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Tipsheet

Faced With Historic Loss, Sean Patrick Maloney Still Doesn't Get It

House Television via AP

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), who also serves as the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) as his party is likely about to lose their majority, was given one final chance to make his case on NBC's "Meet the Press."

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Host Chuck Todd began by asking Maloney "what constitutes a good night for Democrats on Tuesday," which the congressman was adamant would be the case. This is "because our candidates have real plans they're going to do better than people think on Tuesday night," he claimed. A "good night," which Maloney believes will be the case, will be how they're "going to hold this majority."

As Maloney was listing off a series of issues, he started off with those that matter most to Democrats, but not necessarily the overall voting bloc. "We're going to defend our mainstream democratic values against the threats to our democracy. We're going to protect women's reproductive freedom and voting rights," he said, before ultimately claiming "we're going to give you cheaper prices for gas and groceries, health care, and housing. And we're going to give you safer streets by funding good local policing with accountability but also doing something about gun violence."

While Maloney attributed what he believes to be a "good night" for Democrats on Tuesday with his claim that "our candidates have real plans," polls have consistently shown that voters trust Republicans more on many issues. 

When Todd, to his credit, pointed out that "all the data seems to point in the other direction," to see if Maloney acknowledged as much, Maloney claimed how the NBC News poll just released that day showed "it's basically tied with the numbers in 2018," which he pointed to being "a pretty good year for the Democrats."

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Earlier in the program, Todd when analyzing the poll pointed out that "right now, African American voters are not quite at their 2018 levels, and young voters are not quite at their 2018 levels."

In 2018, Democrats benefitted from early voting, as they tend to do, but even that metric does not look to be in their favor this year, especially in Florida. That being said, Democrats also did so well because of historic precedence, and Republicans were expected to lose seats with former President Donald Trump in office. 

Further, Todd himself had noted at the time of late last month's poll release that it "indicates we're going to be even higher than that" when it comes to interest for 2018 and now. 

Maloney has further concern, as he may lose his own seat against Republican opponent Mike Lawler. When Todd mentioned this, asking if Maloney losing would constitute that "red wave," the congressman dismissed it with an "oh, come on, I've always had a tough race." He touted how he beat an incumbent to first win in 2012, as well as being "the first gay person ever elected to Congress from New York" and "raising an interracial family in a county Donald Trump won in 2016 by 20 points," as if any of that was relevant to this year's race.

When pushed further by Todd, Maloney wouldn't talk much else about the state of the race. "I guess what I'm not going to do is play hypotheticals with you when we're two days out from an election and I've won," he insisted. Even as Todd agreed with a "fair enough," Maloney still continued with his rant.

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"So with all due respect, what Democrats are going to do right now is going to go out and fight with everything we've got for seniors who need costs capped in Medicare, for people worried about gun violence in our schools, for people who want to have a real plan to go forward together without the anger and the fear and the hatred, fighting for women's reproductive freedom and voting rights," Maloney continued, again bringing up issues that matter to Democrats. "That's what we're going to do. And I'm going to let the pundits kind of make predictions. We're going to let the voters speak on Tuesday."

While Maloney talked a lot about that 2012 race, there was no mention of this 2022 race. While the congressman currently serves in New York's 18th Congressional District, he's running in the 17th Congressional District. Following the results of the latest census, New York lost a seat. State Democrats embarked on a gerrymandered redistricting process, which was found unconstitutional by the courts following lawsuits

Ultimately, Maloney jumped at the chance to run in the district he hopes to represent, forcing Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) to run in the 10th Congressional District, where he came in third. Such a move brought about cries of racism, as the freshman squad member is black. 

Despite how other issues take precedence over the abortion issue,  as NBC's own polling has repeatedly shown, Todd gave Maloney the chance to talk about their priority when it comes to "a couple of messaging things that we've seen pop up."

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Todd asked "do you think the abortion message doesn't work as well in blue states because voters don't believe it'll ever be illegal in their state, but it does work pretty well for some of your red state Democrats?"

Maloney warned that states like California and New York could be "on the chopping block too" by Republicans who "of course they want to disguise it and try to confuse or lull voters into a false sense of security." As Maloney claimed, "if these guys control Congress the first thing they're going to do is they're going to try to pass a national abortion ban."

Some context is in order.

That "national abortion ban" applies to abortions at 15-weeks, with exceptions, as unborn children can feel pain then. Further, Republicans may not be unified in passing such a bill, as some were concerned with the timing of when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the bill in September, and others want states to fully decide the issue. Biden will have to sign such legislation into law if it ever were to pass the House and Senate, which he is almost certainly not going to do. Even if there is a red tsunami, it's not likely Republicans will have a veto-proof majority. 

Democrats, including the president himself, have made clear that their priority for the next Congress is passing legislation that they claim will codify Roe v. Wade, when it will actually expand it. Such legislation, the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), would lead to abortion up until birth for any reason without limits. It would also invalidate pro-life laws passed at the state level. 

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A CBS News poll from last week, some of the details of which Maloney was confronted with during his appearance that week on the network's "Face the Nation," also showed that voters are more likely to say that they believe Democrats will create a so-called federal right to abortion. A much smaller majority believes Republicans will pass some kind of abortion ban. 

Todd also gave Maloney the chance for accountability on messaging, especially as it applies to whether he believes "the Democrats should've worked sooner on getting a better crime message."

Maloney, as other Democrats have, equated that "crime message," another issue where polls show Republicans have the edge, with guns. "We've got a record of delivering for public safety, and we're proud of that record," Maloney claimed at one point. 

Towards the end of the segment, Todd aptly pointed out that "midterm results are very much always connected to presidential job rating," which is a major reason why Democrats are expected to lose seats. "How much responsibility do you think President Biden has for this political environment," Todd asked Maloney, who in response repeatedly claimed that "I think the president gets a bum rap," as he touted Biden's supposed successes and complained "he's not getting enough credit for it."

While Todd had mentioned that his question about Biden was the final one, he felt compelled to point out how "based on all of your answers to me it sounds like you don't believe Democrats did anything wrong. You believe if you don't do well, it's simply you had bad messaging or you didn't communicate it right." It was actually Todd's final question to ask "is that your basic take here?"

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Not only did Maloney insist "we wait and see," since they don't "know what's going to happen on Tuesday," his response was to insist they "are responsible adults" and they've "got a plan." Maloney offered "we are responsible adults who believe in this democracy and who are fighting for a better future."


Cook Political Report recently moved Maloney's race into the "Toss-Up" category. If Maloney were indeed to lose, that would be historic in its own right. The National Republican Committee Chairman (NRCC) Guy Vander Jagt lost his primary in 1992. A sitting chair, in the case of the DCCC's Jim Corman, hasn't lost a general election since 1980. 

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