Stick to the message
With less than a month until the midterm US elections, it’s time for Democrats to hunker down and get serious about their messaging. In the dispiriting aftermath of the Supreme Court confirmation circus, this means taking a couple of deep breaths, not flipping out over the Republicans’ purported “Kavanaugh bounce” (which might be more of a hiccup) and focusing on a few key issues that resonate with a broad swathe of voters.
Republicans are twitchy about their electoral prospects. They know that midterm elections tend to go poorly for the party that holds the White House, just as they are aware that President Donald Trump, while beloved by the base, has a popularity problem among the wider electorate. As part of this base-stroking, Republicans are eager to keep the debate raging over their freshly confirmed, ultra-polarising Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. The brutal fight to seat him, which morphed from an inquiry into the judicial fitness of one man into a culture-war cage match over women’s rights and shifting sexual mores, electrified many left-leaning voters. But it also stirred up die-hard Republicans, potentially endangering the “enthusiasm gap” Democrats had been enjoying.
Thankfully, Democratic leaders in both chambers of Congress seem to recognise this and are encouraging their members to pivot toward issues aimed at bringing more people into the fold. In the Senate, they have said they will fixate on healthcare in the coming weeks, with special attention paid to protections for people with preexisting conditions. This is a wildly popular provision of Obamacare, and one on which Republicans know they are vulnerable. /New York, October 11