May 19, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats don't believe Biden's bad polls, either

US President Joe Biden walks with US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer upon arrival at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York

President Joe Biden walks with US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Democratic senators who represent presidential battlegrounds agree with President Biden — polls showing him trailing former President Trump in those key states are wrong.

Why it matters: The skepticism is especially notable because a number of Democrats from those states have a polling lead over their Republican opponents in pivotal Senate races.

  • "No, I do not think that they are accurate," Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told Axios. Her retirement has triggered one of the most competitive Senate races. Democrat Elissa Slotkin has been leading in early polls, even as Biden lags behind Trump.
  • "The polls showed that I was down when I entered my race. And polls didn't look that great for Angela Alsobrooks a couple weeks ago, but she won the primary heartedly," Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) told Axios.

The big picture: After Trump's 2016 expectation-defying win, pollsters and strategists made adjustments aimed at better capturing Trump supporters.

  • Now, Democrats say the polls are missing key voter dynamics on their side.
  • "There are certain communities that are missed," added Warnock, who narrowly ousted Republican Kelly Loeffler in a 2021 runoff.
  • Still, Democratic Senate candidates in Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are running well ahead of Biden and lead their Republican rivals, according to the latest New York Times/Sienna survey.

What they're saying: "It's early," Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.), who led Republican challenger David McCormick by five percentage points in the survey, told Axios.

  • "Every candidate, whether it's the president or me — we have to work every day to earn people's votes."
  • Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) also told Axios elections in his state are always going to be close, but he predicted Biden would win. He added that he would like to see Biden and Vice President Harris visit Arizona more.

Biden is campaigning in swing states where polls show he needs to make up ground.

  • He gave the commencement address Sunday at the historically Black Morehouse College in Atlanta, and is speaking at a large NAACP dinner in Detroit.
  • He was in Wisconsin last week and has visited his birth state of Pennsylvania at least seven times this year, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

What to watch: Democrats in competitive races may shy away from directly tying their campaigns to Biden's, lest the president become a drag on their bids.

  • Democratic strategists are urging senate candidates to focus on comparisons to what they see as weaker GOP challengers.
  • "Senate races are candidate versus candidate battles," one Democratic strategist told Axios.
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