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The media consensus is as deafening as it is overwhelming:
Joe Biden and the Democrats are heading for a disastrous November.
They’re going to be gutted halfway through, an absolutely devastating annihilation.
Even Charles Blow, perhaps the most liberal columnist on the New York Times opinion page, has an article titled “A Biden Blood Bath?”
Blow says voters “feel stuck and angry, they’re tired and overwhelmed, and that energy is directed at Biden.” And though he gives the president a partial pass saying “he’s being punished for not being a peddler,” that doesn’t change his bleak and dire prediction.
Apocalyptic headlines are all over the place:
Daily Beast: “Biden and Democrats should be absolutely terrified of the new polls.
Axios: “Dems Air Anxieties After Biden’s Brutal NBC Poll.”
The Hill: ‘Biden hands over midterms to GOP.’
CNN: “It’s a pretty dark time to be a Democrat facing voters this fall.”
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I am not here to say that these analyzes are wrong. The voters are fed up and the Democrats control the White House and Congress.
Yes, there are the usual caveats about how the ruling party almost always loses seats in a president’s first midterm, and how much can change in the six months leading up to the elections.
But this media cacophony has an echo chamber effect, taking a terrible situation for Democrats and making it worse. I’m not saying reporters hype — they’re doing their job — but it’s a vicious cycle for Biden’s party.
The more the headlines are filled with projections of a medium-term calamity, the more discouraged Democratic voters will be and the more likely to stay home.
The more negativity there is in the media, the less likely big donors will want to bet for what appears to be a lost cause. And these two developments, in turn, can further lower the number of polls.
If there is indeed a debate in the press, it is whether the deep decline of the Democrats is mainly due to the messenger or the message.
There is no getting away from the substance. Biden’s record now includes 8.5% inflation, more COVID-19 surges and breakthrough infections, and a border mess that will no doubt get worse with another policy change.
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Allies say it has also created millions of jobs and virus deaths have plummeted. I happen to think he did a good job leading the western alliance on Ukraine, although he was certainly overcautious, but economically anxious voters give him little credit for that .
Additionally, the president has been unable to deliver on his promises on immigration, police reform, gun control and climate change. Instead, he continued to push for billions in extra spending that was never going to make it through the Senate as party progressives pushed cultural controversies out of step with most voters.
Biden’s weaknesses as a messenger also hurt him. At 79, he’s never been a great orator, but his stumbles – like declaring he wants Vladimir Putin out of power – don’t sound like he’s got things under control.
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Plus, by cutting out his media megaphone — an interview this year, weekends in Delaware, a boring Twitter feed — he’s leaving a void for detractors, Republicans, the former guy and pundits to fill.
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The press is right that Biden and his party appear headed for a bombardment — and time is running out to see if the president can change that perception.