With the midterms looming less than three weeks away, how bad are things looking for Democrats? So bad, that even Morning Joe was forced to acknowledge Thursday the Dems' grim prospects. In fact, the show's opening half-hour offered a cavalcade of calamities for Democrats. It began with Willie Geist noting that the On Politics editor of the New York Times [!] is seeing a coming "red wave," with "all the indicators on my political dashboard blinking red, as in, towards Republicans."
However, as Fordham University professor and frequent MSNBC guest Christina Greer insisted, crime and inflation were imaginary with the former having a racist element.
In perhaps the worst news of all for Democrats, there was consensus among co-host Joe Scarborough, Geist, and faux Republican Elise Jordan that abortion has faded as an issue, replaced by crime in the minds of voters.
Jordan discussed the focus groups she recently conducted across Pennsylvania with a variety of demographic groups. She played a snippet with a group from the swingy Philadelphia suburb of Bucks County. Asked if any will vote specifically on a candidate's views on abortion, not one hand shot up (although one woman did say that if a candidate favored banning abortion without exceptions, that would cause her to vote on that basis).
Greer held out and tried to cast aspersions on those making crime a prime issue: "[W]e know that the fears of crime are just kind of latent sub-texts that have a racialized history in this country. And so, walking voters through the perception of crime and where there actually is crime. But also, the economy is much stronger under Joe Biden."
Good luck running on that, Democrats — telling voters concerned about crime that they are basically a bunch of racists who perceive crime where it might not actually exist!
Greer's theory about crime being "racialized" was debunked by Jordan's focus groups.
[T]hey say that crime is going up in Bucks County, and that's also what we heard in more visceral terms from the African-American voters in Philadelphia, who described just the day-to-day crime wave that they're experiencing, and how they see an upswing over the last 10 years.
So, Professor Greer, urban black voters are even more concerned about crime than those racists out in the burbs!
Jordan wasn't deterred: "[Y]ou really get the sense that [crime] is the issue of the 2022 midterms."
Greer also had the gall to dismiss inflation and suggested people need to realize they aren't actually struggling and the economy is thriving:
There's the reality and the perception. Even though Joe Biden has been doing what he can to -- to stave off inflation, to make sure gas prices go down, there is a perception that everything is more expensive. There is a perception that folks are struggling[.]
Scarborough chipped in, saying he is hearing personal anecdotes about crime from Democrats, including from wife Mika Brzezinski, who had a call from someone "connected with a powerful Democrat" whose home had been broken into.
Morning Joe reporting that the midterm trends are breaking for Republicans, with crime being the most important issue to voters, was sponsored in part by Abbott (maker of Qulipta), Liberty Mutual, and Subway.
Here's the transcript, including more rare acknowledgements of reality on MSNBC. Click "expand" to read.
MSNBC's Morning Joe
6:15 am EDT
WILLIE GEIST: Blake Hounshell, the editor of On Politics, the newsletter for The New York Times, has new analysis for the paper this morning about the midterm elections that "the Democrats feared red October has arrived." Blake writes in part this, "here's the thing about election. When they break, they usually break in one direction. And right now, all the indicators on my political dashboard are blinking red," as in, towards Republicans. He continues, "first there's inflation. It hasn't gone away as the Biden administration had hoped...Then there's crime, which has rapidly moved up the ladder of issues that matter to voters. Democrats have bet heavily that widespread anger over the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade would drive voters away from the Republican Party. Democrats' strategy might have been a smart move in an otherwise brutal year for the party. But it has also come at a cost: All those abortion ads have taken resources away from whacking Republicans for opposing the policies Democrats passed in Congress this year...Finally, there's the historical pattern of midterm elections, which tend to be referendums on the party in power."
6:16 a.m. Eastern
GEIST: Joe, we're going to get Elise's focus groups out of Pennsylvania that illustrate this point as well. That perhaps abortion, while red hot over the summer and still important to some voters, may not be as persuasive a voting issue as Democrats had hoped it might be.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, and you're -- you're hearing it everywhere. It actually is fascinating, the last couple of days in particular. Democratic consultants from Oregon to New York State in a near, near state of panic. Yesterday in New York State, we -- we heard about a new poll showing that the governor, Kathy Hochul, actually in trouble, and congressional candidates concerned in close races across New York, that that's actually dragging them down. We've heard it in Wisconsin. Things are going Ron Johnson's way and dramatically right now, according to, again, consultants. Pennsylvania has gotten really tight. The -- the Republicans feel good about Georgia. Feel good about Ohio. Feel good about a lot of races there.
6:18 a.m. Eastern
CHRISTINA GREER: If we know that Republicans are going to blame inflation and all, you know, all the past Trump policies on Joe Biden, Democrats need to make sure that they can walk and chew gum at the same time. They have to, we know that the fears of crime are just kind of latent sub-texts that have a racialized history in this country. And so, walking voters through the perception of crime and where there actually is crime. But also, the economy is much stronger under Joe Biden.
6:21 a.m. Eastern
GREER: We also have two things at once. There's the reality and the perception. Even though Joe Biden has been doing what he can to -- to stave off inflation, to make sure gas prices go down, there is a perception that everything is more expensive. There is a perception that folks are struggling on a day-to-day basis.
6:22 a.m. Eastern
WILLIE GEIST: You know, Elise, after the Dobbs decision, Democrats said okay, this is --- this is the issue. This is it. We're running through the fall on this, and it has helped many candidates in many places. But you went to Pennsylvania and talked to some swing voters who said what about that topic?
ELISE JORDAN: It was interesting. We -- actually, we interviewed four different groups of the electorate in Pennsylvania. We started out in Philadelphia. We spoke to urban African-American voters in Philly. We spoke to some swing voters from Bucks County, a competitive suburb. And then we went on to Pittsburgh, and we spoke to women swing voters, and then to Trump supporters. And a lot to say on abortion from all of those groups. But I want to go specifically to this one just snippet of what happened when we asked swing voters from Bucks County if they were going to vote based on abortion, and let's watch that.
JORDAN: Will any of you vote specifically based on a politician's views on abortion?
VOTER: Strictly, no.
6:24 a.m. Eastern
GEIST: So that's Bucks County, those are the swing voters who decide statewide presidential elections, obviously. So what was on their mind when you talked to them? Abortion important to them, but other issues perhaps more so.
JORDAN: And there's certainly a lot of passion about abortion, but they're upset about crime. And they say that crime is going up in Bucks County, and that's also what we heard in more visceral terms from the African-American voters in Philadelphia, who described just the day-to-day crime wave that they're experiencing, and how they see an upswing over the last 10 years.
6:24 a.m. Eastern
GEIST: So interesting, and Joe, you were talking about the governor's race here in New York. When you look at the polling, where Lee Zeldin has closed the gap --
GEIST: Governor Hochul still has a lead. The number one issue among voters in the recent Quinnipiac poll was crime. Above inflation, which is fascinating.
6:25 a.m. Eastern
SCARBOROUGH: Elise, it's so fascinating that you talk about crime — and what's fascinating is in 2020, Republicans ran on a slogan: defund the police, despite the fact that every Democratic leader I had on here, I said do you support defunding the police? And people like Jim Clyburn would — would go the opposite direction and say, no, we need reform, but we need to actually fund the police more because it's people of color that are the — the — the victims of crime more often than not, and it's something that Reverend Sharpton has always said. But I will tell you, the last week, talking about knocking on doors and getting anecdotal evidence, which always found, you hear it enough, like, it's on people's mind when they vote. I have heard from one Democrat after another Democrat who work for Democrats, when I was in Washington, when I'm in New York, when I'm in other parts of the country. They're not saying, hey, let's talk politics. They're all talking about crime. Hey, did you hear there was a shooting in such and such?
Yesterday, Mika got a call from somebody in Washington, you know, connected with a powerful Democrat. Her house was broken into. All -- you know, it -- it -- I just -- it's so -- it's bizarre. I'm hearing a different story every day. And when people are talking about crime, they're not connecting it to the election. They're just saying, my God! Things are getting really bad here. So again, the irony is in 2020 is Republicans had this vapid slogan, defund the police, that - that weirdos and freaks and a couple of city councils actually tried to implement into law, but national Democrats didn't. But this year may be the year that crime actually does have an impact, especially in places like Wisconsin, and places like Pennsylvania. The suburbs, because what's happening in Philadelphia, and how that's -- and in New York state, too.
JORDAN: Well, and Joe, before I sat down with the voters in Philadelphia, I just took a look at the crime statistics for Philly over the last year. Just because, you know, I have a little bit of a knee-jerk reaction after the whole American carnage era, and know how crime is sometimes used by certain politicians. And the statistics are pretty troubling. And then, when you hear the stories directly from voters, from all stripes and all political persuasions, you really get the sense that this is the issue of the 2022 midterms.