There is a lot of talk in Democratic circles these days about the vulnerable 2022 candidates starting to distance themselves from President Joe Biden amid his shaky poll numbers on how he handled Afghanistan and how he performed. global at work.
“While it is clear to me that we cannot continue to put the US military at risk for an unsuccessful war, I also think the evacuation process appears to have been extremely mismanaged,” wrote Susan Wild. , representative of Pennsylvania. in a tweet at the end of last week. (Biden won the Wild District with just 52% of the vote in 2020.)
“Many of us are deeply frustrated that we have not been able to evacuate all the Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan,” he added. tweeted New Jersey Representative Andy Kim on Monday. âNow we need to know the details of the plan to get them out and continue to support the Afghan partners. (Donald Trump won Kim’s 3rd District by 0.2 percentage point in 2020.)
This is a laudable effort to get space from a president with less than 50% approval rating for the first time since taking office in January.
It won’t work either.
The history of the midterm elections is littered with MPs – and even some senators – who did all they could to make sure voters knew they disagreed with the president. of their party all the time and still found themselves tight at political waist for the Commander-in-Chief.
A classic example of this political reality came in 2020, when North Dakota Democratic Representative Earl Pomeroy ran a TV ad at the end of the campaign in which he said, âI’m not Nancy Pelosi. I am not Barack Obama. He still lost nearly 10 points.
The simple fact is (and it is never more true than in our present time of tribalism) that most people have little or no idea who the members of their House are. They use this vote as a sort of parliamentary vote; they vote for (or against) a party rather than a person.
And history – especially recent history – suggests this is a very bad thing for House Democrats. In Trump’s 2018 midterm election, Republicans lost 40 seats and a majority in the House. In 2010, in Obama’s first midterm election, Democrats lost 63 seats and, you guessed it, control of the House.
The wave metaphor is useful here. What Wild and Kim (and others in the swing neighborhoods) are trying to do is row their own little boats away from the potential of an anti-Biden wave that will overwhelm them. But they can’t row fast enough to get away. Either the wave will dissipate on its own or it will crash into them.
They have very little agency in all of this. Which is both a) frustrating and b) true.
Point: The best thing any swing district Democrat can do is push Biden like crazy to stop the Afghanistan slippage and pivot to stronger political ground like the infrastructure bill or the bigger stimulus package. important against coronaviruses.