• Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

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The Biden effect: GOP starts linking down-ballot Democrats to an increasingly unpopular president – Fox News

A new TV ad by a pro-GOP group that backs party candidates running in state legislative elections is going where Republicans have been hesitant to go until recent weeks. 

The spot ties an incumbent Democratic state delegate in Virginia who’s running for reelection this November to President Biden, whose approval ratings have taken a major hit over the past month and a half.

The commercial, by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), uses a recording of Virginia state lawmaker Alex Askew saying that he and other Democrats in the commonwealth can “run on the record that President Biden and our folks and partners in Washington, D.C., are doing.” 

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The spot targeting Askew is part of a six-figure ad buy launched last month by the RSLC in the Virginia contests, which are being seen by many pundits as a bellwether ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

Up until now, Republican ads targeting Democratic members of Congress and state lawmakers who face challenging reelections this year and next year have often tied them to such Democratic leaders as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, progressive champion Sen. Bernie Sanders, liberal firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the so-called “Squad.”

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Biden, who until early last month enjoyed healthy poll numbers, was not to be seen. But the president’s standing among Americans is flagging in the wake of Biden’s much criticized handling of the turbulent U.S. exit from Afghanistan, and amid a surge in COVID cases this summer among mainly unvaccinated people due to the spread of the highly infectious delta variant.

And that appears to be changing the way Republican operatives and strategists view the president.

“This is the most directly we’ve linked a Virginia House Democrat to President Biden so far this cycle. Given the president is under water in this district and in other targets of ours, stay tuned for more of us holding Virginia Democrats accountable for standing by the failures of Biden and his radical liberal allies in Washington,” an official with the  RSLC told Fox News.

And it’s not just the RSLC.

Michael McAdams, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the reelection arm of the House GOP, told Fox News that “Joe Biden’s failed policies will be weaponized in races around the country and serve as an anchor around the neck of every vulnerable House Democrat.” 

Meanwhile, Biden also co-stars in a recent spot by the America’s Job Creators for a Strong Recovery, a coalition of more than 30 business and industry groups. Last month they launched the first in a series of planned ads taking aim at the $3.5 trillion spending package being pushed by the president and congressional Democrats.

“Biden, Pelosi, and Bernie are pushing a job-killing agenda that will hammer Main Street businesses and working families,” charges the narrator in the digital spot, which targets moderate Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, who could face a challenging reelection next year.

Democrats are defending the governor’s office and their control of both houses of state legislature in Virginia this November. And nationally, Democrats are defending their razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.

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When the president’s party controls both chambers of Congress, the midterms are usually a referendum on that president’s record and performance in office. And the presidential approval rating is a key barometer heading into midterms elections. 

From President Obama in the 2010 midterms to President Trump in the 2018 elections, there’s a history of the minority party and their allies targeting a first-term president their ads.

“There’s still a long way to go until next year’s midterms but the growing political parallels for the Democrats between President Obama’s and President Biden’s first terms are hard to ignore,” longtime GOP consultant Brian Walsh argued. “In both instances, they campaigned as a moderate but then pursued a very partisan and liberal political agenda once in office that ultimately backfired for their party in the midterms.”

Walsh, a former top strategist for GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas who also served as National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director during the 2010 and 2012 cycles, forecast that “there’s no question that House and Senate Democrats running in battleground races are going to be much more hesitant to hitch themselves to President Biden in the way that they might have nine months ago.” 

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But Democratic operative and strategist Chris Moyer argued that “the thought that tying vulnerable candidates to President Biden is going to work in the long term seems like a little bit of a risky bet. I think there’s a sense that it may have been a rough few weeks for President Biden. But I think folks have known who Joe Biden is for a long time and he’s going to have a chance to right the ship and he’s taking a lot of actions to do that already.”

Moyer, a veteran of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and Sen. Cory Booker’s bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, predicted that “the decision to try to tie candidates to the president may not look so good in hindsight, a few months down the road.”