An Emboldened Biden Now Faces a Tough Choice About His Own Future
“Boy, he literally had the Democratic Party across the country at every level, state, local, congressional, it had the best midterms of any Democratic president since J.F.K.,” said Senator Chris Coons, a Democratic ally from Delaware, the president’s home state. “It’d be hard not to look at that and say, ‘OK, there’s still a role, there’s still a path, there’s still important things to do.’”
The elections, however, were as much a testament to Republican weakness as an indication of Mr. Biden’s strength. According to an aggregate of surveys tracked by the political website FiveThirtyEight, Mr. Biden’s average 41.5 percent approval rating remains lower at this point in his term than that of all 13 presidents at similar points going back to Harry S. Truman (albeit only slightly lower than Mr. Trump’s was at this stage).
One House Democrat who won re-election last week said the party’s success should not be viewed as a validation of the president. Mr. Biden’s numbers were “a huge drag” on Democratic candidates, who won in spite of the president not thanks to him, the lawmaker said on the condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing the White House.
RootsAction.org, a left-leaning advocacy group that supported Senator Bernie Sanders, the socialist independent from Vermont, in the 2016 and 2020 primaries, barely waited until the polling booths closed on Tuesday before kicking off a “Don’t Run Joe” campaign to pressure the president to step aside.
Norman Solomon, the group’s national director, noted that Democrats won with higher numbers than Mr. Biden’s approval ratings, meaning they outperformed their leader.
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“It might seem counterintuitive in the absence of a ‘red wave,’ but Biden is actually an albatross around the neck of his party,” Mr. Solomon said. “Voters prevented disaster in the midterms despite Biden, not because of him. In effect, he’s promising to be a drag on the party and its prospects heading into 2024.”