Election Coverage / Government Watch / Politics

Facing Disaster, Dems Begin to Triage

AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Berman

democrats, filibuster

Democrats know they are headed for a wipeout. David Shor, Barack Obama’s former data guru, took to Twitter last month to warn Democrats that if they did not change course, they faced not just losing Congress this November, but the prospect of a Republican President with more than 60 seats in the US Senate come January of 2025. Shor has been outspoken about the need for Democrats to moderate, especially on hot-button cultural issues. After being ignored for years, there is some evidence his message is beginning to resonate even among committed liberals.

“My fear continues to be that sometimes we as Democrats run on things that we wish the voters cared about, rather than what the voters do care about,” Julie Roginsky, a Democratic strategist, conceded to Politico. Roginsky said she felt her party was still making that mistake when it came to the belief, common in Democratic circles, that the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade would provoke a backlash which would aid Democrats.

“To hold the House or Senate,” another top Democratic pollster told Politico, “we need inflation to go away.” But few Democrats charged with defending the party’s slim Congressional majorities see the disappearance of inflation as a probability, so they need to plan for the worst. “I just don’t see how this isn’t a bloodbath for Dems,” another strategist observed in the same piece.

But how does a party prepare for the worst? The answer is that they need to triage unwinnable races, and focus on holding as much as they can with the resources they have. Even that will be no easy task.

The need to triage is why we are seeing Democrats prioritize gubernatorial and Senate races far above House races this year. For Democrats, the House is all but gone, and they have largely written it off already. The Senate is key to allowing any of Biden’s judicial or executive branch nominations to be confirmed, while the governor’s races control the future of the party and influence the policies Democratic voters and donors care about. Another piece will focus on Democrats’ strategy in the Senate. But first, let’s look at the troubled landscape Democrats face in their quest to hold onto governors mansions.

Given the increasingly zero-sum nature of redistricting and political power, losing control of the governorships in states like Wisconsin or Michigan is a nightmare for Democrats. It might mean the difference between abortion being banned after the first trimester and versions of Florida’s recent educational reforms passing, or blocking these measures for another four years. Finally, Democrats want to avoid what happened in 2010 when, in the words of Obama, the future of the Democratic party was wiped out. Democrats have too few viable candidates for higher office and even the presidency to afford to lose many of them. Throughout all of this, Democrats will need to keep both activists and donors happy, neither of whom are known for strategic analysis or ruthless pragmatism.

Satisfying activists and donors make triage a risky process. For one thing, some unwinnable races feature high profile candidates in whom the party base is deeply invested. In this climate, Beto O’Rourke stands little chance of defeating incumbent Governor Greg Abbott in Texas, nor quite frankly, does any Democrat running pose a serious threat to Ron DeSantis in Florida. Even grassroots favorite and Star Trek guest star Stacey Abrams is likely to struggle to win in Georgia in a poor climate for Democrats.

Abandoning any of these candidates, however, would prompt a grassroots revolt among both Democratic activists and donors. When it comes to Governors Abbott and DeSantis, both of whom have championed policies which have enraged Democrats, abandoning their opponents would make it appear that the Democrats are abandoning the fight on those issues.

For that reason, Democrats are likely to stay invested in those races, maintaining a fiction that they are competitive and winnable long after they it is clear they are lost causes. There will be more to lose in throwing in the towel, especially with down ballot races.  So expect Democrats to maintain an insistence that Beto O’Rourke and Charlie Crist are fighting tossup races, while a steady stream of leading Democrats travel to Georgia to campaign for Stacey Abrams even if it looks like she will lose by 7-9%.

Easier to triage are those candidates running to gain Republican seats who lack the national profile of an Abrams or O’Rourke. That is especially true when it comes to gubernatorial races. Democrats made serious plays for Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, and South Dakota in 2018, in addition to Florida, Texas and Georgia. All four of the former states have dropped off the map in terms of competitiveness in 2022.

Democratic efforts at the state level seem focused on their one serious offensive opportunity (other than Georgia where Abrams operates what is effectively a parallel party apparatus). In Arizona, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs faces Kari Lake, a former television host endorsed by Donald Trump who forced the frontrunner, State Treasurer Sally Yee, out of the primary. The race is critical for Democrats as Lake is associated closely with the former president, whose complaints about the 2020 election she backs—complaints aimed at Hobbs. This creates a situation in which Democrats both fear the prospect of a Lake victory, and suspect, correctly or not, that she may be a weaker general election candidate than the environment would indicate. With Senator Mark Kelly also up for reelection, Democrats have no choice but to commit resources to the state anyway, and Hobbs, as their only state level official, and a young woman, is a prospective future national candidate if she wins. Hence, even as the national environment has darkened, and Hobbs has perhaps fallen slightly behind, Democrats have maintained an investment justified less by probability of victory than by the stakes.

The same factors that motivate Democratic support for Hobbs – the need to preserve a future bench, and fear of the consequences of Republicans winning – mean that Democrats are increasingly focused on defense at the state level. In Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Democratic governors are underdogs for reelection, and their defeat would usher in total GOP control.

The party also worries they could see the defeat of Democratic State AG Josh Shapiro’s campaign for governor in Pennsylvania, where Republicans control both houses of the legislature. By any qualitative metric, Shapiro should be favored. The Republican field is fragmented, with none of the candidates possessing a geographic base conducive either to fundraising or mounting a strong challenge to Shapiro in the Philly suburbs or Pittsburgh. Shapiro has raised $18 million over the last 18 months, more than his nine Republican opponents combined and ten times the amount raised by the Republican frontrunner, State Senator Doug Mastriano. Yet there is too much at stake for Democrats to rest easy in this national environment. The Republicans control both houses of the state legislature, and have been trying to reform the election of State Supreme Court Justices to a district based system as opposed to the current at large system which has allowed Democrats 6-1 majority. That lopsided court majority has drawn Democratic-favoring maps for Congress, and changed the voting laws in the run-up to the 2020 elections. “With the GOP legislature that we have that is attempting to pass laws that would make us look more like Texas or Florida, the governor’s veto pen is just so important,” Anne Wakabayashi, a Democratic media consultant, told SpotlightPA. This is the sort of race Democrats would feel confident in if Joe Biden were at 50% or even 46%, but fear they can lose if Biden remains at 42%.

If Pennsylvania is the most important state Democrats stand to lose if Biden’s numbers continue to decline, it is far from the only one, or the most Democratic leaning. Polls show a generic Republican leading by almost 18% in Oregon, where term-limited Democrat Kate Brown is deeply unpopular, and Tim Walz in Minnesota, while popular and favored, is far from safe. Republicans will likely win both houses of the legislature and may even knock off State AG Keith Ellison this November. Walz losing would leave Minnesota under total GOP control for the first time in almost 50 years.

Even Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York are far from entirely safe. In Maine, former Governor Paul LePage is returning to challenge his Democratic successor, Janet Mills. LePage defied the odds to win twice in 2010 and 2014, and Maine, with its large working-class and rural white population, is not a good match for the current Democratic coalition. Mills again is probably favored, but Democrats cannot rest secure in a wave year.

In Maryland, two-term Republican incumbent Larry Hogan is retiring and Democrats should be favored. But they have a field divided among various factions of their coalition, while Hogan has thrown his weight behind his Secretary of Commerce, Kelly Schulz.

In Massachusetts, incumbent Republican Charlie Baker is retiring and the Democratic AG is the presumed favorite, but there is a longstanding curse afflicting the state’s Democratic Attorneys General. In 1998, 2006, and 2014, they lost races they were favored to win.

Finally, in New York, Kathy Hochul’s numbers are anemic, she has seen her redistricting plans collapse in the face of state court rulings, and her Lt. Governor has been arrested on corruption charges. Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin is presumed to be too conservative to win, but again, Democrats want to make sure to preserve their control of the state government and one of their younger, female governors.

In sum, at the state level, Democrats are probably relatively safe only in California, Colorado, and Rhode Island. The scale of the playing field is a testament to just how much defense they must play, which explains not only why they have abandoned Ohio, but why they really cannot afford to waste millions on suicide runs in Texas and Florida. If their activists and donors force them to, they could end up turning a bad year into a wipeout that could reduce Democratic control to less than a fourth of the state governments in the country.

Daniel Berman is a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He also writes as Daniel Roman.

We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...

Support AMAC Action. Our 501 (C)(4) advances initiatives on Capitol Hill, in the state legislatures, and at the local level to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, and the rule of law.

Donate Now

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC News App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 months ago

Democrats are incapable of moderation. They are fanatics to whatever opium dream their “leaders” are currently chasing. F Politico.FJB.

John Jackson
4 months ago

Well the people in this country need to turn back to the good Lord we have turned away from his teaching. We have to have his blessings to take our country back. Without his blessings we as a people will not be able to take this country back it’s just that simple.

Mike Siroky
4 months ago

Hidden in this article is the ugly truth about the current democrats: they are not so much a coherent political party as a loose coalition of activist groups who are often at odds: BLM, pro abortion groups, LGBTQ groups, welfare activists, pro illegal immigrant groups, etc.

Susan Miller
4 months ago

Their first mistake was not taking care of Americans. The invasion at our southern border, money(lights of money) to the Ukraine and other countries. ALLOWING THE BLM, Antifa,LGBTQMandwhatever to attack people and destroy communities while falsely imprisoning the J6ers. But most of all, the LIES. Lockdowns, makes, politics, deadly vaccinations, and the list has no end in sight.. The 2020 election.The LIES!

4 months ago

Time to abort all Democrats leadership.

4 months ago

Never bet against the American people. Our destiny is just beginning and runs many decades into the future. Out task as a people and nation will soon be revealed to the world and to our own noble people.
“Death To America Haters”

4 months ago

Stolen elections have consequences, you leftist creeps…

4 months ago

Politicians are invariably dishonest and not all that bright. So, they tend to anger people who regularly toss them out. The Dems were in an incredibly strong position after the 2008 elections, which they blew when people understood what the Dems actually wanted to do. The Republicans were in an incredibly strong position after 2016, but they lost it when Trump’s personal behavior just upset too many people. All Biden had to do was keep the seat warm while napping and he’d probably have a high approval rating, but instead he and most of the Dems want to go down the path of transforming a nation that substantially doesn’t want to be transformed. So, it looks like they’ll blow it again. I hope the Republicans can hang on to it after this year’s elections, but you can’t count on them not being dumb enough to tick everyone off again. I’ve come the conclusion that the pendulum swings because there’s only so long the public will let the idiots hold the wheel.

4 months ago
Reply to  TD

The criminal Democrat machine stole the elections.

4 months ago

As much as I empathize with my fellow Americans (and I do), I’m also cognizant that the public (and a lot of dirty and dubious votes) chose Biden. Consequently, it’s a good and cathartic thing that people are suffering right now. People need to understand that elections have consequences, and that they were complicit in choosing an incompetent, doddering windbag house plant rather than Trump — an accomplished leader who held inflation at bay, didn’t get us into unnecessary conflicts, grew GDP, held the respect of our enemies, and managed to get Israel and Arab states to agree to peace. Let that sink in for a minute. We traded Trump for a useless house plant whose policies have utterly failed. If you voted for him, congratulations: This is on Biden — and you. Our country needs to come to grips with the fact that Democrat policies never work and destroy our economy. The only reason that Bill Clinton and Obama achieved some measure of economic stability is that they moderated their policies in response to Republican control of Congress. For the rest of you who didn’t vote for Biden, I’m sorry that you’re suffering, too. It’s not fair. Life isn’t fair, but you knew that. Keep fighting the good fight, and make sure that you vote the Democrat bums out of office in November.

Mike Siroky
4 months ago
Reply to  TomInSeattle

If only Biden were a useless house plant, things would be better than they are.

4 months ago

Republicans will take the Senate ,House ,and the presidency in the next presidential election. The big problem is turning this country back around after it has almost been destroyed by the Democratic party. We definitely need help.

4 months ago
Reply to  Gary

I hope you are right on the election results – and you are right that we will need help even if we do. Unfortunately, we can never underestimate the ability of Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot (running Trump – bless his heart – for president again would be one bullet!) and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

William Repke
4 months ago
Reply to  MWL

Wrong. This nation needs Trump. He is a fighter who exposed the dems for all the world to see. No longer can they run on moderate policies and then rule like extremists. Trump, for all his faults, loves God. God needs fighters to fight the good fight against the evil the dems embrace.

Ted Shepherd
4 months ago
Reply to  William Repke

How could divine Omnipotence and Omniscience ever “need” anything?

Paul Taylor
4 months ago
Reply to  Gary

A week if a lifetime in politics.

4 months ago

They will double down on cheating, it is happening already. Funny that the Dems wish their voters would vote on crap they want to shove down our throats, rather than what they really want. Wake up Dems, these people are killing America and making life much harder for you. If that is what you want, vote Dem, if that is not what you want, change your party. Period

4 months ago

81 million voters asked for this. Let that sink in.

wolf man
4 months ago
Reply to  Reddog

81 million? That was the official count. The real number was many millions less.

Ralph Sacrison
4 months ago
Reply to  wolf man

Yes, the 2,000 mules were a significant part of that 81 million… .

4 months ago

From your lips to God’s ears.

4 months ago

It might mean the difference between abortion being banned after the first trimester and versions of Florida’s recent educational reforms passing, or blocking these measures for another four years. 

How about just running the country instead of killing babies?

4 months ago

Asia for the Asians, Africa for the Africans, White countries for EVERYBODY!
Massive immigration and FORCED assimilation is called GENOCIDE when it’s done in Tibet.
When it’s done in White countries, it’s called “diversity.”
Diversity is just a code word for White Genocide.

Lamont Cranston
4 months ago
Reply to  Larkenson

And “Larkenson” is just a code word for repeated posting of the same “code word” nonsense.

4 months ago

Expect the coming “state of emergency” to be declared about July, “requiring” mail-in balloting in every congressional district to be in effect in November. This will be too late for SCOTUS review or challenge, and for effective opposition at the state level. And expect about 110 to 210% of registered voters to vote, with a big, ‘surprise’ win by all Democrat candidates.
The cause of the state of emergency declaration does not matter in the least.
As Josef Stalin said, “I don’t care who votes. I only care who counts the votes.”

Andrew P
4 months ago
Reply to  AlC

I think they will wait until August. But what will be the pretext for the emergency? Nuclear war, a new COVID variant, or the ever-scary Bird Flu becomes human transmissible?

4 months ago
Reply to  AlC

Ir can be stopped by states ignoring it, just as Biden has ingnored the ruling by a federal judge that his administration must start up again and continue “stay in Mexico”, which at the recent hearings on Capital Hill with Myorkas, there was little, if any push back on their ignoring this judge, I think because it’s been questioned for a while if one federal judes, say in Idaho or Rhode Island, has the power to over turn a policy for the whole entire country. Logic would say no. Of course Trump was FORCED by these constant rulings by Democrat federal judges to abandon or modify his poliicies (some for the better, most for the worse). It’s most always Dems who break the peace and the law.

Carole Kniepkamp
4 months ago

Our country is in terrible shape. Passing out money didn’t help. Only lazy, greedy people would vote Democrat. And then blame someone else for what they get.

4 months ago

“demanarchy” party coming to their logical un-American philosophic end.

4 months ago

Anyone who would vote for any demonRat after 2020 should be court declared INSANE and remanded to a state hospital.
Or tried for Treason against America.
Let the massive losses begin.

Mike B.
4 months ago

Who in their right mind would vote Democratic? From the pipeline shut down, the catastrophe of a withdrawal in Afghanistan, our Southern boarder wide open, to tampons in boys washrooms in grade school . The list is never ending . The Democrats are going to lie, cheat, and steal to remain in power. Time to hand the gavel over to Republicans, and gain a strong majority in the Senate, and hopefully they won’t ____ it up this time. Vote this November people .

Judy K.
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike B.

Criminals, ex-cons, perverts, our emotional indoctrinated youth, and many illegals will be the only ones to vote Democrat.

Lamont Cranston
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike B.

The list is never ending.” Today, there are confirmed reports of baby formula being shipped on pallets to the border for illegal immigrants and crack pipes being given to addicts (which the government previously denied doing).

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x