With local, state, congressional, and gubernatorial candidates declaring their intentions to run and raise money for the 2022 midterm elections (even while final district lines have not been drawn yet,) it is not too early to start speculating if the Democratic Party can turn back the historical trend that the incumbent Presidents party mostly loses seats in off-year electoral contests.
Historically, the party that occupies the White House generally fares poorly in off-year mid-term elections. It does not matter if the President is popular or liked (Dwight Eisenhower, or Ronald Reagan in both their terms) or unpopular at the time (Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton (1993), or George W. Bush (2006).)
The party of the President does not do well in most midterm elections.
That said, Democrats are hoping that 2022 is like the 1934, 1998, and 2002 midterm elections.
Why those years?
Because those are the years the President’s party exceeded expectations and actually gained seats in either the House or Senate.
Franklin Roosevelt fared the best, gaining nine House and Senate seats in the 1934 midterm elections with voters showing enthusiasm for the New Deal Programs and opportunistic persona supported and displayed by Mr. Roosevelt.
The Biden/Harris Administration, with its passage of the American Rescue Plan, calling for passage of the American Jobs and Families Plans, and the warm-empathetic-opportunistic-Happy Warrior personality of President Biden, are hoping for a 1934 Democratic showing at the polls in 2022.
Is that possible?
In a word, yes.
If Democrats do the right things, they should be able to beat the Party of Traitors, the Big Lie, Know Nothing’s, and Reactionary Obstructionism in the 2022 Mid Terms in both Arizona and across the country.
What are the right things the Democrats have to do to win in 2022?
Register to Vote, Fight Voter Apathy, Recruit Good Candidates, Fight for Fair Districts in Redistricting, Run on a Good Democratic Program, Remind Voters what Republicans Represent, Turn Out, and Vote Up and Down the Ballot.
This is the obvious task that Democratic-leaning voters, encouraged by candidates and activists, have to perform in 2022. Matt Grodsky, a former spokesperson for the Arizona Democratic Party and currently Vice President and Director of Public Affairs at Media State Strategies, wrote a guest op-ed in AZ Central, calling for Democrats to intensify their voter registration efforts in the Grand Canyon State.
Grodsky wrote that:
“Arizona Democrats have a profound opportunity to extend their multicycle winning streak and defy history in the 2022 midterm elections. But one elusive problem looms and it threatens to dash the party’s ambitions: A voter registration gap that favors Republicans.
Despite registration gains over the last several years, Democrats are some 140,000 voters behind Republicans. Therefore, Democrats remain reliant on independent and moderate Republican voters.
In 2020, Joe Biden and Mark Kelly’s broad appeal resulted in wins at the top of the ticket. But voters retreated to their respective parties’ down-ballot, and that’s where Republicans’ voter registration advantage came into play.
Unless 2022 Democratic down-ballot races are as appealing as top-of-the-ticket candidates (I’m thinking the gubernatorial race), ballot-splitting and voters’ nescience pose a significant challenge, just as they did in 2020.”
Grodsky went on further to explain that to increase voter registration, turnout, and victories up and down the ballot, Democrats must:
- Fight apathy: Just because Donald Trump is no longer President, it does not mean Democrats can rest and relax going into the midterms. Not convinced. Go down to Veterans Memorial Coliseum and ask former State Representative and devoted Trump Zone cult member (and probable January 6, 2021 attendee), Anthony Kern, how he is doing auditing Maricopa County Votes from 2020 for Cyber Ninjas and perpetuating the big lie of election fraud? Or ask women across the state about how they feel that their right to choose has been chipped away by the Republicans in the state legislature and Governor Ducey. Or go to the State Capitol and see what latest fringe ideas on voter suppression, tax cuts, or defunding Invest in Ed — which the Republicans are considering. Democrats need to treat this election just as importantly as 2018 and 2020. In many ways, Democracy and the American way of life are on the ballot.
What else Democrats need to do to Win in 2022?
- Recruit candidates that can win: Grodsky correctly notes that increased Democratic voter registration totals will likely help more Progressive candidates win statewide as well as local carved-out legislative and congressional districts. That said, in the race for winning now, it is important that Democrats recruit candidates that can appeal to Democratic-leaning Independents and willing Republicans. People like Senator Mark Kelly will need that coalition to win reelection in 2022. So will probably Congressional and Legislative district candidates in probable swing districts that are drawn after redistricting. Better to have these Democrats caucusing with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer than being in the minority under Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell.
- Fight to ensure that every legislative and congressional district boundary is fairly and competitively drawn.
There should be no new Congressional or Legislative District where repulsive figures like Kelly Townsend, Wendy Rogers, Debbie Lesko, Jake Hoffman, Paul Gosar, or Andy Biggs have a built-in advantage. Democrats need to ensure that the new Congressional and Legislative District boundaries are fair and competitive. Of course, there will still be some districts that overwhelmingly favor one party or the other but the process should not create opportunities for the fringes of the political sewers to gain power.
- Promote a program that appeals to anyone on the centrist to the left wings of the political spectrum.
There is nothing wrong with running on what the Biden/Harris Administration has achieved and most Democrats support. This includes the vaccine rollout, the American Rescue Plan, and the proposed American Jobs and Families Plan.
There is nothing in any of those proposals the majority of the country (including a substantial number of Republicans) do not support.
Democrats should run on that and not hide from it or other programs like law enforcement and immigration reform.
- Remind voters what Republicans in 2022 represent.
Which political party promotes the big lie that the 2020 election was stolen?
Which political party has traitorous members that helped mastermind the January 6, 2021, Domestic Terrorist Attack on the Nation’s Capitol?
Which political party has known members of Qanon among its elected officials and supporters?
Which political party is actively championing legislation to suppress the right and access to vote?
Which political party had no members vote for the American Rescue Plan that cut child poverty in half, put checks in people’s hands, and COVID 19 vaccination shots in their arms?
Which political party thinks it is not okay to invest in Electric Vehicle charging stations, house veterans in better facilities, cut child poverty, provide better quality child and home care, and rebuild public school buildings?
Democrats should have a field day creating ads against Republican candidates in Arizona and across the nation that hold these views. It will help elevate Democratic turnout and sway Independent and like-minded Republican voters to vote blue.
- Turnout and Vote Up and Down the Ballot.
Democrats, as Grodsky noted in his op-ed, need to fight voter apathy and turn out at 2018 levels and possibly higher.
They also need to educate voters of the vital necessity of voting down-ballot and the candidates looking to win legislative district and county offices.
Unfortunately, while the Democrats did well at the top of the ballot in 2020, Democratic support fell off in local and county races for several reasons including voters not checking off all the down-ballot contests.
That needs to change.
So much of what affects our lives happens at the local level and it is important that public servants dedicated to moving the local communities, state, and nation forward are chosen.
So Democrats can have a historic midterm victory in 2022.
If they do all the right things.