Democrats wait on Biden bounce after string of good news: The Note

Sometimes the headline comes out of what doesn’t change.

August 8, 2022, 6:06 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

In an era where major events are happening virtually all the time, sometimes the headline comes out of what doesn't change.

The latest ABC News/Ipsos poll shows President Joe Biden stuck in a rut carved by perceptions of the economy. His approval ratings across a range of issues -- handling of inflation and taxes and even climate change and gun violence -- are all underwater and virtually unchanged since June or, in the case of inflation (29% approval), since the beginning of the year.

That's despite easing gas prices, encouraging jobs numbers and -- as of Sunday -- congressional action on a major health care, tax and environmental package cobbled together under the promise of addressing inflation.

The latest numbers come at a strange moment for Biden. Some Democrats are openly questioning whether he should or will run for reelection in 2024, even as the consensus on the president's accomplishments is likely to change with the surprise passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Maureen Dowd's latest New York Times op-ed arguing that Biden would be stronger as a lame duck -- "he and his team could do what they thought was right rather than what was politically expedient" -- adds to an awkward intra-party conversation.

On ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, close Biden ally Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., brushed aside Dowd's column and predicted that "a whole string of wins" would start to change the midterm outlook. But even he wouldn't directly say whether he was urging Biden to run again, confirming only that he wants Biden to focus on more immediate challenges facing American families.

Democrats have all but resigned themselves to a midterm cycle where Biden is deeply unpopular. But in an election year where every point matters, just how stuck he is could mean seats in the House and Senate.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden takes off his mask as he walks towards Marine One for departure to Rehoboth Beach, Del., Aug. 7, 2022.
President Joe Biden takes off his mask as he walks towards Marine One for departure to Rehoboth Beach, Del., Aug. 7, 2022.
Ken Cedeno/Reuters

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

With less than 100 days until general election votes are tallied, former President Donald Trump's continued hints at a 2024 bid stand to energize Democratic voters in key elections.

Trump remains a powerful force within right-wing circles, as evidenced by the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll that showed Trump as the clearly favored candidate for 2024.

When Trump spoke to the crowd at CPAC, he indicated that he "may have to do it again" and told reporters the "time is coming" for a formal campaign announcement.

"I think people are going to be very happy," Trump told Fox News Digital at CPAC.

It comes as the latest ABC News/Ipsos poll shows a shrinking enthusiasm gap between Democrat and Republican voters. When asked how enthusiastic they were about voting in November, the poll found that 75% of Republicans are either very or somewhat enthusiastic about voting, compared to 68% of Democrats.

In ABC News/Ipsos polls conducted in April and June this year, Republicans were likelier to report that they were very enthusiastic about voting than Democrats. That gap has narrowed to five points in this August poll.

An announcement could fuel voters who oppose Trump to cast midterm ballots in swing states where control of Congress is at stake.

PHOTO: Voters fill out their ballots in the voting booths at Scarborough, Maine, Nov. 2, 2021.
Voters fill out their ballots in the voting booths at Scarborough, Maine, Nov. 2, 2021.
Portland Press Herald via Getty Images, FILE

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Nearly a week after voters cast ballots in a slate of high-profile August primary races, the contours of Republican intraparty divisions ahead of November are coming into view.

In Washington state, Rep. Dan Newhouse -- one of 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of the impeachment of former President Donald Trump -- advanced to the general election over the weekend alongside Democrat Doug White. The development is likely to put Newhouse on track to retain his seat in Congress, as two of his fellow pro-impeachment colleagues have already lost to Trump-backed challengers this primary season.

But Newhouse could be one of just two Republicans to come out on top -- four other GOP lawmakers who backed impeachment chose to resign rather than face voters this year, and the fates of Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Liz Cheney are still unknown.

Meanwhile, Arizona saw a Trump-endorsement sweep in statewide races. Former TV news anchor Kari Lake beat her Republican opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson, despite Robson having the backing of term-limited Gov. Doug Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Far-right Arizona House legislator Mark Finchem also topped Ducey's pick in the race for secretary of state. The outcome puts Finchem -- who denies the outcome of the 2020 election and attended the Jan. 6 rally preceding the Capitol riot -- on track to potentially become the state's top-ranking election official.

"We may have won this battle -- and I won an epic battle in Arizona. We drove a stake through the heart of the McCain machine," Lake said to applause during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday.

PHOTO: Rep. Dan Newhouse leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference on Capitol Hill, Dec. 1, 2021.
Rep. Dan Newhouse leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference on Capitol Hill, Dec. 1, 2021.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images, FILE

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

4. That's the number of GOP primaries and elections we're watching on Tuesday in Minnesota and Wisconsin. And as FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich writes, Minnesota's special election in the 1st Congressional District could be especially important as its margins will help us better understand whether Democrats -- or Republicans -- have an advantage headed into the 2022 midterms. So far it's been a mixed bag, but in recent weeks the race for Congress has inched toward Democrats in the polls. Wisconsin also has two statewide races, for governor and attorney general, where Republicans are hoping to make inroads. We'll be back Monday with our preview of the key Democratic races to watch in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Please be sure to join us Tuesday as we live-blog the results at FiveThirtyEight.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Monday morning with a deep dive on the Inflation Reduction Act. ABC's MaryAlice Parks explains what's in the major climate and health care legislation and how significant of a win it is for Democrats. Then, ABC's Jordana Miller reports from Jerusalem after a deadly weekend of violence in Gaza. And ABC's Britt Clennett is in Kyiv to discuss concerns over shelling at a Ukraine nuclear plant. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will arrive in Kentucky at 10:45 a.m. ET "to visit families affected by the devastation from recent flooding and survey recovery efforts," the White House said.
  • At 12:30 p.m. ET, the president will participate in a briefing on the ongoing response efforts to the recent flooding at Marie Roberts Elementary School in Lost Creek, Kentucky.
  • The president will deliver remarks at 2 p.m. ET, before he and the first lady return to the White House.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Tuesday for the latest.

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