Backlash and Bad Vibes: A Roundtable on Democrats and the Left

Alyssa Battistoni, Timothy Shenk, David Shor, Nikhil Pal Singh, Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Across the left, it seems like we can all agree that politics today feels miserable. But how did we get here? And what should democratic socialists do about it? Those questions are at the heart of the following conversation, featuring some of the sharpest thinkers on the left today. —Timothy Shenk Timothy Shenk: As we’re speaking in July, the polls show that only 13 percent of the public feels like the country’s on the right track. Joe Biden’s approval rating is somewhere in the thirties, and it looks like Democrats are heading for a bruising in the midterms. Meanwhile, journalists are talking about a vibe shift, a feeling that a big cultural change is underway. Is this what backlash looks like? David Shor: I’ll give the boring political science answer. Nearly every Democratic president since 1945 became substantially less popular over the first two years of his term. Biden is no longer at the bottom—he recently overtook Harry S. Truman—but it’s fairly bad. Almost every single midterm since 1938 has featured large losses for the president’s party, with the exception of 2002.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)70-84
    Number of pages15
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Sep 2022

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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