Democrats were already facing an inconvenient truth going into next year’s elections: The incumbent president’s party usually gets smoked in the midterms. But they keep getting more bad news. The first test of their post-Trump coalition, in Virginia and New Jersey last month, was a major disappointment for the party. Joe Biden has become a deeply unpopular president. His Build Back Better legislation appears to be taking its final, ragged breaths. Gas and grocery prices are rising faster than people’s wages, and a COVID variant that no one can pronounce is poised to set off a new winter wave.
If these trends continue, Republicans will almost certainly regain control of the House—and maybe even the Senate—next year, and be well on their way to making Biden a one-term president. But circumstances can change quickly in politics. Democrats, who command the White House and both chambers of Congress, won’t face voters for another 11 months. What can they do to turn their fortune around? I asked seven Democratic activists and strategists for their best ideas. Their comments have been edited and condensed for clarity.