American politics is in a state of flux, and both parties are desperately seeking, albeit painfully, balance.
Democrats are clinging to razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate, and they are desperate to achieve something significant before midterm elections take over the calendar.
However, rather than speaking as one, the party’s progressives from blue states are embroiled in a public and damaging feud with its few majority-making moderates: West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
Recent polls show that independents are turning against President Joe Biden, which should ring alarm bells in the White House and Democratic circles. A one-size-fits-all approach that could leave Democrats with nothing. The squabble could derail both a bipartisan infrastructure proposal and a much larger bill that would address climate change while also granting new social safety net programs to educate US children, provide day care like other industrialized nations, and more.
Liberals in the party have banded together to link the two proposals. The problem is that without the party’s moderates, they don’t have enough votes in the Senate to pass anything.
The GOP is looking at the very real possibility of regaining control of the House after the next election, no matter what it does – history is on its side. However, Republicans are deciding on their identity as they seek to win the hotly contested governor’s race in Virginia. Will they be the party of conspiracies or fiscal prudence? Will they mobilize Trump’s base or win back the independent voters he lost in 2020?
Youngkin is far more interested in discussing whether Virginia parents should have more say over their children’s mask or vaccine status than he is in Trump’s false talking points about rigged elections.
To win, Youngkin will need both voters who are outraged by the idea that Trump attempted a coup, as alleged in a new Senate committee report on the January 6 insurgency, and those who genuinely believe in the former President’s misinformation.
If Republicans take control of Congress, congressional investigations into the insurgency will largely come to a halt. Moving past the insurgency would be detrimental to accountability. It would also be politically damaging to Democrats.
Electing a Republican governor in Virginia would be a massive upset for the Republican Party. In 2020, Biden won the state by a margin of ten points. A Republican has not won a gubernatorial election since 2009. However, that was the year following President Barack Obama’s first election to the White House, and it was the first sign that Democrats were about to lose the House a year later.
Elections are won by independents. Trump won independents in 2016, and he went on to win the presidency. In 2020, he lost them, and he lost the election.
Yes, Trump was defeated both times. However, the current Republican Party has a systemic advantage. Republicans have routinely won the presidency with fewer votes (2000 and 2016). Their 50 senators represent a much smaller number of voters than the Democrats’ 50 senators.
Independents outnumber Republicans and Democrats. In fact, as “Inside Politics” demonstrated this week, the majority of Americans are not affiliated with either party.
Independents have a relatively even split. They all agree, however, that they are not well represented in Washington and that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Margie Omero, a Democratic pollster, was asked by King why people might prefer to see themselves as independent.
On the right, there are ideological schisms as well. They are, however, overshadowed by Trump’s grip on the Republican Party. Evan McMullin, a conservative who ran for president as an independent in 2016, is taking on Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a former Trump critic who has now endorsed Trump.
Liberals do not constitute the majority of Democrats. Recall that according to polling data, 35% of Americans identify as Democrats. However, according to Gallup’s data on ideology, only 25% of Americans said they were liberal in 2020. That’s a near-record high for liberals. It was 17% when Bill Clinton was elected president, and 21% when Barack Obama was elected.
This explains why neither party expects to have a large governing majority anytime soon. Democrats would need to find a way to appeal to conservatives in an increasingly polarized country. Republicans would have to figure out how to appeal to liberals.