(CNN) Nearly two years after the last presidential election, Joe Biden and Donald Trump remain the leaders of their respective parties. At this point, they are the favorites to be the Democratic and Republican standard-bearers, respectively, again in two years’ time.
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As the midterm elections draw closer this fall, the tough race candidates rather fade into the background.
CNN’s Melanie Zanona recently reported that House Republicans’ campaign arm president Tom Emmer is advising battlefield candidates not to distract from Trump and focus on issues important to voters.
One Republican lawmaker in a competitive race said of Trump, “I never say his name. I generally avoid saying his name.” “I talk about their policies that I like.”
Similarly, weak Democrats in November’s vote are not embracing Biden with open arms. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” which aired Sunday, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona did not say directly that he wanted the president to join the campaign with him.
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“I would welcome anyone to come to Arizona, travel around the state at any time. As long as I’m here, if I’m not in Washington in session, and talk about what Arizona needs ,” Kelly said.
Kelly isn’t alone: As The Washington Post reported over the weekend, some Democratic candidates have come out and said they want Biden to campaign with them this fall.
Given that both Biden and Trump are widely unpopular with voters, this isn’t necessarily a surprising development. A recent NBC News poll found that 40% of voters consider Biden favourable, while 36% consider Trump favourable.
For his part, Biden has kept his direct participation in midterm elections to a minimum, endorsing just three candidates in 2022. While the first midterms of a president’s term almost always result in losses for the party in power, Biden’s approval ratings, which have been stuck in the 40s (or worse) for a year, and high inflation have only dented Democrats. made the road more hostile.
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Democrats are hopeful Biden can begin to turn the corner after a series of political victories, which were capped by the signing of a climate, tax and health care bill into law last week. But until there is evidence that those achievements are breaking out among the public, Democrats in the tight race will continue to hold at least an arm’s length from the president.
However, the dynamics between Trump and the GOP candidates have been markedly different. For most of the election cycle, Republicans across the board were fighting tooth and nail for the former president’s support, knowing that having the most influential person in the party in his corner would be the surest ticket to victory in most primaries. Trump issued more than 200 endorsements, in many cases to candidates who embraced his baseless election fraud claims.
But what was once an asset to Republican candidates is fast turning into a liability on battlefields and districts, especially as public attention turns to Trump’s growing legal problems. An NBC poll showed that 57% of voters said investigations into alleged wrongdoing by Trump should continue, and threats to democracy were moving up voters’ priority lists.
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And many of the GOP candidates Trump helped propel through the primaries are now struggling to appeal to a general electorate.
The Point: As much as candidates from both parties will want to keep their distance from Biden and Trump, they can’t escape the reality that their fate will be at least partly tied to their standing with the public. And as Biden and Trump look forward to a potential rematch in 2024, they won’t be eager to give up much of the spotlight.
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