WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (Reuters) – A sense of vindication swept through the White House and the Biden campaign on Wednesday after Democrats’ strong showing in the off-year elections, despite a series of recent polls showing U.S. President Joe Biden’s popularity is low.
“Pollsters, pundits, if I had $1 for every time they’ve counted Joe Biden or the Democrats out, I probably wouldn’t have worked anymore,” Sam Cornale, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, told Reuters. Democrats “won over and over again, and we will next November,” he predicted.
Biden this week faced questions, including from some in his own Democratic Party, about the wisdom of his 2024 re-election bid after a series of weak polls. Some parts of the diverse Democratic coalition have lost faith in Biden, frustrated by his stance on Israel, the lack of movement on climate change or high prices.
A Sunday New York Times/Siena College poll showed Biden trailing Republican front-runner Donald Trump in five of six battleground states. Reuters/Ipsos polls show Biden’s popularity has fallen to 39%, the lowest level since April.
Tuesday’s victory by incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in Kentucky over a well-regarded Republican challenger, the passage in Republican-voting Ohio of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights and Democratic victories in the battleground state of Pennsylvania showed the overall strength of Biden’s positions. party.
The Ohio result shows abortion rights remain a winning political issue for Democrats after the conservative majority on the US Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to an abortion and overruled public opinion.
Whether victories for Democrats this week are a definitive sign of strength for Biden’s re-election bid is unclear.
Voters who turned out Tuesday in state and local elections and those who will vote in the November 2024 presidential election may be very different, exit polls suggest. In Ohio, for example, NBC exit polls showed voters skewed Democratic Tuesday, even though Trump won the state by 8 percentage points in 2020.
Republican political strategist Mary Anna Mancuso said polls today give little indication of what will happen in 2024, but Tuesday’s results could spell trouble for her party.
“There is a margin of voters, specifically suburban women, who are defecting from the Republican Party,” she said. “They are protecting their bodies over their tax breaks.”
Vice President Kamala Harris made a surprise appearance on the White House driveway Wednesday to highlight the abortion issue and offer a fresh glimpse of Democrats’ unifying message from 2024 — their party, not the Republican Party, will protect Americans’ personal rights.
“Last night, I think the American people made it clear that they are prepared to stand up for freedom and for the individual liberties and the promise of freedom in America, and by extension, it was good night for democracy,” Harris said.
The election results showed that “the government shouldn’t be telling a woman what to do with her body,” Harris said.
Biden, who turns 81 this month, currently faces no serious primary challengers and has raised tens of millions of dollars for his re-election campaign. His fundraising has surpassed Trump, 77, the current Republican front-runner, who endorsed the losing Kentucky gubernatorial candidate.
“On every side, MAGA Republicans have embraced Donald Trump’s agenda to curtail our freedoms, and voters won’t have it,” Cornale said.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who noted earlier this week that polls predicting a “red wave” for Republicans in the 2020 midterms were misleading, said the latest election results bolstered Biden’s re-election case that his policies means the most.
“We don’t put much stock in opinion polls,” she said.
Harris, who appeared in the White House driveway so abruptly that she interrupted Jean-Pierre’s planned press conference, ended with an optimistic prediction for next November.
“It was a good night, and obviously the president and I have a lot of work to do to get re-elected,” she said. “But I am convinced that we will win.”
Reporting by Steve Holland and Trevor Hunnicutt. Editing by Heather Timmons, Rod Nickel, Deepa Babington and Lincoln Feast.
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