The Democrats Suddenly, Unexpectedly, Have Some Momentum

The focus on Donald Trump and the GOP’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election has similarly soured many on the Republican Party, making a landslide election less likely. “If the headlines over the spring were about stalled progress in Washington, the headlines over the summer have been about the human consequences and the consequences of our democracy of MAGA extremism,” Greenberg said. Democrats, meanwhile, have been aided by the results of GOP primaries, which have boosted candidates “who range from ridiculous to terrifying. We’re now in a situation where it’s not a contest between a Democrat and a generic someone else. It’s a contrast between a Democrat and an actual human being and in a lot of cases, those human beings are patently unfit for office.”

Room for more movement remains as well. Last week, Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer reached a deal on the Inflation Reduction Act, a stripped-down version of the Build Back Better Act, which had been stalled—and thought to be totally dead—for months. That bill, which includes nearly $800 billion in climate spending, prescription drug pricing reform, and deficit cuts, would be arguably the party’s biggest major legislative win since the fall, when a bipartisan infrastructure bill passed. The measure is currently in limbo, thanks in large part to the mercurial Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, but it remains the party’s best hope to make the case that they are actually delivering results.

The results in Kansas point to another reality for Democrats: Speaking loudly on issues voters actually care about matters. In the immediate wake of the Supreme Court decision that gutted Roe’s protections, the Biden administration was notably slow to respond, only putting out milquetoast executive actions in the weeks after the decision. The Kansas result demonstrates that even voters in red states respond to major issues like abortion access. Having spent months anticipating getting blown out in November, Democrats had grown too tepid and wary of controversy. Now, Democrats have some proof that voters will respond to aggressive campaigning and boisterous rhetoric in defense of reproductive rights and our democracy—both of which are under threat from extremists.

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