Biden’s ‘tough month’ looms over Democratic campaigns in 2021

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“If people don’t wake up,” said one Democratic operative working in Virginia, “we’re in trouble.”

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The biggest concern is time.

“It’s been a tough month” for Biden and the Democrats, Delaware Sen. Chris Koons, a Biden aide, said Sunday.


Still, the drama on Capitol Hill is part of the concerns surrounding Biden. Concern among Democrats eyeing the 2021 race began with the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, a decision that, popular with most American voters, was seen as haphazard and unfair. Those fears continued to mount as two straight monthly job reports showed sluggish growth, threatening the party’s ability to carry on on an economy still ravaging the country ravaged by a coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s one of the major factors we’re monitoring,” said a top operative working on the governors’ race of Biden’s popularity. “The environment is one of the major concerns. And it’s not just Biden. It’s about Democrats who are seeing they can’t work.”

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In response to the series of conflicts, Biden’s poll numbers have ticked down in a recent poll, though not at an early clip. The Granthshala Poll of Polls, which averages the results of six recent public polls on the subject, found that 45% of adults disapprove of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 50% disapprove.

The biggest concern for Democrats eyeing Virginia and New Jersey is how difficult it has been for their party, which controls both sides of the legislative body in Washington, to get much passed. And Biden seems to have little urgency, telling reporters during recent talks on his two spending bills that “it doesn’t matter if it’s in six minutes, six days or six weeks, we’re going to pass the bill.” are”.

If Congress is unable to pass anything ahead of this year’s elections, the party may be seen as unable to govern, something voters may hold against Democrats on the ballot in November.

‘Democratic brand is suffering right now’

The concern is more pressing for McAuliffe in Virginia, where key voters are more attuned to the move to nearby Washington, D.C., and polls show a tight race against Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.

The Republican nominee has tried to walk a fine line when tying McAuliffe to Biden — an acknowledgment that despite Democrats’ struggles in Washington, the president easily won the state in less than a year. But Youngkin has taken advantage of opportunities to knock McAuliffe out for Biden when he can. In the second and final gubernatorial debate last month, Youngkin accused McAuliffe of supporting Biden’s “failure of leadership”, particularly on his withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“The Democratic brand is suffering right now,” said the Democratic operative in Virginia.

McAuliffe’s reaction to Biden’s declining popularity has been scattered.

During the primaries, McAuliffe ran completely behind Biden, regularly branding himself as a Biden Democrat in the primary field. But as the general election got under way and Biden’s tough phase began, McAuliffe apparently tried to distance himself from the president, noting “federal headwinds” in multiple interviews and clarifying that what happened in Washington. He was disappointed with what was happening.

“I say: do your job,” McAuliffe told Granthshala when asked about his message to Democrats who were struggling to pass an infrastructure bill. “It’s depressing. … Quit your petty talk, do your job and get off the posture, quit going out and talking to the press all day. … They have to understand that they have a responsibility. Let’s understand What happened.”

The most obvious attempt at this distance occurred during a video conference call earlier this month.

“The president is unpopular today, unfortunately, here in Virginia, so we’ve had to plow,” he said on the call with supporters.

Since then, however, McAuliffe has seen Granthshala’s Dana Bash retract those comments, telling Granthshala’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” on Sunday that Biden is “not dragging me down” and that his primary concern is an infrastructure bill. is being passed.

And McAuliffe spokeswoman Christina Freundlich told Granthshala her campaign would be “excited to welcome President Biden back to the Commonwealth” ahead of the election.

McAuliffe announced Tuesday that former President Barack Obama will campaign for him in Richmond at the end of the month to keep Democrats focused on the race.
McAuliffe’s strategy, however, has done little to slow tight voting. a Monmouth University Survey The note, released in late September, said McAuliffe “maintained a small lead,” similar to his poll in August, taking 48% to Youngkin’s 43% of registered voters. A Fox News poll released around the same time found a similar split, with McAuliffe at 48% and Youngkin at 44%.
For Democratic candidates like McAuliffe and Murphy, it is impossible to put any distance between your candidacy and the Democratic president. For example, Biden traveled to Virginia in July to campaign with McAuliffe.

By raising concerns about Biden’s popularity, McAuliffe was trying to attract the attention of Democratic voters, hoping that the prospect of a struggling Biden helping choose Virginia’s Republican governor would make the party’s base more engaged in the race. Will do it

Josh Schwerin, a political adviser, said, “A year post-election, it’s important to make sure your voters know the election is going to be close, that their vote matters and the stakes are high.” McAuliffe in Virginia. “For that reason, it’s important for McAuliffe and her allies to talk about the election and how close it will be and make sure we don’t become complacent.”

Schwerin said: “This is a state where the president won by 10 points, but it’s not the same as when he was on the ballot. And it’s important (that voters) know that.”

To promote Democratic engagement, McAuliffe has looked to change Youngkin to Trump’s understanding, regularly using his name and Trump’s in the same sentence.

“My opponent is a Trump wannabe,” McAuliffe says regularly, noting that the former president has backed him several times and that Youngkin proudly acknowledged that endorsement.

It has turned the Virginia election into a test of whether inviting Trump without the former president would be effective when Washington is controlled by Democrats. This tactic worked in the failed California recall, with Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom regularly tying his Republican rival to the former president. But Virginia, despite its recent left-leaning, is a better test case of this strategy – and its success or failure will have far-reaching implications in the crucial 2022 midterm elections.

‘They have a close relationship’

The threat to Murphy is much less significant in New Jersey. Biden won the state more comfortably than Virginia in 2020, and There More than 1 million Democrats compared to Republicans in the Garden State.

That means the party is more concerned about margins, and less about whether Murphy will win re-election.

A string of polls has consistently shown Murphy leading the Republican nominee, former State Assemblyman Jack Ciatarrelli, in the Garden State. a monmouth survey Of those released at the end of September, 51% of registered voters supported Murphy, while 38% supported Ciattarelli.

Murphy, like other Democrats across the country, has walked away by pledging to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in a responsible manner and tying Trump to Ciatarelli in a state that had easily lost the former president.

“Saying it’s your call… is like endorsing drunk driving at ‘no masking,'” Murphy told Ciatarelli in a debate in late September. “We can’t beat (coronavirus) like this.” Ciattarelli hit Murphy to deal with Hurricane Ida and stood up against the vaccine mandate.

“Do I believe the government has the right to force you to take medicine?” Ciatarelli asked rhetorically. “no I will not.”

Murphy has also been less open about how Biden is affecting his race, declining to detail “federal headwinds” and Biden’s slamming poll numbers like McAuliffe.

“The governor is not shying away from his close ties with President Biden and the Biden-Harris administration,” said a top Murphy aide. “They have a close relationship.”

The aide added: “We are pleased to acknowledge the president’s endorsement and campaign with him because he is popular in New Jersey and his agenda aligns very much with the governor’s.”


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