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Let's take a look at the 2024 Biden campaign strategy

Over the past six months, we’ve all noticed a trend when reading stories about Joe Biden’s reelection strategy: The president just can’t seem to grasp why voters don’t appreciate all the things he’s accomplished in office.

“Biden has long believed that he isn’t getting sufficient credit for an economy that has created 15 million new jobs,” NBC reported in March. Several weeks later, the same outlet reported that “complaints about Americans not giving him credit he believes he deserves for what he sees as his accomplishments, including an economy trending in a positive direction and bipartisan infrastructure legislation, have been a recurrence for much of Biden’s time in the White House.” And here’s Politico in May: “It is a reliable complaint we’ve heard over and over from Biden’s aides and strategists: a frustration that the president never seems to get credit for his accomplishments.”

The spin from Biden world speaks to Democrats’ inability to meet voters where they are on the inflation issue, GOP strategists said. “The Biden team is in la la land to think that voters don’t know what Biden has done to them,” says Dave Carney, a longtime GOP strategist who is now heading the pro-Trump super PAC Preserve America. “They know the cost of gas is up. They know the cost of rent is up. They know interest rates are so high they can no longer afford to buy a home.”

Leading up to the 2022 midterms, Biden’s poor approval ratings, his administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, and concerns about the economy, immigration, and public safety led many strategists to forecast a red wave. Those predictions obviously never materialized, apparently leading many Biden staffers to grow overconfident in their top-of-the-ticket strategy. Alex Thompson reported a great story earlier this week in Axios about how some people close to the president are frustrated by the Biden team’s refusal to divert from its democracy-versus-chaos approach:

Senior Democrats, including some of President Biden’s aides, are increasingly dubious about his theory for victory in November, which relies on voter concerns about Jan. 6, political violence, democracy and Donald Trump’s character. . . .

A Democratic strategist in touch with the campaign told Axios: “It is unclear to many of us watching from the outside whether the president and his core team realize how dire the situation is right now, and whether they even have a plan to fix it. That is scary.”

People close to the president told Axios they worry about raising concerns in meetings because Biden’s group of longtime loyal aides can exile dissenters. . . .

By Election Day this year, Donilon believes “the focus will become overwhelming on democracy. I think the biggest images in people’s minds are going to be of January 6th.”

The Biden advisers told Axios: “This is Joe Biden’s strategy — and Mike Donilon and his top advisers are in agreement with the president. The polling shows that democracy ended up a top issue of concern for voters in 2022, and it will be in 2024.”

The Biden team’s continued electoral focus on January 6 gives us a fascinating window into the minds of Biden advisers, who are eager to make this presidential race a referendum on Donald Trump — even though their own guy is in the White House. More on this dynamic yesterday in Politico:

Even as other Democrats are running strong, the party’s down-ballot successes aren’t translating into momentum at the top of the ticket. Biden trails Trump in many of the states he needs to win to keep the White House. His job approval is underwater. And the coalition of voters that ushered him into office four years ago is fraying.

The split in political fortunes between the president and other Democrats has grown unmistakably clear to party leaders, laying plain the degree to which Biden’s problems appear to be Biden-specific. Interviews with Democratic lawmakers, strategists and former party officials in Washington and the states found Democrats increasingly willing to acknowledge that the president’s political difficulties are anchored in Biden’s individual vulnerabilities — including his age, his inconsistent messaging and his dismal support among young people.

Biden staffers in the White House and on the campaign have adopted an unusual tactic (for a Democratic campaign, at least) of publicly dragging media outlets who give their boss unfavorable coverage. They’ve attacked the New York Times for being too tough on Biden, while glossing over the reality that they have refused to give the Gray Lady a sit-down interview with the president. They’ve publicly admonished top reporters at the Wall Street Journal for reporting on Republican lawmakers’ on-record concerns about Biden’s mental acuity, giving the story more play in the process. And most recently, they’ve made a habit of knocking conservative outlets for circulating what they call “cheap fakes” — deceptively cut videos of Biden that go viral.

The irony of the cheap-fake frustration is that the Biden campaign is trying very, very hard to “manufacture online enthusiasm for his candidacy,” as New York Times reporter Ken Bensinger put it last week. Sometimes, these attempts to go viral work, like when Biden met with a child stutterer and the campaign was able to clip the interaction for social media — generating positive coverage in major media outlets and on social media, where many Americans get their news. But oftentimes, the videos of Biden that end up making headlines have to do with his slurred speech, gait, or apparent confusion about where he’s supposed to be walking. Yes, some of these viral videos are deceptively edited. But knocking conservative media for spreading “disinformation” can also backfire by leaving voters with the impression that they shouldn’t believe their own lying eyes.

“A gaffe only sticks when it reinforces an existing problem,” GOP political strategist Jesse Hunt, who previously worked for the Republican Governors Association and Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, said. “Biden’s age and competency are existing problems. Therefore, the sorts of things that feed into that are going to go viral way more than him having a nice moment with a random person on a random topic.”

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