NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Former President Obama was a toxic commodity heading into the 2010 midterms.
Obama and his party muscled through Obamacare 12 years ago. The House also approved a controversial climate policy bill. And as a result, the commander in chief mostly sat on the sidelines for House candidates in that fall’s midterms. The president truly only campaigned for one sitting House Democrat: former Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Va.
We note that Perriello is a “former” lawmaker because he lost in 2010, despite Obama stumping for him. It was a stunner that Perriello won in the first place in 2008. He defeated former Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., by 727 votes. It would have been hard for Perriello to hold the seat in 2010 anyway. And, had it been any other midterm year than 2010, Perriello may have pulled it off. Especially with the president’s support.
But Perriello lost. Democrats hemorrhaged 63 seats in one of the most bloody landslides in American political history.
The 2010 midterms were a historically bad year for Democrats. It’s believed that Perriello may have faced a better fate had he been up in any other year than 2010.
This year’s midterms mirror the challenges Democrats faced in 2010.
President Biden insists he’s going to be involved in this fall’s midterms. It’s unclear what constitutes “being involved.” Biden’s sagging poll numbers could dissuade some sitting members or Democratic candidates from wanting him anywhere near their same zip code. In other words: “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.” But the president made one foray into a swing district lately that could portend what’s ahead of this fall’s campaigns.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., is a moderate, second-term Democrat who represents a battleground district. Spanberger clung to her seat by less than two percentage points in 2020. In fact, Democrats nearly lost control of the House in 2020, a phenomenon few political analysts saw coming. In an election post-mortem, Spanberger upbraided party leaders for tilting to the left with a progressive agenda and talk about “defunding the police.”
In an audio recording of a Democratic Caucus conference call first obtained by the Washington Post, Spanberger declared, “We need to never use the word socialist or socialism ever again.”
It’s likely that new district lines bolster Spanberger’s re-election chances this fall. She even represents a few parcels of what had been Perriello’s district back in 2010.
Biden descended on Germanna Community College in Culpeper, Virginia, last week, alongside Spanberger. The congresswoman noted that the event was not a campaign rally. But Spanberger welcomed Mr. Biden to her district.
“I’m just pleased to have the opportunity to have so many constituents speak with the President, take some pictures and tell their stories to the President of the United States,” said Spanberger. “That’s, for me, the height of what representations can and should be.”
Biden is an unpopular president. But he is the president. Midterm elections are about turnout. Especially, driving the base to the polls. So, even a weakened president can sometimes excite base voters.
It is unclear if the “Virginia” stop by the president represents a model for him this year. But stirring up voters in February usually doesn’t have the same resonance as a campaign visit in September or October. And, for some Democrats, a visit by the president months in advance doesn’t give skeptical voters much connective tissue to link them with an unpopular chief executive.
In addition, the White House can easily spin a trip like this to show that the president “isn’t scared to go to swing districts and vulnerable Democrats aren’t afraid of being associated with him.” Even if that’s not true.
But Spanberger may be onto something. Moderate Democrats from swing districts may be more comfortable with the president than with some of their radioactive colleagues from the same side of the aisle.
Moderate Democrats know they are vulnerable to “left-wing” ideas. Especially “defunding the police” as crime spikes around the country. That’s why Spanberger may have been onto something in the fall of 2020.
Still, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., a member of the squad, continues to promote the “defund the police” narrative. Gunfire recently tore through Bush’s car in St. Louis. Republicans find Bush’s talk ironic.
“I can assure you that the people who cried out for defunding the police will be among the first to call the police when they’re in a circumstance of danger,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.
Democratic leaders begged Bush and progressives to drop the “defund the police” rhetoric.
“They’re out of touch with reality,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Other Democrats even “blame the media” when reporters broach the subject.
“If you take a survey among the Democratic Caucus members, most people are not saying to defund the police. So I hope you guys don’t make it a bigger issue than it is,” said Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill.
But the die may be cast. That’s why some Democrats are trying to drown out the “defund the police” mantra.
“We want to fund the police. We don’t want to see less police,” said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla. Demings is the former Orlando, Fla, police chief and is now running for the Senate.
So the question is whether Democrats in competitive races feel more comfortable cozying up to the president — and perhaps placing real estate between themselves and some of the most progressive voices in the party? In fact, speaking out against their fellow Democrats and their policies may actually help Democrats in competitive campaigns.
And don’t think for a moment that Republicans have the law and order issue locked up.
Democrats say Republicans do nothing to address gun violence. Democrats also accuse the GOP of downplaying the Capitol riot. Democrats assert some Republicans only pay lip service to the U.S. Capitol Police and truly don’t back the force.
Just last week, Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, the former sheriff of Fort Bend County, Texas, launched a broadside at U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger. Nehls accused the Capitol Police of rummaging through his office. Manger denied the charge. Nehls thundered back that Manger was telling a “bold-faced lie” He accused the USCP of wanting “to destroy me” because he has a “a dissenting view” of what unfolded on Jan. 6 and the shooting of Ashli Babbitt outside the Speaker’s Lobby.
However — try as they might — it’s not clear that Democrats can actually use comments by Republicans about police and the riot to politically undercut their adversaries. Republicans have been able to make a more persuasive case that Democrats want to “defund the police.” And that rattles swing voters.
So these midterms are shaping up as very similar to 2010. Back then, key votes on Obamacare and climate change hung over the heads of Democrats. Now, it’s left-wing policies.
Imperiled Democrats and an unpopular president. President Obama couldn’t do much to help House and Senate Democrats in 2010. President Biden may find himself in a similar position now. But Democrats in swing districts and states may not run away from the president like they did 12 years ago. Instead, those Democrats may just run away from their progressives colleagues who espouse a controversial agenda.