Chris Lange, FISM News
The Democratic Congressional Campaign committee issued a hefty dose of tough love for the party with a warning that Republicans may be winning the culture wars ahead of this year’s midterm elections. In a leaked Email, the DCCC urged party members to develop a new strategy to counter the GOP’s “alarmingly potent” attacks on Democrats over issues like critical race theory and defunding the police, according to a Politico report. The committee also shared polling and focus group numbers showing that voters in key swing states think their party is “preachy,” “judgmental,” and too “focused on culture wars.”
A generic ballot of swing districts from late January showed Republicans holding a 4-point lead over Democrats, but the committee said their party can easily regain lost ground if they present effective rebuttals to GOP attacks.
DCCC members and party operatives for the last two weeks have presented strategies to counter key Republican talking points that include voicing support for police and denying approval of “open borders or amnesty” by listing ways in which they are working to keep the border safe. The party’s House campaign arm said vulnerable Democrats who fail to forcefully counter GOP attacks risk losing considerable ground leading up to the midterms, warning that the Republicans’ lead could easily expand to 14 points. Republicans only need to gain five seats in November to take back the majority.
DCCC chief Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and several other Democrats have been encouraging party members to push back against Republican hits since the last election in which Dems barely held onto their majority. Democrat incumbents are facing challenges on several fronts, including soaring crime and inflation, the border crisis, and President Biden’s tanking approval ratings, all of which have served to further stoke anxiety within the party.
The GOP has seen gains in favorability among demographic groups the Democrats have struggled to connect with in recent years, including independents, Hispanics, and center-left voters. A DCCC presentation slide obtained by Politico warns party members that focusing on policy proposals isn’t the answer, stating, “Rather, Democrats need to demonstrate they fully understand and care about stressors in people’s lives” and focus on the issues “without stoking divisive cultural debates.” Presenters also noted that voters think Democrats “are not making good use of their majority,” confirming swing-district party members’ worst fears.
Democratic officials are saying incumbents must face Republican attacks head-on and abandon ineffective strategies of pivoting away from troublesome issues or attempting to land counterpunches. They are instead encouraged to “correct the record” because “changing the subject risks confirming suspicions.”
Maloney has been candid with his party about the historic challenges they are facing in the lead-up to midterms and has been calling on Democrats to do a better job of promoting Biden’s agenda since last summer.
While GOP members may be tempted to start planning their November victory celebrations, they would be wise to take note of another takeaway from the DCCC polling. The Republicans’ edge is narrowing in districts where Democrats have already begun to repel their attacks.