WASHINGTON (AP) – Signal lights are flashing for President Joe Biden following Democratic election failures this week, but the president says he sees no reason to panic.
Just a year after he arrived at the White House with a record 81 million votes, Biden saw stalwart Democrat Terry McAuliffe lose first-time Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin in a race for governor in Virginia, a state that the president won 10 percentage points. … … In New Jersey, incumbent Governor Phil Murphy struggled to win in the state, in which Biden won by 16 percentage points.
But with some left-wing warnings that Democrats will face five worries, Biden argues that electorate mood – and Democratic fortunes – will improve when he forces Congress to adopt his domestic agenda.
“People need a little respite. They are stunned. And what happened is that I think we should just give them results to change their standard of living and give them a little more room to breathe, ”Biden said Wednesday.
The president analyzed the election results after the White House speech to demonstrate federal approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for young children, declaring it a “day of relief and celebration” for families.
But even when he argued that his administration was making progress in tackling the pandemic and that his domestic spending plan was a balm to appease an angry electorate, the president rejected the idea that the Democrats’ poor electoral performance was due to intraparty delays. in promoting a suspended $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill and a 10-year $ 1.75 trillion social and environmental package.
Instead, Biden said, even if the bills had passed ahead of Tuesday’s elections, it probably wouldn’t have mattered much to McAuliffe, who garnered more votes than any Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Commonwealth history.
“I’m not sure I can change the number of very conservative people who ended up in red districts and were Trump voters,” Biden said. “But maybe. Maybe.”
Voter polls tell a different story. Three-quarters of voters said the protracted negotiations in Washington over the Biden agenda were an important factor in their vote. According to preliminary results from the AP VoteCast poll for Virginia, those voters are more likely to support Yangkin.
The president now sees his support as waning: 47% of Virginia voters approve of his work and 53% disapprove – the same rift as among the US adult population in a recent AP-NORC poll.
Rep. Jerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, said the results in Virginia, where GOP candidates also won the state lieutenant governor and attorney general, should send a wake-up call for Democrats – and Biden – ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. on which they seek to defend the razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives and Senate.
“I think the presidential bankruptcy approval rating really made it very difficult to raise the rating above that,” Connolly said.
But while arguing that things are not as bad as they seem, White House officials pointed to long-standing historical patterns in the two states that assumed that the race would be an uphill climb for Democrats, no matter what.
Despite the fact that Virginia has behaved for democracy in recent years, the incumbent’s party lost the gubernatorial race in 11 out of 12 elections. In New Jersey, Murphy’s small win marked the first time in 44 years of the re-election of an incumbent Democratic governor.
Biden looked at the results and suggested that his White House did not require a reboot.
He spoke with confidence about the many factors affecting Americans – a protracted pandemic, rising gas station prices, economic uncertainty – as problems that would go away if he could just keep his agenda going.
“If I can get through, sign my Build Back Better initiative, I’m in a position where you will see a lot of these things improve quickly and quickly,” the president said.
While not entirely a coincidence, the moment dates back to 2010, when Democrats took over what President Barack Obama called “shelling” in the midterm elections. The party lost 63 seats in the House of Representatives, while Republicans also gained six gubernatorial seats and reversed control of 20 state legislatures.
At the time, the economy was improving after the Great Recession. But for many Americans, it wasn’t fast enough, even as the Obama administration pushed in over $ 800 billion in stimulus. Obama also managed to get the health care bill he signed into effect.
However, the rebound was not enough for most of America. And Republicans jumped at the core of the law – requiring every American to be insured or pay a fine – as the government overdid it.
Likewise, the pandemic-ridden economy continues to grow after it bottomed out in the early days of the pandemic, and a relative sense of normalcy has returned, even as the delta option continues to claim hundreds of lives every day.
White House officials insist they are optimistic that the challenges for Biden and the Democrats will be short-lived, that political pain will diminish as COVID-19 cases decrease and children are injured, and Democrats move closer to passing the infrastructure bill and domestic agenda. President’s Day. …
But if the past is a prologue, then the burden of the moment for the electorate may be too heavy, even if Biden gets what he wants.
“Historically, passing a big law hasn’t led to electoral success,” said Kyle Kondik, an election analyst at the University of Virginia Political Center. “Voters just often don’t reward these things, and sometimes they punish aggressive legislation.”
EDITOR’S NOTE. Amer Madhani has covered the White House for the Associated Press since 2019. Colleen Long has covered criminal justice and government for the Associated Press since 2006.
Associated Press authors Alexandra Yaffe and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.