by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
There’s no arguing it.
Republicans were roughed up over the summer and entered the post-Labor Day stretch of the midterm elections in worse shape than they were on Memorial Day. The Democrats, President Joe Biden’s party, enjoyed something of an unexpected political renaissance.
Don’t take my word for it. (I know — you won’t.) Listen to the half-dozen Republican strategists I spoke with Wednesday to get a sense of whether reports of the Democratic Party’s summer resurgence were exaggerated — whether, as the battle for Congress stands nine weeks before Election Day, the GOP wave had receded to a trickle.
“At this point, I see very little evidence of a red wave, and this looks like a more neutral battlefield,” a Republican consultant in the Midwest, far away from the Washington bubble, told me. This operative, as did the others I interviewed, requested anonymity to speak candidly about the party’s current standing.
“It’s been a quite bad three months for Republicans,” added a second Republican strategist who, like the other five I checked in with, is not sitting on the sidelines pontificating on cable television but rather is actively engaged in the campaign on a daily basis and has been since day one of the 2022 election cycle.
“I don’t think we’re in a wave situation. Dobbs took the wind out of that,” concluded a third Republican politico, referring to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated federal protections for abortion rights. “It gave so much more energy to the other side. Women [voters] are going to be a problem.”
Juiced Democratic intensity to vote in November, fueled by Dobbs but also a flurry of legislative accomplishments on Capitol Hill just prior to Congress’s extended summer recess, has fueled a remarkable recovery for the party in power in the White House.