Why Democrats Are Losing The Midterms

Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz during the Nexstar Pennsylvania Senate Debate in Harrisburg, Penn., Oct. 25.



Photo:

GREG NASH/ABC27/EPA/Shutterstock

Commentary on Tuesday night’s Pennsylvania Senate debate is mostly about Democrat

John Fetterman’s

unfortunate struggles communicating in the wake of his May stroke. But for our money the most telling moment was Mr. Fetterman’s response to a question about his previous opposition to fracking for natural gas. It sums up why the election tide is moving against Democrats and may cost them the House and Senate.

“I’ve always supported fracking,” Mr. Fetterman said when pressed by a moderator. He later added that, “I do support fracking and I don’t, I don’t—I support fracking, and I stand, and I do support fracking.”

His stumbles over his real position is understandable because his pro-fracking conversion, if that’s what it is, is recent. “I don’t support fracking at all and I never have,” Mr. Fetterman told a YouTube channel in 2018 when running for lieutenant governor. “And I’ve, I’ve signed the no fossil fuels money pledge. I have never received a dime from any natural gas or oil company whatsoever.”

In 2016 Mr. Fetterman said in a comment on Reddit that “I am not pro-fracking and have stated that if we did things right in this state, we wouldn’t have fracking.” He added that he had “signed the Food and Water Watch’s pledge to end fracking.” Republican Mehmet Oz hammered Mr. Fetterman on the old quotes in Tuesday’s debate.

The point isn’t about catching a politician in a flip-flop. The Fetterman contradiction shows how Democrats are in trouble because they nominated too many candidates whose views on crime, immigration, climate and the economy are all but impossible to defend in competitive races this year.

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Democrats are finally paying for their sharp left turn during the Trump Presidency. That turn began in earnest with

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s

2018 primary victory in New York over party war horse

Joe Crowley.

That scared Democrats nationwide, and it caused many to adopt positions well to the left-of-center to avoid Mr. Crowley’s fate.

The left turn didn’t matter in 2018 as voters came out to put a check on Mr. Trump’s chaotic governance. It mattered more in 2020, especially after the “summer of love” riots following

George Floyd’s

murder. “Defund the police” cost the party House seats. But Mr. Trump was still the main election issue, and Democrats played down their left turn by nominating the reassuring

Joe Biden,

who promised to work with Republicans and unite the country.

Democrats have tried mightily to drag Mr. Trump back into the 2022 campaign, and Mr. Trump has often obliged by meddling in GOP primaries on behalf of weak candidates. But he isn’t on any ballot next month. Voters have thus had the chance to focus on the record of the Biden Democrats in office, and the policy views of Democratic challengers.

If Democrats lose the Senate, they’ll regret in particular that they nominated far-left candidates like Mr. Fetterman and

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Mandela Barnes

in Wisconsin. Mr. Fetterman tries to come across as the working man’s candidate, but his history against fracking pits him against the blue-collar workers who man the drilling rigs and sand trucks in Pennsylvania. It puts him on the side of climate elites in the big cities. It is also a killer issue when inflation and energy prices are soaring.

Crime is another issue where Democratic excess has left candidates asking voters to deny what they see with their own eyes. In Tuesday’s New York gubernatorial debate, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul declared that anyone who commits a crime in the state faces “consequences.” But voters know that simply isn’t true, and Ms. Hochul couldn’t defend the state bail law that gives judges too little discretion to jail repeat offenders.

Ms. Hochul’s campaign boils down to declaring that Republican Lee Zeldin is a fan of Mr. Trump, opposes abortion rights, and favors gun rights. That may be enough to get her over the finish line in the heavily Democratic state. But Mr. Zeldin has a chance because Ms. Hochul refused to move to the center as she worked to prevent a primary challenge from Attorney General

Letitia James.

The Trump Presidency caused many people to lose their minds, Democrats and the media most of all. The normal party checks on radical policies vanished as opposition to Trump became the party’s self-defining political mission. Perhaps a drubbing on Nov. 8 will jolt the party back to reality.

Wonder Land: Debates between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, and Kathy Hochul and Lee Zeldin in New York City highlight that while voters are looking forward, the Democratic Party is still relying on Donald Trump to secure midterm results. Images: AP Composite: Mark Kelly

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