Democrats Concede That the House May Be Lost; Senate Now in Play

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO OVERSTATE the consensus in this city that Democrats are likely to lose the House next year; the issue is whether they will lose more than a dozen seats. And now the Senate is in play, as President Biden’s job approval ratings plunge.

WE FOUND ONLY ONE DEMOCRAT this weekend who believes the party can rebound. She thinks the Biden Administration will get more American allies out of Afghanistan, will provide quick aid to Louisiana, and will enjoy a strong unemployment report this Friday.

THAT UPBEAT SCENARIO overlooks the Delta variant, which is ripping through the South. That’s not Biden’s fault, but his declaration of victory on July 4 now looks badly premature, as the country prepares for booster shots and grapples with confusing guidance.

AS WE OFTEN WRITE, political capital is crucial. After Biden’s disastrous
Afghanistan pullout, his political capital — and polling numbers — have plunged, as
moderate Democrats distance themselves from him. The Republicans need to gain only four net seats next November to capture the House; we’re now up to 65% that they will. The GOP could gain 10 to 15 seats.

BIDEN’S POLITICAL CAPITAL was always fragile in the Senate, which is tied at 50-50. We now think odds slightly favor the GOP capturing the Senate as well, although there are unknowns — for example, will controversial Republican Sen. Ron Johnson seek re-election in Wisconsin?

BUT EVEN IF BIDEN LOSES JUST THE HOUSE in 2022, his agenda would be effectively finished; he would have to play defense, using his veto power frequently. A Republican House would spend much of its time holding hearings on Afghanistan, and a loud minority of GOP lawmakers would press for Biden’s impeachment (there’s no chance that 2/3rds of the Senate would vote to convict).

BIDEN SURELY IS AWARE that the House could fall to the GOP, so he’s determined to move quickly on his agenda of massive new infrastructure spending and higher taxes. The problem is that wavering moderate Democrats are increasingly leery of huge new spending and tax hikes, and their constituents — who see a link between
spending and inflation — may be leery as well.

THIS IS ALWAYS A CRUCIAL PERIOD for politicians — they listen to voters during the late summer break, and what they’re hearing about Biden isn’t pretty; there are growing doubts about his judgment. As moderates peel away from him, Biden’s strongest support comes from progressives — but that’s a mixed blessing in a general election.

DEMOCRATS NEED A VICTORY, and they could get one in California on Sept. 14, when voters may reject a recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom. If he loses, a sense of panic will envelop the party; more moderates would flee — and the two huge infrastructure bills would be in even greater trouble.

Related: Incredibly, the Similarities Between Joe Biden and Donald Trump Are Growing

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