Democrats in battleground states are growing increasingly anxious about President Biden’s low approval ratings, worrying that voters’ persistent antipathy toward his leadership could not only cost the party the White House but also weigh down the candidates who are sharing the ballot with him.
These Democrats fear that the Biden campaign is late in building a strong organization in the handful of states that are likely to determine next year’s presidential election. They point to polling numbers showing Mr. Biden lagging far behind Democratic candidates for Congress in those states and struggling among key groups of voters, including Black and Latino Americans.
In Arizona, Democratic polling has found Mr. Biden losing Hispanic voters to former President Donald J. Trump in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and represents more than 60 percent of voters in the state. In Michigan, where Mr. Biden’s approval rating is a striking 15 percentage points behind that of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a fellow Democrat, he has lost ground with Black and Arab American voters. And in Georgia, officials say the Biden economic message has not broken through to voters, in part because voters have seen Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, take credit for many of the new projects in the state.
“I’m extremely concerned,” said Mayor Van Johnson of Savannah, Ga. “President Biden is a man of great character. Certainly, he’s a president of great accomplishments. But that is not translating to southeast Georgia.”
Mr. Biden’s top aides and most fervent surrogates have for months insisted that the race will change once voters understand that Mr. Trump will be the presumptive Republican nominee, potentially as soon as next month. At that point, the Biden team argues, the campaign will transform from a referendum on Mr. Biden to a choice between the president and Mr. Trump, whose brand of right-wing Republicanism has lost most major elections since he won the 2016 election.
Mr. Trump has been indicted on 91 felony charges and has, at least for now, been barred from the ballot in Colorado. The former president is scheduled to sit for the first of his four criminal trials in March, though that could be delayed. While those events have bolstered his appeal among Republican primary voters, the Biden team believes they will turn off independent voters.
Mayor Johnson, among others, is not convinced. He called the choice argument “a passive strategy” and said Republicans were far more excited about next year’s election than Democrats.
“I don’t see any passion, any excitement, nothing,” he said. “It might be a situation of too little, too late.” [Continue reading…]