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'Perfect storm': Iowa could be bellwether for Democratic problems if Biden fails to recover

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At a Faith and Freedom event this month in Des Moines, Iowa, veteran Georgia Republican activist Ralph Reed hosted a record-breaking crowd — a sign of Democrats’ looming disadvantage in a slew of midterm races.

“I’d like to thank Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” Reed said on Saturday, thanking some 900 people who showed up for the event, according to Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann, who said it typified voters’ “visceral” reaction to the new Democratic administration.

“Many Republican voters have not disengaged from 2020,” Kaufmann continued. “That was my first indication that the new numbers were not going to be good for Democrats.”

'BUYER'S REMORSE': DEMOCRATS FACE ELECTORAL HEADWINDS IN SWING STATES AS BIDEN'S JOB APPROVAL SINKS

According to a Sept. 12-15 survey for the Des Moines Register by Selzer & Co, fewer than one-third of Iowans approve of Biden's job as president at 31%, a 16 percentage point drop since March. Sixty-two percent said they disapproved, compared to 44% roughly six months ago.

Voters are unhappy with Biden’s recent vaccine mandate and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. They also fault his handling of the coronavirus, to the tune of a 17 percentage point slip from 53% approval in June.

“I think Biden is suffering from a cascade of problems and seems unable to successfully address any of them,” said Republican strategist David Kochel. “He promised to shut down the virus, and the virus is far from over. He promised a better border policy, and it’s a mess. He promised to get us out of Afghanistan, and [while] he did, he handled it in the worst way: getting soldiers killed and stranding Americans and our allies in the process.”

He added: “He’s proven incapable of delivering in Congress, and Iowans have decided that he’s got the country moving in the wrong direction.”

Consultants in both parties point to Afghanistan’s collapse in early August as the moment Biden began sinking in the polls. Not long before, he promised a countrywide reopening that sputtered as the delta coronavirus variant spread and vaccine uptake slowed. In Washington, Biden is attempting to knit together warring factions in his party to pass two agenda-defining policy bills.

“Biden looks like he can’t lead, hasn’t healed the country, and [Iowa] voters, by a two-to-one margin, are calling him out for failing at the job,” Kochel said.

Kaufmann said voters in the state are watching the cost of Biden’s multitrillion-dollar agenda, which he said is the result of the state swimming in federal funds from the administration’s COVID-19 package.

“We can’t spend all the money,” he added, noting local papers are covering the issue weekly. “It’s happening in every small town, in every county, from our big Metro county of Polk all the way to Adams County with 4,000 people.”

The effect could prompt a red wave next year, Kaufmann said.

“If it holds, you’ve got the perfect storm of a lack of leadership in foreign policy, plus, you’ve got this stark reminder, almost every week in the papers, of wasteful spending,” he said.

Notably, Biden fares poorly with independent voters, with 62% saying they disapproved of his performance compared to 29% who approve.

The downturn is unifying for Republicans no matter the district, serving to ease any fractures inside his party, according to Kaufmann.

To boost Democrats in the state, Biden first needs to fix his standing.

“[Democrats] have got a heavy anchor around their ankle named Joe Biden, and unless he turns this around, they’re going to suffer significant losses in the midterms,” Kochel said.

Since March, the percentage of people in the state who believe the country is headed in the wrong direction has grown to 70%, a 19-point percentage point increase.

Kaufmann said he wouldn't call Iowa a red state, but he might soon if the pattern keeps up.

“There’s no getting around the fact that if the president’s standing in Iowa is the same 14 months from now as it is today, that would be very dangerous for Democrats,” said Democratic pollster Brad Bannon.

First, the president must squash the “circular firing squad” inside his party to get his sweeping legislation passed, as longtime Democratic strategist Jim Manley called the discord.

“Much of the agenda and our electoral success depends on getting these two bills done,” Manley said.

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If the pandemic recedes and economic growth rebounds, Democratic candidates may once again look to the White House for a boost.

“American voters have short memories when it comes to foreign policy,” Bannon said. “And pocketbook issues are the ones that matter.”

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Tags: News, White House, Biden Administration, Iowa, Democratic Party, Campaigns, 2022 Elections, 2024 Elections

Original Author: Katherine Doyle

Original Location: 'Perfect storm': Iowa could be bellwether for Democratic problems if Biden fails to recover

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