Dem strategist: We're facing a "biblical disaster" in the midterms

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

I prefer the term “Dempocalypse” but we needn’t quibble over semantics in trying to describe the scale of the looming catastrophe.

Democrats seem to alternate between blaming their unpopularity on poor “messaging” and hoping that a political deus ex machina will rescue them from the debacle they’re facing. For one hot minute it seemed like the war in Ukraine might deliver that; Biden’s team has handled that conflict well, the occasional irresponsible babbling about “regime change” in Russia from the top aside. But there’s no sign of durable improvement in his job approval lately. His numbers inched upward briefly in the first two weeks of the war but then ticked back down and have been plodding along at 40-41 percent ever since.


Team Blue is running out of time for an electoral gamechanger. Their best chance is the Supreme Court overturning Roe in June, but if that doesn’t kickstart Democratic enthusiasm to turn out then they’re facing a truly epic beating this fall. All hope that inflation might fade soon organically, without painful intervention from the Fed, seems to have been lost. And the White House appears intent on following through with lifting Title 42, creating a border stampede that’s likely to tilt the remaining Democratic-leaning swing voters towards Republicans.

Surveying the political landscape and seeing no cause for hope, some liberal strategists have begun to despair:

Democrats are facing a nightmare scenario with about six months to go before the midterm elections…

“I think this is going to be a biblical disaster,” said one such Democratic strategist, who did not wish to be named. “This is the reality we are in as Democrats and no one wants to face it.”…

“We are in a very chaotic moment right now,” said one Democratic strategist, Joel Payne. “There’s COVID, Afghanistan was just last year, now there’s the war in Ukraine, and the economy is up or down depending on who you are. There is this general instability that sunk Donald Trump a mere 18 or 20 months ago, and it is now Joe Biden’s problem, Joe Biden’s challenge.”…

“The bad news is seeping through. It’s the good news — and there has been plenty of good news — that Democrats have done a poor job of messaging,” said Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky.


Payne’s point about endless chaos can’t be overstated. The reason Biden’s approval began to disintegrate last August amid the fiasco in Afghanistan wasn’t just because Americans felt humiliated by the Taliban takeover or because Biden’s team looked incompetent. It was evidence that replacing Trump with Biden wasn’t going to restore “normalcy” to American politics after all. The Delta wave came crashing down on the southeastern U.S. at around the same time, another sign that a change in leadership wouldn’t magically deliver the country from disruption. It’s been all downhill since then.

Gallup is out with a poll analysis this morning tracking Biden’s decline in approval over the past nine months, with special attention paid to one particular age demographic. If you read last night’s post, you know which demographic it is.

Remarkably, across more than 40 distinct demographic groups (age, race, gender, region, etc etc), the group with which Biden has seen his single steepest decline in approval is adults aged 18-29, typically a Democratic bulwark. More remarkably, that group went from having the highest approval of Biden at the start of his term of any age cohort (61 percent) to now having the lowest approval of any age cohort (38 percent). The bottom is dropping out for Grandpa Joe among Zoomers. What happened?

Gallup floats an interesting theory. The fact that young adults are more likely to identify as independent means they lack the sort of partisan bond to Biden that would otherwise lead them to give him high marks in polls even if they’re not feeling very supportive. If you’re a hard-left Berniebro indie who voted for Biden two years ago out of disdain for Trump, you have no strong tribal reason to say that you continue to support him today if you secretly don’t. But that doesn’t explain everything:


However, a greater share of political independents cannot by itself explain why older Americans show less change in their evaluations of Biden than younger generations do. Traditionalists and baby boomers who identify politically as Democrats or as independents show less change in approval than their political counterparts in the younger generations. For example, approval of Biden among millennials who identify as independents is down 24 points (from 59% to 35%) compared with a 14-point drop among baby boomers who identify as independents (from 54% to 40%). Millennial Democrats’ approval has dropped 15 points (from 93% to 78%), compared with a five-point drop among baby boomer Democrats (from 96% to 91%).

Even young adults who identify as Democrats have soured on Biden to a greater degree than their grandparents. Gallup thinks the decline in Biden’s youth numbers may be partly a racial phenomenon: Blacks and Latinos have also eroded in support for Biden to a stunning degree since he took office (20+ points in each case) and those voters tend to skew younger, overlapping with adults aged 18-29. Why they’ve eroded is complicated — for the same reasons like inflation that everyone else has, of course, but possibly too because of his failure to deliver on voting rights reform and/or the left’s descent into ever more outre variations of wokery. Whatever the truth, disaffected minorities and young voters in November would bring about a harsh reality for Dems: Namely, biblical disaster.

I’ll leave you with this report from Axios a few days ago about a major Republican Super PAC beginning to spend money in deep blue House districts, some of which Biden won by 16 points in 2020. You don’t devote resources to places like that unless you’re expecting a political earthquake to put huge chunks of the Democratic map in play.


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