Democrats hoping to avoid a red wave in November's midterm elections are pointing to the generic congressional ballot rather than President Joe Biden's low job approval ratings.
Recent polls found that Biden's approval rating flutters between 30% and 40%, the Washington Examiner reported. His net approval rating of minus 19 points marks the worst differential recorded by any president at this point in his term since Harry Truman.
However, Democrats trailed on generic congressional ballots by just 1 point heading into late July.
The generic congressional ballot survey asks respondents if they would vote for a nameless Republican or Democrat running in their district.
In the past four elections, generic polling "missed" the House national popular vote margin by 2.5 points on average, compared to a 5.5 point average margin of error for presidential approval ratings, FiveThirtyEight found.
The Examiner, citing that recent history, reported that Democrats are more competitive with Republicans in 2022 than Biden's numbers suggest.
One Democrat strategist told the Examiner that the current generic gap could be erased with just a few more legislative pushes – on issues such as climate control, prescription drug pricing reforms, and same-sex marriage protections – that would energize the electorate.
"The whole narrative heading into this cycle has been focused on voter enthusiasm," the strategist told the Examiner. "Basically, progressives who voted for Biden in 2020 against Trump look like they won't turn out in 2022 after the administration and party leadership failed to make any significant strides on most of the issues they care about. Throw in seismic abortion loss, and you've got the makings of a red wave."
One senior Democrat aide told the Examiner that Republicans' "vision" for the country's future will drive progressive voter turnout.
"What we've also seen over the last few weeks is ... for the first time, voters are kind of seeing — as President Biden's done this all year, trying to frame this as a choice: Don't judge me by the Almighty, judge me by the alternative," the aide told the Examiner.
"Voters are actually starting to do that, especially with the Dobbs [abortion] ruling, and it's like, 'Oh s***, this is what's on the other side.'"
Republicans, though, aren't so sure Democrats will "outrun Biden in November."
"The bills Biden and Democrats are trying to pass don't actually do anything to address the No. 1 issue for voters of both parties: the economy," one GOP strategist told the Examiner.
"Forget them claiming inflation was going to be transitory. They're literally trying to redefine 'recession' to avoid saying that's where we're headed. That doesn't exactly project, 'Hey, we've got a plan to lower costs of food and gas.' It shows they have no idea how to tackle the problems Biden's own reckless spending created."
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