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Democrats in survival mode rebuilding Biden’s 2020 coalition

Democrats are in survival mode in trying to rebuild the coalition that helped President Biden win the White House in 2020, working to bring critical voters back to the fold at this point rather than substantially trying to grow the base.

The strategy is unfolding in part from Biden’s travel patterns and appearances. This week, he visited two states that were pivotal to his victory, Michigan and Wisconsin. But he’s also spent considerable time in Democratic strongholds like New York and California and is next expected to spend time in Phoenix and Las Vegas, home to two other closely-watched states in 2024.

In Washington, D.C., he met with the Teamsters to try and sway them to officially endorse him, in an effort to lock in more critical support from a major labor union, a contingent of workers he often lauds as having bolstered his political career.

The efforts mark a broader plan to stitch back together a path for victory in 2024 in a race that has Biden running neck-and-neck with former President Trump.

“It’s a smart focus, it’s a smart strategy,” said former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “In electoral politics, you can’t win by losing and so you start with your critical battlegrounds and then expand your infrastructure and visibility.”

The campaign’s focus on Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania is in large part because of their large Black communities, which the campaign sees as essential to shoring up the base. Biden traveled to Atlanta last week— another area where Black voters are a major bloc. 

The president has been endorsed by most major unions, including the United Auto Workers after making history by joining their picket line last year, but still has yet to get the Teamsters endorsement. 

Biden’s meeting with the Teamsters this week was paired with the major nod he gave to U.S. workers on Thursday by pushing back against the potential sale of U.S. Steel to Nippon Steel of Japan. The potential sale raised alarms among Pennsylvanians about threats to union workers’ jobs.

“We’re not assuming anyone’s vote. We are earning their support by meeting them where they are – investing early to reach key coalitions like Black and Latino voters, building capacity in our battleground states, and running a robust paid program across TV and digital platforms with diverse viewership,” said Seth Schuster, a Biden campaign spokesperson.

“That’s in stark contrast to the Trump approach: attack people who disagree with you, gut programs to reach critical voters, and run on a toxic and losing agenda,” he added.

Biden is also set to travel to Arizona and Nevada next week, trips that are part of his effort following the State of the Union to visit every battleground state.

“The priority should be to defend the states he won in 2020 starting with the most obvious targets— Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Arizona went blue, as did the Georgia Senate race in the 2022 midterms, so those states remain very winnable for the President again in 2024,” said Michael LaRosa, first lady Jill Biden’s traveling press secretary during the 2020 campaign.

But still has a ways to go. He did not see what some allies hoped would be a bump in his polling after his State of the Union address last week, with new surveys showing no improvement in his approval rating or standing against Trump. 

Ahead of the State of the Union, Trump and Biden were statistically tied in a head-to-head 2024 match up in a Yahoo News/YouGov poll from January with 45 percent and 44 percent, respectively. In a poll on Tuesday, they are statistically tied with Trump at 46 percent and Biden at 44 percent.

In battleground states alone, Biden is also struggling to make grounds on Trump. A Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll in late February found Biden trailing Trump Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada and Wisconsin with 48 percent of voters saying they would back Trump across the seven states, compared to 43 percent for Biden.

Additionally, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll this week found Trump polling at 40 percent to Biden’s 38 percent nationally.

“I think they’re all going to be competitive,” said Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg when asked if any states that Democrats took in 2020 make him the most nervous in 2024.

But, he expressed optimism considering Democrats better-than-expected results in the 2022 midterms.

“We had a test run for 2024 a little bit in 2022 in the battleground states, this post-Dobbs, post-insurrection Republican Party, and it went very, very poorly for them. It’s a central reason why I think the likely scenario of this election is that we win,” he said. 

“Because in competitive races all across the country since the spring of 2022, we’ve overperformed and they’ve struggled and it’s because I think that something broke inside the Republican Party when Dobbs happened that for too many Republicans, it meant their party had gone too far,” Rosenberg explained.

Still, the Biden campaign in a memo dubbed “pathway to 270” sent out after the State of the Union focused less on Republicans and more on “shoring up the blue wall and expanding the map.” The so-called “blue wall” refers to the Midwest states that Biden won in 2020 and the campaign is looking to invest big in the Sun Belt battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina.

Vice President Kamala Harris was in Denver on Tuesday as part of a five-state swing, which also includes trips to Arizona, Nevada, California, and Minnesota after Biden’s joint address.

The campaign is also eying a new, complex set of voters who either haven’t yet tuned into the election or have no interest in voting at all this November, considering it’s a 2020 rematch. That voting bloc is seen as persuadable to the Biden campaign, though the campaign believes that contingent might not tune into the election until after Labor Day.

“There’s still a pretty decent lane of undecided voters, believe it or not,” Israel said. “And those voters by their very nature don’t tend to activate until after Labor Day. Because they’re independent, because they’re moderate… and so once you consolidate your base, then you’ve got to build on that by engaging, actively turning out undecideds.”

North Carolina, which Trump won in 2020, is a state that the Biden campaign sees as a potential flip in November. The governors’ race in the state will include far-right Republican, Mark Robinson, on the ballot. And, the Biden campaign is eying Florida as a state where Biden may be growing in popularity due to its extreme abortion law post-Roe. 

“We barely lost North Carolina in 2020….and the Republicans have an extremist as their gubernatorial nominee in 2024 and we have a very strong candidate. So, I think that North Carolina is going to be competitive,” Rosenberg said.

Other Democrats were also hopeful that Biden can not only rebuild, but also expand the coalition in 2024, mainly because Trump is his likely opponent on the ballot in November.

“President Biden’s winning coalition was record-breaking; reaching 2020 Biden-Harris voters while simultaneously making Trump play defense will continue to be important and that’s what the Biden campaign is doing,” said Adam Abrams, a communications official on Obama’s 2008 campaign, a spokesperson for the Obama White House

Abrams, a partner at Seven Letter, added, “the president has the resources – as well as the accomplishments – to speak to his voters while growing his coalition.”

Source: The Hill

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