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Democrats fear losing House as party leaders push to refine message

The concerns, voiced by several moderate Democrats in the swing districts, center on fears that their economic messages – and some of their party’s biggest accomplishments like an expanded child tax credit – have not been pierced.
And the sharp warning some Democrats at risk are giving to their leaders: They are unwilling to vote by message on hot issues with little chance of becoming law, a dynamic that was on full display as moderate Democrats revolted against it. a plan to extend the federal moratorium on evictions until the end of the year or mid-fall before it expired last week.

“There is a lot of anxiety,” said a vulnerable House Democrat. “I think that’s why there is such a negative reaction to the moratorium on evictions.”

Rep. Susan Wild, a Democrat who represents a swing district in Pennsylvania, said voters “felt” her party cared for them.

“I think in a lot of ways we let our results speak for themselves,” Wild said. But she added: “Now we obviously need to talk about these results so that people don’t forget about them.”

It was the harsh assessment delivered last week to vulnerable Democrats in a closed-door meeting with senior officials from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the caucus’ main campaign arm.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a New York Democrat who chairs the DCCC, discussed a new poll of 1,000 likely voters in 2022 in more than 48 districts and battlefield areas. And Maloney told his colleagues: “If the elections were held today, we would lose,” according to multiple sources and confirmed by the DCCC.

The message – intended to alert their most vulnerable Democrats as they returned home for a seven-week break – was also intended to give their members a clear sense that they can hang on to their seats if they put the emphasis on a message they believe is getting through to voters.

“We are not afraid of these poll numbers,” Tim Persico, executive director of the DCCC, told CNN on Tuesday. “They’re not gloomy and catastrophic; they show a clear path to keeping the house. We have to be very clear what the numbers say: We have incredible strengths. Republicans have incredible weaknesses.”

Persico added, “We need to be more focused on what we talk about and how we talk about it.… It’s not about modification, it’s about emphasis.”

Democrats fear losing House as party leaders push to refine message
But for some of the party’s most vulnerable members, the new batch of polls had another effect: it crystallized their determination to push back votes that could make them more vulnerable at home – foreshadowing a potential clash within the party to come. as Democrats haggle over the price and scope of a massive spending bill for the social programs they want to pass this fall.

“It reaffirmed our belief and our urge to the DCCC to make sure the leaders understand that they really have to listen to us… They have to trust us,” said a Democrat in a key battlefield district. “Ignore us at your peril.”

Persico said there are several ways to help the party keep the House, including endorsing the Biden platform, which he said was popular with voters, and the vast infrastructure package, while touting their record. on economic issues such as tax cuts for the middle class. Persico added that Democrats need to contrast this with the House GOP’s efforts to reverse election results in the aftermath of the January 6 uprising – in addition to comments some Republicans have made questioning the effectiveness of Covid vaccines. -19.
Democrats fear losing House as party leaders push to refine message
“It’s great to know where you are at.… Information is invaluable,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a former intelligence officer who represents a frontline district. The Virginia Democrat went on to say that it was beneficial to have “any sort of awareness that ‘hey there could be problematic attacks'” – especially after House Democrats were caught off guard last November and barely end up holding a majority.

Democrats say their polls show a clear majority of voters on the battlefield have “serious doubts” about Republicans after hearing about anti-vaccine opinions and their positions on Jan.6.

“It still resonates,” Persico said of the Republican response to the Capitol Hill uprising. “And the vaccine (the concerns) are new.”

Politico reported on Maloney’s warning earlier on Tuesday.
Republicans have history – and redistribution – on their side in the battle for the House, as the president’s party typically loses 26 seats in his first half-term term. And the GOP only needs five seats to take back power next year.

But Democrats hope to learn some of the harsh lessons of 2010, especially when it comes to better communicating their accomplishments.

“Obamacare had a lot of promises in 2009… and did the Democrats explain that well enough? Obviously, they didn’t, because the majority of the House was lost that year in 2010,” he said. said Wild, who noted that the health care law has only grown in popularity. “Democrats have generally learned a lot from the last terms.”

The challenges ahead for the democratic agenda

Democratic sources say the White House and Democratic leaders are trying to make their members understand that their policies – including higher corporate taxes and higher incomes – are popular with voters. But some moderate Democrats are extremely suspicious, foreshadowing challenges they face in pushing their agenda.

And some Democrats fear Republicans will successfully portray them as tax and spendthrift liberals as they attempt to squeeze around $ 4 trillion from Biden’s agenda after passing a $ 1.9 trillion Covid relief plan. dollars earlier this year.

A moderate Democrat familiar with the conversations told CNN that “there is a lot of anxiety about doing more taxes and spending” right now. While the Democratic source believes the bipartisan Senate infrastructure deal could be helpful for their electoral prospects, the source says the Liberals’ hopes to pass a $ 3.5 trillion plan to extend the social safety net will have to be considerably reduced, which would enrage the left.

The failure of Congress to extend the moratorium on evictions was a clear indication of the challenges facing Democratic leaders.

Despite calls from some Liberals in her caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose not to force her chamber to hold a recorded vote that would put all members on the record of their position – and lead moderate Democrats to vote against. and invite backlash from the left.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who represents a swing district in Florida, was among members privately urging its leaders not to proceed with the vote, saying it made little sense to proceed with the extension vote when it was virtually dead. no chance to pass the Congress, according to several sources.

“She thinks the votes were not going to be there,” said a source familiar with the thinking of moderate Democrats, indicating that Murphy wanted the focus instead to be on pressuring local governments to distribute aid. to the rent already promulgated by Congress.


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