Apr 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Democrats' worst Trump nightmare

Mike Allen
Trump hair on the US Capitol

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

There's something much worse than losing the House, and possibly the Senate, that's rattling top Democrats who are studying polling and election trends:

The big picture: It's the possibility of a re-elected President Trump with a compliant, filibuster-proof Senate majority in January 2025.

Why it matters: It's impossible to forecast elections. But you can look at the states with Senate elections in 2024 and see why some Democrats are sounding the alarm.

"Democrats are sleepwalking into a Senate disaster," Yale's Simon Bazelon wrote last week on Matt Yglesias' Substack, Slow Boring

  • "The 2024 map is much worse," Bazelon added.
  • A close presidential election, he wrote, could doom Democratic Sens. Jon Tester in Montana ... Joe Manchin in West Virginia ... Sherrod Brown in Ohio ... Bob Casey in Pennsylvania ... Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin ... Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona.
  • Plus toss-ups could threaten Sens. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan and Jackie Rosen in Nevada.
  • In all those states, hardcore liberalism is a tough sell.

Then factor in that most of the GOP senators who stood up to Trump and his brand of politics will be gone: Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who are retiring after this term, and former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.

  • Now toss in the widespread belief in both parties that the House majority will be lost by Democrats in 2022 — and maintained, if not expanded, in 2024.
  • Plus perhaps the most worrisome indicator for Democrats on the political dashboard: The party's edge with Hispanic voters has shrunk.

So you see why John Anzalone, President Biden's campaign pollster, recently told a Politico podcast this is "the worst political environment that I’ve lived through in 30 years of being a political consultant."

There are several ways Democrats could overcome the GOP’s decisive map edge:

  • Dems could nominate a presidential candidate who wins decisively — with a clear majority. That typically lifts party candidates in close races.
  • Or the GOP could nominate a presidential candidate who can't command a majority, or unelectable Senate candidates. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warns anyone who'll listen that if the GOP keeps putting up fringe candidates, the party will blow an epic opportunity.

The bottom line: David Shor, one of Democrats' most respected data scientists, has been sounding the alarm for months. "Unless we see big structural changes in the Democratic party's coalition," he tweeted, the 2024 outcome could be "Donald Trump winning a *filibuster-proof trifecta* [House, Senate, White House] with a minority of the vote."

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to change "veto-proof" to "filibuster-proof" in the second paragraph.

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