Biden juggling long list of issues to please Dem coalition
By JOSH BOAKyesterday
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President Joe Biden speaks about student loan debt relief at Delaware State University, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden wants to tame inflation. He wants Congress to protect access to abortions. He wants to tackle voting rights. And he’s taking on China, promoting construction of new factories, addressing climate change, forgiving student debt, pardoning federal marijuana convictions, cutting the deficit, working to lower prescription drug prices and funneling aid to Ukraine.
Biden is trying to be everything to everyone. But that’s making it hard for him to say he’s focused on any single issue above all others as he tries to counter Republican momentum going into the Nov. 8 elections.
“There’s no one thing,” Biden said Wednesday when questioned about his top priority. “There’s multiple, multiple, multiple issues, and they’re all important. … We ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. You know, that old expression.”
Biden’s exhaustive to-do list is a recognition that the coalition of Democratic voters he needs to turn out Election Day is diverse in terms of race, age, education and geography. This pool of voters has an expansive list of overlapping and competing interests on crime, civil rights, climate change, the federal budget and other issues.
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The Republican candidates trying to end Democratic control of Congress have a far more uniform base of voters, allowing them to more narrowly direct messaging on the economy, crime and immigration toward white voters, older voters, those without a college degree and those who identify as Christian.
In the 2020 election, AP VoteCast suggests, Biden drew disproportionate support from women, Black voters, voters younger than 45, college graduates and city dwellers and suburbanites. That gave Biden a broader base of support than Republican Donald Trump and it also is a potential long-term advantage for Democrats as the country is getting more diverse and better educated.
But in midterm elections that normally favor the party not holding the White House, it requires Biden to appeal to all those constituencies.
“Coherence and cohesion have always been a challenge for the modern Democratic Party that relies on a coalition that crosses racial, ethnic, religious and class lines,” said Daniel Cox, a senior fellow in polling and public opinion at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “It takes considerable political talent to maintain a coalition with diverse interests and backgrounds. Barack Obama managed to do it, but subsequent Democrats have struggled.”
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Biden devoted his public remarks this past Tuesday to abortion, Wednesday to gasoline prices, Thursday to infrastructure and Friday to deficit reduction, student debt forgiveness and historically Black colleges and universities. In most of his public speeches, Biden says he understands the pain caused by consumer prices rising 8.2% from a year ago and that he’s working to lower costs.
Cox said there are signs that Biden’s 2020 coalition is fracturing, with younger liberal voters not that enamored with him, and he does not appear to have done much to shore up Hispanic support.