CNN analysis: This is the best the GOP has looked on the generic ballot since 1938

Since before Joe Biden was born! And he’s the oldest man in the world!

As bleak as this Harry Enten analysis is for Democrats, it still comes packaged in a light sugar coating to help liberals swallow it. Yes, Enten stresses, this is shaping up to be a biblical disaster for the ruling party but the election isn’t being held today. Team Blue has five months to try to make headway.

Which is true. But as you and I know, historically the outcome of a midterm election is “baked in” by the end of June in an election year. In theory, Democrats have almost half a year to turn things around. In reality, time’s up.

If 2014 was a red wave and 2010 was a red tsunami, 2022 could be a red wedding.

Everywhere you look lately you find Democrats grasping at straws to convince themselves there are means within their control to avert the worst outcome. Biden’s team is obsessed with messaging, with some in the inner circle wanting to “let Joe be Joe.” Congressional Dems are zeroing in on the January 6 hearings as a potential needle-mover. Which, no:

With their control of Congress hanging in the balance, Democrats plan to use made-for-television moments and a carefully choreographed rollout of revelations over the course of six hearings to remind the public of the magnitude of Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election, and to persuade voters that the coming midterm elections are a chance to hold Republicans accountable for it…

“When these hearings are over, voters will know how irresponsibly complicit Republicans were in attempting to toss out their vote and just how far Republicans will go to gain power for themselves,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, the Democratic campaign chair…

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York, said on Twitter that the hearings would “fully expose the cult’s extreme effort to overthrow the U.S. government.”

In a decent political environment for the left, the fact that the out-party is slavishly beholden to a malignant authoritarian and therefore unfit to govern would be a sound argument to voters to stick with the status quo. But good luck convincing, say, a single mom who’s paying twice as much at the pump as she used to and 10 percent more for groceries to vote on that basis. Economic crises are golden opportunities for nationalist parties to gain power, not because they have the secret to easing the cost of living but because the public urgently feels the impulse to do something different. And the GOP is the “something different” on the ballot this year, so much so that Mitch McConnell is content not to endorse any policy agenda for next year. Republicans are surfing a landslide simply by not being Democrats.

Maybe the fallout from the hearings will steer a few GOP-curious swing voters back into the Democratic column, but that would be a matter of turning the red wedding back into “merely” a red tsunami. And given the state of this country’s civic degeneration, I wouldn’t even bet on that.

The great liberal hope is, of course, a backlash forming after Roe is overturned, but Enten’s data shows how dwarfed abortion is by the economy when voters are asked about their top priority. That could change a bit once the decision is handed down and the end of legal abortion coast to coast suddenly becomes “real” for Americans who have been tuned out. But I’m skeptical that Josh Marshall’s suggestion would do much to reverse the Democrats’ fortunes:

To make the 2022 elections a referendum on Roe, Democrats have to put protecting Roe and abortion rights on the table.

Here’s one way to do that: get clear public commitments from every Senate Democrat (and candidate for Senate) not only to vote for the Roe bill in January 2023 but also to change the filibuster rules to ensure that a majority vote would actually pass the bill and send it to the White House for the president’s signature.

At present, there are likely 48 Senate Democrats who can make that pledge. Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are dead set against any changes to the filibuster — a fact you likely know because most of President Biden’s agenda has been bottled up behind their refusal for the past year. Some claim that Senators Manchin and Sinema are just taking the public heat for a number of other Senate Democrats who are also unwilling to change the filibuster rules. That’s highly unlikely. But if any do have misgivings, that’s why the public commitments are so important. Getting a list of holdouts down to a publicly named handful is the first step to persuading them to fall in line.

There’s a small (and I do mean small) chance that the Senate will remain in Democratic hands. Republicans have nominated enough weak candidates that Dems could eke out victories in swing states where they’d otherwise have no business winning in this sort of national environment. But there’s zero chance that they hold the House; Enten’s data on presidential job approval combined with the thinness of the current Dem House majority makes a GOP takeover a fait accompli. That being so, imagine if Democrats adopted Marshall’s idea, pledged to dump the filibuster and codify Roe with 52 seats, and actually ended up with 52 against all odds. Specifically, imagine the anger among liberals who did what they were asked by handing Schumer a bigger majority … only to find that there’s no hope of codifying Roe anyway because Republicans now control the House and will continue to do so for the next decade.

If you think the libs are disappointed in the pace of change now, wait until they move mountains electorally to try to protect Roe and then discover that their leaders have made them another empty promise.

One last point about Enten’s clip. If the GOP does end up with an enormous House majority next year, it could weaken the power of the hardline MAGA types in the caucus. If McCarthy has to work with a 220-215 margin, every vote counts — which means he can only afford to lose two members to get legislation through. That means the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz would enjoy de facto veto power. If instead McCarthy gets a majority of, say, 240-195, then the MAGAs can be ignored to a greater extent — hypothetically. In reality, because Trump uses McCarthy as a human footstool, the Speaker will have to do the bidding of the MAGAs even if it hurts the moderates in the caucus. Oh well. Enjoy the new job, Kevin.

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