A good rule of thumb is that if a midterm election involves a party, that party will almost always pay the price in the House, and usually in the Senate as well. So no party wants to end up where the Democrats are – with their standard bearer, President Biden, boasting just a 41% jobs approval rating in the RealClearPolicies average of major national polls and in the latest Gallup poll, both for the month of April and for his entire fifth quarter in office. But as a Gallup analysis noted last week, only one of 10 elected presidents dating back to Dwight Eisenhower saw an improvement in job approval between his fifth and seventh quarters in office, the quarter in which the election is held. mid-term.
The only exception was the only president-elect to have a lower Jobs approval rating than Biden: Donald Trump, who had a 39% approval rating in the fifth quarter. Trump’s approval rating during the midterm election quarter was the same as Biden’s today, 41%. It bears recalling that Trump’s GOP lost 40 seats in the House and its majority in that chamber. The GOP won two clear seats in the Senate due to a great map that year: Democrats were defending 10 seats in that chamber in states Trump had won two years earlier, while only one Republican was in place. in a state where Hillary Clinton had prevailed. The Chamber is always the true barometer of the national mood.
Suffice it to say, Democrats shouldn’t want this election to be about Biden, or for that matter, how voters perceive the performance of the Democratic Congress. On a scale from completely dysfunctional to ticking like a precision Swiss watch, the past 14 months have been much closer to the former than the latter. Whether Biden and the Democrats delivered what they promised or under-promised what they could deliver, both led to poor outcomes for them.
Democrats need the subject of this election to change, away from them and towards Republicans – a tall order indeed when the GOP is out of power and not held accountable for anything that happens. pass or not pass. Bearing in mind that election years are notoriously unproductive in terms of legislation, if anything were to change the direction of this election, it is more likely to come from the opposite side of First Street than from where are the chambers of the Senate and the House: that is, the Supreme Court.
Referring to then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s matrix 20 years ago of future developments, my colleague Amy Walter noted the “known knowns”, “known unknowns” and “unknowns unknown”. The only known big unknown between now and mid-term is how the Court will rule in the pending case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization— whether it affirms or denies Roe vs. Wadeor something in between.
The Court is expected to start giving opinions on cases in the next few days, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Given the Court’s history of saving announcements on the biggest and most contentious cases for last, closer to out-of-town time for judges, the smart bet for a deer Judgment Day would be in the second half of June.
A reversal of deer would essentially hand the whole abortion issue over to the states to fight over, just like they did partisan (but not racial) gerrymandering. But given the number of states already safely settled in the back pockets of one party or the other, a substantial portion of the electorate lives in states where little change in abortion law is probable. Abortion-friendly states are unlikely to enact anti-abortion legislation, and vice versa. Potential change is more likely in bubble states, where the partisan and state legislative balance is either balanced or in transition.
The states worth watching are pretty much the swing states we see at the presidential, senatorial, and governor levels. Much worse could be done than to focus on the six states that wise politician Doug Sosnik identifies as critical for 2022 and, arguably, 2024 as well: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada.
In terms of individual mood shifts, a reversal or near reversal of deer would have much more than a ripple. Those most likely to be outraged by a reversal are mostly either already in the Democratic camp or facing cross-pressure on many issues, so they are unlikely to be single-issue voters. Those who would greet such a move jubilantly are already on the side of the GOP, making motivation the only game in town, not persuasion.
If any issue or event on the radar screen could shift the focus of this election, it would be deerbut the prospect of it changing the direction of the river is quite unlikely.