Philip Bump sees Americans shifting to the right and the left isn't coping very well

Washington Post reporter Philip Bump published a piece yesterday titled, “America’s shift to the right in 2021 is worse news for Democrats than it seems.” The focus of the piece was some new Gallup polling results on US party preferences which show Americans have been moving to the right. Here’s a bit of what he’s looking at:

As Bump sees it, this shift in party ID is bad for Democrats in two ways. First, the timing is bad since they head toward the 2022 midterms with a disadvantage:

The timing is obviously quite bad for Democrats. The trend in party identification is pretty useful in predicting how House elections will turn out. When there’s been a big shift toward one party before an election (2006, 2010, 2014), that party tends to do well. The shift over the course of 2021 is the sharpest change recorded in the past 15 years.

In short, Democrats appear poised for a shellacking. But what seems to concern him just as much is that this data suggests Democrats’ main message to voters (Republicans are a threat to democracy) isn’t working.

Democrats have repeatedly hoped that Trump would prove so poisonous that the electorate would turn against the GOP. It worked in 2018, when the midterms served as a repudiation of Trump’s politics. It didn’t work in 2016, though, when Trump first won, and it offered only limited utility in 2020, when Trump earned significantly more support than he had four years prior, even while losing the popular vote by a wider margin. Democrats had unified control of government — but only barely…

In other words, Gallup’s data suggests both that Democrats are poised to lose ground this year and that a central argument against their opponents isn’t having a political effect. That bodes poorly for the left over the short term and the long term.

I hate to interrupt when Democrats are in the middle of a panic but it seems to me the reason the Orange-man-bad strategy isn’t working well is that Trump isn’t really on the scene anymore. Sure he’s still around in Florida and the media seems to find way to generate news stories about him every single day but for the most part he’s not dominating the airwaves and, because Twitter banned him, we don’t hear directly from him anymore. All of that to say, it’s hard to run against Trump when Trump isn’t running. That could change if Trump does run again in 2024 but for now it appears voters are aware he’s not on the ballot this November, just as he wasn’t on the ballot in Virginia last year.

Putting that aside, it seems progressives aren’t used to getting bad news from Philip Bump. Jeff B pointed out this morning that people responding to this story on Twitter didn’t seem to be coping well.

Granted, a lot of the responses come from people with 100 followers but there is definitely a patter of denial taking shape. So as not to keep posting the same image of Bump’s tweet, complete with the graphic, I’m just going to excerpt some of these in a list.

  • “Polling means nothing anymore. No one has landlines, no one answers calls from numbers they don’t recognize, and most people are too concerned about privacy to participate.”
  • “How??! That seems nuts.”
  • “I don’t believe this poll in the slightest. Has anyone polled majority of us blacks or POC? Majority whites have always leaned Republican!”
  • “Who gets polled? Anyone know anyone who has been polled? Is it landlines or something?”
  • “Neat fact: People who pick up the phone and do phone polls have nothing better to do. I’m not sure these are the people we should be getting an opinion from.”
  • “Maybe a better way to frame this would be dire news for our democracy.”
  • “White fear and inflation work wonders.”
  • “Sure Philip, and I got a bridge for sale.
  • “I learned a long time ago to never trust polls.”
  • “Not reliable.”

You get the idea. A lot of people on the left are pushing back even though they don’t have any real reason to do so. This next guy took a different approach. He said Bump’s write-up wasn’t reliable and directed people to a Gallup story instead. But it was literally the same story Bump was writing about and had linked in his piece. Bump himself was confused.

Lots of denial happening and some conservatives clearly picked up on that.

Let’s wrap this up with this response which I think sums the reactions up pretty well.