Opinion | Democrats can still avoid oncoming Midterm iceberg


Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Flickr

President Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2020 Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) Legislative Conference in Des Moines on Jan. 18, 2020. Senior columnist Andrew Prozorovsky believes that Democrats need to be more strategic when it comes to the upcoming midterm elections.

By Andrew Prozorovsky, Senior Columnist

If you hear the solemn “Nearer My God to Thee,” it’s probably the Democratic establishment prematurely accepting its fate and fiddling as the midterms ship sinks to the depths of the ocean. There are still lifeboats.

The midterm elections are approaching in November and the overwhelming sentiment is, at best, that Democrats will lose both houses of Congress and, at worst, that Biden’s presidency is over.

Obviously, there is a historical precedent for these predictions. Since World War II, the President’s party has lost an average of 26 House seats and four Senate seats during the midterms. In 2010, President Obama’s Democratic party faced historic losses — 60 seats in the House. Democrats need to take steps to avoid a repeat.

Tempered expectations help avoid potential disappointment and disillusionment that makes one want to give up entirely on endeavoring for political change, but defeatism, the embraced attitude of the current Democratic Party, helps no one.

Though the map will be unfavorable for Democrats this year and they face the same institutional obstacles as always, there have also been a number of tragic developments that may have shifted the public perception toward Democratic policy proposals. For example, the Uvalde shooting, findings by the Jan. 6 Committee and the gutting of Roe v. Wade may change voters’ opinions this fall if financial conditions improve.

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If Republicans win both houses of Congress without even releasing a platform of policy objectives, that will be doubly embarrassing for the White House. 

Democrats have always struggled with messaging due to their big-tent nature, but a strong offense is a must in order to mitigate the damage.

If Democrats are preparing to lose control of the trifecta, they need to clean up their act and make the most of these months. No more excuses from President Biden saying that it is beyond his control. The death of Build Back Better was demoralizing. There is a climate crisis left unaddressed.

Either demonstrate real meaningful progress that addresses the concerns of Americans or ubiquitously plaster a list of all the passed House bills that died in the Senate from GOP obstructionism and the filibuster.

Additionally, why hasn’t Biden touted his achievements? He has had difficulties passing signature legislation due to hurdles like the tight-lipped Senator Kyrsten Sinema, but he also chose to omit the withdrawal from Afghanistan entirely from his State of the Union Address earlier this year. The withdrawal received negative attention from the media, but it still was a consequential mark of his presidency which a large segment of the American public supported.

Furthermore, he has passed a bipartisan gun reform bill, a bipartisan infrastructure package, a COVID-19 relief package, a high number of judicial appointments and has returned unemployment to its natural level.

Inflation, a real problem for millions of Americans, is occurring worldwide, yet the White House has minimally attempted to deflect the blame that the GOP is ascribing to him for high inflation. Governments all across the political spectrum have had inflationary issues in 2022.

Because on the contrary, Democrats manage to do a reasonable job demoralizing their own voters. They chose to fundraise off of Roe v. Wade’s demise rather than demonstrate a viable path forward to restoring the right to choose. They chose to drop climate change legislation from the agenda once BBB failed to materialize into a Christmas miracle. Biden has chosen to argue before the media, multiple times, that he cannot control Congress, as if that is supposed to reassure the base or encourage them to … vote harder?

Democrats need to end the defeatist attitude and realize that despite the institutional challenges, they can turn it around by focusing on Biden’s achievements, the current crises that the GOP has enabled and by fixing the economic issues that have frightened voters. This requires a much more aggressive approach than the Democratic National Committee has pursued thus far.

If Democrats lose badly in November, it will truly be self-inflicted, caused by a lack of any sort of cohesive mission by Democratic strategists.

When the Titanic’s orchestra played until the end, it was a noble gesture of solidarity and dedication to the craft. This is not the same. Democrats seem to be convinced that this “when they go low, we go high” strategy is noble and as a consequence, they must be on the defensive at all times. But there is nothing noble about the pre-midterm chaos, nor the election to “go high” and be outstrategized by the GOP.

Democrats need to get behind the steering wheel and avoid the oncoming iceberg. In the generic ballot polls, Democrats squandered their leads and now follow closely behind the Republicans. With only a few months remaining, it is time to get serious, Democrats, and make some personnel and strategy changes before the collision is inevitable.


Andrew is a senior in LAS.

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