Democratic governors 'expressing deep anxiety' over voters' frustrations with party, Biden: New York Times

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Democratic governors and gubernatorial candidates are “expressing deep anxiety” over voters’ frustrations with their party, as well as President Biden, driving fears of potential losses in elections this November. 

According to a Monday piece by The New York Times, Democrats attending a weekend fund-raising retreat in Florida hoped their worries about voter backlash amid Biden’s plummeting approval rating would be put to rest with his Tuesday State of the Union address.

“Democratic governors and their allies are expressing deep anxiety about the political conditions facing their party as President Biden’s approval rating slumps in a year when three dozen governorships are on the line, including in some of the nation’s most important battleground states,” the piece read. 

The Times noted that “several governors, candidates for governor and donors” acknowledged that voters were frustrated with the continuing pandemic and that it was “damaging the party more than expected.” 

Biden, whose approval rating reached a new low of 37% in recent polling, had promised on the 2020 campaign trail to “shut down” the virus. New variants, however, continued to spread, leading to record case numbers and deaths across the U.S.

The piece added that those concerned Democrats hoped that Biden’s State of the Union address “might serve as a pivot point” for the party’s election chances, considering it was coming amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Jackson as the likely first Black woman on the Supreme Court, and the easing of coronavirus guidance from the CDC. 

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Joe Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Cross Hall of the White House, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris listens at right. 
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Times directly quoted a number of attendees at the retreat who openly expressed their fears for November. 

“The environment is not where we want it to be right now … When you’re frustrated and angry, you blame the guy at the top,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, while New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy argued that Democrats “undersold historic investment” in the U.S., appearing to reference the massive bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress late last year. 

Murphy narrowly won his race for re-election in November by just over three percentage points in a state that voted for Biden by 16 points. On the same night, the now-Republican governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, won his race in a state that voted for Biden by 10 points. 

Murphy went on to note that people were “mad as hell,” but strangely claimed they weren’t “necessarily sure why they’re mad or who they’re mad at,” despite polls showing Biden and the Democrats underwater with voters on a number of issues, including their handling of the economy. 

Phil Murphy, the Democratic Party nominee for Governor of New Jersey, and his family arrive to vote in Middletown, New Jersey, U.S., November 7, 2017.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
(Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

One Democratic donor who attended the event admitted to The Times that “no one trusts the Democrat brand” and that the party was facing headwinds. 

“If you’re a governor right now, or invested in Democratic governors’ successes, you don’t have much else to talk about … so you grasp at straws,” he said.

Democrats are defending 16 governorships this year, including in a number of battleground states.

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