After Subpar Performance, Biden’s Numbers are DROPPING


After President Biden’s distinctly subpar debate performance and the ensuing decline in polls, the already challenging battle to maintain the Democratic majority in the Senate may depend on a return of voters who are willing to choose candidates from opposing parties for different Senate seats.


With several incumbents in swing states running for reelection, Democrats have an especially challenging Senate race landscape. Furthermore, their lead over their Republican colleagues, who have a far better map this year, is a very narrow 51-49 majority. According to Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, “if a candidate feels that the presidential candidate is going to lose his or her state, naturally they have to figure out ways to create distance between themselves and the presidential candidate.”


The Center’s research indicates that split-ticket voting, which helped Democrats win Senate seats in places where Republican presidents have won, was most common for both the presidency and the Senate in the 1970s and 1980s. However, during the past few decades, the practice has decreased.

According to Kondik, given the current context, this decreasing tendency may make things more difficult for Democrats who are vulnerable. One expert believes that the campaigns of Senate Democrats in competitive races will probably differ from those of the president or a Democrat in a safer district. According to Madison Barry Burden, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, “the candidates are likely to stop short of completely linking themselves to Biden to avoid being pulled down as long as Senate Democrats continue to run ahead of Biden in their states.”


“But the calculus is probably different in swing states such as Pennsylvania than in red states such as Montana,” he said. “Jon Tester has always had to project an image that is somewhat outside of the national Democratic Party because he is a political misfit in his state, and 2024 won’t be any different. Bob Casey, on the other hand, is more dependent on Biden’s performance in Pennsylvania. Thus, he is likely to stick with his strong support.”


“No elected Democrat — safe seat or in-play — wants to be first to state the obvious about President Biden’s state of health,” Republican strategist Doug Heye said, alluding to the at-risk Democrats’ largely silent response to Biden’s dismal debate performance against former President Trump last month.