Democrats risk a drastic loss of seats in the House of Representatives after the November 8 midterm elections and a decisive defeat in the race for the Senate, where the competition is even tighter.
The reason behind this likely debacle is that the party’s leaders and strategists have failed to unite around one central message to the voters, a column in The New York Times argues.
Why Democrats have failed to reach out to voters
Instead of a single economic course, Democrats have focused on criticizing Republicans for wanting to gut abortion rights and shred the social safety net, the author notes.
Yet this approach appears to be ineffective as the country struggles with high gas prices, record inflation and economic uncertainty.
"The truth is, Democrats have done a poor job of communicating our approach to the economy," said Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat from Michigan.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont also sounded alarm bells that Democrats were struggling to motivate working-class voters.
For example, ex-President Barack Obama urged Democrats not to be "a buzzkill" by making people feel as if they were "walking on eggshells" when it came to issues like race and gender, while their party has not fully acknowledged the pain of rising prices or effectively pointed the finger at Republicans.
Why Democrats won’t catch up
While many of the party’s Senate candidates are outpacing President Joe Biden’s approval rating, which is below his national average in several key swing states, they still won’t be able to make up the lag in the coming days.
Some Democrats believe that time has simply run out for any significant shift in strategy that could change the fundamental dynamics of the race.
For example, in Wisconsin, the focus of the campaigns for both Senate and governor have shifted to crime, prompting Gov. Tony Evers’s efforts to direct funding to law enforcement agencies. However, it happened only in recent weeks, while Republicans made this issue the subject of their criticism much earlier.
It’s late in the game, acknowledges David Bowen, a Democratic state assemblyman from Milwaukee. Especially as the party got bogged down into what was the proper strategy to use in some of these races.
Ads on abortion and inflation: the focuses of the Democrats’ campaign
In the final stretch of the race, top Democrats are emphasizing economic concerns and issuing stark warnings about the threats Republicans pose to democracy.
"If there was an asteroid headed toward Earth — it’s going to land in like two weeks — if you went into the Republican caucus and said, ‘What do you want to do?’ They’d say, ‘We need a tax break for the wealthy,’" Obama said in Wisconsin as he criticized Senator Ron Johnson.
The problem is that Democrats’ economic policy would have worked if Obama were running in every state.
"He shouldn’t be the only one delivering the basic economic message. We should have 20, 30 people capable of doing that and doing that around the country," explained Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California.
Although recognizing the importance of the issues of democracy and abortions, he says that prioritizing them should not come at the expense of pocketbook matters.
According to data from AdImpact, a media tracking firm, Democrats have spent nearly $320 million on ads focused on abortion rights and nearly $140 million on crime ads, but only $31 million on ads about inflation.
Meanwhile, the voters haven’t heard much about the party’s work lowering the cost of insulin, championing the child tax credit, or providing assistance to historically Black colleges and universities.
Why Democrats' messages lose to Republicans
The New York Times notes that in 2002, Democrats have tried to frame the election not as a referendum on an unpopular President Biden but as a choice between two very different visions for America.
This argument the president made before a gathering of Pennsylvania Democrats last week is not an easy case for Democrats to make, while Republicans have slammed their opponents for months with a far simpler message:
- the economy is bad,
- worries about crime and immigration are rising,
- the party in control is to blame.
Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, a Republican, described the midterms as "a pocketbook election." He noted that Democrats around the country, the last two weeks in the campaign, have started talking about violent crime and going after street gangs.
"I can’t imagine what’s woken them up," — Kemp said ironically to his voters.
Why the U.S. election is important and how it impacts support for Kyiv
As wrote earlier, further U.S. support for Ukraine will depend on how many candidates from Donald Trump’s caucus, or isolationist Republicans, will make it to the House of Representatives and the Senate.
In general, analysts say, the Republicans’ victory wouldn’t pose a threat for Kyiv to lose the U.S. aid, as Ukraine has strong bipartisan support in both houses.
However, the left-wing Democratic caucus and the Trumpist Republican caucus send periodic messages stemming from the Russian propaganda. They advocate peace talks between the U.S. and Russia without including Ukraine or say that the U.S. bears too many costs because of the war, so Kyiv should be forced to negotiate peace negotiations.
The Trumpists argue that ordinary Americans are struggling with economic hardships while the Biden Administration sends aid packages worth billions of dollars to Ukraine. However, they will most likely use this rhetoric not to stop the aid but to promote their bills.
As for the aid, it can be shifted from direct financial inflows to long-range weapons since Republicans are more inclined to give Kyiv the missiles it has been asking for months. Furthermore, the U.S. may enhance the oversight of the use of its money, so Ukraine has to demonstrate democratic reforms and effective use of both American weapons and funds to support the economy.