You know things are bad for Democrats when a left-leaning think tank thinks they’re too extreme and “out of touch” with the issues that matter most to voters.
But, just 24 hours before voters cast their ballots in a midterm election that will determine America’s future, Third Way is warning Democrats that, if they do manage to hold on to the House and the Senate, “it will be in spite of the party brand, not because of it.”
“Despite a roster of GOP candidates who are extreme by any standard, voters see Democrats as just as extreme, as well as far less concerned about the issues that most worry them,” the think tank wrote in a memo titled “Overcoming the Democratic Party Brand.”
In a survey “to understand how voters are perceiving the parties” conducted with Impact Research and Welcome PAC, Third Way found that “Democrats are underwater on issues voters name as their highest priorities, including the economy, immigration, and crime, they are perceived as distant from the electorate ideologically, and voters question whether the party shares essential values like patriotism and the importance of hard work.”
It’s a scathing memo which, on the eve of what will certainly be seen as a pivotal moment in modern American history, must seem like a bucket of ice water thrown on a party that is drowning in its own delusions.
Third Way notes that Dems lead on issues like climate change and abortion, but says “voters also rank these issues as lower priorities.”
“While it might be comforting to blame any midterm losses solely on historical trends, this data makes crystal clear that there is a much deeper problem at play,” the memo reads, with the text italicized by them for emphasis.
“Ultimately, there is no way for Democrats to build and maintain winning coalitions without repairing their damaged brand, even in an era where Republican candidates are increasingly extreme and women’s fundamental rights are on the ballot,” the memo states.
At the root of the Democrats’ problems is the perception among voters that they are “out of touch with priorities.”
By a wide margin, American voters say the economy and inflation are the most important issues they face, with 42% saying it tops their lists of concerns, the survey found.
An NBC poll revealed that “81% of Americans say they’re ‘dissatisfied’ with the state of the economy.”
“This is the second-highest number we’ve ever recorded,” said Chuck Todd. “The last time it was this high was just before the 2010 election.”
NBC POLL: 81% of Americans say they're "dissatisfied" with the state of the economy.
"This is the second-highest number we've ever recorded. The last time it was this high was just before the 2010 election." pic.twitter.com/P9eFRqpRzU
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) November 6, 2022
But you wouldn’t know it listening to President Joe Biden, who recently claimed that the economy is “strong as hell” in between bites of his ice cream cone.
After the economy, Third Way found that immigration and the border were the next concern at 11%.
Abortion came in third place at 10%.
And despite White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s claim that the GOP will make inflation worse, the survey found that “A majority of voters (53%) also worry that continued Democratic control of Congress will make inflation worse, while less than a quarter (23%) say the same about Republican control.”
On an ideological level, “Democrats are benefitting from a perception among voters that Republicans are extreme, but they cannot fully reap the gains of this view, as voters think Democrats are extreme as well,” the memo states.
Voters also believe that Democrats are less likely to share their core American values, with 53% of voters saying the party is “too woke.”
“Given voters’ misgivings about the Democratic Party writ large,” Third Way concludes, “it is clear that Democrats who overperform in the midterms will have succeeded in distinguishing themselves from the national party brand, with personal favorability that overcomes the liability of the ‘D’ label.”
“In the long-term, Democrats must face up to the challenge of convincing voters that they are the reasonable, mainstream, and competent party to preserve themselves as a palatable alternative to Republicans’ increasing extremism,” the memo says.
“If this brand problem persists,” Third Way warns, “Democrats will face an uphill climb in 2024 and beyond.”
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