Max Kohn

Politics, Sports & Film Writer, The Paper

Published on December 17, 2021

In every major election cycle, (including midterm elections), each party always seems to have a strategy. A topic or argument that they utilize and focus on for most of the election cycle in hopes of not only appealing to their base, but middle of the aisle voters and centrists as well. In 1976, for Jimmy Carter, it was morality and character after the Watergate scandal. In the 2002 midterm elections, for Republicans, it was the need for wars to fight global terrorism. In the 2008 presidential election, for Barack Obama, it was recovering from the recession. In the 2018 midterms, for Democrats, it was the retaliation against the extreme and unprecedented nature of the Trump administration. In 2020, for Joe Biden, it was the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In each one of these situations, their strategies worked for multiple reasons. Whether it was fear-mongering, appealing to the everyday person, or a “recovery”, each of these strategies identified an extreme event that occurred and focused on how they would handle it, in contrast to how their opponent would handle it. And with the 2022 midterm and gubernatorial races coming up, both parties are now starting to form their arguments. 

Republicans are already leaning toward focusing on Joe Biden’s “failures”. These include his three bills passed in congress and their effects on the economy (high gas prices, inflation, etc.), the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and vaccine mandates/tyranny. Yes: these topics generally don’t cast Biden in the best light. But is it enough to convince swing voters? Republicans say yes and point to the many polls showing Joe Biden’s low approval rating in various recent polls. And while the polls have only involved a probably combined 15,000-20,000 likely voters, Democrats are still concerned about losing their majorities in both the House and the Senate. The push to get Justice Breyer to resign in the hopes of replacing him with a liberal justice is predicated around the fear that the majority will be lost in the Senate. Are Democrats paying attention to the polls? Listening to their constituents? We may never know, but the fear is growing. And as the development of the 2022 Democratic strategy slowly starts to form, their arguments have generally been consistent with those of previous years. Abortion rights, taxing the wealthy, and not much else. We hear voting rights, we hear January 6th. But are these drawing in middle of the roaders? In my opinion, most likely not.

I don’t know if Democrats have forgotten but they had an argument just a year ago that 90% of Republicans couldn’t even respond to without straight up lying. I’m talking about how the Trump Administration attempted to overturn the 2020 election. In those months and the months after, it looked terrible for Republicans. There was a massive effort lead by the ringleader of the party to stay in power and Republicans had nothing to say for it, often deflecting from the issue. Anyone could look at their comments about how they “share their constituents’ concerns about the election” and know it was all just BS. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that the GOP looked absolutely stupid and all over the place in those months. I actually remember one specific day in that time when it was discovered what Trump had said to Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger on a phone call. The over-an-hour long call was basically Trump providing fake evidence to Raffensperger and urging him to “find votes” and essentially overturn the election. The reaction from liberals was a revolted and angered one to say the least. Almost everyone liberal who was active on Twitter was pointing the insanity of the President of the United States saying quite clearly that he wants the top election official in Georgia to change the outcome of the election to make him win. And how did GOP twitter respond? They didn’t–of course. They were too busy noticing how Missouri representative Emmanuel Cleaver, during a prayer session in Congress had concluded with the words “Amen and A-woman”. I remember that I could not find a single conservative response to the Trump call. It was all “gender pronouns are dead!” or something. As for the liberal response to “Amen and A-woman”, it mostly consisted of “sure I guess it isn’t correct to include a woman title in that context because Amen isn’t referring to men…but why in the world would you care about that when the President is actively trying to overturn the election in his favor!”. 

So as for a strategy in 2022 for Democrats, this route does not seem like a bad idea, for a few reasons. 1. The Republican party is generally supporting the former President again. A good amount of the Republicans in Congress voted to overturn the election. Targeting each one of these members in a primary would likely lead to success. 2. Middle of aisle voters know that questioning the outcome is wrong. This issue makes sense to everyone in that category. 3. Democracy is at stake. Political Analysts are already saying that if Trump runs again in 2024, not only will he try to overturn the election again, but he will have more support—if these kinds of legislators are elected, in 2022. Let’s not forget about the power congress has to overturn the election. If on January 6th 2024, a majority of congress votes to object to the certification of the election, the loser can take office. The only reason I think Democrats are hesitant to pursue this path is because of the results in the Gubernatorial race in Virginia. 

Glenn Youngkin, a moderate republican, won against Terry McCauliffe, a moderate Democrat. McCauliffe and most public figures who campaigned with him, accused Youngkin of being an election conspiracist who believed that Trump won the election. However it wasn’t true. Youngkin said time and time again that it was a free and fair election. I imagine Democrats might cite thieir loss in this election as a concern in 2022. But Democrats in this situation were targeting the wrong person and Virginians noticed. However, there are representatives who say it was stolen. There are gubernatorial candidates likely to win their primaries nationwide who say that it was stolen. Saying anything close to this conspiracy will definitely put you in a bad spot in the hopes of winning your election. 

I believe Democrats are in a better spot than they think they are in. They are definitely in a better spot than what conservative voices like Ben Shapiro say they are in. This is a bold opportunity. Using this strategy against elected officials who promote election lies, deflect from the subject, (but not those who say it was a fair election) will almost definitely lead to an even wider house majority and more importantly for Democrats, a bigger Senate majority. With the Senate split 50/50 and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema often not voting along party lines, a majority would be a big deal for Democrats. Considering Democrats have not had a full Legislative majority since 2012, delivering on issues like voting laws, minimum wage, and potentially adding a liberal justice, would be great for them if they maintain and possibly expand their majority. However with recycling old arguments, calling people the wrong names, and not focusing on the terrible events of the 2020 election, their hopes for achieving their agenda might begin to dim.