Politico has a report out today about a closed-door lunch meeting that happened last week among House Democrats. The purpose of the meeting was for DCCC chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to lay out the bad news for his fellow Democrats. A poll commissioned by the DCCC found that if the election were held today Dems would lose control of the chamber.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) followed that bleak forecast, which was confirmed by multiple people familiar with the conversation, with new polling that showed Democrats falling behind Republicans by a half-dozen points on a generic ballot in battleground districts. Maloney advised the party to course-correct ahead of 2022 by doing more to promote President Joe Biden’s agenda, which remains popular with swing voters…
Maloney’s omen of defeat was hardly a surprise to the battleground-district Democrats he was addressing, some of whom have been sounding the alarm for weeks that the party’s messaging — particularly on the economy — needed a reboot…
The July poll commissioned by the DCCC and presented by Maloney last week showed a Democratic candidate falling behind a GOP candidate by 6 points in a generic poll in swing districts. The survey of 1,000 likely 2022 voters was conducted in more than four dozen congressional battleground districts and regions…
“The polling looked pretty dismal to me,” according to one Democratic member who attended the briefing, who addressed it candidly on condition of anonymity.
Weakness on the economy is the real sore spot for Democrats. As they see it, they’ve been spending money like drunken sailors so the electorate should reward them for it at the polls. The problem is that the spread of the delta variant and the revival of mask mandates in a lot of places has people who work in retail, restaurants, etc. nervous about what comes next for the economy. You can spend all you want but if businesses can’t operate like they did pre-COVID then the economy isn’t going to fully return to normal.
Democrats believe they still have a chance to turn this around because Biden’s agenda polls well. They also note that the 1/6 riot polls badly, so if they can use their ongoing commission to tie the GOP to that it could shift the numbers. But there’s something else they are clearly worried about: Inflation.
Vox published a new poll today which found that while people aren’t panicking about it yet, they are concerned. However Vox suggests those concerns are heavily based on partisan outlook, with Republicans more likely to worry than Democrats.
The Vox-Data for Progress poll, fielded from July 23 to July 26 among 1,245 likely voters, shows that people with incomes of under $50,000 reported they are much likelier to be worried about the cost of food and housing than people making over $100,000. Thirty percent of lower-income voters said housing costs were their top price concern, while only 15 percent of higher-income people said the same. Meanwhile, higher-income people are likelier to be worried about the cost of medical care and higher education or student loans, which are often bigger-ticket items than groceries or rent.
Perceptions of costs and inflation also have quite a partisan slant. Republicans are likelier to say that’s their main economic concern than Democrats (31 percent to 19 percent). Television viewing habits make the division even starker: 34 percent of Fox News viewers say costs and prices are the most pressing economic issue, compared to 22 percent of non-Fox News viewers.
My own take is that 16 months out this poll probably doesn’t tell us very much about where we’ll be next summer. For one thing, a lot will depend on how the country manages the virus this winter. If we see another spike leading to more restrictions I think that’s going to be the last straw for a lot of people. If on the other hand we see cases go up some but hospitalizations and deaths remain significantly lower than last winter, people may gain some confidence about the future. In short, things may look bad for the Dems now but next summer could be a very different situation and by then this summer will largely be forgotten.
Of course things could also look worse next year. There are any number of major issues that could crop up between now and then from a new COVID variant to the border crisis to a confrontation with Iran, Russia or China. Then there’s the issue of violent crime here at home. People increasingly see this as a serious issue. If we see shootings and homicides up again next year that could determine the national mood more than anything else.
So there’s a lot of time still left on the clock, but it’s still good to see Democrats back on their heels and worried about it at this point.