Some Perspective About the 2022 US Midterms
Written before election day
One year ago, I wrote “How the Next Few Years Look” where I predicted these things happening:
- Republicans will win the governer’s race in VA.
- Biden won’t get the bills he wants, but maybe smaller versions will.
- Roe is dead.
- Democrats will be washed out in 2022.
- Harris will remain unpopular.
- 2024 will be intense.
All of these things came to pass (although the size of Biden’s bills were bigger than I would have guessed), and now we’re looking at #4 and #6. And they’re super related to each other. Here’s some perspective to keep in mind.
The party in power (almost) always loses the midterms
This is not unique to Biden, although Biden is uniquely unpopular in modern history. We always knew he was going to lose the House and probably also the Senate. So did Obama in his midterms. So did Trump. So did Clinton. So did Carter. George H W Bush. And so forth.
Republicans won’t be able to pass anything
The House and Senate work together to pass bills, then they send them to the president to sign. If the president vetoes it, they need to re-vote and collect even more votes. The Republicans don’t have a veto-proof majority. None of their substantial bills will pass. Maybe they can pass something called the “We All Think Cats Are Cute” Act or something, but nothing big.
People sour on the party in power quickly
After two years of Republicans controlling congress, people looking for change (which tends to be the lion’s share of the voting population) will swing back to Democrats in 2024. As a Democratic strategist, you want the country to assosciate the GOP with “business as usual in Washington.” The absolute worst case scenario is for Democrats to be on the hook for the next two years while they’re feeling pessimistic about the future.
People sour on Republicans especially quickly
This isn’t a ding or a joke, it’s just cold hard facts. Republicans don’t have a popular platform. The majority of people disagree with them on gun control, abortion rights, January 6th, same-sex marriage, stimulus checks, child tax credits, the voting rights act, the rich paying their fair share, the environment, and so forth. The Republicans have two platform planks: tax cuts, and “we’re not Democrats.” The novelty always wears off quickly. We’ve been here before.
Infighting is a modern Republican tradition
When they have Pelosi and a Democratic president to beat up on, the Republicans are pretty well united. But when they get power, they get very Lord of the Flies. It wasn’t always this way. They used to be good at party discipline as recently as the 90s. That’s out the window now. If you think Republicans hate Pelosi, wait until you see the existential battle between moderate and extreme Republicans in the run-up to 2024.
Scared about 2024? Give the GOP enough rope to hang themselves
I know it seems counter-intuitive, and I know it seems like winning should always be better than losing. But it’s not so when you’re dealing with the swinging pendulum of divided US politics. People hate the group in power, so it’s important to sidestep the bright spotlight periodically. Let people realize all over again why they hate Republicans, then you can sell them on the Democratic platform again. That’s how it works.
So go out and vote! Get everyone you know voting! But when Democrats fall short, keep your eye on the big prize. An insane GOP is the Democrats’ best hope for 2024. When Trump runs again.