Douglas Andrews / September 24, 2021

Is an Electoral Shellacking on the Horizon?

It’s still early, but the tea leaves point to a terrible midterm for the party of Joe Biden.

We know. We know. It’s way too early to start talking about the 2022 midterms.

But we in our humble shop can’t help ourselves. It’s what we do. This week, for example, we saw three omens come in: one from north of the border, one from Ohio’s 16th congressional district, and one from the Democratic [sic] Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

The first of these harbingers refers to Canada’s nationwide election, which took place on Monday. Leftist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cruised to victory, but without the governing majority he’d hoped for. As the Wall Street Journal editorial board reports, it was a missed opportunity for Canada’s Conservative Party: “Trudeau has been at the helm of a scandal-ridden progressive government for almost six years. Early in the latest campaign, thanks to Trudeau fatigue, Conservatives seemed to have a real chance at at least a minority government.”

But no. Despite winning the national popular vote (which they’ve done in five of the last six elections), the Conservatives finished a distant second in parliamentary seat count, which means Trudeau will likely look to his left to knit together a minority coalition government, and the Tories will be out in the cold. And they have no one to blame but their standard-bearer. As the Journal continues: “[Erin] O'Toole, a lawyer turned politician, ran for party leader last year as a ‘true blue Conservative’ but he soon moved left. He broke with conservatives on social issues like guns and abortion, framing himself as a ‘moderate’ in an attempt to widen his appeal.”

The lesson is obvious and eternal: If you’re a conservative, run as a conservative. By positioning himself as “Trudeau Lite,” O'Toole failed to energize anyone, failed to draw clear distinctions between himself and the leftist incumbent, and failed to give Canadians a real black-and-white choice. When it came to progressivism, Canadians opted for the real thing rather than the me-too opportunist.

As for Ohio’s 16th, there’s a lesson to be learned there, too. Incumbent Republican Congressman Anthony Gonzalez has decided not to run for reelection, and the Journal thinks this is a bad omen. Why? Because “Gonzalez is the kind of young candidate Republicans need to expand their party’s appeal.” Here, the Journal’s editors say “young,” but they mean “Hispanic.” They just don’t have the guts to say it. And while it’s true that the Republican Party can help itself by attracting more brown and black voters, it doesn’t need to do so by compromising its principles — principles such as, oh, opposing a sham impeachment of the president of the United States. On this fundamental principle, Gonzalez was one of 10 House Republicans who chose to side with Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rather than 197 of their colleagues. By definition, then, Gonzalez was an outlier, a radical, a five-percenter, and we don’t think his departure is a bad omen at all.

Gonzalez, in fact, says he’ll spend most of his political energy working to keep Donald Trump from ever being elected president again. If that’s how he feels about the guy who had such a great record governing as a conservative, we say good riddance, and next man up.

Finally, there’s the map that DCCC Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney keeps staring at. And he doesn’t like what he sees. Next November, House Democrats will be trying to unseat about half as many Republicans as they did in 2020. In addition, last year’s once-per-decade redistricting process also favored the GOP, with Democrats having redrawn the congressional map in only one of the 12 states with districts they’re targeting, while Republicans redrew them in eight of those states.

We’re still more than a year away from next year’s midterms, but warning lights abound for the Democrats. Neither Joe Biden’s disastrous presidency nor his free-falling poll numbers show any signs of righting themselves, and Biden is polling below 50% in 11 states he carried in 2020. House and Senate Republicans will thus have every opportunity to tar their opponents with the brush of a feckless and deeply unpopular Democrat president.

Of course, Democrat presidents are typically feckless, and their policies are routinely unpopular. None of what’s plaguing Joe Biden at the moment should be seen as novel, although the media have clearly refused to protect him like they did Barack Obama. Call it white privilege.

One final omen: A new Rasmussen poll shows Donald Trump beating Joe Biden by a whopping 10 points, 51-41, in a hypothetical 2024 rematch. But Biden won’t be running for reelection, you say? Trump beats Vice President Kamala Harris by an even bigger margin, 52-39. And Trump’s margin balloons to a massive 20 points among the independents who often decide elections.

It’s early, sure. But it’s not that early. Democrats could be looking at a real shellacking next November.

Updated to include information on the latest Rasmussen poll.

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