President Biden is using his presidential notoriety to try to help Democrats avoid a predicted Republican landslide in the November midterms. Democrats hope a series of actions by the president could blunt GOP attacks and boost turnout for Democrat candidates.
“There is no question Biden and Democrats are integrating what they do in the government with their political midterm message,” said Democratic strategist and pollster Mark Penn. “Biden, in particular, has such low approval ratings that he had to get out there and do something.”
Political strategists say Biden’s recent executive actions are focused on incentivizing young voters to show up at the polls. The president’s decision to cancel as much as $20,000 in student borrower debt and pardon individuals convicted of marijuana possession are both seen as targeted outreach to young voters.
Polling has shown both decisions are popular with young voters. Younger Americans are most likely to financially benefit from Biden’s student debt handout, which is predicted to cost around $500 billion over the next ten years.
“It is good policy, but it could also encourage base voters as the midterms are looking more and more to be a turnout election,” according to former Biden campaign surrogate and Democrat strategist Kevin Walling.
A poll by Fox News last week showed the president’s approval rating rose three points over the past month. The increase was primarily driven by a significant eight-point jump in voters under 45.
According to Democrat pollster Chris Anderson, “The base is behind him in a way they weren’t just a few months ago.”
To further boost his appeal with younger voters, the president announced that if Democrats hold control of congress in November, the party will work to codify abortion protections into federal law.
“The choice and the stakes are crystal clear, especially when it comes to the right to choose,” Biden said to an audience at Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. “If you care about the right to choose, then you have to vote.”
According to strategists, Biden has also used his executive authority to benefit Democrats regarding gas prices. Over the past year, the Biden administration has released millions of barrels of oil from the U.S.’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gas prices.
The administration’s tactics had mixed results, with prices dipping over the summer and then soaring again, with prices much higher than when Biden assumed the highest office.
Republicans accuse Biden of draining reserve for political points
Republicans blame the president for depleting the reserve, a stockpile of oil held in reserve for emergency or national disaster, to score political points. “We don’t have the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to float Joe Biden’s terrible poll numbers and try to help the Democrats limp into a midterm election,” GOP Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas said.
Republican lawmakers emphasize that the White House’s political maneuvering became obvious when oil states, including Saudi Arabia, accused of pressuring them to delay cuts in production until after the November midterms.
“Voters are still troubled by the high cost of gas, but they’re also seeing prices come down from their peak this summer,” said a Democratic consultant. “Republicans still probably benefit a bit, but there is a big difference between paying almost $5 a gallon in July and just under $4 in October.”