Mark Penn, the famous Democratic pollster, is predicting disaster for the Democratic Party if they don’t turn the ship around. Specifically, Penn believes the Democratic Party’s embrace of far-left progressive politics will result in widespread election losses if they do not begin a wholesale rejection of such policies.
What are the details?
Penn, writing in the New York Times alongside former president of the New York City Council Andrew Stein, predicted Democrats will lose upward of 50 House seats in the 2022 midterm elections if they maintain their current direction.
“Swing voters in two blue-leaning states just sent a resounding wake-up call to the Biden administration: If Democrats remain on their current course and keep coddling and catering to progressives, they could lose as many as 50 seats and control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections,” Penn and Stein wrote.
The prediction is especially significant because of how Penn helped Democrats in the 1990s. Penn, in fact, is responsible for helping then-President Bill Clinton recover after the Democratic Party suffered widespread losses in the 1994 midterm elections, and he played a prominent role in Clinton’s policy successes through the Clinton presidency.
Not only were elections in Virginia and New Jersey a “resounding wake-up call,” but according to Penn and Stein, the elections proved voters reject the Biden administration’s “embrace of parts of the Bernie Sanders/Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez playbook” and that Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are “the very heart of the Democratic Party.”
To understand the urgency for future Democratic candidates, it’s important to be cleareyed about those election results. Some progressives and other Democrats argue that the loss in the Virginia governor’s race, where culture war issues were a factor, should not be extrapolated to generalize about the administration. The problem with that argument is that last week’s governor’s race in New Jersey also showed a double-digit percentage point swing toward Republicans — and in that election, taxes mattered far more than cultural issues. The swing is in line with the drop in President Biden’s approval rating and the broader shift in the mood of the country.
What is the solution?
According to Penn and Stein, Biden must do what Clinton did in the 1990s: Return to the center.
Practically, that means devoting attention to issues American care about most: the economy and education. It also means blaming former President Donald Trump for everything “is no longer a viable campaign strategy,” for as Penn and Stein noted, “Trump is not on the ballot or in office.”
In fact, Penn and Stein wrote that Democrats would do well to model the campaign playbook of Glenn Youngkin, the governor-elect of Virginia.
“[Youngkin] based his campaign on positive messages of striving for excellence in the schools and for re-establishing the American dream as a worthy goal,” the duo wrote. “Those messages tapped into the aspirations of voters in ways that in the past were at the heart of the Democratic message. These are enduring values, as is reaffirming the First Amendment and the power of free speech.”
The pair concluded, “Unless it recenters itself, the risk is that the Democratic Party, like the Labour Party in Britain, will follow its greatest success with an extended period in the desert.”