Failing to retake the Senate in 2022 is turning out to have been the best thing that could have happened to Republicans. It almost makes me wish they’d failed to retake the House.
True, I don’t like the fact that Biden can get his judicial nominees confirmed (although with “Republican” Lindsey Graham on the judiciary committee, that would have happened anyway). But beyond that, there was never much to lament about the loss — and now there’s even less.
Without a 67-seat Republican majority, there was never going to be an override of a Biden veto. A wall wouldn’t have magically appeared on the border if there were 51 Republican senators. Biden’s executive orders wouldn’t suddenly have been canceled.
Mitch McConnell would just have been a bigger power player, and Biden would have found it easier to pass blame to the other party whenever things went poorly.
But with the GOP’s “bad” performance, the White House was led to believe the 2022 elections were a mandate for Biden’s policies — even though he won primarily because Republicans were still getting their act together on early voting and because the party is in a state of transition from a Bush-style GOP to a Trump-fashioned one.
So Biden did a victory lap, smugly declaring the Democrats’ mediocre midterm performance was a “good day for democracy” and boasting that the “giant red wave didn’t happen.” A Democrat strategist even bragged that the election was proof Biden’s policies were “popular.”
They’re not popular. Every instinct you had in 2022 is still valid on that point. America’s average price for gas reached an all-time high at over $5.01 on June 14 of 2022 and, while it eventually fell, it is now up by over 20 cents in the last month. Inflation continues to rise far faster than the average salary. Crime is completely out of control, with California and Illinois now experiencing violent “street takeovers” by marauding gangs of thugs (the Illinois one saw the shooting of a six-year-old). There is also no southern border, just endless amounts of fentanyl trafficking.
Crime, inflation, and record gas prices were the hallmarks of Jimmy Carter’s doomed 1980 campaign against Reagan. Reagan ended up winning 44 states out of 50 — two years after Carter’s Democrats retained both houses of Congress in the midterms. Carter, too, saw no need to change his policies.
But there was a recent Democrat who turned his presidency around (after getting a midterm spanking).
During his first two years in office, Bill Clinton governed from the Left, despite running as a moderate, especially when it came to crime. Republicans took the House for the first time in four decades as a result of the “Gingrich Revolution,” and, suddenly, Bill was a moderate again. He ended up cruising to reelection and spent the rest of his presidency painting Republicans as the radical ones.
All mainstream polls show Biden’s approval ratings underwater. He should know that midterm victory is an extremely fickle predictor of electoral college success.