Many Democrats are worried that Trump will beat Biden. This one is not.

Simon Rosenberg was right about the 2022 congressional elections. All the conventional wisdom — the polls, the opinion, the dismay of fellow Democrats — revolved around the expectation of a big red wave and Democratic destruction.

He disagreed. Democrats would surprise everyone, he repeated again and again: There would be no red wave. He was right, of course, as he was quick to remind anyone listening.

These days, Mr. Rosenberg, 60, a Democratic strategist and consultant who dates his first involvement in presidential campaigns to Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, is once again confronting polls and opinion and Democratic doom and gloom. This time, he predicts that President Biden will defeat Donald J. Trump in November.

In a world of Democratic bedwetters, to echo a phrase used by David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s senior political adviser, to describe Democratic frustrations, Mr. Rosenberg is the voice of — well, whatever is the opposite of a bedwetter, this is the day. It even has a Substack newsletter that offers insight and daily security to its concerned readers – “Chronicles of Hopium“, the name is taken from what interviewer Nate Silver suggested he was entering back in 2022.

I spoke with Mr. Rosenberg about how it feels to be an outsider in his own party and why he sleeps so well at night while so many of his fellow Democrats are planning to move to Paris after November. This conversation has been edited for clarity and length, and because Mr. Rosenberg — God love him — likes to talk about this subject. A lot.

Good morning, Simon. And, first, thank you for doing this.

I have an opportunity to talk about the good works of Joe Biden and the Democrats – how could I say no?

The point of this interview is that, at a time when there is so much worry in the democratic world, you are not – and have never been – a bed-wetter. Can you explain why? This goes back to the 2022 midterm congressional elections, as I recall?

Yes. The argument I made then was threefold. One was that Republicans did something unusual in 2022. Usually when a party loses an election, they run away from the policies that caused them to lose. And the Republicans ran towards it. They became more and more MAGA, although MAGA lost in 2018 and 2020.

Second, if Biden was actually a good president, and we would have strong arguments. And third, there’s been this huge increase in citizen engagement in the Democratic Party. We have raised crazy amounts of money and have an unprecedented number of volunteers because of the fear of MAGA.

We were stronger and better than usual. The constant mistake that everyone has been making since the spring of 2022 is overestimating their strength and underestimating ours. We went into Election Day with a strong belief that the Democrats would be killed. I believed that those three things would allow us to do better than people expected in 2022. And I have that basic view now about 2024.

But this seems like a different time for Democrats, or certainly for Biden.

Here we are almost two years later, and many of the same things are still happening — and Trump is a far weaker candidate in this election than he was in 2016. He’s more dangerous. He is more extreme. His performance on stump is far more erratic and unsettling. I’m just giving you my tail.

How critical is the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion rights to your case—to your tail?

I think the choices changed a lot with Dobbs, and they haven’t changed much since then. There’s one party that just keeps winning all over the country, and every kind of election has been going on for two years now – the same basic dynamic, which is, we keep winning, they’re struggling. Why should November be any different? My opinion is that it won’t, because there’s a structural thing going on underneath all of that, which is that Dobbs has fractured the Republican Party and much of the Republican Party has come loose from MAGA. It’s costing them elections, and it’s costing them a lot of donors — and money.

But poll after poll shows Americans have unfavorable views of Biden and are upset about the country’s direction. A Wall Street Journal poll released this week, found Mr. Biden trailing Mr. Trump in six of seven developing states. That seems like rocket fuel for a worrying class.

I’m not really surprised by anything we’re seeing. But I will tell you that in 2022 we were told that Biden’s low approval rating meant that the Democrats would be crushed in the election. And so I think that focusing your understanding of this election around Biden’s ratings or around the public vote is risky business.

Polls can only tell us where things stand today. Those of us who have been in the business understand how these things evolve and that polls have been very soft so far. In my opinion, we are asking polling to do too much when we have all this other information and data available to us to increase our understanding. And to me, that additional data suggests we’re going to have good choices. But we have a long way to go.

Now, about the nervousness issue? Yeah, I mean, look, I mean, the media tells us, the New York Times tells us, MSNBC tells us, that we should be looking at this election mainly through the lens of the current polls. It is the polling industrial complex that asserts itself in a very aggressive way in the everyday understanding of our elections. I think those of us who have a more holistic understanding of candidate and party health need to continue to argue that there are many other things we should be looking at.

Is there already evidence that polls suggesting Biden is in trouble are misleading?

Well, the evidence is that Trump underperformed in these early primary states and underperformed in public opinion polls in every one of these states except North Carolina. The second is that we know from polling in these early states that between 20 and 30 percent of the Republican coalition is open to not supporting Trump.

OK, but there is anything that keeps you up at night, that worries you in terms of re-electing Biden?

I wish we had more time. I think the campaign is off to a late start, and we have a lot of work to do to win this thing. But now we are where we are and we just have to put our heads down and get to work.

Would you cite the backlash against Mr. Biden on Gaza as a problem?

Building and maintaining a winning coalition in a presidential election is always difficult, and it will be for Biden-Harris in 2024. We will have challenges along the way – debates, arguments, even disagreements. But the Democratic Party is very unique right now. No one is withholding support or saying they won’t support Biden, which Trump now faces on the Republican side. Today, Gaza is a challenge that Biden will manage, not a threat.

What about third party candidates? What if Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to name the most famous, captured the ballots in super close states?

We know from history that we have to take all this very seriously. Democrats understand that we’re not just running against Donald Trump this cycle, we’re running against three other candidates, and we’re going to have to engage them. We will have to treat them as if they were serious candidates in this election. And we have to do what we do in politics, which is to make them unacceptable voters.

Does anyone on your side of the house listen to you about all this? Do you feel like an outsider in your party – or rather, why are you such an outsider in your party?

But also, Democrats tend to gravitate toward the negative, don’t they?

Yes. There is that. And because there is a feeling in the Democratic Party that if we stumble in the elections, our democracy could disappear. The concern that people have is justified.

But I look at much more than just surveying.

Another factor, I would argue, is that Democrats still remember what happened in 2016, when Trump beat Hillary Clinton after the polls told them they expected an easy Clinton victory.

Yes. There is the trauma of 2016 about the election. The most important thing I can say, however you put it, is that it’s not like the Democrats are sitting in their houses twiddling their thumbs and throwing things at the television.

Does that mean you’re not worried about Biden’s age being a factor in this election?

I’m. I know Biden’s age is a problem. But I think Biden addressed a lot of concerns that people had with a strong performance in the State of the Union. But you also have to write, in my opinion, you have to be fair and honest: There’s a strong argument that Biden’s age is also an advantage for him, that, at a time of tremendous challenge for the country, to have a guy who is the most experienced person ever to be in the Oval Office may have been a blessing for us. I think we can make that case without sounding like, you know, pushing the envelope of truth.

Are there any other Democrats who would be – would be – stronger against Trump in this election?

I don’t think it’s even worthy — no, no, I mean, Joe Biden is the candidate. I mean, it’s not worth guessing, is it? Look, we just had the basics. People could challenge him. They didn’t because they didn’t think they could beat him. And the two candidates who challenged him were crushed.

We are quietly confident. In the grand scheme of things, we can bear it; we can win the election. The big thing that people got wrong in 2022 was that they thought the Democratic Party wasn’t going to deliver, that we weren’t hungry and we weren’t energized. And it turns out we are.

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