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Wake Up To Politics - May 2, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: Democrats get aggressive
Wake Up To Politics - May 2, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Monday, May 2, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 190 days away. Election Day 2024 is 918 days away.

Welcome back to a new week of waking up to politics! Here at WUTP headquarters, we’re gearing up for finals as the end of the spring semester draws near.

But just as importantly — we’ve got a big week in politics coming up as midterm season heats up, full of primaries galore.

Democrats try going for the jugular

With six months to go until voters decide control of the House and Senate, Democrats are reportedly eyeing a shift in their midterms messaging.

Per Politico and CNN, President Biden is planning to turn to a familiar strategy for Democrats: making the campaign about Donald Trump. As Politico put it, Biden is “hoping to spend the spring and summer months drawing sharp distinctions with Republicans, one in particular.”

It’s a strategy that has sometimes paid off for Democrats — but has also singed the party as recently as last year’s Virginia gubernatorial race, when Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe’s focus on Trump fell flat without the former president on the ballot.

“Nerd prom” preview: At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, Biden tried out a number of new barbs about Trump and the GOP. “This is the first time a president attended this dinner in six years,” Biden said. “It’s understandable. We had a horrible plague followed by two years of Covid.”

He also joked that it would have been “a real coup” if Trump was at the dinner this year. “A little tough, huh?” Biden said after that one, flashing a grin.

President Biden tried out some new attack lines at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. (Screengrab)

Hold up, though: According to the Washington Post, although Biden has begun sharpening his rhetoric, there’s no formal attack plan yet. In fact, “there is no finalized, comprehensive strategy for the midterms inside the White House,” the Post reported, something that is beginning to worry Democratic strategists.

Signs of a broader change: No matter what Biden does, Axios reports that many Democrats are pushing for the party to get tougher in punching back against Republican “culture war” attacks.

Here, their model is Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, whose forceful response to a GOP colleague who labeled her a “groomer” for supporting LGBT rights has gone viral online. Biden spoke to McMorrow by phone last week; Democrats across the country are looking to emulate her style.

Republicans stay steady: Meanwhile, as Democrats scurry to get on the same page, Republicans have remained consistent in their midterm message for months now. “For Republicans, ‘crisis’ is the message as the outrage machine ramps up,” the New York Times reported back in June 2021.

Almost a year later, the GOP has remained focused on accusing Biden and Democrats of leading a nation mired in instability. (And that 2021 article was before the Afghanistan withdrawal or the war in Ukraine.)

Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow has become a Democratic sensation after a foreceful floor speech. (Screengrab)

As part of that message, congressional Republicans hammered Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last week over the situation at the southern border. A new report also shows that Republican lawmakers have mentioned inflation in their public statements six times as much as Democrats, with rising prices also figuring in heavily to the GOP attack plan.

What do the polls say: According to RealClearPolitics, Republicans currently boast an average 4-point edge in polls that ask the closely-watched “generic ballot” question — “Do you plan on voting for the Republican or Democratic candidate in your district?”

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll out this weekend had what passes for good news for Democrats these days, however: A 1-point lead on Republicans on the “generic ballot,” 46% to 45%. That represented a 4-point shift from the last Post/ABC poll in February, as some independents migrated back to the Democratic fold.

Asked which party they trust to handle a range of issues, poll respondents sided with Republicans on many of the issues they have been focusing on in their messaging, including crime, inflation, the economy, and immigration.

Democrats, meanwhile, were given the edge on abortion, education, and equal treatment of minorities.

A question from the new Post/ABC poll showing which party voters trust more on a range of key issues. (Washington Post)

Coming up tomorrow: More midterms coverage, as Ohio and Indiana hold kick off a big month of primary contests. I’ll break down the races to watch in both states, as well as the key primaries coming up throughout May.

What else you should know

Here are some key updates from the war in Ukraine this weekend:

  • “Pelosi makes unannounced trip to Kyiv, becoming highest-ranking US official to meet with Zelensky since the war began” (CNN)
  • “Pentagon says Russia ‘several days’ behind objectives in Donbas” (Politico)
  • “Ukraine evacuation from besieged Mariupol stalls” (Reuters)
  • “Cracks emerge in Russian elite as tycoons start to bemoan invasion” (Washington Post)

And here are some other headlines to know:

  • “White House officials weigh income limits for student loan forgiveness” (Washington Post)
  • “FBI conducted potentially millions of searches of Americans’ data last year, report says” (Wall Street Journal)
  • “A second Oath Keeper pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 riot” (NPR)
  • “Georgia Trump investigation launches special grand jury” (Axios)
House speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. (Zelensky’s office)

What’s going on in Washington

All times Eastern.

President Biden: Receiving his daily intelligence briefing (10:15 am). Holding a virtual ceremony to present the Presidential Rank Awards to 230 career civil servants (1:45 pm). Hosting a reception to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan (4 pm).

First Lady Biden: Delivering remarks at the unveiling of the new Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” which is the theme of tonight’s Met Gala (11 am). Joining the president for the Eid al-Fitr celebration (4 pm).

Senate: Holding a cloture vote on the nomination of Joshua Frost to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Markets (5:30 pm).

First Lady Jill Biden will help launch a new exhibit at the Met today. (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

House: Not in session.

Supreme Court: Releasing orders on pending petitions and cases (9:30 am). Announcing opinions on recently argued cases (10 am). Holding a memorial to honor the late Justice John Paul Stevens, who died in July 2019 at age 99 (1:45 pm).

What else: The Republican candidates for Georgia secretary of state will face off in a debate (11 am). Former president Donald Trump has endorsed Rep. Jody Hice in his challenge against incumbent Brad Raffensperger, who incurred Trump’s wrath by rejecting his lies about the 2020 election.

  • Later, White House press secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing (2:30 pm).

Links to watch for yourself: Senate sessionStevens memorialGeorgia debate

Before I go...

Here’s a lighter news story: 23-year-old Mattea Roach has become the first member of Generation Z to achieve “super champion” status on “Jeopardy!” — meaning she’s entered the top 10 for longest winning streaks on the game show.

With 19 wins — and $460,000 in winnings — under her belt, Roach’s streak (currently ongoing) is tied for the 6th-longest in “Jeopardy!” history.

“It doesn’t really feel real,” Roach told the Associated Press.

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe