Despite Democrats’ natural tendency to lapse into despair, and the media’s insistence that the results of the midterm elections have already been decided, Democrats will have at their disposal a boatload of material to use in upcoming campaigns.

For one thing, the bills that Democrats have supported remain very popular. The latest Navigator poll finds: “Before reading some of the policies included in the new infrastructure legislation, net support is at +25 overall and +22 among independents; after reading, net support jumps to +40 overall and among independents.” More specifically, the poll reports, “Bipartisan majorities support upgrading water pipes, improving roads and bridges, upgrading power grids, expanding internet access, job training for construction and trucking, and encouraging women to enter construction and trucking.”

Moreover, the public already understands Republicans are obstructionists, and they do not like it:

A majority of Americans report hearing “mostly negative” or a “mix of positive and negative” things about Republicans in Congress this week, including 65% of Democrats, 54% of independents, and 42% of Republicans. ... Nearly seven in ten independents (68%) and 32% of Republicans would rather Congressional Republicans work with Biden and Democrats to pass legislation than to block anything proposed by Biden and Democrats.

Meanwhile, Republicans have voted against lowering the cost of child care, Affordable Care Act premiums and prescription drugs — all included in the Build Back Better bill. They opposed these items even though they would help to bring inflation under control.

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Beyond delivering on popular items, Democrats have a rare opening on the culture wars. The progressive website 19th News reports on two “online and text surveys conducted in late September and early October for the Democratic-aligned Planned Parenthood Action Fund, EMILY’s List and American Bridge 21st Century.” The surveys found:

About 35 percent of the persuadable voters said abortion should be legal in all circumstances, and 46 percent said it should be legal in most cases. Eighty-three percent opposed their state passing restrictions that would severely limit legal abortion. Seventy-one percent of women and 64 percent of men in the group said Republicans were “out of step with their own views” on abortion — moreso than on guns, immigration, taxes or health care.

And, in the current political environment, the hard-right position matches up poorly against the Democrats’ stance. Per 19th News: “Eighty percent of voters surveyed said they were more likely to vote for a Democrat who favors leaving abortion decisions up to pregnant people and their doctors, and only 9 percent were more likely to support a Republican who favors making abortion illegal, including in early pregnancy.”

As Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) put it recently, “I think if you want to see a revolution, go ahead, outlaw Roe v. Wade and see what the response is.”

Moreover, in contrast to the outwardly genial businessman who won the governor’s race in Virginia, national Republicans have enabled rabid bigots such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), and sheltered them from punishment. Their House Minority “Leader,” Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), allows them to set the tone for the caucus, as dissident Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) pointed out:

It is far from clear that McCarthy’s spinelessness will endear him to the unhinged caucus. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, citing McCarthy’s inability to keep 13 House members in line on the infrastructure vote, went so far as to suggest that former president Donald Trump should be speaker.

In sum, Democrats’ dual message that they have delivered for voters and Republicans are obstructionists and frightful extremists (e.g., Islamophobic, anti-vaccine, dabbling with violence) remains alive and well. Unlike political newcomers with no track record, Republican incumbents in the House and Senate will have to defend their obstructionism, their cheering for the criminalization of abortion and their unhinged rhetoric.

Certainly, the state of the economy and the pandemic will be most determinative in next year’s elections. But before Republicans break out the champagne in anticipation of the historical pattern of the party in the White House losing seats in Congress, they might consider that there has never been a party as destructive, crazed and out of step with the electorate as this one. History repeats itself — until it doesn’t.