden’s speech were less conciliatory, he largely struck the right tone by appealing to the non-MAGA wing of the Republican Party and emphasizing the importance of preserving American democracy.
Over the next eight weeks, it’s critical that Democrats communicate an uplifting vision for the future, focused on addressing the country’s most pressing issues – inflation, crime and immigration – while advocating strongly for protecting the right to abortion, safeguarding same-sex marriage, strengthening gun safety laws and securing American democracy.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political consultant who served as an advisor to President Clinton and Michael Bloomberg’s 2020 presidential campaign. His new book is entitled “The End of Democracy? Rising Russia and China and retreating America.