THE HILL - AMIE PARNES - OCT 19, 2022
President Biden is once again being viewed as a serious drag on his party’s midterm prospects, after a late summer bump had some thinking he would be less of an anchor around Democratic lawmakers seeking reelection.
With three weeks to go until Election Day, Democrats say they are worried that Biden’s shaky approval ratings will end up hurting their chances in the House and Senate races.
And as inflation soars and fear of a recession continues to mount, Democrats say the president will end up being “the fall guy,” as one source put it, even if some in the party don’t think the criticism is entirely fair.
“It’s all about the economy, and at the end of the day, everything is more expensive than it was a year ago, retirement accounts are plummeting, and gas prices are lower but they’re inching up again,” one Democrats strategist acknowledged. “And President Biden is in charge, so of course people are going to point to him, unfairly or not.”
A New York Times-Siena College poll released Monday showed that 49 percent of likely voters said they would select a Republican for Congress and 45 percent said they expected to vote for a Democrat. The poll indicates an improvement for Republicans since last month, when Democrats held a 1-point lead among likely voters.
The poll gave new worries to Democrats focused on the midterms and also has many reassessing Biden’s strength as a candidate for reelection in 2024.
The same survey showed former President Trump beating Biden 45 to 44 percent in a hypothetical rematch in two years.
Biden’s national polling average has risen slightly in recent weeks, according to the political site FiveThirtyEight, but it is still hovering around 42 percent, with 53 percent of those surveyed disapproving.
Some Democratic strategists say voters have been able to separate Biden’s performance from candidates such as John Fetterman, the Democrat running against Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), who is being challenged by Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia.
“What’s been interesting this cycle is watching candidates like Fetterman and Warnock in strong positions while Biden’s numbers have dragged,” said Democratic strategist Christy Setzer.
“It seems like voters were already mentally divorcing Biden’s performance from that of Democratic Senate and House candidates, which means he’s not and hasn’t been a drag, but he’s also not helping bolster poll numbers for the Mandela Barnes of the world,” Setzer said, referring to the Democratic candidate for Senate in Wisconsin.
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