The Republican Party has left Mitch McConnell. He just doesn’t know it yet

“Masterful” tactician Mitch McConnell got a lot things wrong this cycle.

Turns out Donald Trump wasn’t exactly “a fading brand.” Indeed, Trump still had the juice to handpick nearly all the Republican candidates in the cycle’s most important races. 

Turns out Georgia GOP senatorial nominee Herschel Walker wasn’t “the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate.”

And although McConnell was right that “candidate quality” doomed Republicans’ chances of retaking the Senate, he wasn’t exactly honest about his share of the blame for the Senate GOP’s horrific slate. First off, if McConnell had convinced just 17 of his GOP colleagues to convict Trump during his Jan. 6 impeachment trial, Trump wouldn’t have wielded so much power over the GOP’s slate. Second, if McConnell had succeeded in recruiting candidates like former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey or New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, perhaps Republicans’ candidate quality wouldn’t have been so epically dismal. But neither Ducey nor Sununu wanted any part of McConnell’s do-nothing caucus, and that’s not Donald Trump’s fault.

The bottom line here is the fact that the Republican Party has slipped away from McConnell without him even knowing it. Trump’s power is at its lowest point since he first won the general election in 2016, yet he remains far more powerful than McConnell.

The reason is that Trumpism has overtaken the party, accounting for its biggest bump in voters possibly since the GOP tax-cutters formed an unholy alliance with the evangelicals back in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s. (That assertion is just a guess, by the way).

At the same time that Trump brought more voters into the GOP field, McConnell’s bread-and-butter suburban voters have slowly migrated toward Democrats. So although McConnell is still a whopper fundraiser, for the foreseeable future he’ll likely have slim-to-none quality candidates on which to spend his war chest.

In essence, McConnell has almost no constituency left except for a loyal cohort of well-heeled donors who haven’t quite realized the once-celebrated tactician has lost his grip.

Just for kicks, let’s take a look at Civiqs tracking of McConnell’s favorability rating among all voters:

Just 6%—yikes! 

But what about among Republican voters?

Just 12%—yikes! (Even at a very low moment for Trump, some three-quarters of GOP voters still view him favorably.)

So what do independents think of McConnell?

Yikes again!

And while we’re at it, here’s the icing on the cake—Nancy Pelosi’s favorability rating among registered voters: 39% favorable, 55% unfavorable.

Despite enduring more than a decade of GOP demonization, Pelosi polls better overall than either Trump (34%) or McConnell (6%). She also polls at 81% among Democratic voters versus McConnell’s pitiful 12% showing among Republicans. But we digress.

McConnell may not realize it yet, but the only thing he’s got left is his caucus—and that’s entirely contingent on his ability to continue bringing in gobs of cash. One has to wonder how long before McConnell’s power base collapses entirely. 

Happy New Year! Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter is on the show today to talk about the wild garbage fire that was the Republican speaker of the House vote. Kerry and Markos also break down what this onionskin-thin conservative majority can and cannot do in the coming year, as well as what the Democratic representatives can do to make Kevin McCarthy’s life just that much tougher.

In dispatch from Loserdom, Trump threatens third-party run if he loses GOP nomination

As the Republican Party continues its post-midterm meltdown, Donald Trump is rising to the occasion.

Trump used his Truth Social platform Wednesday to remind the Republican Party that he plans to destroy it if it cuts him loose. He included no text, he simply blasted out an article from the pro-MAGA site American Greatness titled, "The Coming Split."

In it, the author, Dan Gelernter, explores what might happen if a majority of GOP voters still want Trump as their nominee but the "Republican Party" refuses.

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"I have no intention of supporting a Republican Party that manifestly contravenes the desires of its voters," Gelernter writes. "The RNC can pretend Trump isn’t loved by the base anymore, that he doesn’t have packed rallies everywhere he goes. But I’m not buying it: Talk to Republican voters anywhere outside the Beltway, and it is obvious that he is admired and even loved by those who consider themselves 'ordinary' Americans."

Though fewer Republicans and GOP leaners than ever say they want Trump to run in 2024, it’s also true there’s still plenty of appetite for Trumpism and his mystique, shall we say.  

Gelernter pledges to support Trump as third party candidate if he does not prevail in the Republican primary.

"Do I think Trump can win as a third-party candidate? No. Would I vote for him as a third-party candidate? Yes. Because I’m not interested in propping up this corrupt gravy-train any longer," he explains, singling out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as entirely out of step with the base.

Gelernter isn't wrong about McConnell, who has completely lost grip on the motivations and desires of the MAGA Republicans who have overrun his band of party elites.

But the bigger immediate problem for McConnell and his ilk is the fact that Trump will surely burn the entire party to the ground if he doesn't clinch the nomination.

He is most certainly hinting at a third-party run that would almost surely doom Republicans in a general election.

But let's imagine a slightly less dramatic scenario in which Trump loses but doesn't launch an independent candidacy. He will never be the guy who graciously steps aside, endorses the GOP frontrunner, and works to elect them, a la Hillary Clinton in 2008 or Bernie Sanders in 2020 (to say nothing of 2016). Even if Trump isn't running, he will launch a revenge tour with the sole mission of burying the GOP standard bearer, whoever they may be.

Trump brought millions more voters into the Republican fold, and the party is now dearly dependent on motivating the MAGA base it gained after alienating suburban voters who once buoyed Republican turnout. If Trump’s not the nominee, he will undoubtedly instruct those MAGA voters to abandon the Republican Party as a corrupt institution of traitors to his cause. 

One way or the other, Trump is committed to making sure any party he isn't dominating is no party at all. Nothing will be left of the Republican Party if he can help it. So the GOP either gets Trump as a nominee, gets a third-party candidacy from him, or gets a scorched-earth campaign from Trump to raze the entire institution. How grand.

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White House press shop more aggressively pounding on GOP affronts to U.S. Constitution, democracy

Three times in the last two weeks, the White House has directly and aggressively rebuked Trump-inspired attacks on the U.S. government and the rule of law.

The latest installment came in response to recently revealed Jan. 6-era texts in which Republican Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina urged the Trump White House to declare 'Marshall' law, also commonly known as martial law outside of GOP circles.

"Plotting against the rule of law and to subvert the will of the people is a disgusting affront to our deepest principles as a country," deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told TPM's Kate Riga.

But beyond simply condemning Norman's efforts, Bates also challenged others to do the same no matter what their party affiliation. The move represents an explicit effort by the White House press shop to drive the conversation rather than simply react to it.

"We all, regardless of party, need to stand up for mainstream values and the Constitution, against dangerous, ultra MAGA conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric," Bates urged.

Bates has taken point on this more confrontational posture from the White House communications team, and Republicans have kept him quite busy in recent weeks.

Norman's texts followed on treasonous remarks made by GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia at a weekend gathering brimming with white nationalists. Greene assured the right wingers that if she had organized the Jan. 6 insurrection alongside Steve Bannon, "We would have won. Not to mention, it would’ve been armed."

To be perfectly clear, Greene means the coup attempt would have succeeded in overturning a free and fair election, more blood would have been shed, more lives lost, Donald Trump would still occupy the White House, and American democracy as we know it would have died.

Bates was quick to issue a statement calling Green's comments "a slap in the face" to law enforcement officials, the National Guard, and the families who lost loved ones during the assault on the Capitol.

“All leaders have a responsibility to condemn these dangerous, abhorrent remarks and stand up for our Constitution and the rule of law,” Bates added.

On Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre piled on, calling Greene's remarks "antithetical to our values" and noting that, despite her egregious musings, Greene will likely have her committee positions restored when House Republicans assume the majority in January.

"So we should let that sink in,” Jean-Pierre added.

Greene originally lost her committee privileges early in 2021 for making numerous racist and antisemitic comments along with promoting a variety of baseless conspiracy theories about 9/11 and more.

But the parade of White House condemnations first revved up a couple weeks ago after Trump called for the "termination" of the U.S. Constitution in order to reinstate him as commander in chief. Bates issued a statement calling the Constitution a “sacrosanct document," adding that attacking it is "anathema to the soul of our nation and should be universally condemned."

The White House is clearly leaning into this conversation about our country's foundational values, the preservation of our republic, and who's standing up for democracy while others seek to tear it down.

It may seem an obvious move, but in the recent past, Democratic White House communications teams have often taken a more reticent approach to political disputes, choosing mostly to elevate policy concerns while fielding political questions only when asked.

But the time for that outmoded approach to engaging with the public has passed. With the advent of Trumpism and MAGA Republicans' outright assault on American democracy, a more consistent, unapologetic approach to confronting GOP extremism is called for if Democrats want their message to pierce the media ecosphere. The White House is now clearly and consistently framing the GOP's constant attacks on the rule of law in this country as treasonous—in spirit, at the very least—and challenging any and all Republicans to live up to their oaths of office.

Simply put, it shouldn't be a stretch to say that Trump's call to terminate the Constitution should be "universally condemned" by every officeholder in the land.

Except that, in spite of Trump's special knack for alienating American majorities at the ballot box, Republican leaders still just can't bring themselves to so much as say his name in any negative context whatsoever. Asking Republicans to choose the U.S. Constitution over Trump is still a bridge too far for today's feeble GOP leaders.

Over the past year, President Biden made several legitimate attempts to convey the dangers of Republican attacks on our constitutional democracy. Yet he was regularly panned by pundits and Democratic activists alike for not doing enough to drive a national discourse on the matter.

A review of the many forceful speeches he delivered in his first two years suggested Biden's failure to break through wasn’t for lack of trying. As I concluded in July:

Biden's efforts to challenge the Republican Party and GOP leaders have come across more like one-offs on disparate topics, such as Jan. 6, voting rights, inflation, a Supreme Court decision, etc. The lack of a cohesive unifying narrative has led to some pretty solid and forceful speeches getting lost in the thicket of our pervasive 24/7 news cycle.

The Biden speech that finally did make a splash was his closing midterm message urging voters to protect democracy less than a week out from Election Day.

“This is no ordinary year,” Biden said on Nov 3. “So I ask you to think long and hard about the moment we’re in. In a typical year, we’re often not faced with questions of whether the vote we cast will preserve democracy or put us at risk. But this year, we are.”

Once again, pundits panned the White House for closing on democracy when the entire election would so clearly be driven by the economy. But the election proved Biden and his communications team right—democracy was very much on the ballot.

Now, the White House has taken that message to heart—repeating it at every opportunity provided by an anti-democratic Republican Party in free fall. The White House’s Bates often punctuates his statements with, “You cannot only love America when you win."

If it sounds familiar, it should. Biden used the line on the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection, when he delivered a stinging rebuke of Trump. Biden repeated the sentiment again on Sept. 1 when he used a prime-time address to warn Americans about the extremist threat MAGA Republicans pose to the nation.

Instead of airing that prime-time speech live, major TV networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) aired game shows and reruns of programs like "Law and Order." They reportedly deemed the speech too "political" in nature, while CNN and MSNBC did take it live.

In spite of all the criticism and handwringing over Biden's supposed failure to use his bully pulpit as president, his repeated efforts did manage to reach voters across the country.

In post-election polling of 71 highly competitive House districts, fully 60% of voters called protecting democracy an extremely important consideration that drove them to the polls, exceeding inflation (53%), abortion (47%), and crime (45%). Majorities of both Democrats (73%) and independents (51%) called the issue highly motivating for them.

Whatever the pundits ultimately deem to be their midterm takeaways, the importance of preserving democracy hasn't been lost on the White House press shop. Call it political if you will—basically everything a White House does is. But more importantly, protecting democracy is existential. Voters very much understood that this cycle, and the White House isn't going to let them forget it.

Well, that was an awesome way to finish out the 2022 election cycle! Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard revel in Raphael Warnock's runoff victory on this week's episode of The Downballot and take a deep dive into how it all came together. The Davids dig into the turnout shift between the first and second rounds of voting, what the demographic trends in the metro Atlanta area mean for Republicans, and why Democrats can trace their recent success in Georgia back to a race they lost: the famous Jon Ossoff special election in 2017.

We're also joined by one of our very favorite people, Daily Kos Elections alum Matt Booker, who shares his thoughts on the midterms and tells us about his work these days as a pollster. Matt explains some of the key ways in which private polling differs from public data; how the client surveys he was privy to did not foretell a red wave; and the mechanics of how researchers put together focus groups. Matt also reminisces about his time at "DKE University" and how his experience with us prepared him for the broader world of politics.

McConnell launches mad hunt for whoever whiffed Trump’s impeachment then backed his loser candidates

GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knows who's to blame for Senate Republicans' midterm drubbing, and he is definitely not it.

“Look at Arizona, look at New Hampshire, and the challenging situation in Georgia as well,” McConnell said Tuesday, ticking through a list of once-promising GOP losses at his weekly press conference. “You have to have quality candidates to win competitive Senate races.”

McConnell stopped short of calling out Donald Trump by name, because god forbid he show some actual leadership. But every GOP candidate in those states—Blake Masters in Arizona, Don Bolduc in New Hampshire, and Herschel Walker in Georgia—had Trump's endorsement. In fact, Trump's heavy-handed backing was instrumental to the candidacies of both Masters and Walker.

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McConnell did, however, admit that he was basically powerless in the face of Trump.

“Our ability to control the primary outcome was quite limited in ‘22 because of the support of the former president proved to be very decisive in these primaries,” McConnell lamented.

Of course, McConnell bears as much responsibility as Trump for the Senate GOP’s pathetic cycle. In New Hampshire, McConnell tried desperately to recruit the state's highly popular GOP governor, Chris Sununu, to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. But after speaking with several members of the Senate GOP caucus, Sununu took a hard pass on jumping on that sorry do-nothing bandwagon. Instead, he ran for and secured a fourth term as governor.

The Senate GOP's Sununu misadventure highlighted the fact that Trump obviously wasn't the only hurdle to recruiting quality candidates. McConnell also tried to convince term-limited GOP Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to run for Senate to no avail. So let’s just be honest that the Senate GOP's lack of appeal to reasonably capable people certainly isn't on Trump—it's on McConnell.

Beyond his recruiting failures, McConnell also gave Walker his full-throated endorsement in the Georgia race.

"Herschel is the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate," McConnell said in an October statement to Politico. "I look forward to working with Herschel in Washington to get the job done."

Walker not only failed to help Republicans take back the Senate, he didn’t exactly deliver as a uniter either.

Back at the post-election press conference, McConnell reflected on similar losses by fatally flawed Republican candidates in 2010 and 2012, saying the GOP had “unfortunately revisited that situation in 2022.”

Gee, Senator, if only there had been a way to avoid "that situation" again. If only Trump had, for instance, orchestrated a wildly unpopular insurrection against the U.S. government, leaving himself open to a career-ending impeachment.

The truth is, if McConnell hadn't miscalculated every step of this midterm cycle, perhaps he'd be poised right now to become the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader in U.S. history. Instead, he's devoting press conferences to excuse peddling for the GOP's anemic election showing.

If McConnell's still looking around for culprits, might be time to take a look in the mirror.

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Republicans continue to fail the democracy test: Do they support Trump or the U.S. Constitution?

After three consecutive dismal election cycles, Republicans still can't bring themselves to break with perennial loser Donald Trump even after his rallying cry to terminate the U.S. Constitution.

On Tuesday, the House GOP's No. 2, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, became the latest Republican to fail the democracy test: Trump or the Constitution?

Pressed by PBS Newshour reporter Lisa Desjardins on Trump's latest call to suspend "all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution," Scalise simply couldn't bring himself to condemn Trump.

"Rep. @SteveScalise told me a few minutes ago that he has not seen former Pres. Trump's words about the Constitution," tweeted Desjardins, in regard to Trump's Truth Social rant.

Desjardins proceeded to educate Scalise: "As he sees the election, from 2020, it allows for the termination of all rules and articles, including the Constitution. What do you make of that?"

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Steering clear of Trump, Scalise responded, "The Constitution is never subject to being waived or suspended. Obviously, the Constitution's our enduring document that protects our freedoms."  

Desjardins followed up by asking Scalise if it's "dangerous to talk about the termination of things like that?" In other words, is it dangerous to suspend the very document that "protects our freedoms," as Scalise himself put it.

The response, according to Desjardins' tweet thread: "Scalise: *enters office, does not respond*"

So if it's Trump or the Constitution, it's still Trump for Republicans, which is the exact same message Rep. David Joyce of Ohio, who chairs the Republican Governance Group, sent Sunday on ABC's This Week.

Host George Stephanopoulos asked Joyce directly, "Can you support a candidate in 2024 who's for suspending the Constitution?"

Joyce equivocated at first, offering, "It's early, I think there's going to be a lot people in the primary."

But he ultimately admitted that he would back Trump if he won the nomination. "At the end of the day, whoever the Republicans end up picking, I think I'll fall behind."

"Even if it's Donald Trump and he's called for suspending the Constitution?" Stephanopoulos interjected.

Joyce retreated to his earlier contention that it would be a "big field" in 2024, suggesting that Trump might not win.

"That's not what I'm asking," Stephanopoulos clarified, "I'm asking you, if he's the nominee, will you support him?"

"I will support whoever the Republican nominee is," Joyce restated, adding another dash of fairy dust, "I just don't think at this point he will be able to get there."

Stephanopoulos proceeded to call Joyce's statement both "extraordinary" and "remarkable."

But the truth is, it isn't remarkable in the least from today's Republican Party—it's just more of the same from a party that has routinely capitulated to Donald Trump no matter what the circumstance. Even after Trump inspired the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. seat of government, 197 House Republicans—93% of the caucus—voted against impeaching him.

The entire Jan. 6 attack was an assault on the Constitution, the peaceful transfer of power, and the will of the people.

The brother of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick put it best on Tuesday when he explained why the Sicknick family refused to shake the hands of GOP leaders Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell at a congressional gold medal ceremony for officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6.

"Unlike Liz Cheney, they have no idea what integrity is," Ken Sicknick said. "They can't stand up for what's right and wrong—with them, it's party first."

On Tuesday, McConnell had yet another opportunity to defend U.S. democracy when CNN’s Manu Raju asked if he would “categorically” refuse to support Trump. 

"What I’m saying is, it would be pretty hard to be sworn in to the presidency if you’re not willing to uphold the Constitution,” McConnell offered. 

Again, given the choice of Trump or the Constitution, McConnell demurs.

Republicans have proven over and over again their fealty to party, and personal gain supersedes their fealty to the republic. Their continued refusal to condemn a man who is calling for the "termination" of the U.S. Constitution is just a continuation of their treachery.

FLASH: Family of officer Brian Sicknick refuses to shake hands with Sen McConnell and Rep McCarthy at Congressional gold medal ceremony. Brian’s brother Ken Sicknick tells me why ====>

— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) December 6, 2022

Asked McConnell - in aftermath of his criticism of Trump in the past two weeks - if he could categorically say he wouldn't support him as GOP nominee. "What I’m saying is it would be pretty hard to be sworn in to the presidency if you’re not willing to uphold the Constitution"

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 6, 2022

This is the state of the authoritarian Republican Party: willing to back an aspiring despot who *explicitly* says he wants to terminate the US Constitution, so long as he’s got an (R) by his name. We’re in trouble.

— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) December 4, 2022

Pelosi is right: It’s time to usher in a new era of Democratic leadership

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a 1,000 headlines Thursday when she announced she would not seek reelection as Democratic leader in the upcoming Congress.

That declaration alone would have ushered in a new era for House Democrats after two decades under her leadership, but Pelosi also helped clear the decks entirely for a new, younger leadership team to take over. Not only is Pelosi leaving her post, so are her top deputies Reps. Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the number two and number three House Democrats, respectively.

Clyburn's statement celebrating Pelosi's tenure included a nod to the future as he pledged to assist "our new generation of Democratic Leaders which I hope to be Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar.” Baton passed.

Regardless of whether House Democrats' leadership transition will proceed that cleanly (as it appears to be doing), the Democratic caucus now gets an entirely fresh start to elevate leaders of their choosing. They can take stock of the times, their needs, and elect a team they trust to chart a new course to the future.

True to her brand, Pelosi appears to be making a pitch-perfect exit. From shattering glass ceilings as the first female speaker to becoming an anti-Trump icon, Pelosi demonstrated steely resolve throughout 45's tenure, stewarded President Joe Biden's historic agenda through a razor-thin majority, and will now stick around to mentor an upcoming Democratic class.

Meanwhile House Republicans are already dissolving into utter chaos as they anticipate a majority with roughly the same number of members Pelosi counted during Biden’s highly productive inaugural years.

what a contrast: incoming GOP Speaker (maybe) will have 221 members in his caucus & it's widely acknowledged it will be an unmanageable shit show outgoing Dem Speaker had 221 members and passed so many significant pieces of legislation to improve lives thanks @SpeakerPelosi

— Joe Sudbay (@JoeSudbay) November 17, 2022

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Frankly, Biden, Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York should be enormously proud of their work and buoyed by the results of a midterm nearly everyone had predicted would result in a Democratic drubbing.

Though the outcome fell short of a Democratic sweep, Senate Democrats could still pad their majority while their House counterparts enter the next election cycle already within striking distance of reclaiming the gavel.

Biden, who had been pilloried for his low approvals, never became the drag pundits had ordained him to be. In fact, Biden arguably proved to be a net plus by repeatedly pledging to codify abortion rights while reengaging young voters with student debt cancellation, historic investments in fighting climate change, and moving toward decriminalizing marijuana.

If anything, the midterms strengthened Biden’s argument for running for reelection in 2024. But it's time to consider the possibility that Pelosi has got this right: It's time for a changing of the guard.

Just like his congressional counterparts, Biden outperformed expectations by a lot. He showed up in states where he could be helpful, such as Pennsylvania, while keeping a low profile elsewhere. He ultimately gave the Democratic base lots of reasons to get to the polls. And toward the end of the cycle, Biden closed on a message of GOP extremism, warning voters of the threat the party now poses to democracy and the fact that Republicans planned to cut Social Security and Medicare. In an era that is completely unpredictable and defies historic precedent, Biden navigated the turbulent atmospherics just about right.

And yet the president continues to seem bewildered by an unrecognizable political landscape that constantly cuts against his core and offends his sensibilities.

As The New York Times' Peter Baker wrote just before Election Day:

These are frustrating, even perplexing times for Mr. Biden, who according to confidants had expected the fever of polarizing politics to have broken by now and was surprised that it had not. The presidency he envisioned, one where he presided over a moment of reconciliation, is not the presidency he has gotten. He thought that if he could simply govern well, everything would work out, which in hindsight strikes some around him as shockingly naïve if somewhat endearing.

“In the old days, when I was a United States senator, we’d argue like hell with one another, disagree fundamentally, and go down to the Senate dining room and have lunch together,” Mr. Biden reflected to an audience in San Diego last week. “Because we disagreed on the issues, but we agreed on the notion that the institutions matter.”

“Well, the institutions are under full-blown attack,” he added. “I’m already being told, if they win back the House and Senate, they’re going to impeach me. I don’t know what the hell they’ll impeach me for.”

After the country narrowly escaped Trump's treacherous clutches, it was perhaps soothing to be led by a president so firmly rooted in a bygone era of shared commitments and institutional collegiality. Biden’s mere presence recalls a time when U.S. lawmakers almost universally considered America’s enemies without to be greater threats than its enemies within. And based on the midterm results, Biden clearly rose to the occasion even though it's an occasion that has dismayed him. Looking back over the arc of Biden’s presidential speeches, they were far more aggressive, forceful, and on point than he got credit for.

But as Pelosi noted in her speech, "for everything there is a season."

"Now we must move boldly into the future, grounded by the principles that have propelled us this far and open to fresh possibilities," Pelosi said.

Democrats have always been about moving boldly into the future while Republicans nostalgically cling to the past. A recent PRRI poll found that two-thirds of Republicans agreed with the statement, "Since the 1950's, American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the worse."

PRRI pollster Natalie Jackson called the 1950s question a "key predictor" of a person's support for Donald Trump and/or the Republican Party.

So as Republicans descend into crisis over who is the true leader of the party of yesteryear, perhaps now is a good time to consider which Democrats might emerge to lead the party of tomorrow.

The midterms have served as a proving ground for plenty of breakout Democratic talent that runs the spectrum from unabashedly liberal to battleground tested. Some campaigned in shorts and hoodies while others donned T-shirts emblazoned with the words, "my body, my decision." Taken together with some standouts from the 2020 contest, Democrats have a wealth of barrier-breakers in the making in terms of gender, religion, race, and sexual orientation.

The advantages of incumbency are massive, and there's certainly an argument to be made that Democrats stand a better chance of keeping the White House in 2024 if they stick with a president who is already in it. That’s the case that is ultimately Biden’s to make should he choose to do so.

But in 2024, Democrats could face anyone from the thrice-defeated Trump to a fresher face like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Either way, Democrats must live up to being the party of the future. That's what we expect of ourselves, and that's what America needs from us.

One way or the other, Democrats will emerge united to defeat an illiberal anti-democratic GOP that hopes to impose its 1950s values on a 21st century country. But for now, we should be exploring both the best message and best messenger to carry us forward. Biden proved to be that person in 2020, but whether he will reclaim that mantle in 2024 remains to be seen.

How are we going to win the Georgia runoff? By helping nonprofit groups in frontline communities get out the Democratic vote. Chip in $1 today to each of these amazing organizations.

Election Night 2022 was full of surprises—mostly for people pushing the last couple months of traditional media narrative of a "red tsunami." The problem is that Americans are not super into the GOP. Markos and Kerry have been saying the media narrative was wrong for months, and on Tuesday, Daily Kos and The Brief team was validated.


Biden has given many forceful speeches this year. Here's why they're not breaking through

The 1950s question that is a key predictor of Trump/GOP supporters

'There was a lot of finger-pointing' at brutal hours-long Senate Republican meeting

The GOP reckoning at hand is long overdue. Naturally, Republicans will still manage to fail

When Republicans start saying rational things about violence, they are surely worried

The No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, was quick to extend best wishes to the husband of Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul Pelosi, who was violently attacked early Friday morning by an intruder in the couple’s San Francisco home.

"Wishing a full recovery for Paul from this absolutely horrific violent attack," tweeted Stefanik.

It's a departure from her norm. On any given week, Stefanik's twitter account is a fount of racist conspiracy theories demonizing immigrants, people of color, and Democrats.

Last year, Stefanik's social media ads accused "radical Democrats" of plotting "their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.”

“Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington," claimed the ad, funded by Stefanik's campaign committee.

In a tweet earlier this year, Stefanik referred to the White House and House Democrats as "pedo grifters," invoking an apparent abbreviation for pedophile—an obsession among QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe Democrats run a Satanic child sex-trafficking ring.

So Stefanik's awkward dance with graciousness in the wake of the savage attack on Paul Pelosi looks to be more of a political tell than heartfelt sentiment. It was accompanied by similar out-of-character pronouncements from other GOP leaders on the Hill.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's spokesperson, Mark Bednar, said McCarthy had "reached out to the Speaker to check in on Paul and said he's praying for a full recovery and is thankful they caught the assailant."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted: "Horrified and disgusted by the reports that Paul Pelosi was assaulted in his and Speaker Pelosi's home last night. Grateful to hear that Paul is on track to make a full recovery."

With some notable exceptions, Republican leaders have generally responded appropriately to the tragedy the Pelosi family is enduring, which in these fractious times begs the question: Why?

Because a racist, misogynist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist just broke into the home of one of the most well-known Democrats in the nation yelling, "Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?"

It's unclear if the assailant, David DePape, who years ago listed himself in voting records as a member of the Green Party, officially identifies as a Republican or with the Republican Party. But he appears to be a case study in online radicalization. His Facebook page reportedly included links to multiple videos produced by My Pillow guy Mike Lindell falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen. The attack was also eerily reminiscent of the seditionists on Jan. 6 roaming the Capitol hallways, calling out, "Nancy, oh, Nancy," and, "Where are you, Nancy? We're looking for you."

It's too early to know exactly what will come to light regarding Depape, but an incident like this is Republicans' worst nightmare in terms of the female suburban voters they are trying to woo back into their corner this cycle.

The last thing Republicans want is some QAnon loon reminding suburban moms what a danger the GOP is to civility across the country, particularly when Republicans premised much of their closing argument on being the party that can tackle crime and keep people safe.

If Democrats do the impossible this November, it could drive a stake through the MAGA-GOP coalition

In 2020, Democrats fantasized about defeating Donald Trump at the ballot box, retaking the White House, and finally ending the MAGA nightmare that had consumed the country for four years.

The hope was that once Trump had helped surrender both the House and the White House to Democrats, Republican Party leaders would realize that staying politically wed to him was a one-way ticket to Loserville and ditch him.

The reality was both better and worse. Trump lost the White House, then doomed Republicans in two Senate runoffs that handed full control of Congress to Democrats—but he also turned out more than 74 million voters for Republicans. Even as Democrats claimed a trifecta in Washington, Republicans whittled down Democratic control of the House by 13 seats while cementing their grip on state legislatures across the country. Republicans simply couldn't believe so many Americans had voted for them. State party officials were thrilled. And when it came time to cut Trump loose following the Jan. 6 insurrection, GOP congressional leaders demonstrated the valor of a groundhog confronting its own shadow before scampering for cover.

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Fast forward to two months out from the 2022 midterms. After being told they were doomed for the better part of a year, Democrats are now in a competitive race to keep both chambers. On Thursday, Democrats rose to +1.9 points in FiveThirtyEight's generic ballot aggregate—their biggest edge all year. Out of the 38 polls taken in September, just six found a Republican advantage—five of them were from GOP-aligned groups.

As New Democrat Network President Simon Rosenberg noted, every one of the nine polls released this week (as of Thursday) shows movement toward Democrats, including Rasmussen and Fox News.

  • +3 toward Dems: Rasmussen, Fox News
  • +2 toward Dems: NBC News
  • +1 toward Dems: New York Times, Economist, Echelon Insights, Morning Consult, Democracy Corps, Navigator Research

Nothing is assured, but Democrats managing to keep both chambers of Congress is now more plausible than the emergence of the red wave we were assured was coming for most of this year. Perhaps the most likely scenario is a split decision with Democrats keeping the Senate (even though some specific races have been tightening) but losing the House.

Such a scenario would not only entirely stall President Joe Biden's agenda, it would consume the lower chamber with a ridiculous round of wackadoodle partisan exercises, including investigations of Biden, his son Hunter, and absolutely anything else Republican extremists can dream up. The only thing worse than losing the House would be losing the Senate on top of it, forestalling any progress on Biden’s judicial and government nominees for the next two years.

However, Democrats—having finally broken from their defensive crouch after consistently overperforming in this year’s special elections—have just begun to imagine a far sunnier outcome. Just maybe they could keep both chambers, build on Biden’s judicial advances in the Senate, and continue making legislative progress on a host of issues related to economic justice, racial justice, and the safeguarding of our democracy.

Certainly those would be several critical upsides of Democrats prevailing outright in November.

But if Democrats manage to do what we were told was impossible and keep both chambers, the most profound impact could come in the form of dealing a death blow to a Republican coalition that has been overrun by Trumpism—or what Biden refers to as MAGA Republicans.

When so-called establishment Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dislocated their spines during Trump's second impeachment trial, they gambled on the notion that they could keep Trump and his liabilities at arm's length while still benefitting from the slice of new voters he brought into the GOP fold in 2020.

Heading into this year, Republicans were so cocky about their takeover prospects that they declined to even outline an agenda for voters. When McConnell was asked in January about what Republicans planned to do with a congressional majority, he pompously replied, "That is a very good question. And I'll let you know when we take it back.”

McConnell's stunning lack of leadership since Jan. 6 has come back to bite him in the ass, leading to underlings with bloated egos filling the vacuum. Not only did Senate GOP campaign chief Rick Scott promise a Republican majority would raise taxes on 100 million working Americans and sunset Medicare/Social Security, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina unveiled a national 15-week abortion ban last week that he pledged would get a vote in a GOP-led Senate.

Asked on Fox News Thursday about the heat he has taken from fellow Republicans for giving away the game, Graham responded, “We owe it to the American people to tell them who we are, and here’s who we are as a national party.” Sorry, Mitch.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy plans to finally unveil a four-point plan Friday (it's never too late!), which will reportedly echo Scott's themes of slashing Social Security and Medicare, among other things. McConnell has insisted that Republicans will neither raise taxes nor sunset Medicare and Social Security. He has also promised they would never find the 60 votes necessary to pass a national abortion ban. That from the same man who nuked the filibuster on Supreme Court nominations so that he could steal three seats for Republicans under an entirely new regime.

In any case, Republicans in Washington are currently finishing out the final stretch of the campaign season in sloppier, more chaotic form than any party in recent memory. It is the epitome of disarray, mainly because GOP leaders quit leading, gifted their party to Trump, and he has gleefully tied them in knots.

Still, if Democrats manage to keep both chambers, even by the slimmest of margins, that victory would be an epically embarrassing defeat for a party that spent that last nine months fantasizing about the size of the red wave getting ready to wash over the country. In fact, coming up dry could potentially obliterate the coalition establishment Republicans embraced after Jan. 6 when they thought they could have their cake and eat it too.

If establishment Republicans are ever going sever ties with Trump's MAGA base, it will have to be on the heels of a defeat so stunning and agonizing that it leaves them no choice but to embark on the process of rebuilding their party. Losing the House, the Senate, the White House, and a slam-dunk midterm in three consecutive cycles to a pro-democracy coalition of Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans could quite possibly fracture the GOP base, finally severing Republican ties to the anti-democratic MAGA insurgency.

So when you think about the potential upsides of voting this November and getting every single one of your friends, neighbors, and family members to vote, don't just think about Democrats retaining congressional majorities. Instead, imagine crushing the MAGA extremists who seek to end America as we know it.

Let’s crush it in the Senate. Smash and donate! 

Let’s crush it everywhere. Smash and donate!

Since Dobbs, women have registered to vote in unprecedented numbers across the country, and the first person to dig into these stunning trends was TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier, who's our guest on this week's episode of The Downballot. Bonier explains how his firm gathers data on the electorate; why this surge is likely a leading indicator showing stepped-up enthusiasm among many groups of voters, including women, young people, and people of color; how we know these new registrants disproportionately lean toward Democrats; and what it all might mean for November.

McConnell was sure the GOP would reclaim the Senate. Too bad he miscalculated every step of the way

Analysts and pundits are finally picking up on the fact that the supposed red wave of 2022 was much more of a red mirage all along. The slow-but-steady downgrading of GOP prospects in November is everywhere. But nowhere is this more apparent than in the Senate, where Republican candidates are consistently underperforming and, in some cases, are downright comically bad (witness Dr. Mehmet Oz, whose political wizardry is already the stuff of legend).

It's important to note that Democrats haven't won anything yet, but it's equally important to note that Democratic chances of keeping Senate have improved dramatically from the doomsday predictions earlier this year (FiveThirtyEight's "deluxe" model—the least favorable to Dems—now gives Democrats a 72% chance of winning the Senate).

That potential loss on the heels of so much GOP hubris has produced a delightful circular firing squad among Republican leaders. Naturally, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was eager to get his version of events out early, fingering the party's dreadful "candidate quality" as the chief culprit for its faltering Senate takeover campaign.

“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell said last month, handicapping the GOP’s midterm chances at a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “Senate races are just different—they're statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”

Despite McConnell's stoic delivery, his downgraded prediction was an obvious swipe at Donald Trump and National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Rick Scott, who both helped saddle the GOP with a crop of candidates who are either full MAGA extremists (Arizona's Blake Masters) or entirely lackluster (Pennsylvania's Doc Oz) or both (Ohio's J.D. Vance).

But the truth is, if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had half the backbone that GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming does, he would be spending his energy rallying the troops right now for potential victory, rather than identifying scapegoats for potential defeat.

Let's review just how badly McConnell mucked up Senate Republicans and the party more broadly this cycle, starting with Donald Trump's post-insurrection impeachment trial:

  1. McConnell had a chance to drive a stake through Trump's political future by leading his caucus to convict Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Once convicted, Trump would have had no path to lawfully run for a second term. But rather than leading, McConnell followed his caucus, leading to Trump's acquittal and a second bite at the presidential apple.
  2. McConnell packed the Supreme Court full of right-wing extremists who in no way reflect the political mainstream, nor do they care. Perhaps McConnell never imagined that they would overturn 50 years of settled abortion law so quickly and callously, or maybe he just wildly underestimated the political backlash to such a ruling. Either way, he badly miscalculated.
  3. After it was clear that Trump was determined to put his thumb heavily on the scales of the election cycle’s GOP primaries, McConnell played along, openly endorsing political misfits like former Georgia football star Herschel Walker—an alleged spousal abuser with violent tendencies and self-admitted psychiatric problems who has trouble articulating a coherent thought. “Herschel is the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate. I look forward to working with Herschel in Washington to get the job done,” McConnell said in a statement last fall.
  4. McConnell intentionally declined to lay out a platform for his caucus should they regain control of the chamber. Asked in January what Republicans would do with their majority, McConnell offered coyly, "That is a very good question. And I'll let you know when we take it back." That giant heap of hubris has cost Republicans dearly. As inflation and gas prices have begun to recede, McConnell's declination has left Republicans without a Plan B. His leadership vacuum also invited NRSC chair Rick Scott to offer up his own agenda, promising widespread tax increases for working Americans and the prospect of phasing out Social Security and Medicare. That landed like a box of rocks dropped from Scott's alien spaceship. But that's not all, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina got in the act last week with his own bit of leadership: a national 15-week abortion ban that he promised would get a vote if Republicans retook the Senate. Graham's head-scratching gambit has sent GOP Senate hopefuls scrambling for cover while prompting a dismissal from McConnell himself. "I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level," McConnell told reporters last week.

Bottom line: McConnell has repeatedly misplayed this election. He believed that he could bend the entire nation to his political will despite the fact that he and his party's views were wildly out of step with the American mainstream. After years of not paying a political price for abusing the power entrusted to him, McConnell concluded that he could get away with virtually anything—including turning the Supreme Court into a GOP-guided missile.

McConnell, the supposed master tactician, also bet that he could benefit more from Trump's continued presence in the party than he would pay for continuing to carry Trump's baggage.

If Senate Republicans fail to retake the Senate this November, McConnell will have no one to thank but himself. If he weren't so morally bankrupt, he might have had the mettle to salvage his party and field a group of competitive candidates. Instead, he's racing to put out fires, point fingers, and brace for a potentially embarrassing defeat that shuts him out from becoming the longest-serving Senate majority Leader.

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Take heart: Democrats will beat expectations this November

Remember when there was no way Democrats could win two Senate seats in Georgia to take control of the upper chamber? Remember when Ukrainian forces were going to crumble under Russia's elite military onslaught in a matter of days?

Things don't always go the way Washington analysts project they will, and it's going to take some time to talk ourselves down from the steady red-wave drumbeat we’ve endured for the last six months. But let's take a stab at it, shall we?

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Democrats—voters and lawmakers—have at least a handful of reasons (if not more) for some guarded optimism as we barrel toward November.

1) As halting as the White House response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has been, President Joe Biden has started to step up. His support for a Senate filibuster carve out on abortion along with his pledge to immediately sign a bill codifying Roe into federal law once it hits his desk are the makings of an electoral rallying cry.

"We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law. Your vote can make that a reality," Biden said Friday at the White House as he vehemently denounced the Supreme Court ruling.

“We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court, working in conjunction with extremist elements of the Republican Party, to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy,” he said.

The president also framed the high court as a political entity acting outside of its rightful legal domain, teeing up the possibility that he could at some point take on court reform as an issue.

"What we’re witnessing wasn’t a constitutional judgment. It was an exercise in raw political power," Biden charged.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Biden gave a great speech on Friday, channeling activists' rage, pledging to codify Roe, promising to veto any GOP-passed federal abortion ban, encouraging Americans to register their rage at the polls this fall, and being specific about needing at least two more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House in order to pass federal abortion protections.

Biden hasn't delivered everything abortion activists want, but that's certainly enough to work for a midterm message.

2) House Democrats have keyed in on the only viable path for them to blunt losses this fall and just maybe salvage their majority: boldly attacking extremist GOP candidates.

Retiring Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky summed up the strategy best: “If we win, it’s because we scared the crap out of people about the maniacs who will be in charge.”

Democrats aggressively pounding extremist Republicans who are pushing a national abortion ban, clinging to 2020 election fraud conspiracy theories, and backing Jan. 6 rioters as patriotic protesters exercising First Amendment rights are the best plays Democrats have. They’re both base motivators and appeals to the few sane Republicans and swingy abortion supporters who still exist.

Political strategists vary between predicting the midterms will either primarily be driven by economic dissatisfaction or anger over the Supreme Court's gutting of abortion protections and other privacy rights down the road.

But in a telephone briefing last week, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg predicted November would mainly be another matchup between the MAGA movement and the anti-MAGA majority that has carried the day in the last two elections.

Running toward Donald Trump after his 2020 loss and failed January coup attempt "was always an enormous political risk," Rosenberg said of the GOP, adding that Republicans haven't done anything in the interim to sway swing voters.

3) The generic ballot has moved several points in the direction of Democrats since the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

CNN's Harry Enten has counted eight different polls in which Democrats gained ground in a generic matchup since the Dobbs ruling.

"The average shift was about 3 points in Democrats’ favor," Enten writes. "This 3-point change may not seem like a lot, and it could reverse itself as we get further away from the ruling. Still, it puts Democrats in their best position on the generic ballot in the last six months."

4) Trump falling, DeSantis rising—that about sums up a dynamic that could increasingly begin to take center stage amid jockeying for position in the 2024 GOP presidential contest. While Trump is arguably still the most popular person within the Republican Party, even his voters have begun to sour on the idea of him making another run for the GOP nomination. And as Trump’s star begins to fall, DeSantis is increasingly gaining steam.

Democrats can only hope Trump does something impulsive, like make a surprise candidacy announcement before November as he feels the Jan. 6 panel (and maybe even the Justice Department) increasingly breathing down his neck. He would lose a ton of fundraising flexibility by announcing early, but hey, once you’ve orchestrated a coup to overthrow your own government, all bets are off.

But even if he doesn't, Trump is wounded—perhaps not fatally, but wounded nonetheless. Republicans and even the MAGA faithful are beginning to debate and sometimes doubt whether he should run again in 2024. That tinge of uncertainty could lead to fissures ahead of a midterm where Republicans had hoped their base would be singularly focused on inflation and rage against President Biden.

5) The Jan. 6 hearings are the best political thriller going. Forget House of Cards—that was kid stuff compared to this coup-dunit mystery unfolding in real time on screens across the country. Did the president of the United States really intend to get his vice president killed? Did he plan to personally do it himself, or did he just envision ordering his troop of ragtag domestic terrorists to hang Pence from the gallows? Who's going to tell us, who's talking, who isn't, and who's going to end up in jail?  

Every hearing seems to get more riveting and exponentially worse for Trump, his demented braintrust, and the GOP lawmakers who helped plot the attempted overthrow of the republic. Several headlines last month suggested not many people were watching the hearings in real time, but that’s not the measure of whether the hearings are breaking through. The progressive consortium Navigator Research released a poll Monday showing that 64% of Americans report having seen, read, or heard about the hearings (28% heard “a lot” while 36% reported hearing “some”)—perfectly consistent with the 63% who said they had heard some or a lot about last month's hearings. So interest hasn’t trailed off one bit.

So regardless of whether Trump announces a presidential bid before November, the Jan. 6 hearings are reminding all the people who voted against him in 2020 (more than 81 million Americans) exactly why they voted him out of office. And for Trumpers, the hearings are just making him look weak, out of control, and powerless. Unlike both of his impeachment proceedings, Trump doesn't have an entourage of talking heads defending him because the usual suspects are either ducking subpoenas or dodging cameras. So Trump's out there just dangling with an occasional statement on his spectacularly flailing Truth(er) Social, but that's about it.

Again, this isn't what Republicans were hoping for several months out from Election Day—a series of ongoing public hearings that they are powerless to stop and have no earthly idea of what will be uncovered.

All of these factors along with the GOP's field of D-list candidates should give Democrats fuel to fight another day. Just like every other election since 2016, this year's midterms will likely yield unprecedented results to match the unprecedented times in which we live.