Little is going for President Joe Biden as the summer lull begins before the midterm election rush.
Gas prices have risen; his approval rating is down. A conservative Supreme Court majority is slashing its agenda by abolishing federal abortion rights and undermining environmental protections designed to fight climate change. His own party is losing patience, fearing that any chance of consistent change while Democrats control Congress is fading.
“There has to be urgency and action,” said Rebecca Kirszner Katz, who was an aide to the late Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid. “People have been saying since the day Joe Biden was elected that we need to act quickly. There are many things we need to do for the American people.”
Biden has rolled out plans to deal with the mounting crises. He has a three part plan to reduce inflation. Another plan to suspend the gas tax in hopes of lowering prices. Then there’s his plan to enshrine abortion rights into law by suspending the Senate filibuster rule that requires a supermajority of 60 votes.
In the White House, however, advisers understand that it takes not just plans, but votes. The 50-50 Senate split between the parties has proved an insurmountable obstacle to Biden’s greatest ambitions: expanding the social safety net in ways that protect the most vulnerable Americans from economic shocks.
“He needs to change course,” said one Democratic congressman, speaking on a condition of anonymity for fear of upsetting the White House. “His numbers are in the toilet. Whatever he does, it doesn’t work.”
A perennial complaint from Biden’s Democratic critics is that he has not taken advantage of the platform he commands as president.
“There is an advantage if the president is present every day and uses his executive power to show the country that you are fighting for them,” the Democratic legislature said. “And it’s almost like he’s hiding. He’s got the bully’s pulpit, and he’s hiding behind it or under it. I don’t know where he is.”
Allies say Biden, along with others in administration, will make better use of their megaphone ahead of the midterm elections, portraying Republicans as out of touch. Biden, they said, is boosted by the Roe v. Wade decision, which could be a prelude to future Supreme Court rulings that roll back rights to same-sex marriage and contraception.
Unpopular presidents often do poorly in midterm elections. But Biden world sees an opening to defy historical trends, emerging from some of the same setbacks that have angered the Democratic grassroots.
Republicans go too far in ways that alienate voters, White House allies argue.
“I can tell you that what you hear on the street is a bubbling, boiling cauldron of anger at the Republican Party for putting these antediluvian judges in thinking they can take us back to the 18th century,” said Jay Inslee, Democratic presidential candidate. side. governor of Washington state. “My keen sense and the polls indicate that it will help people decide not to vote for the red team.”
Biden and other government officials plan to draw a stark contrast between the parties in the coming months in hopes of educating voters about how their personal rights will be compromised if Republicans take control of Congress. As far as Biden can get the message across that the conservative majority court was built by former President Donald Trump and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, he can demonstrate tremendous commitment in the upcoming election.
“You will see them [Biden administration officials] have a sharper message the closer we get to the fall,” said a Biden ally. “That message will revolve around portraying the Republican Party as extreme and doing things that actively harm people’s lives. Is there a strong enough message now? Probably not. But they know that.”
Biden previewed the strategy last week during a virtual meeting with Democratic governors. He pledged to use the full weight of the federal government to prevent what he called “extremist” governors, who try to stop women from traveling out of the state to have an abortion.
Biden’s adviser pointed to former Vice President Mike Pence’s calls for a national abortion ban – something that can only be stopped if Democrats have enough votes in Congress to block it. That’s the kind of problem that can mobilize voters who might otherwise be apathetic to vote.
Abortion “is much more motivating for Democratic-leaning voters than Republican-leaning voters,” the Biden adviser said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to speak more freely. “Much of it is due to the fact that Republicans have been looking for this outcome for many years and just got it. But the opposite effect is happening with Democrats and Independents, who are deeply offended by this and fear what it will bring to them. life means.”
Most Democrats are concerned about a midterm shutdown, but recent polls show cause for optimism. Bryan Bennett, a pollster for Navigator Research, a coalition of progressive pollsters, noted that something “weird” is going on at this political moment. Biden’s approval rating hovers around 40%, suggesting Republican victories in November’s midterm elections aren’t so much a wave as a “tsunami,” he said. And yet the Democrats are performing better than expected, given the low position of the president. Indeed, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, there have been three polls that showed Democrats lead Republicans by 3 to 7 percentage points.
“It’s New Elections”, Democratic Strategist Simon Rosenberg wrote in a blog† “The likelihood of the anti-MAGA majority resurfacing — as in 2018 and 2020 — has increased dramatically.”
And in some cases, Republicans propose candidates that mainstream voters may find unpalatable. A video circulating on Twitter shows a recent debate among Republican congressional candidates in Wyoming, where some challengers to Rep. Liz Cheney struggling to form a coherent sentence.
“People will be amazed when they see some of the nominees they [Republicans] brought out,” said Joe Trippi, a longtime Democratic strategist.
However, the economy usually fuels elections, and Republicans are working hard to remind voters that Biden is presiding over a $5 a gallon of gas and rising prices across the board. The White House describes inflation as a global problem for which Biden bears little direct responsibility. Still, Biden quickly claimed credit for low supermarket prices a year ago. In the days leading up to July 4, 2021, the White House tweeted that the cost of a family barbecue had fallen. ‘Hotdog, Biden’s economic plan is working’ White House tweeted at the time†
This year, the cost of a cookout including burgers, potato salad and ice cream was up 17%, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. There was no tweet from the White House drawing attention to that unfortunate reality.
Summer numbers are going to be a tough one for Biden. He will visit the Middle East next week for meetings in Israel and Saudi Arabia. Normally, a trip abroad is an opportunity for the president to show voters at home the respect he has earned worldwide. He steps off Air Force One and onto red carpets. Troops line up for his inspection. Playing tapes. Toasts are made. But Biden is already facing recoil on the plan to quit Saudi Arabia after he vowed during his 2020 campaign to make the kingdom a “pariah”, in part because of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
As for Israel, Biden will meet with a government that basically has no leader, which has dissolved its parliament and is slated for its fifth election in the past four years.
“I’m not jealous of Biden,” Katz said. “There is a lot of pressure. But that’s the job.”