“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” The popular saying in American political folklore is mistakenly attributed to President Harry Truman (1945-1953), but his longevity reflects loneliness at the height of power.
Days before his disgraced resignation, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was seen walking with his Siberian pastor captain and given the inevitable New York Post headline, Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing tabloid: “The Governor Andrew Cuomo spends the day with only one friend left Albania ”.
Cuomo’s precipitous decline in political fortunes reflects more than the end of social tolerance for sexual harassment and other forms of bullying in the workplace. It also reflects the fact that the Democratic Party has adopted the identity of the #MeToo movement, and the price to pay for alienating even a small section of female voters is too high a risk.
The party is going through a delicate moment on its way to the November 2022 elections, when all 435 seats in Congress, 39 of 100 Senate seats and 36 of 50 state governments will be on the line.
In the House, the majority of Joe Biden’s party is slim – there are only six more MPs, as four other Democrats are delegates from the territories, without the right to vote. And in the Senate, with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, the president’s entire agenda hinges on the casting vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Adding to the precariousness, two Democratic senators aligned on the right form a constant roadblock for the ambitions of the progressive wing of the party and concentrate a disproportionate power. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona represent states with only 9 million Americans.
It is common for the party that seizes the White House to lose a legislative majority two years later, in the midterm elections. A consensus explanation for decades is that voters for the defeated presidential candidate are more motivated to go to the polls and subdue the executive in Washington. But the American political thermometer can no longer be based on traditional common sense.
The polarization today is such that it will be difficult in the near future for a president who touches a popular social agenda like Biden to have positivity reflected in the polls and in the polls. One major concern that the Democratic leadership does not express publicly is the intensity with which Trumpist voters hate Biden – no matter how much better their lives under the new president.
The infrastructure package that the Senate approved on Tuesday (10), a basket of goodies that can appeal to any voter, had the support of 19 Republican senators. The group has one thing in common: none of them has expressed the ambition to run for president in 2024, and therefore does not fear the guerrilla war that Donald Trump will lead from exile if he is not candidate.
The educated suburban women who voted for Trump in 2016 are a crucial demographic for Democrats to retain a majority. American suburbs are not poor communities, but middle class and upper middle class neighborhoods.
And these women showed in the polls, in the midterm elections of 2018 and in 2020, the rejection of the president who put immigrant children in cages, was accused of rape and bought the silence of a porn actress.
“The question is, with Trump off the board without causing a daily shock, will these women run again to vote Democrats?” Speculates Jessica Taylor, editor-in-chief of the influential Cook Political Report, a bible of American electoral analysis.
Taylor told Folha that New York vice-governor Kathy Hochul, who will become the first woman to rule the state, would have a refreshing effect on the trail of male hostility left by Andrew Cuomo.
On Wednesday (11), in a brief press conference to introduce himself to the political press in Albany, Hochul sounded like music for Joe Biden and the Democratic leadership. Disciplined, straightforward, and good-natured, the veteran politician – whom Cuomo snubbed and excluded from government decisions – made it clear that he had never been close to his boss and that his government will never be portrayed, unlike the current one, like a toxic worker. environment. .
And hinted that the number two position in his term goes to a politician or minority policy. A product of the interior of the state, Hochul is the symbol of the suburban voters that Democrats must attract.
“She’s extremely kind and accommodating,” said Sheet Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont who was a pre-presidential candidate in 2004. After beating a primaries where blunders were frequent, Dean chaired the National Committee of Democratic Party from 2004 to 2009, a period during which he implemented effective electoral outreach strategies in all 50 states – a legacy that eroded after Barack Obama was elected in 2008.
The former governor believes that the electoral weight of the Cuomo scandal, if he does not resign soon, has been exaggerated. “I’m more optimistic than those living in the Washington political bubble,” says Dean, who remains active as a university professor and a member of two Democratic foundations that promote election information and foreign policy.
He’s not likely to predict Democratic victories among MPs, but he believes general pessimism with the Senate will prove to be incorrect. “Think about the infrastructure package. Republican leader Mitch McConnell did not vote for because he supports him. He voted because the Republican base is shrinking.
Dean believes that just looking at the polls that show Trump’s strong endorsement among Republicans is ignoring an increasingly aging and shrinking electoral bloc. He takes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as an example, considered a possible presidential candidate and waging political war on health measures imported by the Biden administration.
The delta variant has exploded in the state “and their numbers are in freefall,” Dean recalls. “These governors who are contributing to the explosion of deaths and infections in states like Florida and Texas are going to cost Republicans dearly at the polls.”
Another uncertainty for Democrats in 2022, recalls Jessica Taylor, will be the overhaul of electoral districts in states where Republicans control the assemblies. “But another factor must also be weighed, that of the national tragedy,” he said. “After September 11, George W. Bush was not punished at the polls in 2002 because the country was united in mourning.”
Could the worsening pandemic cause more voters to rally around the president who, at the moment, appears in polls on the FiveThirtyEight site with 55.4% approval in the management of the fight against Covid -19?
Howard Dean recalls another factor that is less visible on the radar of the political press. “The Democratic Party is the party of the majority of young people, and young people do not function within the boundaries of the traditional party hierarchy. They join private groups, recruit armies of volunteers to obtain the right to vote. For them, there is no such thing as a monolithic power center. This is another reality in the rest of the country. You can’t judge by the weather in Washington, which works like an elementary school on steroids.