Democrats and the 2022 Midterm Surprise

Donald Trump is weaker than in 2020, President Biden is set to “beat him like a drum,” Democrats still have a branding problem and Florida is now a party “reparation project” — they’re only Mr. Biden’s pollster, John Anzalone, appeared on “The Takeout” this week.

Anzalone said he, like many Democratic strategists and pollsters, was far more concerned about sweeping Democratic defeats in the House, Senate and governor’s races than Mr. Biden.

“Joe Biden was right and I was wrong,” Anzalone said. “A lot of things happened which we haven’t seen happening for a long time. All the rules have been dismantled since 2016.”

Anzalone described these midterm surprises:

  • Mr. Biden’s approval ratings improved from summer to fall, despite persistently high inflation, recession concerns and a declining stock market.
  • Independents broke late for the Democrats, something the party in power had not seen since 2002, as the midterms were deeply affected by the national trauma of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • Democrats won late-deciding voters who made up their minds in the final week of voting. Typically, the party in power in tough economic times, Anzalone said, loses these voters by a 3-1 or 4-1 margin.

Anzalone said, “The other thing is that people who used to have a mildly unfavorable view of him turned to the Democrats.” “He wasn’t part of the bad part that people thought was going to happen.”

Anzalone said Democrats had also received unexpected help.

“The Republicans gave us a helping hand,” he said. “One of the reasons that the late deciders decided for the Democrats was that there were just nominees they could not vote for. This election cycle was between headwinds and headwinds.”

As for Trump, who this week announced a third bid for the White House, Anzalone said nothing about his candidacy would deter Biden — who has said he intends to run for re-election, but not until 2023. Will not take a final decision until the beginning.

“I know enough about President Biden and his team that he believes he can beat Donald Trump, and I think he can beat Donald Trump like a drum,” Anzalone said. . “I think Donald Trump has just been weakened. And I think people have always underestimated the strength of Joe Biden.”

Known in Democratic circles for his outspokenness, Anzalone said Democrats cannot ignore their weaknesses.

“We still have a branding problem,” Anzalone said. “The American people think we’re more interested in prioritizing social problems than economic problems. We also have a problem with rural America. We have to work on crime and immigration.”

Florida was a bright spot for Republicans, and Anzalone acknowledged that the state’s 30 electoral votes could be out of reach in 2024.

“Florida is a reform project,” Anzalone said. “Florida is really expensive. You have to do resource allocation, that cost-benefit analysis. So the map changes.”

Executive Producer: Arden Farhi

Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sarah Cook and Eleanor Watson

CBSN Production: Eric Susanin
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