Three guesses as to which slogan will “lose the House and the Senate overwhelmingly in 2022,” and the first two don’t count. It’s not just the slogan that torpedoed what should have been a successful 2020 election cycle for Democrats, Doug Schoen warns. The party faces a tough choice in the midterms, although a rather obvious one:
Democrats should stop pressing “defund the police” and other hot-button social issues if they want to stay competitive in 2022, according to new research from longtime Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen.
“The data says to me that if the Democrats go the progressive route they can lose the House and the Senate overwhelmingly in 2022,” Schoen told The Post. “The incoming Biden administration has to understand that unless they take a moderate path, that is a likely potential outcome for the Democrats.”
It’s not just the slogan that created problems for Democrats, but that certainly contributed to it. Barack Obama — hardly among the moderate faction himself — told Peter Hamby the same thing earlier in the week. People may support some reforms in policing, but they don’t want police cut back or abolished, a point that progressive firebrands refuse to recognize. “You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done,” Obama observed. In a democracy, “you’ve got to be able to meet people where they are. And play a game of addition and not subtraction.”
Schoen’s research shows that the problem runs deeper than the rhetoric, however. The longtime Democratic pollster and Mike Bloomberg adviser warns Democrats that the progressive agenda will keep adding to their losses, and says his post-election polling shows Democrats losing more ground than they think. More than two-thirds of respondents affiliated themselves with post-election statements urging moderation as well, according to Schoen’s data, plus there’s these data points:
The survey also found that the party was hurt in down-ballot races by the “defund the police” movement championed by progressives. A total of 35% of voters said the issue made them “less likely to vote for Democrats,” while just 23% said it made them more likely.
The poll reconfirmed longstanding trends showing self-identified conservatives outnumbering self-described liberals 37% to 24% (36% said they were “moderate”).
This is just one poll, of course, but it follows a particularly massive survey … the national election. And the outcomes from that November 3 “poll” corroborate Schoen’s findings, and vice versa. For the first time in decades, and perhaps in the modern era, Republicans overall won a high-turnout election — no small feat in a country where Democrats hold a consistent lead in voter affiliation. They added seats in the House, held serve in the Senate (so far) despite a significant numerical advantage, and added state houses while the other party won the presidency.
And that only happened because Democrats more or less lucked into picking the one person who could have won against Trump. Democrats fumbled their way into nominating the only viable moderate in the primary, avoiding the need for voters to vote against explicit progressivism at the top of the ticket. And, of course, Joe Biden ran against one of the more unpopular incumbents seeking a second term of a presidency.
That tension won’t exist in 2022, and Schoen knows it. If Democrats keep handing the reins to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, and the Defund the Police demagogues over the next two years, the usual midterm blahs will turn into a bloodbath. If cities keep pushing policies that support defunding the police, the suburbs will revolt in even greater numbers than they did last month. Republicans will end up controlling Congress and setting up a 2024 fight that they can easily win — as long as they can keep their own sloganeering and extremism under control. This does cut both ways.