On Thursday and Friday, several new polls were released showing the tenuous position of the Democrat Party heading into November’s elections. Far from seeing a game-changing rebound due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, that status quo appears to have been preserved, with Republicans holding a modest lead on the generic ballot in each of the last three surveys.
Biden’s approval numbers are even worse news for Democrats, with the president falling below 30 percent in key states like Nevada. Historically, a second-year president this down in the dumps is a huge drag on their party for the first midterm, and as I’ve said before, there’s no reason to believe things will be different this go around.
With that said, there’s a new “hope and cope” spreading: That Donald Trump will declare a 2024 run and sink Republicans in 2022.
Midterms are generally referenda on the president; that’s why Democrats are on track to have a bad time.
If Trump jumps in and becomes the dominant story, the midterms could become a proxy for Biden vs. Trump. That’s not a great shift for the GOP.
— Jacob Rubashkin (@JacobRubashkin) July 2, 2022
There are a lot of things to be skeptical of here, from Maggie Haberman’s report to the implications of the report even if it’s true.
For example, there’s little reason to believe Trump is actually going to declare before the midterms. Some seem to believe he will as a way to put pressure on the DOJ over a possible criminal indictment. The logic goes that if Trump is officially a candidate for 2024, he can point and say “This is all politics.”
I find that a little too clever by half, though. The DOJ is not going to back off because Trump makes a political complaint, and any prosecution based on the flimsy rationale delivered by the January 6th committee would receive large-scale backlash either way. The former president also understands marketing, and he knows that keeping his options open well into 2023 is the best thing to keep the hype train rolling. In short, I don’t think Trump is going to blow his big announcement on an ineffective, desperate-looking attempt to undercut Merrick Garland.
Still, even if Haberman’s report is true and Trump jumps into the race this early, I see no evidence it will affect the midterms. Democrats have been playing that game for the last year and a half, and it’s failed miserably, from Virginia to Texas. Trump is baked into the cake at this point, and that includes the idea that he’ll run again. Besides, Biden himself is not on any ballot in November, and it’s tough to make something a referendum between two people who aren’t running for office.
Then there’s the actual issue-level stuff to consider. Under Trump, the average gas price was a little over $2 a gallon. Inflation was low and Russia wasn’t invading Europe. Retirements weren’t being lost in the stock market. It would seem rather ridiculous to suggest that people will vote for Democrats in 2022, ignoring all of the current failures, because they are really scared of Trump who…delivered good results?
In short, the take that an early formation of Trump 2024 is somehow going to be a big drag on Republicans in 2022 just makes no sense. It’s the epitome of a too-inside-the-beltway take that believes people care more about January 6th than high grocery prices.