When New Jersey Democratic Rep. Albio Sires announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection, he became the 23rd sitting Democrat in the House of Representatives to opt out of seeking another term in Congress.
For a party with a majority that depends upon a mere handful of votes, losing 23 House veterans is a crushing blow, but more such announcements are expected as filing deadlines approach for the 2022 midterm congressional elections.
Among other Democrats who aren’t running again are House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Rep. David Price of North Carolina, Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Rep. Filemon Vela of Texas, and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona.
And no wonder, considering the latest survey results of likely voters by noted Democratic pollster and campaign strategist Doug Schoen and partner Carly Cooperman, which show majorities disapproving of President Joe Biden’s performance and holding congressional Democrats responsible for the nation’s growing list of serious problems.
Schoen’s survey is especially telling because of the intensity of voter determination reflected in the responses. Fully 72 percent said they are “absolutely certain” to vote in November 2022 and another 28 percent said they are “very likely.”
Numbers like those suggest 2022 could see a record midterm turnout if the present trends continue. That has to be especially worrisome for Democratic leaders because there’s virtually no good news for them in the Schoen results.
Two-thirds, or 66 percent, of respondents agreed when asked if they believe “Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress are out of touch with hardworking Americans. They have been so focused on passing their own agenda that they’ve been ignoring Americans’ day-to-day concerns, such as the rising prices for goods and gasoline.” Only 30 percent disagreed.
Similarly, 65 percent agreed when asked if they agree that “I thought things in the country were going to change for the better with Joe Biden’s election, but it’s just been more of the same. The country is still divided, the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing—and now, on top of that, inflation is at a 30-year high and gasoline prices are soaring.” Thirty-one percent disagreed.
On issue after issue, respondents expressed disagreement and dissatisfaction with the direction the country is heading with Democrats in control of the White House and both the Senate and House of Representatives:
Democrats are blamed for rising inflation 48 percent to 31 percent for Republicans.
Democrats are blamed for the surge in illegal immigration by a 33-point margin, 55 percent to 22 percent, over Republicans.
Democrats are blamed for the nationwide crime surge, 48 percent to 27 percent for Republicans.
Democrats are blamed for the hiring shortages plaguing business, 41 percent to 31 percent for Republicans.
Other results are just as discouraging for Democrats.
Asked “generally speaking, would you prefer that there be Democratic control or Republican control of the U.S. House of Representatives,” 46 percent of the respondents said they prefer GOP control, while 43 percent chose Democratic control.
Asked how concerned they are with the violent crime surge, 58 percent said they are very concerned and 31 percent said they are somewhat concerned. A huge majority of the respondents, 62 percent, said they oppose defunding the police.
Perhaps even more disturbing for Democrats is that 69 percent of the respondents agreed that “Joe Biden and Democrats are soft on crime.”
And 67 percent of the respondents said the country has become more divided since Biden took office, while 52 percent said they believe Biden has weakened the U.S. economy.
Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), is being slammed by party colleagues who fear that he’s pushing the party down the wrong strategic path.
“Universally, we heard that there’s been too much Trump talk, not enough focus on pocketbook issues. [former Virginia Gov. Terry] McAuliffe banged the anti-Trump drum constantly on his way to losing the race for Virginia governor,” Politico recently reported.
“But at-risk members we spoke with worry that Maloney is still embracing the Trump-as-boogeyman strategy, blasting Republicans as extreme for seeking his blessing or otherwise supporting him,” Politico stated.
Other factors, including the bitterly partisan atmosphere, are playing into the growing list of Democrats deciding to leave the House. Sires, the Cuban immigrant who is serving his eighth term, told Roll Call on Dec. 20 that he’s leaving because “the whole atmosphere in Washington is awful. You either have to be from the left or from the extreme right, and I don’t think that’s good for the country.”
Democrats control the House in the 117th Congress with 221 seats, versus 213 for the GOP. That means a shift of only five Democrats to vote with Republicans is required for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to lose on critical issues.
Republicans are ebullient about their prospects, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warning Democrats in November that “if you are a Democrat and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you are in a competitive race next year. You are no longer safe.”