Monday, December 6, 2021

Democrats Plot Escape From Biden's Poll Woes

At Politico, "The party’s own polling has the president in the red. Lawmakers know they need to get better at selling his agenda to avert midterm disaster":

Rep. Jared Golden is facing one of the toughest reelection battles in the country. One thing he says doesn’t keep him up at night, though, is President Joe Biden’s sinking approval rating. “I really don't care at all. I've got my own approach to doing things,” the Maine Democrat said, adding that he handily outran Biden in Trump country. “What I know about his approval ratings right now versus my own is that I'm outpacing him by about 30 points."

Golden's nonchalance is rare.

Most Democrats are worried that Biden’s flagging polling numbers — with an approval hovering in the low 40s — will lead to a thrashing at the ballot box. With historical headwinds and a GOP-dominated redistricting process already working against them, they fear that unless Biden pulls out of his current slide, Congress will be handed to the Republicans in next year's midterms.

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.

Of course, the election is 11 months away, an eternity in politics. Democrats say once they finally clinch their full agenda, Biden will recover and so too will their prospects for keeping their slim majorities. But there’s plenty of handwringing about where Biden stands. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), for one, said Biden’s recent numbers are “scary.”

“We’re in a difficult period now. One of the challenges we have is, we’ve been legislating this year, as he has,” said Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, whose state represents Democrats’ best chance of picking up a GOP-held Senate seat. “While you’re legislating, you’re not communicating.”

Just three years ago, former President Donald Trump's unpopularity sank the GOP House majority, though a favorable map helped Republicans keep the Senate. Biden and Democrats in Congress may face a similar dynamic next year. They have only a handful of vulnerable Senate seats, but a veritable cavalcade of at-risk House seats.

But even a favorable Senate map might not be enough. Morning Consult found Biden underwater in the battleground states of Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada and Arizona. Democratic senators are generally running ahead of the president, according to the House Democratic campaign arm's poll — the question is, how much they need to do so in order to win.

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.

“Maybe it would be the first time that the Democratic Party has ever been disciplined on message,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “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.”

Still, some fret that even if they do pass Biden’s marquee agenda item — the $1.7 trillion climate and social policy bill — it won’t bring the big bump at the polls that Democrats are hoping for. House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) advised his party to focus on “seizing credit.”

“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...