SO WHAT DOES IT SAY WHEN A DEMOCRAT CAN'T BEAT A REPUBLICAN WITH A 27% APPROVAL RATING?
As a Democrat, I'm supposed to be happy that my party's Senate nominee in Kansas, Chad Taylor, dropped out of the race -- as Princeton election wonk Sam Wong recently explained, this clears the field for someone who seems capable of beating Republican incumbent Pat Roberts -- Greg Orman, an independent candidate. Wang cites a Public Policy Polling survey showing that Orman would beat Roberts by 10 points in a two-man race, while Taylor would lose to Roberts by 4 in a two-man race. This despite the fact that Roberts has a job approval rating, according to the PPP survey, of 27%.
So whoopee -- the Republican might not win now, and the Senate might not tip to the GOP. But my question is: How toxic is the Democratic Party in Heartland America if a Democrat (and not a particularly lefty Democrat, as far as I know) can't beat a guy with a 27% approval rating? For that matter, why is Mitch McConnell, with a 37% job approval rating in the latest PPP survey of his state, beating Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by 4 points?
Is it a ripple effect from Obama's job performance? Or from Obama's race? Or is it something more fundamental?
I keep hearing that there's an "emerging Democratic majority" out there -- women plus non-whites plus young people equals the death knell for the GOP. But it seems to me that outside the Northeast, the West Coast, certain portions of the Rust Belt and northern Midwest, and New Mexico and Hawaii, you've got more than half the country where white people just despise the Democratic Party, even if they don't love the Republicans.
I think it's the result of relentless right-wing propaganda (which alienates women/non-whites/young people but seems to be catnip to older white males) plus the way we fund our campaigns: the need for rich donors compels Democrats who want to win elections (up to and including the president) to curb any impulse that would genuinely help the middle class and poor. Ultimately I don't blame voters who wonder what the Democratic Party has done for them lately. (I'd say the answer is to limit the transfer of wealth from the non-rich to the rich, which Republicans openly cheer for and want to happen at a much faster pace.)
Some people think the GOP, as a party of old white men, may not survive much longer. I'm not one of those people. I suspect that today's younger white males will fill its ranks as they progress toward middle age, in response to the tribal pull of Republicanl propaganda. I just don't see the Democratic Party adding whites to its coalition, which might happen if it chose to sacrifice a few big-ticket donations and stressed a little more genuine kitchen-table economic progressivism. I can imagine a future in which there's nothing but a teabaggy Republican Party and a "Third Way" party that starts to the right even of the today's Democratic Party and then works rightward. Progressivism will be a boutique taste, maybe seen in Montpelier or Seattle, but not very many other places. If Democrats can never deliver on what they promise, why wouldn't this happen?