This article appeared online at on Wednesday, November 10, 2021:  

Mark Penn, the chief political strategist for Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 run for the presidency, later became a defender of Donald Trump. Now a pariah, his op-ed in the New York Times on Monday will likely fall on deaf ears.

He said that the New Jersey and Virginia elections last week “just sent a resounding wake-up call to the Biden administration: if Democrats remain on their current course and keep coddling and catering to progressives, they could lose as many as 50 seats and control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections.”

He wrote that “only a broader course correction to the center will give Democrats a fighting chance in 2022 and a shot at holding on to the presidency in 2024.”

Currently, polls are going against the administration. Wrote Penn: “According to our October Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, only 35 percent of registered voters approve of the administration’s immigration policies … [while] nearly nine in 10 voters express concern about inflation … 61 percent of voters blame the Biden administration for the increase in gas prices.”

That “wake-up call” in Virginia and New Jersey last week wasn’t a fluke, he said: “It’s important to be cleareyed about those election results.… Taxes mattered far more than cultural issues.”

This is the “wake-up call” that Democrats are missing, he wrote:

You can’t dismiss a clear electoral trend: the flight from the Democrats was disproportionately in the suburbs, and the idea that these home-owning, child-rearing, taxpaying voters just want more candidates is not a sustainable one.

What the Biden administration must do, according to Penn, is to return to the political center by ending the flow of illegals flooding the country, slowing the push to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar, let the supply chain fiasco fix itself without government interference, and cut the social/welfare buried in Build Back Better.

Penn is a realist, and he admits that this is not likely to happen: “Of course, this may require some Houdini-like leadership … but this is the best strategy to protect Democratic candidates in 2022.”


He concludes that only about a quarter of the electorate calls itself “liberal,” while “the rest of the electorate nationally is moderate or conservative.” Consequently, “the message from last Tuesday is that the Democrats have gone too far to the left.… Even Bergen County in New Jersey, a socially bedroom community outside New York City, almost swung into the column.”

The swing voters will rule in 2022, wrote Penn:

[Without them] the party will be left with … too small of a base of urban voters and coastal elites.… The risk is that the Democratic Party … will follow its greatest success with an extended period in the desert.

The polling continues to prove that Penn’s recommendations are likely to fall on deaf ears. The Emerson College and the USA Today/Suffolk University polls taken after the New Jersey and Virginia elections showed Biden’s approval dropping to record lows. They showed an increasing number of voters, including Democrats, not wanting Biden to run for reelection in 2024.

In 2010, Democrats took an historic shellacking in the midterms, losing a total of 69 House and Senate seats. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that could happen again in 2022. In an interview with Judge Jeanine, he said, “My guess is that [Republicans] will pick up between 40-70 seats in the House and at least four seats in the Senate.”

Judge Jeanine asked him if the Democrats’ push to pass Build Back Better will help their chances in 2022. Replied Gingrich, “I think it will be a disaster. The reason is basic: the American people don’t want big government socialism. They want control over their own lives. And the resent having try to dictate everything from masks to vaccinations. I think it will get worse, not better, for the Democrats.”


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