Democrats Hesitant to Lock Down for Omicron Surge as Elections Approach

Reports indicate that Democrat-led areas are shying away from lockdowns over fear that they’ll lose upcoming elections.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Democrats governing densely populated areas appear to be considerably more lenient on COVID-19 lockdown measures, as elections approach.
  • According to POLITICO, New York, California, and Illinois have seen their major cities work to maintain much of their commerce as Democratic leaders have fought to keep schools and businesses open. 
  • Democrats are reportedly faced with “exhausted and frustrated voters” due to the more aggressive regulations their politicians put on Americans at the height of concern over the pandemic.
  • Progressive politicians are now facing both the ire of voters if they don’t relax policy as well as criticism within their party if they do ease up on COVID-19 restrictions.
  • POLITICO reported that most liberal state politicians have “lost the stomach for strict shutdowns,” with some leaning on the argument that lockdowns “hurt people financially and fostered a mental health crisis among siloed school kids.”
WHAT POLITICIANS ARE SAYING:
  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has pushed educators to go back to the classroom in the face of increasing reports of Omicron presence. “Enough is enough. We are standing firm,” Lightfoot told Chicago residents last week. 
  • Veteran Democratic strategist Doug Rubin said, “There’s a real social impact that I think has not been part of the messaging [until recently]. Democrats saw there were political impacts to this. They saw in Virginia and New Jersey the potential negative impacts of ignoring some of these issues.”
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been hotly criticized for her lockdown policies, but changed her tune before Christmas, saying that “every one of us is likely going to have some exposure at some point,” as she batted down suggestions of mask mandates.
  • Nevada’s Gov. Steve Sisolak, one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this fall, has stayed away from the fray, saying, “I don’t foresee [a vaccine mandate] happening in the future, barring any major catastrophes or other major variants coming down the line. We’ve left a lot of that to the private businesses.”
BACKGROUND:
  • Republican politicians such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are gaining popularity to the point of being a potential 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner, according to Newsweek.
  • GOP leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, are calling on Republicans to run their campaigns on promises of no authoritarian mandates.
  • The pair called the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates “unlawful and not based on science,” in their effort to point out the damage done by COVID-19 regulations.