Biden's midterm strategies start to come into focus

President BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE has visited a string of swing districts and states in the last month, underscoring his determination to help his party in next year’s midterm races.

On Wednesday, Biden traveled to Crystal Lake, Ill., where he has sought to sell his infrastructure plan. The district, which supported former President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE in 2020, is represented by Rep. Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodBiden's midterm strategies start to come into focus Biden aims to build support for jobs and families plan in Illinois Hollywood goes all in for the For the People Act MORE (D), who has been at the center of attacks from the National Republican Congressional Committee. 

Biden in late June stopped in La Crosse, Wis., where Democratic congressman Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindBiden's midterm strategies start to come into focus Cotton heads to Iowa to launch 'Veterans to Victory' program Exclusive: Conservative group targets vulnerable Democrats over abortion MORE is also a perennial GOP target.

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Democrats say Biden wants to show he can be of service to vulnerable Democrats in the months leading up to the high-stakes midterm contests where they’re in jeopardy of losing their control of the House and Senate. 

And some strategists argue Biden can be a help just about wherever he goes.

“There is no place in America that he is not at least a net positive for Democrats,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who added that Biden’s “brand right now is to be a bridge to disaffected Republicans and independents.” 

White House officials would not comment on Biden's midterm election strategy and have publicly downplayed any connection between the visits and next year’s elections. 

The president's allies say the elections are still well over a year away, and they're still mapping out specifics, sources say. But one source close to Biden said that “there's no doubt the president will do everything he can to make sure Democrats come out on top.”

Asked about Biden's visit to Illinois earlier this month, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Hunter Biden blasts those criticizing price of his art: 'F--- 'em' MORE said she “would see this as less of a political trip.”

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Psaki said the president “ran as someone who would represent not just Democrats, not just Republicans, not just independents but all people.”

Still, Biden’s travel schedule offers clues about where he might go and who he might help in 2022 as Democrats cling to their narrow lead in the House. In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans each have 50 seats, with Vice President Harris breaking tie votes.

Biden’s travel schedule also often looks like it has been drawn up with his own possible reelection bid in mind for 2024. There have been plenty of trips to the swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Georgia, a state Biden took from Republicans last year.

Next week, the president will go to another swing states — Pennsylvania — where he will speak about voting rights. 

Biden’s approval rating has held steady and remains above 50 percent, giving Democrats confidence he can help the party in a number of districts next year. The RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Biden’s approval rating at 52.6 — higher than Trump’s marks at this point in his presidency.

Biden’s travel schedule stands in contrast to Trump’s, as the former president made a point of mostly going to GOP strongholds where he could hold events with crowds of adoring fans. 

Biden’s recent trips included a visit to a city in Rep. Jack Bergman’s (R-Mich.) district. It’s a swing state but a House district that is relatively safe for Republicans.

Trump did not make a point of broadening his base, deciding he could win reelection and help congressional Republicans by turning out a larger portion of it.

In the 2018 election, however, Democrats retook the House majority amid a voter backlash to Trump. In 2020, congressional Republicans did better in the House, gaining seats, though they lost the Senate majority.

Biden’s trips suggest different tactics and a White House that believes it can help Democrats compete in a number of places.

Those around Biden say he learned lessons from the way former President Obama handled the midterm elections in 2010, when Republicans won back the House majority with a historic romp of Democrats.

“I imagine that part of the strategy is guided by his experience in the Obama administration,” Payne said. “This is part of a more aggressive posture to sell his agenda items more consistently and effectively than Democrats did a decade ago. 

“I think there is a feeling among a lot of Democrats that we didn’t sell the victories quite as well in 2010 with Obama, and there is a real imperative to not let that happen again,” Payne added. 

On many of his trips, Biden is pitching his infrastructure proposal, which now has a bipartisan sheen given a deal made by a group of senators in both parties that Biden has endorsed.

Biden is also in a better position than Obama at comparative points in their presidencies because of the economy, which struggled in Obama’s first two years in office but is growing under Biden.  

Even Republicans acknowledge that Biden can go to districts that may not be as welcoming to other Democrats. 

“Biden is not toxic in the way that Hillary [Clinton] and Obama were toxic,” said Republican strategist and Capitol Hill veteran Doug Heye. “We see this in his approval ratings and in his disapproval ratings. Even people who disapprove of Biden don’t have a visceral hatred of him like they might have for Hillary or Obama.”

“He’s going to states that he won but areas that he lost, which is a really interesting and smart way to do it,” he said.