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Election Slips Away from Democrats as They Repeat Their Comedy of Errors

Posted on Tuesday, November 1, 2022
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AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Berman

For Democrats, fall has come to be the harshest season. It is the time when the dreams of summer, driven by outlier polls, and a disengaged electorate, can make anything seem possible. In 2014, the summer was a time when the generic ballot was tied and they could believe they would hold the Senate. In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s victory was seen as assured, and Democrats took to speculating over whether Donald Trump would withdraw from the race. In 2020, Democrats could convince themselves that the BLM unrest of the summer promised revolution, not reaction, and that the ostensible refusal of Republicans to wear masks might win them 56 Senate seats. Even in 2018, Democrat expectations included Senate gains and the crushing victory of their candidate for Florida Governor, the young African American mayor Andrew Gillum, a possible future president, over “MAGA Congressman” Ron DeSantis. Further back, Al Gore and John Kerry also established large polling leads in the summer only to see them disappear in the fall.

October has had a way of shattering Democrat hopes. Democrats have tended to blame this on “bad luck,” or if agency is to be ascribed, “October Surprises.” In 2004, this was the so-called “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” attacks on John Kerry’s war record. In 2014, it was Ebola. In 2016, it was Hillary Clinton’s emails, and the announcement of a renewed investigation into them. In 2018, it was the Kavanaugh hearings, while in 2020 it was the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

The problem with this approach is that it is selective, and tries to find excuses. It ignores that Republicans suffered equally sudden “October surprises” such as the strategic leak of the “Access Hollywood” tape against Donald Trump in 2016, or Trump contracting COVID in October 2020, resulting in the cancelation of the second debate. That these October surprises supposedly did not hurt Republicans as the other October developments hurt Democrats raises questions Democrat strategists and much of the media would prefer not to ask. Why is it, for example, that Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death or the Kavanaugh hearings hurt Democrats more than Republicans?

If Democrats considered that question, they might not have made the same mistake in 2020 that they made with Kavanaugh in 2018, or discover, as they are now doing in October of 2022, that running an entire campaign focused on abortion in a time of unprecedented insecurity is not a pathway to electoral success.

It may well be too late for Democrats in 2022. Polling is an inexact science, but when every metric from polling, to spending, to early voting moves in the same direction, something is happening. Over the last four weeks, there appears to have been a decided shift toward the GOP at virtually every level across almost the entire country. Nationally, the generic congressional ballot, which reverted to a tie this summer, has seen Republicans leap to a 2.9 percent lead, according to the RealClearPolitics average. Furthermore, the 48 percent the GOP is averaging is the highest at any point in the last five years. This number may itself be an underestimate, as the Economist/YouGov and Politico/Morning Consult have Democrat leads of 5% and 4% respectively, whereas the GOP leads in all of the other 14 most recent polls.

Individual races provide more evidence of Democrat struggles. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently released internal polling showing a tie in Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District between GOP Candidate Allan Fung, and Democrat Seth Magazinger. Joe Biden won the district by 11.4 percent. The DCCC in turn seems to have abandoned spending in Nevada’s Third Congressional District, cutting $2 million in planned advertising for Congresswoman Susie Lee. Joe Biden won the district by 8 percent in 2020. The DCCC’s own chairman, Sean Patrick Maloney, needs all the help he can get. He has suddenly found himself in a tough battle for reelection in his own Hudson Valley district which Joe Biden carried by 10 percent.

At the gubernatorial level, national Democrats spent almost $14 million in Florida in 2018. They are spending less than half a million dollars this year. As was the case with Maloney’s House race, increasingly Democrats are having to play defense in races they thought were safe. These include not just states like Oregon, where Democrats have been struggling for months, but also Colorado, Michigan, and Minnesota, where relatively popular Democrat governors seemed headed to comfortable reelection victories over weaker GOP candidates only to have polling close to the low single digits in each over the last few weeks.

A similar trend has played out in Senate races. Despite a barrage of “October surprises,” Democrats have failed to improve their numbers in Georgia, where Senator Raphael Warnock is locked in a tight race with Herschel Walker. That Warnock’s numbers seem stuck in the mid-40s is ominous given Brian Kemp’s substantial lead in the gubernatorial race, as it indicates most of the undecided voters will pull Republican ballots for every other office. In Wisconsin, Ron Johnson seems to have established a solid lead and is well on his way to victory over Lieutenant Governor Mandala Barnes after running a campaign focusing on his opponent’s record on crime.

What must worry Democrats now is how races where local factors are most favorable compared to national ones are also where the greatest movement is taking place. The reason the polling out of Colorado, Michigan, and Minnesota is scarier for Democrats was that they featured incumbents with good polling running against flawed opponents who they were outspending by margins of as much as 10 to 1. If money or local factors mattered, these races should not even be close to competitive. If they are not, it implies national factors are taking precedent. If these races are turning against Democrats, what hope do they have in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which Democrats should have no business winning in a political climate worse than 2020?

Just as the nationalization of the midterms has led to polls closing in states like Michigan, it has seen Vance establish a solid lead, Mehmet Oz pull into a tie in Pennsylvania, and both Arizona and New Hampshire, which national Republicans seemed to write off as recently as two weeks ago, close to within the low single-digits. The NRSC actually canceled its spending in New Hampshire only to return last week, as polls tightened.

The nationalization of races presents a wider strategic problem for Democrats. Their campaign strategy focused heavily not on promoting their own policies, or even making a case for why their policies would be better than those of the Republican Party, but rather on portraying individual Republican candidates as “extreme” and “unacceptable.” Democrats failed to make any sort of case for Democrat majorities.

Worse, even in the cases where they were successful at portraying GOP candidates as extreme, such as the Pennsylvania Governor’s race, the successful demonization of Doug Mastriano ironically allowed every other Republican candidate on the ballot to appear much more moderate. Democrats, by failing to provide their own voters with any reason to vote for them, have given them no reason to turn out, evident in disastrous early voting figures in states like Florida and Nevada. By focusing only on scare campaigns against GOP candidates, Democrats had little to fall back on when these attacks fell flat. By focusing largely on the personal, Democrats implicitly communicated to voters that they had few credible issue-based attacks to make on Republicans when it came to voters’ top concerns: the economy, crime, and the border.

Furthermore, Democrats themselves contributed to the nationalization of the election by fully embracing a culture war campaign fought on abortion. Real divisions existed within the Republican coalition, especially at the state level, but Democrats, by reframing the issue in partisan terms, made legitimate concerns less persuasive to voters. It also encouraged every Democrat candidate to talk about abortion all the time, and to do so in terms dramatically different from any Republican, which made differences among Republicans regarding restrictions appear quite minor compared to Democrat opposition to any restrictions at all.

Most importantly, however, by forcing a national message on local Democrats regarding abortion and “democracy,” Democrats robbed their strongest candidates of any unique appeal they might have had. It is hardly shocking that Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota or Jared Polis of Colorado cannot take credit for comparatively responsible economic stewardship, or in Polis’s case, an opposition to COVID lockdowns and mandates, when neither is allowed by their base to talk about those things. Instead, they talk about abortion non-stop, and perform in polls like national Democrats as a result.

In turn, by ensuring that their national message was negative (on abortion and January 6th), Democrats could only mobilize their anti-Republican partisans for whom these things were persuasive. No swing voters are incentivized to vote for Democrats because things might get better if Democrats win. The only argument is that things might get worse if Republicans win, and on issues the voters are hardly focused on. As the vast swath of the middle electorate believes the economy, crime, and other key issues are getting worse, Democrats’ message offered almost no reason to support them.

The polling then should not be surprising, nor, barring a larger error than we have seen since 2012, should the results next week be a shock. What is more surprising – but perhaps it shouldn’t be – is how Democrats keep repeating the same mistakes. Somehow, they expect a different outcome. Based on current trends, it does not look like they will get one.

Daniel Berman is a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He also writes as Daniel Roman. 

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IdahoFrank
IdahoFrank
1 year ago

If you don’t vote, Don’t b*tch if the Dems win!

Centurion
Centurion
1 year ago

Maybe it might happen, but only if we can get around the demon-communist-cRAT voter fraud machine. We republicans need to flood the County counting houses with Poll Watchers.

Allan E Brem
Allan E Brem
1 year ago

The Dems, with the help of some establishment Republicans have gotten stealing and lying to a science in order to retain their control over we the people. The best we can do is show our support for fair elections, our intent to keep our Constitutional Republic and pray that a need group of patriots are beside us.

Sandi
Sandi
1 year ago

This makes me so happy

Gabe Hanzeli
Gabe Hanzeli
1 year ago

As much as I hope the democrats get decimated we all know the democrats will commit voter fraud. soros, gates, zuckerberg, dorsey, and bloomberg have donated millions to get a full time staff of voter fraud experts employed for the democrats.

What needs to happen is to start holding the donors responsible for the actions and result of their donations. Example: the current years of wildfires are a direct result of the environmentalist movement. billions in damages, massive air pollution, hundreds of deaths due to environmentalists. every single environmentalist and all of their donors shoudl be charges with those crimes. If it were a logging companies fault they woudl be charged.

Myrna Wade
Myrna Wade
1 year ago

i hope Alaska can elect a new senator, BUT the supposedly republican senate funds were used to dig up accusations against her which had been found invalid years ago and with the hope that nobody would know they were invalid, negative campaign ads were used over and over against her. I hope the wrongs that are most important and need answers will out-weigh the negative ads.
I will always hope no matter how bad things are. I believe in white hats winning. I always will.

M.B.
M.B.
1 year ago

Don’t take anything for granted no matter what the polls state .YOU MUST VOTE . That is the bottom line. Besides crime, the economy, and the boarder, there are other blunders, and executive orders this administration has executed. The list is long. From Afghanistan, all the way to a shortage of diesel fuel . VOTE !!!

joe mchugh
joe mchugh
1 year ago

Errors? What Democrat errors?
The Democrats continue to make blunders that are obvious to normal people but unnoticed by the liberal minds. Non-liberals are repulsed by the ideals of Marxism but liberals really believe in them. That’s why it is so difficult for the Democrats to understand just why their opponents reject their agenda.

Thankfully, the Democrats are unable to appreciate the mind sets of all who cherish liberty. To them, a benevolent government is preferable to an aloof government that is cold hearted, and mean spirited. Liberals look to the government as a means to survive in a hostile world.
Example: The de-fund the police movement resonates with minorities. By reducing the budget of law enforcement, the perceived abuse by racist cops would be eliminated, or at least reduced.
The reality? Without police protection, survival would become a true challenge. With or without riots,
Blacks have more to fear from fellow Blacks than other ethnic groups. 57.14% of Blacks are killed by Blacks, while only 0.95% of blacks are killed by Whites. Source: FBI crime report 2018.

Liberals really don’t understand why the non-liberals reject socialism. To a liberal Marxism is the
be all and end all in all things political. If the Democrats had a little more intelligence they would be far more surreptitious in bringing about communism than the buffoonery that they now exhibit.

GTPatriot
GTPatriot
1 year ago

FOLKS, this is not a lock !!!! Shut up and VOTE TOMORROW !!!!!

GTPatriot
GTPatriot
1 year ago

We repubs have a tendency to believe this election is a lock. Nothing matters unless we all vote and nothing matters if we don’t know how to handle a win if we get it.

GTPatriot
GTPatriot
1 year ago

When the repubs won the house, senate and white house in 2016, they still managed to blow it.
They gave Paul Ryan, speaker of the house, the right to blow up all Trump effort. Winning is one thing. Knowing what to do with it is another. Remember: Romney is still with us. A phony yes but still here.

edward
edward
1 year ago

Dont count chickens before they hatch! Republicans had the election in 2020 and look what happened when the dems saw things slipping away, ie. van loads of ballots showing up in the middle of the night, etc. THEY HAVE CONTINGINCIES PLANNED!!

Randall L. Beatty
Randall L. Beatty
1 year ago

I am tired of the direction this country is heading my vote is going all Red will not vote for a Dem before Biden and the others got into office everything was going great as soon as he got into office we went downhill that includes high inflation and gas prices time for a change.

Nobody’s Business
Nobody’s Business
1 year ago

Democrats cheated before what makes you think they won’t cheat again?

Larry W.
Larry W.
1 year ago

Think about it, the only way that Democrats have any hope of hanging on is if people only believe what they hear on main stream media news, give up and don’t vote. Come on america, get out and vote the democrats out of office. They have no intention of ever listening to us, the American people. They have made it clear that they will continue to force their agendas on us to the point of no return. They have abused the power given to them and they do not deserve to be in positions of power any longer.

Sharon Ott
Sharon Ott
1 year ago

I believe Republicans will get the majority of votes; the concern is the chance there will be more cheating. Do we have a way to prove it, if it happens again – and massive media coverage, so that the truth will be widespread?

Chaplain William Finch
Chaplain William Finch
1 year ago

Enjoyable article. I will NEVER vote for a Democrat Communist in this lifetime! You cannot be a Christian and a Democrat Communist! Democrat Communists have done more harm to America than any other Party in the history of America.

BAE
BAE
1 year ago

Yes, Americans are onto the do nothing Democrats. Hmm, the takers and shakers; ha now the users are losers!

Morbious
Morbious
1 year ago

Holding my breath here in ohio. Yard signs lean heavily to the baby terminating party. It remains to be seen how much of a driving issue roe will be. It has motivated those who demand the ‘right’ to terminate infants up to and including post partum. We shall see.

Ralph S
Ralph S
1 year ago

Two things… #1 Make sure ALL cemetery gates are closed and locked to prevent illegal votes.
And #2 Vote ALL incumbents O-U-T to start the process of draining the swamp!

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

It ALL depends on TURNOUT! Vote and bring a (conservative) friend with you!!

Steve
Steve
1 year ago

Just hope the RINOs don’t blow the opportunity as usual

Drue
Drue
1 year ago

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. Democrats = Insanity. Case closed.

J. Farley
J. Farley
1 year ago

The Election didn’t slip away from the Democrats they squandered it with their desirer embarrass Socialism/Communism and their open distain for Constitution and the Bill of Rights. When you openly tell the American people that their Constitution is not worth the paper it’s written on and that they don’t have freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speach, the 2nd Amendment, they will tell you to hit the road and we will find someone who believes in the principles that our founders set forth in the best written document (other than the Christian Bible,) ever conceived by man.
We must strive to protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and never again give power to those who would destroy it, for when it is nullified mankind will never see another one like it.

jocko
jocko
1 year ago

DON’T COUNT YOUR CHICKENS BEFORE THEY HATCH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE libs WILL CHEAT AGAIN !!!!!!!!

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 year ago

I wish I could believe the title but am cautious as for comedy maybe crime fiction

Glenn
Glenn
1 year ago

Love to see a red wave but what’s to prevent the Democrats from stealing another election?

Michael J
Michael J
1 year ago

The only polls that will mean anything are election results. Democrats got us into this mess and they want voters to believe they can solve it? The real question, is America better off under Democrat’s rule?

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