OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
With his approval ratings in freefall and his failure to get major pieces of legislation passed, one Democratic scholar says that President Joe Biden’s pledge to campaign for his party’s candidates running for office this year is not seen as advantageous.
In fact, Biden is more likely to be “a liability” rather than an asset, said Darrell West, a Brookings Institute governance studies scholar.
“His poll numbers have dropped, and his base is dispirited because of his inability to pass Build Back Better and voting reforms,” West told the Washington Examiner regarding Biden. “Republicans are virtually united against him.”
Alex Conant, a GOP strategist, agreed that Biden is in no position to politically help Democrats who are likely going to have a tough time holding onto their thin congressional majorities as it is, especially since the president has lost a lot of ground among Independents, according to several recent polls.
“The last president to actually help his party’s candidates in the midterms was George W. Bush in 2002,” he said. “Presidents have difficultly translating their political capital to midterm candidates, but the candidates can nevertheless be weighed down by unpopular national policies.”
The Washington Examiner continued:
On average, 40% of the public approves of the job Biden is doing as president, while 55% disapproves, according to RealClearPolitics.
A recent Gallup poll reflects roughly the same approval and disapproval ratings, yet only one-third of independents back Biden compared to the first six months of his administration when a majority endorsed him. Gallup researchers cited the pandemic and the deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan as possible catalysts for the opposition.
Biden also lost 10 percentage points among Democrats in the Gallup poll, plummeting from 90% in December to 80% in January. Researchers referenced inaction regarding social welfare, climate, and voting reforms as potential explanations for the shift.
Biden’s number one priority spanning the next 10 months until Election Day ought to be addressing economic issues and public health problems stemming from the pandemic, West said.
“Biden needs to get COVID and inflation under control for Democrats to have any shot in November,” he opined.
In fact, Biden has already had some back-and-forth with nervous, frustrated Democratic candidates in a political environment that is national in scope. For instance, failed Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe referenced Biden’s plummeting approval rating during what he thought was a private phone call last year after Biden won the state by 10 points in 2020.
McAuliffe and Biden would appear together one more time on the campaign trail, but McAuliffe wound up losing to GOP nominee and now Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who also campaigned on a heavy parental rights platform.
And earlier this month, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams referenced a scheduling mix-up when she was asked why she did not appear alongside Biden during a speech he gave in Atlanta in which he called opponents of a Democratic voting reform bill in Congress racists.
There were other voter reform advocates who also boycotted the event after congressional leaders acknowledged the Senate did not have enough votes to overturn the filibuster rule so that the measure would pass by a simple majority on Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote.
And though Biden has promised to stump for Democratic candidates, he has drawn the ire of Democratic Party campaign arms, which have accused the White House of being an unreliable partner, the Examiner reported, adding that the president has only briefly touched on the subject with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“It’s hard for me to believe that the president knows how little his political shop is doing to support Democratic majorities in the Senate and the House,” an elected Democratic official told CNN this week. “All of us believe that the president would be shocked to learn how little the White House political team is doing.”
Still, Biden said during his press conference Wednesday: “Scores of [Democratic candidates] have already asked me to come in and campaign with them, to go out and make the case in plain, simple language as to what it is we’ve done, what we want to do, and why we think it’s important.”