Even though NJ Gov. Phil Murphy managed to squeak out a victory in the Garden State, becoming the first Democratic governor in 4 decades to get reelected in deep-blue New Jersey (barring a recount), the results of the 2021 off-year election cycle have reportedly sent the Democrats into what the Hill describes as a “panic” as House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy launches a new campaign to go after dozens of “swing-seat” representatives.
To add some context for those who weren’t closely following yesterday’s election results in Virginia: former Clintonite Terry McAuliffe lost his bid for the governorship to GOP newcomer Glenn Youngkin in a state President Biden supposedly carried by 10 points a year ago. Meanwhile, in NJ, former Goldman Sachs executive Murphy just barely hung on to the governorship despite expectations that he would easily survive a challenge from former state assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli.
The GOP immediately went into attack mode, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy telling reporters his party might be able to flip as many as 60 seats during next year’s midterms.
Here’s more on that from the NYT, which applied its typical liberal spin (excuse us – “analysis”), to McCarthy’s comments:
Puffed up by his party’s successes, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican leader, predicted that Democrats would lose more than 60 seats next year.
That figure may be exaggerated, but with control of the chamber resting on fewer than a half-dozen seats, many Democrats understood the threat.
Meanwhile, progressive Dems like AOC jumped at the opportunity to take a shot at the party leadership.
Liberal lawmakers pointed the finger back at holdout moderates who have been the main impediments to passage of a separate $1.85 trillion social safety net and climate change bill, which progressives argue must be approved before they supply their votes for the public works measure.
“Candidates matter,” added Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, one of the Democrats who blockaded the infrastructure measure. But virtually all Democrats came away from the sweeping defeats in Virginia and a narrow escape for New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Philip D. Murphy, agreeing that the imperative now was to pass both bills as quickly as possible to prove their party could govern.
But across the US, the mood was unmistakably grim and the message was clear: Dems are increasingly worried about their chances of hanging on to their extremely slim Congressional majority after next year’s vote, as Biden’s domestic agenda gets torn apart in Congress, and the president’s approval rating continues to sag to new lows. As a reminder, the GOP needs to flip a net of just 5 seats to take back the House majority. If they can gain one Senate seat, they’d take control of that chamber.
Top political analysts are already adjusting their calculations: in response to Tuesday’s election results, Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, moved Senate races in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada from the “lean Democratic” to “toss-ups.”
Analyst Dave Wasserman with the Cook Political Report tweeted that Tuesday’s results “are consistent [with] a political environment in which Republicans would comfortably take back both the House and Senate in 2022.”
Although, as Wasserman concedes, there might be a silver lining in it all.