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Looking Into the Dysfunction of the Democratic Party
Looking at the RealClearPolitics aggregate for Joe Biden's approval, one can see how it has precipitously dropped from double-digit approval to double-digit disapproval. It began to drop when the May 2021 jobs report fell way short of expectations and concerns regarding inflation began to rise. Then, the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle was the final blow that dipped Biden's approval numbers in the negatives.
Not only that, but his approval ratings in specific issues are all negative. His approval ratings on how he has handled the economy, foreign policy, and immigration are all down by double digits. Even his handling on the coronavirus, an issue that used to be his reliable saving grace, is at a -2.1 margin.
However, while Biden is the chief executive of the federal executive branch, he only tells part of the story behind the Democratic party's dysfunction.
On Election Day, the Democrats suffered a major defeat in Virginia where Republican Glenn Youngkin upset Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governorship. Not only that, but the Republicans also won the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General positions, and flipped enough seats to gain control of the House of Delegates. In New Jersey, truck driver Edward Durr pulled off a major upset by defeating longtime state senator and state senate president Steve Sweeney. While Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli lost against Democrat Phil Murphy, the margin was narrower than predicted indicating a rightward shift.
This was the theme throughout the election night. On top of Virginia and New Jersey, the Republicans swept the judicial elections in Pennsylvania, won House Seat 118 in a very Hispanic San Antonio district, elected the first Republican mayor of Rochester, New Hampshire since 2005, swept Long Island, and won City Attorney of Seattle by a 17 point margin.
The results left the Democrats and by extension, the mainstream media, in shock. They try to make sense of the underlying causes of why the party suffered major losses, but they could not reach a consensus. Democratic strategist and former lead-strategist for Bill Clinton's campaign, James Carville, claimed "stupid wokeness" was the reason for the Democrats' bad election night.
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That did not sit well with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who claimed that "woke" is a derogatory term used by pundits. On top of that, she claimed the Democrat party needs more wokeness, not less.
The problem with AOC is that she does not have the results to back up her claims. The candidate she endorsed for Buffalo mayor, India Walton, lost to Byron Brown whose name was not even on the ballot by double digits. Seattle, which is traditionally a solid Democrat stronghold, elected Republican Ann Davison, a law-and-order candidate, for City Attorney by a 17 point margin.
Meanwhile, the White House is also facing a bunch of internal conflict. Back in July, I wrote about the dysfunction within Kamala Harris' staff. And this was not gossip from right-wing pundits, but actually Politico who described Harris' office as an unhealthy work environment.
On November 14, 2021, CNNreiterated the same theme in its publication. To summarize the article in a few sentences, her supporters have gotten restless over her lack of results and her Democrat colleagues see her as a weak politician. Tensions between her and Biden's office have also risen, and they began as early as when Biden assigned Harris to figure out the border crisis:
As CNN has previously reported, Harris herself has said she didn't want to be assigned to manage the border, aware that it was a no-win political situation that would only sandbag her in the future. But Biden's team was annoyed that Harris fumbled answers about the border, including when she gave an awkward, laughing response about not visiting it during a spring interview with NBC's Lester Holt.
I would like to disagree with the notion that it was a no-win political situation. As I covered previously, Harris would not visit that actual border once. The closest she got to the border was when she landed in El Paso, but that was not one of the problem areas. If anything, her low approval was self-inflicted. Had she been more proactive and not repeatedly beat around the bush, she would not have, for instance, only a 28% approval rating on USA Today/Suffolk, which would be a historic low of any modern vice president.
With those sort of numbers, a hypothetical Harris presidential campaign will likely crash and burn. But the problem for the Democrats is if not her, then who will run? Biden has said on record that he intends to run for re-election in 2024, but considering his low approval numbers and cognitive issues, I do not think he will be able to make it. Interestingly, according to Business Insider, there are rumblings that US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg may succeed Biden instead of Harris. However, while he may be the least bad candidate of the trio, he may not be necessarily a good candidate. There was that head-scratching moment when he actually believed there was underlying racism in road construction and the low bridges from New York's state parkways.
This only covers the tip of the iceberg of the Democratic party's problems. However, the feud between the Democrat Establishment and the progressive branch plus the internal conflict in the White House are enough evidence that there is very little intra-party unity. While the Republican party is not exactly unified either with the Trump/MAGA base butting heads with the Republican Establishment, the division is not as debilitating.
On top of that, the Republicans lead the Democrats on the generic ballot according to RCP. Heck, the R +10 margin on ABC Newsis the biggest Republican lead the organization has ever recorded in its polling history. While polling is volatile and not exactly accurate, it is at least showing the momentum shifting towards the GOP. This a dicey situation for the Democrats as they have less than a year until the 2022 midterms to right the ship. But because they cannot even agree on why they suffered losses in the 2021 election, they are likely going to face another rough go.