The 2020 election was a tough one for Democrats. Other than the presidency and the Senate, Democrats suffered at the ballot box. The party lost 11 House seats and face the narrowest House majority in two decades. Add to the damage the beating Democrats took in state races, and 2020 looked like a pummeling indeed.
The Biden presidency hasn’t made things any better. The party is dealing with infighting between moderates and far-left members, and the president’s approval ratings are abysmal. On top of these factors, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) became the latest among 10 key Democrats to announce their retirement ahead of the 2022 election cycle last week.
As a result, the 2022 midterm elections are looking more like an uphill battle for Democrats, and they’re freaking out about it. Back in September, Democrats were already talking about a “bloodbath” and “going for broke” on progressive agenda items, but their mood is growing increasingly fearful.
According to The Hill:
“To be blunt, I’m not feeling good about where we are,” one senior Democratic congressional aide said. “Look, it was never going to be easy or anything. It was always kind of contingent on what got done. I just think we’re starting to see how fragile this is.”
The numbers already favor the GOP. The Republicans only need to turn five seats red to gain a majority in the House, and that’s even without redistricting, which will also work to the GOP’s advantage next year.
The Senate currently sits at 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a tying vote, and several Democrats are vulnerable, including Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), who won a special election to fill a seat that is up for reelection this cycle.
The 2022 election is also a clear referendum on President Biden and his agenda, which have given Republicans plenty of ammunition to use throughout the campaign season. Approval numbers and recent issue polls don’t bode well for Biden and his party.
On top of all these genuine concerns for the Democrats, a slew of “longshot” candidates have entered key races, drawing attention and donations away from Democrats who stand a better chance of winning their elections. Democrat strategists have their hands full with some unviable candidates.
Up and down the ballot, Democrats have long grumbled about candidates they deem to be inconsequential attention suckers. They argue there’s limited value to contenders who launch far-fetched bids that take away time, media focus and money from other choices.
Democratic candidates are still raking in boatloads of cash, and some seats are a shoo-in for the party no matter how much Biden drags them down. Democrats also still hold a slim lead in the generic ballot. Still, the Democrats are definitely aware of the steeper and steeper uphill climb they face in the upcoming midterms.
Pollsters are also seeing how events and trends are shaping the 2022 election season:
“President Biden’s backslide on leadership, honesty and competence and the fact that he has lost some ground on handling of the COVID pandemic has to be concerning to Democrats,” Tim Malloy, a polling analyst at Quinnipiac University, told The Hill.
Malloy said that the Biden administration “has had a grueling few months” and that things like surging gas prices and rising costs due to ongoing global supply chain issues won’t help alleviate Democrats’ troubles, especially with the holiday season drawing closer.
Inflation, the pandemic, and Afghanistan are helping the GOP to hop on the offensive, hitting Biden and both House and Senate Democrats on their handling of recent crises. It’s not a shoo-in for the Republicans, but it’s looking better as time goes on. And that’s causing the Democrats to get worried.