By Ailan Evans
Mark Penn, political strategist and adviser to former President Bill Clinton, urged President Joe Biden to quit playing to the left wing of the Democratic Party in an op-ed written with former president of the New York City Council Andrew Stein.
“If Democrats remain on their current course and keep coddling and catering to progressives, they could lose as many as 50 seats and control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections,” the two wrote in an op-ed published in The New York Times.
Penn and Stein pointed to the election results in Virginia and New Jersey as a “resounding wake-up call” for the Biden administration as well as poll results indicating voters were “rejecting its [the Biden administration’s] embrace of parts of the Bernie Sanders/Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez playbook.”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin won the state of Virginia, which voted for Biden by roughly ten points in 2020, by two points, while Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy barely held on to New Jersey, a state that went to Biden by 14 points. Penn and Stein argued these results showed suburban voters growing dissatisfied with the more left-wing aspects of the Democratic platform.
“[T]he flight from the Democrats was disproportionately in the suburbs, and the idea that these home-owning, child-rearing, taxpaying voters just want more progressive candidates is not a sustainable one,” the authors said.
Penn currently serves as president of The Stagwell Group, a digital marketing and communications firm. Previously, Penn worked at polling firm PSB Insights, where he advised numerous high-profile individuals including Bill and Hillary Clinton, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Penn and Stein urged Biden to adopt policies that connected with suburban voters on more immediate issues, pushing for the administration to start “cutting out some of the interest group giveaways like creating environmental justice warriors.”
The authors were also critical of Democrats’ messaging during the 2021 elections, calling for the party to move beyond opposition to former President Donald Trump.
“Yelling ‘Trump, Trump, Trump’ when Mr. Trump is not on the ballot or in office is no longer a viable campaign strategy,” Penn and Stein argued.
The authors concluded with a warning that, unless Biden and the Democrats shed the far left parts of their platform, the party could be headed for electoral disaster.
“Unless it re-centers itself, the risk is that the Democratic Party, like the Labor Party in Britain, will follow its greatest success with an extended period in the desert,” Penn and Stein concluded.