The last few weeks of November were a mixed bag for Democrats, who have been struggling to make their case to voters ahead of next year’s mid-term elections. It would appear on paper that some things are going in the right direction: Over 500,000 jobs were added in the month of October, the unemployment rate has fallen to a 4.6 percent low since the start of the pandemic, and wages have increased for many Americans.
Despite these numbers, there’s a pessimism fueled by rising gas prices, supply chain shortages, and increased inflation. COVID-19 cases were steadily ticking downward the past few months after the Delta variant caused a large spike.
However, cases are now ticking upward as the holiday season approaches. Cases are especially rising in the West, Midwest, and parts of the Northeast.
The national climate has not been favorable to Democrats. Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe lost his reelection bid against Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin in a state that has been a stronghold for Democrats in recent elections, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy just barely squeaked out his reelection bid. Decent news on the economy along with a bipartisan $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure package that passed through Congress hasn’t helped bolster Democrats’ case, and one has to wonder if there’s little they can do to fight the tide going into next November.
What remains true about midterm elections is that the party in power rarely retains it; the minority party is always more motivated to turn out to create a check against the majority party. It doesn’t help that there’s a perception that Democrats have been ineffective when it comes to meeting their campaign promises. Further, they haven’t been able to enact much of their agenda due to differences between the moderate and progressive wings.
Much of what was originally in President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda was left on the cutting room floor; despite being scaled back to $1.75 trillion, it is still trans-formative legislation that would be the largest expansion of the social safety net since the New Deal.
Aspects of Build Back Better that still remain include universal pre-K, funding for child care, and an expanded child tax credit, along with $500 billion dollars allocated toward addressing and combating climate change. According to Kathryn Watson at CBS News, it also includes reduced premiums for Affordable Care Act plans and changes to the SALT tax cap, allowing more (typically wealthier) Americans to claim deductions from their federal taxes. The House of Representatives has included four weeks of paid family and medical leave in their version of the legislation.
It should be noted that because of the scaled-back price tag of the bill, a handful of provisions will only last for a couple of years. It’s possible that in this next year, and with the passage of Build Back Better, public sentiment will be more favorable to Democrats, but as it stands, they’re fighting an uphill battle to retain their numbers in the House and Senate.
Upsets happen all the time, right?