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Democrats' Anti-Trump Playbook Could Be a Losing Strategy for 2022 Midterm Elections

© AP Photo / Cliff OwenVirginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe participates with his Republican challenger, Glenn Youngkin, in a debate at Northern Virginia Community College, in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.
Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe participates with his Republican challenger, Glenn Youngkin, in a debate at Northern Virginia Community College, in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.12.2021
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House Democrats who opposed President Donald Trump in Congress now believe in keeping quiet about the 45th president. With US President Joe Biden's approval ratings in the 40s, congressional Democrats are scrambling to hold off a red wave during the 2022 midterm elections and maintain their slight edge in the House and Senate.
Topics that have dominated national politics, such as critical race theory, the January 6th insurrection and Donald Trump, are thought by some House Democrats to potentially become their undoing. There are concerns that those topics will prevent them from advocating the benefits of US President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda.
The U.S. Capitol dome is seen in Washington, U.S., December 17, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.11.2021
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Democrats are still reeling from the results of the Virginia governor's race that saw Republican Glenn Youngkin win a state that Biden carried by 10 points. Youngkin ran a campaign that targeted school mask mandates, critical race theory, and basic economic issues.
Youngkin's Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, spent much of his campaign trying to prove to voters that Youngkin was Trump in khakis.

"People don't want to hear about Donald Trump", US Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) told Axios, adding that "they're going to vote because they want to see people get s**t done".

The Virginia gubernatorial race reminded Democrats that congressional political races are local.

Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA) tweeted, "All politics is local, whether it's advocating for the equitable redevelopment of Gwinnett Place Mall, or securing funding for our local trailway system, every day I am working in Congress for our community".

US Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) repeated the same sentiment, saying, "I don't believe you run national campaigns for Congress".
Democrats know they need to balance their rhetoric. Anti-Trump rhetoric still raises money and spurs activists but, according to some, isn't what will drive suburban voters to their cause. US Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) spoke about how candidates need to focus on what they're doing for voters, and what the other guy won't do.

"[Democrats are] delivering results at scale, for the size of the problems", Maloney said. "That's key, but the Republicans being reckless and irresponsible and motivated only by power is also going to be important".

While Democrats understand the need to run local campaigns, their image nationally could come to define their success. Sean McElwee, executive director of Data for Progress, believes, "it's going to be really, really hard to distinguish yourself from your national brand", noting that "it's functionally impossible for House members to do".
McElwee acknowledges that a Democratic brand built around anti-Trumpism won't work when the former president is no longer in power. The strategies that won Democrats the House and the Senate, and ultimately landed them the White House may not be enough to make for a winning strategy in 2022.
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