GOP plans to blame Democrats for COVID-19's resurgence — but their base might make that impossible: analysis
Protesters demanding an end to coronavirus lockdown orders tried to enter the House Chamber in the Michigan state capitol on April 30, 2020, but were blocked by state police. (AFP / JEFF KOWALSKY)

Republicans are planning to blame President Joe Biden and the Democratic congressional majority for the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, but the anti-vaccine base might blow up that strategy.

GOP operatives have already signaled they'll make the midterm elections about COVID-19, which has swamped hospitals across the country as the highly contagious delta variant spreads, but Democrats are already poised to return fire -- and the right-wing base might force Republicans to continue working against public health, argued Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent.

"Republicans are badly divided over the covid response, forcing GOP candidates in swingy areas to oppose even mask mandates in schools to keep GOP base voters happy, while trying to appear moderate at the same time," Sargent writes. "Meanwhile, Democrats are united on vaccines and masks. And at a time when Biden's approval is sliding over Afghanistan, independents could be alienated by anti-mask, anti-vax posturing."

Those efforts to cast blame might also backfire with voters who've noticed pandemic explosions in Florida and Texas, where governors Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott have actively worked against mitigation measures.

"If independent voters begin to see Republicans as interfering with their ability to get back to normal, because they are flirting with things that are contrary to medical expertise, it makes it easier for Democrats to cast Republicans as a political fringe movement," said David Wasserman, of the Cook Political Report.

"[This issue could] resonate with the highest propensity voters who are college graduates," he added.