Everybody is trying cope….
One sign of the alarm rippling through the party: Some Democratic politicians have begun creating distance between themselves and the president. Senate candidates are stampeding to break with the administration’s immigration policies, for instance. Other moves are more subtle, such as those of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who quietly removed the president’s name from news releases about federally funded infrastructure projects.
“What you’re seeing is people feeling like it’s time to head for the lifeboats rather than trying to steer the ship,” said Robert Gibbs, a former White House press secretary who worked under Barack Obama.
A sense of fatalism is setting in among many, with discussions centering increasingly on how to limit the party’s expected losses rather than how to gain new seats. In Arizona, for example, some Democrats are losing confidence that they will be able to flip the State House, a major target for national party strategists this year.
“We have to be cognizant and realistic about where and how we can win,” said Chad Campbell, a former state lawmaker and Democratic consultant in Phoenix. He added that it was more important for Democrats to position themselves for 2024.
“Most of this is baked,” said Dmitri Mehlhorn, the confidant of a number of Democratic megadonors, referring to the historical pattern of the president’s party losing seats in the midterms.
Not everyone is so pessimistic. But for those charged with solving the Democrats’ midterms conundrum, the question, increasingly, is: How many seats can they save? Control of the Senate is deadlocked at 50-50, and Democrats are clinging to a five-seat majority in the House. Few Democratic strategists expect to keep the House, but many remain hopeful about the Senate, where there’s far more room for candidates to burnish their own independent brands.