Few is going in President Joe Biden’s way as the summer lull before the midterm elections is crushed.
Gas prices are rising. His approval rating dropped. A conservative majority on the Supreme Court is scrapping his agenda by scrapping federal abortion rights and undermining environmental protections aimed at curbing climate change. His party is losing patience, fearing that any chance for subsequent change while Democrats control Congress is fading.
“There has to be urgency and action,” said Rebecca Kersner Katz, who was an aide to the late Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. People have been saying since the day Joe Biden was elected that we need to act fast. There are a lot of things we need to get done for the American people.”
Biden has been laying out plans to deal with the escalating crises. He has a three-part plan to reduce inflation. Another plan is to suspend the gas tax in the hope of lowering prices. Then there’s his long-term plan to entrench abortion rights in law by suspending the Senate’s stall rule requiring 60 super-majority votes.
But inside the White House, advisers understand that what is needed is not just plans, but a vote. The 50-50 split in the Senate between the two parties has proven an insurmountable obstacle to Biden’s grand ambitions — to expand the social safety net in ways that insulate the most vulnerable Americans from economic shocks.
“He has to change course,” said a Democratic congressman, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of upsetting the White House. “His numbers are in the toilet. Everything he does is not working.”
The perennial complaint of Biden’s Democratic critics is that he has not taken advantage of the platform he leads as president.
“There is a benefit to having the president there every day using his executive power to show the country you are fighting for,” the Democratic representative said. “And it looks like he’s hiding. He has a bully pulpit and he’s either hiding behind or under it. I don’t know where he is.”
Allies say Biden, along with others in the administration, will make better use of their megaphones in the run-up to the midterms, portraying Republicans as out of touch with reality. They said Biden arose because of the Roe v. Wade decision, which may be a prelude to future Supreme Court rulings that roll back same-sex marriage rights and contraception.
Unpopular presidents tend to do poorly in midterm elections. But the Biden world sees an opportunity to challenge historical trends, stemming from some of the same setbacks that angered the Democratic base.
White House allies claim that Republicans are exaggerating their excesses in ways that alienate voters.
Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington state said. “My malicious instinct and opinion polls indicate that it will help people make the decision not to vote for the red team.”
Biden and other administration officials plan to stage stark contrasts in the coming months in hopes of awakening voters to how their personal rights will be jeopardized if Republicans take over Congress. To the extent that Biden can convey the message that the Court’s conservative majority was built by former President Donald Trump and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, he can demonstrate the enormous stakes in the upcoming election.
“You will see them [Biden administration officials] “A clearer message as we get closer to the downfall,” said one Biden ally. This message will center around portraying the Republican Party as extremist and doing things that harm people’s lives. Is there a strong enough message now? Mostly not. But they know it.”
Biden outlined the strategy last week in a virtual meeting with Democratic governors. He vowed to use the full weight of the federal government to stop what he called “radical” conservatives who might try to prevent women from traveling out of the state to have an abortion.
One Biden adviser noted former Vice President Mike Pence’s call for a nationwide abortion ban — something that can only be stopped if Democrats get enough votes in Congress to block it. This is the kind of issue that can mobilize voters who may be indifferent about going out to vote.
The Biden adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak more freely, said abortion “motivates Democratic-leaning voters far more than it does to Republican-leaning voters.” Much of that is due to the fact that Republicans have been pursuing this outcome for many years and have just achieved it. But the opposite effect is happening with Democrats and independents, who are deeply offended by this and who fear what it means for their lives.”
Most Democrats are concerned about eliminating the midterm elections, but recent polls show reasons for optimism. Brian Bennett, a polling expert at Navigator Research, a coalition of progressive pollsters, noted that something “weird” is happening at this political moment. Biden’s approval rating hovers around 40%, indicating that the Republican Party’s victories in the November midterm elections will not be a wave so much as a “tsunami,” he said. However, in polls that pit ordinary Democrats against Republicans in congressional races, Democrats have performed better than expected given the president’s low standing. In fact, since the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, there have been three polls showing Democrats ahead of Republicans by 3-7 percentage points.
“It’s a new election,” Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg wrote in a blog. “The chances of the anti-MAGA majority emerging again – as it did in 2018 and 2020 – have increased dramatically.”
In some cases, Republicans put forward candidates that ordinary voters may find unpalatable. a Video circulating on Twitter It shows a recent controversy among Republican congressional candidates in Wyoming, as some of Rep. Liz Cheney’s rivals struggle to put together a coherent sentence.
“People will be amazed when they see some of the candidates [Republicans] Joe Trippe, a veteran Democratic strategist, said.
The economy usually drives elections, Republicans are working hard to remind voters that Biden is presiding over a $5 gallon gas period and prices are rising across the board. The White House describes inflation as a global problem for which Biden bears little direct responsibility. However, Biden was quick to claim credit a year ago for lower grocery prices. In the days leading up to July 4, 2021, the White House tweeted that the cost of a family barbecue had dropped. “Hot dog, Biden’s economic plan is working”, A The White House tweeted at the time.
This year, the cost of cookouts including hamburgers, potato salad and ice cream was 17% higher, according to the US Farm Bureau Federation. There was no White House tweet calling attention to this unfortunate reality.
Summer numbers will be tough for Biden. Next week he will visit the Middle East for meetings in Israel and Saudi Arabia. A trip abroad is usually a chance for a president to show the respect he has around the world to voters back home. Stepping out of Air Force One on the red carpet. Soldiers line up to search him. Bands play. Made with toasted bread. But Biden is already facing a backlash over the stoppage in Saudi Arabia, after pledging during his 2020 campaign to make the kingdom a “pariah” in part over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
As for Israel, Biden will meet a virtually leaderless government, which has dissolved its parliament and scheduled its fifth election in the past four years.
“I don’t envy Biden,” Cutts said. “There is a lot of pressure. But that is the job.”