Friday, May 13, 2022

Democrats' Electability Argument Falling Flat in 2022

From Amy Walter, at the Cook Report:

For the last six years, the one thing that has kept the Democratic Party unified and motivated is Donald Trump. Fear and loathing got Democrats to turn out in the 2018 midterms, and kept those voters engaged in 2020. Sure, the party was divided ideologically and generationally, with liberals and younger voters flocking to the Bernie Sanders wing and older, Black and more moderate Democrats sticking with Joe Biden. But, at the end of the day, both sides understood that the most important and existential issue was defeating Trump.

This strategy for the 2018 midterms was summarized best by then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's slogan of "Just win, baby." Primaries were for picking the candidates who could win these swing CDs, not for intra-party ideological warfare. In 2020, Democrats rallied behind the more centrist Biden simply because they believed he provided Democrats the best chance to beat Trump that fall.

But, with Trump no longer in the White House and Biden's approval ratings underwater, the electability message is falling flat in Democratic primaries. In 2018, Democratic candidates prevailed in GOP-leaning CDs by leaning into a message of bipartisanship. Today, however, a restive Democratic base, discouraged by a lack of action on many of their key issues (like climate and student loan debt), and frustrated by GOP attacks on issues like abortion and election integrity, want fighters, not unifiers as their candidates...