Many Democrats are concerned President Joe Biden’s sinking polling numbers “will lead to a thrashing at the ballot box” in the 2022 midterm elections, Politico reported on Monday.
According to the report:
Even the party’s own polling has the president in the red. A poll from House Democrats’ campaign arm earlier this month showed the president down in battleground districts across the country, with 52 percent of voters disapproving of the job he’s doing, according to three party members briefed on the data.
With the election 11 months away — “an eternity in politics” — Democrats are in full strategizing mode to counteract what Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) called Biden’s recent “scary” numbers and to preserve at least a slim Democrat majority halfway into Biden’s first term.
“We’re in a difficult period now. One of the challenges we have is, we’ve been legislating this year, as he has,” Sen. Bob Casey(D-PA) told the publication. “While you’re legislating, you’re not communicating.”
Politico pointed to the midterms during former President Donald Trump’s time in the White House when the GOP lost the House majority but kept the Senate, saying Democrats “may face a similar dynamic next year.” However, a “favorable Senate map” may not be enough in 2022, according to the report, which cited a poll from Morning Consult showing Biden under water in battleground states like Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Arizona. The report states:
Democrats acknowledge they have a big problem. Their proposed antidote: Finish the battles over legislating as quickly as possible, then spend their next few months talking up their infrastructure and coronavirus relief laws, as well as their forthcoming social spending bill.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said it could be the first time his party has ever been “disciplined on message.”
“But theoretically we could finish a historic year of legislating for the middle class in the next month and spend all of our next year talking about what we did,” he continued.
Other Democrats worry the Biden’s $1.7 trillion Build Back Better Act will not be enough to boost them in the polls. House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) advised his party to focus on “seizing credit,” according to the report.
“The messaging challenge is pretty apparent. When you look at the individual parts of what we’ve done, they’re all not just marginally popular, but they’re wildly popular with the American electorate,” Neal said.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said Republicans are at a political advantage because of Biden’s “perfect storm of bad issues” — Politico specifically cited Biden’s “tumultuous” withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Virginia governor’s race, and pandemic politics as being “tricky for the party in power.”
“At the moment we’ve got a great shot of taking the majority in the Senate,” Tillis said.
White House aides reportedly think Biden’s dismal ratings are tied to the recent rise in coronavirus cases and believe his approval rating will go up when cases fade — though they acknowledge Americans are frustrated that the pandemic is going into its second winter despite Biden’s campaign promise to “shut down the virus.” The arrival of the Omicron variant “further complicated Biden’s possible resurgence,” but Democrats could possibly blame Republicans for “opposition to coronavirus relief.”
“West Wing aides also believe that underscoring Republicans’ opposition to coronavirus relief and the social spending bill will pay off,” according to the report.”
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates argued that while the president is contending with the pandemic and inflation, “Republicans in Congress act to help Covid spread, worsen the global problem of inflation and raise taxes on the middle class to protect tax giveaways to the wealthy.”’
But Politico noted that many battleground Democrats “privately say they are highly skeptical of that positive spin” and are focusing on their own numbers and tactics ahead of the midterms.
“I’d like to see his numbers turn around, just because I think there’s a false narrative in many cases about supply chain shortages, gas prices or whatever,” said vulnerable Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA). “I care more about my own numbers….I honestly believe that in my district, and in many districts, that it’s a mistake to try to tie your election or reelection to any president.”