The midterms are just 61 days away and the tea leaves are looking better for the Dems — given Biden’s recent legislative successes, the deeply unpopular Trump’s return to center stage, voters’ fears about the future of democracy at the hands of Republicans, and abortion.
If history is any guide, Dems should lose the House big-time. Over the last four decades, the party that holds the White House has lost House seats in virtually every first-term president’s first midterm election. Ronald Reagan lost 26 House seats, Bill Clinton lost 52, Barack Obama 63 and Trump 40. (Only George W. Bush’s Republican Party enjoyed a modest eight-seat gain in his first midterm but this came after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.)
This time, though, leading operatives in both parties expect Republicans to pick up only about 10 to 20 House seats (which would give the GOP a narrow majority in the chamber).
Meanwhile, Republicans are losing confidence in the high-stakes fight for the Senate majority and key governorships across the nation.
Republicans are trying to play up the economy and inflation — but, unfortunately for them, the economy continues to generate jobs and inflation is slowing. The Fed is raising interest rates but probably not fast enough to threaten a recession over the next two months.
Yet nothing has undermined the GOP’s momentum more than the Supreme Court’s decision in June to end abortion protections, which has triggered a backlash even in the reddest of red states. New voter registrations among women have surged.
The most extreme example of female registration has occurred in Kansas, where a referendum in early August reaffirmed state constitutional protections for abortions. New female voter registrations have also soared in three states where abortions have become illegal following the Supreme Court ruling — Idaho, Wisconsin and Louisiana.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro is focusing on Republican Doug Mastriano’s support for a total ban on abortion with no exceptions for the life of a mother, rape or incest. In Alaska, Rep.-elect Mary Peltola’s first TV spot of the general election is all about the Supreme Court’s anti-abortion decision, framed in libertarian language about “personal privacy rights” and government intrusion. “Six Supreme Court justices took away one of Alaska’s most fundamental freedoms,” she says. “Our right to choose.”
And so on across America.
So today’s Office Hours question: Is the abortion issue the key to the Democrat’s keeping control of the Senate and maybe even the House? Or is the key issue the future of American democracy in the face of Trump Republicans?
Crossposted from Robert Reich.