What to Expect in November’s Midterm Elections

Commentary“Ultra MAGA.” “Putin Price-Hike.” You can envision the White House hired consultants as they scramble around conference rooms, desperately trying to come up with the right keywords to deflect blame from the current administration’s objectively failing policy agenda. “How does ‘Vlad’s Cost-Rise’ make you feel?” They ask a demographically diverse focus group: “Are you more or less likely to blame Russia for your inability to afford groceries? Less likely? Okay, let’s keep trying ….” As corporate mainstream media diverts attention toward foreign affairs and the war in Ukraine, the focus on the domestic situation has also shifted. Now, all economic hardship, social division, and cultural malaise are being directly attributed to the previous president and his followers. “God, this is the United States of America!” President Joe Biden alarmingly yelled into the microphone during a recent speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International Convention in Chicago. He then went into a tirade about how his predecessor, Donald Trump, and the “MAGA crowd”—another carefully workshopped term—are, actually, the ones really at the root of the country’s current woes. The increase in hostile rhetoric toward political opposition seems to be a far cry from Biden’s inauguration address when he called on Americans to “stop shouting and lower the temperature.” However, whether this new approach will be enough to get Americans to vote Democrat in November remains to be seen. The decision to go all-in on the attack against Trump and any Republican detractors into the lumped category of “ultra MAGA” is an attempt to make the upcoming elections about the former president, not the current one. Midterms often act as a referendum on the residing occupant of the Oval Office and his party, an up or down vote on whether the country thinks things are going well. We are now two years into a Democrat-controlled White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. Biden’s approval rating is currently at a record low of 39 percent, and only about 20 percent of adults say that the country is headed in the right direction. President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on March 8, 2022. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) On top of that, Biden has nowhere near the appeal that his party predecessor Barack Obama did when it comes to communities of color, important voting blocs for the Democratic Party. Obama had a constant approval rating among black voters averaging between 80 percent and 95 percent. Biden’s is significantly lower. Another new poll shows that Biden’s approval rating among Hispanics has dropped from 55 percent last year to a current low of 26 percent. Even with his much better numbers, Obama still got walloped in both the 2010 and 2014 midterms. The Democratic Party is understandably worried. “Ultra MAGA” is the result of six months of focus-group research to determine a negative phrase to associate with Republicans in the run-up to November. The Washington Post reported that the liberal group Center for American Progress Action Fund was behind the study, headed by a top Biden aide named Anita Dunn. Once again, the reasoning among Democrat strategists is easy to figure out: “We can’t keep denying that every aspect of life is currently worse for the average American since the new administration took over. No one is buying the ‘transitory inflation’ line any more. It’s time to double down on ‘everything bad in the world is because of Trump and Putin.’ It will be easy to tie the two together, as we’ve already primed the American electorate for over five years by continuously repeating the fabricated story that Trump is controlled by the Kremlin.” Mainstream media reliably picks up its talking points from the Washington establishment and dutifully follows suit. All of the major corporate outlets have now adopted the “Ultra MAGA” moniker to describe Republicans to the right of Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney. Expect to hear the phrase in a deep, ominous tone during Democrat campaign ads this election season, likely with the backdrop of Jan. 6 Capitol protesters (or “insurrectionists” as they will surely be labeled). As the country appears to be experiencing a spiraling decline, this makes sense. Democrats are playing a rough hand to the best of their ability. In addition to the “It’s the Russians!” approach, they have reasoned that it is also time to fall back on the old reliable “deflect attention away from the deteriorating situation, and toward Trump and cultural issues.” This is not a new strategy. Consider how Trump had an approval rating almost as low as Biden’s when gas was significantly cheaper, shelves were stocked (including with plenty of baby formula), and you didn’t have to get penalized for taking money out of your 401k if you wanted to buy a used car. That is because the sights of every single institution of power were firmly fixed on the 45th president,

What to Expect in November’s Midterm Elections

Commentary

“Ultra MAGA.”

“Putin Price-Hike.”

You can envision the White House hired consultants as they scramble around conference rooms, desperately trying to come up with the right keywords to deflect blame from the current administration’s objectively failing policy agenda.

“How does ‘Vlad’s Cost-Rise’ make you feel?” They ask a demographically diverse focus group: “Are you more or less likely to blame Russia for your inability to afford groceries? Less likely? Okay, let’s keep trying ….”

As corporate mainstream media diverts attention toward foreign affairs and the war in Ukraine, the focus on the domestic situation has also shifted. Now, all economic hardship, social division, and cultural malaise are being directly attributed to the previous president and his followers.

“God, this is the United States of America!” President Joe Biden alarmingly yelled into the microphone during a recent speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International Convention in Chicago. He then went into a tirade about how his predecessor, Donald Trump, and the “MAGA crowd”—another carefully workshopped term—are, actually, the ones really at the root of the country’s current woes.

The increase in hostile rhetoric toward political opposition seems to be a far cry from Biden’s inauguration address when he called on Americans to “stop shouting and lower the temperature.”

However, whether this new approach will be enough to get Americans to vote Democrat in November remains to be seen. The decision to go all-in on the attack against Trump and any Republican detractors into the lumped category of “ultra MAGA” is an attempt to make the upcoming elections about the former president, not the current one.

Midterms often act as a referendum on the residing occupant of the Oval Office and his party, an up or down vote on whether the country thinks things are going well. We are now two years into a Democrat-controlled White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. Biden’s approval rating is currently at a record low of 39 percent, and only about 20 percent of adults say that the country is headed in the right direction.

Epoch Times Photo
President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on March 8, 2022. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

On top of that, Biden has nowhere near the appeal that his party predecessor Barack Obama did when it comes to communities of color, important voting blocs for the Democratic Party. Obama had a constant approval rating among black voters averaging between 80 percent and 95 percent. Biden’s is significantly lower. Another new poll shows that Biden’s approval rating among Hispanics has dropped from 55 percent last year to a current low of 26 percent. Even with his much better numbers, Obama still got walloped in both the 2010 and 2014 midterms. The Democratic Party is understandably worried.

“Ultra MAGA” is the result of six months of focus-group research to determine a negative phrase to associate with Republicans in the run-up to November. The Washington Post reported that the liberal group Center for American Progress Action Fund was behind the study, headed by a top Biden aide named Anita Dunn.

Once again, the reasoning among Democrat strategists is easy to figure out:

“We can’t keep denying that every aspect of life is currently worse for the average American since the new administration took over. No one is buying the ‘transitory inflation’ line any more. It’s time to double down on ‘everything bad in the world is because of Trump and Putin.’ It will be easy to tie the two together, as we’ve already primed the American electorate for over five years by continuously repeating the fabricated story that Trump is controlled by the Kremlin.”

Mainstream media reliably picks up its talking points from the Washington establishment and dutifully follows suit. All of the major corporate outlets have now adopted the “Ultra MAGA” moniker to describe Republicans to the right of Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney. Expect to hear the phrase in a deep, ominous tone during Democrat campaign ads this election season, likely with the backdrop of Jan. 6 Capitol protesters (or “insurrectionists” as they will surely be labeled).

As the country appears to be experiencing a spiraling decline, this makes sense. Democrats are playing a rough hand to the best of their ability. In addition to the “It’s the Russians!” approach, they have reasoned that it is also time to fall back on the old reliable “deflect attention away from the deteriorating situation, and toward Trump and cultural issues.”

This is not a new strategy. Consider how Trump had an approval rating almost as low as Biden’s when gas was significantly cheaper, shelves were stocked (including with plenty of baby formula), and you didn’t have to get penalized for taking money out of your 401k if you wanted to buy a used car. That is because the sights of every single institution of power were firmly fixed on the 45th president, painting his administration as quite literally a racist attack on democracy.

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo)

Some of the highlights, to name just a few:

Four years of a phony Russia collusion hoax, featuring nightly news reporting on the notion that the sitting U.S. president was actually a paid Russian agent selling out the country to Moscow.

The bald-faced lie that Trump called Nazis at Charlottesville “very fine people.” Still a favorite line of Democrats today.

Presenting illegal immigration as a non-issue, inspired only by racism and white supremacy. Don’t even bring up criminal justice reform.

Forget about apologies; no retractions have followed—or will.

These false stories formed the framework of the leftist attack on the Trump presidency for his entire tenure in office. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, all of them are more or less still accepted as fact by the Democratic Party.

Today’s approach to attacking the right uses the same mechanism, only with an inverted goal: before, it was deflect from the fact that life was very good under the Trump presidency with lies and the culture wars; now, it is deflect from the fact that life is much worse under the Biden presidency with lies and the culture wars.

The Roe v. Wade court leak will continue to be misrepresented as a war on women’s reproductive “rights” in order to boost turnout. Mass shootings by deranged teenagers in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, will be presented as proof of both widespread white supremacy, as well as the Republicans’ disregard for life by their refusal to pass strict gun control measures. Claims of voter suppression and the attempt to disenfranchise communities of color through election integrity laws will likely resurface as well.

But while emotion-fueled issues related to race, sexuality, and firearms might work to get the Democrat base out to turn up in November, it may be harder to convince the independents and more centrist voters that the left will need to win over.

The constant focus on culture, such as what occurred during the Trump administration, can be effective when things are stable and life is good. When economic downturn takes hold and families are no longer able to afford the same basket of goods as they previously were, however, issues with multiple degrees of separation start to recede into the background as life’s difficulties consume our attention.

Epoch Times Photo
Grocery shopping in Rosemead, Calif., on April 21, 2022. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Corporate media outlets will continue to attribute inflation to the “MAGA king” and Vladimir Putin. Still, it will become harder and harder for ordinary citizens not to associate their increased hardship with the current administration. For the average voter, the most recognizable political factor that has changed over the past two years is the man at the helm.

Life is more expensive, violent crime continues to rise, the country is less safe, and social division has significantly exacerbated. National discontent has been directly fueled by the useless vaccine mandates, the heightened rhetoric and selective news coverage that seek to appease leftist identity politics and increase racial tensions, and the constant demonization of any right-of-center political opposition.

There is a reason why the push for censorship and fighting against “disinformation” has been kicked into overdrive as of late. Challengers of the current status quo have the opportunity to win by doing something that terrifies their political opponents: holding up a mirror.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Dominick Sansone is a PhD student at the Hillsdale College Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship. He is a regular contributor to The Epoch Times, and has additionally been published at The American Conservative, The Federalist, and the Washington Examiner.