Alexandria, VA — Two thousand zero zero party over, oops out of time is a verse from a seminal Prince song “1999,” but today that’s the same message voters from across the country sent with Tuesday’s stunning election results in Virginia, New Jersey, Texas, Minneapolis and even deep blue areas of Seattle and New York that it feels like a party in 2009.
“We didn’t vote for this” is the unmistakable message from Tuesday’s results.
The question is: Will the national Democrats hear it?
Don’t bet on it.
Voters in Virginia rejected Terry McAuliffe’s singular strategy — nationalize the election. It backfired. The Youngkin campaign had a conversation with the voters about the actual issues they cared about: education and the economy.
Let’s rewind the clock to twelve years ago when Democrats controlled the Senate and House with much larger majorities and a President who, when challenged on his agenda, famously quipped “I won.” President Obama, Vice President Biden and Speaker Pelosi pushed an ambitious “once in a generation” expansion of government and rammed through the Stimulus and Obamacare without a single Republican vote. They cajoled, threatened, bribed and cheered Democrats to get it done and the blue dogs dutifully heeled.
Now, here we are in 2021 and the reaction from Washington Democrats to their current political quagmire is that we “need to pass something” and the path to rehabilitation starts with President Biden’s agenda. So-called “moderates” in the House and Senate are holding out for CBO scores, SALT tax fixes and the like thinking that these “victories” will better position themselves for next year’s elections. Democrats will say, “If only we had passed this ambitious agenda, the voters would have rewarded us.”
Yet this is like watching a crowd walk out of a concert of someone who can’t sing and concluding that the problem is the singer should have sung louder.
Public polling, including research conducted by the National Republican Congressional Committee, shows that the voters already “think the government is doing too much” as opposed to “too little” by a nearly 2:1 margin. The reality for Democrats is that the only thing worse than not passing BIF and reconciliation is actually passing them.
Progressives and many talking heads are saying they need to pass reconciliation now while they still can. Disagree with the policies all you want, at least they’re being intellectually honest. They’re not going to have much more time. Question is: How many of their colleagues are they willing to sacrifice in trying to do so? Rahm Emanuel went from the DCCC Chair, who recruited a class of “moderate” candidates that won back the House in 2006, to the White House Chief of Staff that talked them all into jumping off the Obamacare cliff for him.
For those “moderates” who don’t know what happened in the 2010 wave election, here’s the reality: it’s the “moderates” who get taken out first. To put another way, you probably shouldn’t re-sign your Navy Yard apartment lease. That year, Republicans won 63 seats in the House and 7 in the Senate. Democrats who didn’t support Obamacare and actually voted against Pelosi for Speaker all got wiped out too. “I’m not as bad as my colleagues” isn’t a compelling re-election message in a wave cycle. There are no life preservers big enough in a red Tsunami.
In off-year elections, voters want to send a message to parties that overreach. The 2010 “Republican wave” started in 2009 with the election of Republican Governors in Virginia and New Jersey. Sound familiar?
President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have forgotten or ignored the age-old adage that “past is prologue”. The voters, once again, sent — and are sending — a message to the Democrats running things in DC. Last night is likely just the beginning of what is going to be a very good cycle for Republicans all over the country. While the “moderates” pine for a vote on an infrastructure bill in the hopes that it will save their fortune, the wave that is about to hit them is faster than a little red corvette.
– Partner Rob Simms and Partner Mike Shields –