President Joe Biden is feeling vindicated after holding off a Republican red wave on Tuesday evening, a move that has boosted his prospects going into 2024 presidential campaign.
‘He’s running,’ a White House official told Politico’s Playbook.
After calling Democrats last night, the president made another round of congratulatory calls on Wednesday morning, including to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a Republican: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
The White House released a video montage of the president on the phone with various candidates. Biden was visibly gleeful, offering his congratulations, telling them he’ll sleep better knowing they won, and saying to them: ‘God love ya.’ There was even a cameo by Commander Biden, the president’s dog.
He also spoke with Representative Matt Cartwright, Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, and Representative-elect Robert Garcia.
And he spoke with Democratic Senators Mark Kelly and Raphael Warnock, whose races have yet to be called.
Finally he talked to Representative Sean Patrick Maloney and Representative Val Demings – both of whom lost their contests.
Republicans are still expected to win control of the House when all the votes are counted but there was no massive GOP victory, which is what Democrats feared.
Control of Congress has yet to be called as results are still needed in several competitive House districts and key Senate contests.
It’s quite the turnaround for Biden, who many Democrats held at arms’ length going into Election Day, spooked by his low approval ratings and voters unhappiness with the high cost of living.
Worries about how Democrats would fare in the midterms even had some in the party talking about who should replace Biden as their presidential nominee in two years.
Even with more than 60 House races and four Senate races yet to be called, Biden is expected to defy historical tends of massive losses for a president’s party in the midterms.
President Biden made phone calls to candidates on Tuesday night
The White House released a video of Biden’s calls and it included a cameo by Commander Biden
Barack Obama saw his party lose 63 House seats and six Senate seats in 2010
Bill Clinton, seen campaiging with Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994 lost 54 seats in the House and eights seats in the Senate that year
The only modern president also to defy that trend was George W. Bush in the wake of the September 11th attacks, when his popularity was at an all-time high.
Biden is already doing better than Barack Obama and Bill Clinton did in the first midterms of their presidency.
Obama saw his party lose 63 House seats and six Senate seats in 2010. Clinton lost 54 in the House and eight in the Senate in 1994.
President Biden spent election night at the White House where he called more than 30 Democrats to offer his congratulations on their wins. He even shot off a text to Democratic candidate John Fetterman after Fetterman beat celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s competitive Senate race.
Even without a red wave, the results of the midterms will reshape Biden’s next two years in office. If Republicans take control of the House, as expected, they have pledged to launch a series of investigations into the administration.
Biden, at 79, has said repeatedly he plans to run for a second term. But he is expected to discuss the matter in depth with his family when all of them are together for the holiday season.
In a potential warning sign for 2024, around two-thirds of voters in a survey by AP VoteCast said they think Biden is not a strong leader. More than half said the president isn’t honest or trustworthy and that he doesn’t have the mental capability to serve effectively as president.
But, for the moment, the White House is focused on the results from Tuesday.
Official point to their successful push of abortion rights and democracy as part of the reason Republicans didn’t get the gains they expected.
Multiple states with abortion-related ballot measures all looked headed toward victories for abortion rights advocates, underscoring the Democrats’ argument that reproductive rights was a huge issue for their base this year after the Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe vs. Wade.
And it wasn’t just an issue that Democrats supported.
In the red state of Kentucky and the battleground state of Michigan, voters enshrined abortion rights in their state’s constitution – joining Democratic California and Vermont in taking that step.
But some observes would argue Biden best helped his party on election night by staying out of the way.
The president held few campaign rallies this election year, sticking to smaller events and fundraisers. He mostly targeted blue areas, pushing for Democrats to get out and vote.
But his record was on the ballot even if he is name was not. And voters made it clear they remain unhappy with the state of the economy under his stewardship.
Joe Biden and Barack Obama campaigning together in Philadelphia on Saturday
Voters said inflation was their top concern this election year, exit polls found, followed closely by abortion.
About 33% of voters called inflation the most important issue as they cast their ballot, according to the exit polls of voters conducted by the television networks, with about 27% citing abortion.
Other voters cited crime, gun policy and immigration as their chief concerns.
In troubling signs for Biden, three-quarters of the electorate that voted Tuesday felt negative about the economy and more than three-quarters said that inflation has caused hardship for them and their family over the past year, the exit polls found.
They gave the president a 45% approval rating for his time in the Oval Office, citing their unhappiness with the economy.