For months, thanks to falling approval ratings for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, down-ballot Democrats in the House were polling worse, too — so much so that it became apparent to dozens of House Dems what the 2022 midterms held in store for them.
A red wave, which is a big reason why nearly three dozen House Dems have announced they are retiring rather than seeking reelection.
But now, according to new polling data, the Democrats’ razor-thin hold on the Senate is in peril as well.
Democrats’ path to saving their narrow Senate majority comes down to defending four states this fall. And in all of them, President Joe Biden is underwater in the polls.
Biden’s drag on swing-state incumbents is emerging as a pivotal factor in the midterm Senate elections, where the loss of just one Democratic-held seat in November could put Republicans in control.
Acutely aware of the need to get distance from the president, the four most endangered Democratic incumbents — Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan — are increasingly taking steps to highlight their independence from the president and underscore their differences.
To that end, they are distancing themselves from Biden’s ending of Title 42, which authorized rapid deportation of most illegal migrants, a Trump-era pandemic rule; they have visited the border wall; they have voted to block some of Biden’s most leftist radical nominees; they supported a GOP measure to ditch the commercial travel mask mandate a month before a Trump-appointed judge in Florida this week struck it down.
And yet, “they’ve voted in line with Biden no less than 96 percent of the time,” Politico notes.
“In these four states, these are senators just doing the work, keeping their head down, getting things done for their states while the Republicans are obviously tearing each other apart in these primaries,” said Martha McKenna, a Democratic ad maker who previously worked for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
“They are not people who go looking for conflict, they’re not grandstanders. They’re hard working senators willing to say, ‘Yes, I agree with Biden on child tax credits or health care, but look, I’ve got an issue on this issue, or that issue.’”
Biden carried all four states the senators call home. But that was 18 months ago.
“Today, however, his approval rating is dangerously low in each of them. In Nevada, a Suffolk University poll released last week put the president’s approval rating at an anemic 35 percent,” Politico added.
“The path to a Senate majority in 2022 runs through a core set of highly competitive races in states where Democrats have been successful in the past,” noted J.B. Poersch, president of the Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC, adding that those races include “this group of strong, battle-tested incumbents whose North Star is fighting for their constituents’ best interests.”
Republican strategists say the party is doing a much better job in areas where it has lacked in the past.
Chris Wilson, CEO of the polling firm WPA Intelligence and the pollster for Republican Adam Laxalt’s campaign in Nevada, said, “Democrats don’t have the ability to incite the minority vote like they used to.”
Politico noted that Wilson pointed to both internal and external surveys of likely voters that show Laxalt is maintaining a lead over Cortez Masto.
“As you watch Republicans talk about education, when we used to run away from it, and Republicans run massive outreach campaigns to minorities when we’ve done a pretty pathetic job of it the last few cycles — those are going to be game-changers for us,” he said.