As Democrats brace for midterm losses, the intra-party blame is game set to boil over in the weeks ahead, prompting the White House to separate President Joe Biden and his agenda from the list of targets.
The White House circulated an Election Day memo to allies underscoring that more than two dozen individual poll results demonstrate the popularity of the key individual elements of Biden’s agenda, ranging from his cornerstone legislative achievements to his actions on student loans, marijuana and his administration’s response to Covid-19.
“Before all the votes have even been cast, pundits are declaring that these midterms have been a referendum on the President’s agenda – nothing could be further from the truth,” the memo, which was obtained by CNN, says in its introduction.
Yet even Biden has acknowledged that his agenda, no matter how it polls in isolation, hasn’t translated to an American public that has taken a largely negative view on the direction of the country. “We’ve passed so many good things ... people haven’t realized how good they are yet,” he said at a fundraising event last week.
The effort to get in front of expected losses comes after months of frontline Democratic candidates actively seeking to separate themselves from Biden. It’s a reality advisors say Biden doesn’t take personally. After 36 years in the Senate, Biden’s view has long been that the candidates know what’s best for their state or district. But as Biden’s approval ratings started to inch up in the last few months, White House officials have bristled at the view that he was a singular drag on Democrats.
Instead, they have pointed to the combination of history and economic headwinds. Nearly all of Biden’s recent predecessors that one-party control of Washington faced major midterm losses. The fact Americans have faced persistent inflation near four-decade highs only compounds the political difficulty.