Was last week good or bad for Joe Biden?

This article first appeared at betting.betfair.com on 12th November, 2023.

This time next year, we will be poring over the results of the US Presidential Election and Congress. 2023 was an ‘off year’ for national elections but this week still had some big races and significant results.
The news was overwhelmingly good for Democrats.

Democrats outperforming expectations

In the key swing state of Virginia, they defied predictions of a dead-heat to take control of both Houses. Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s vague presidential hopes went up in flames. Andy Beshear won a second term as Governor of deep-red Kentucky. Watch out for that name in future.

Elsewhere in local races, numerous unlikely, pro-Trump districts turned blue. In Ohio, a referendum codified abortion rights. Whilst Brandon Presley couldn’t pull off a miraculous upset in the Mississippi Governor’s race, the narrow margin of defeat was seen as yet another good Democrat result, in keeping with other local and special election results this year.

So, a ringing endorsement of Joe Biden, which could propel him to a second term? Not so fast. Betfair markets remain distinctly unimpressed, with the current incumbent of the White House available to back at 3.35, equating to a mere 30% chance.

Swing state polls catastrophic for Biden

Prior to Tuesday’s voting, a series of very grim general election polls had instilled fear into Democrats, showing Biden losing to Donald Trump in the key states that will determine the electoral college and therefore, the presidency.

Worse numbers, by my reckoning, can be found below these headline figures. Biden’s average approval rating is a pitiful 38.7%.

One must remember, these dire comparisons are against Trump. The most toxic, polarizing figure in US political history. A man facing financial ruin in court, and 91 criminal indictments on extremely serious charges. A man whose ‘strong disapprovals’ dwarfed any other. Whom Biden managed to marshall an astonishing 81M people to turn out and vote against.

Biden’s approvals have fallen substantially since and one must wonder how on Earth he will be able to repeat that unified, determined effort. When these polls put Biden up against a ‘generic Republican’, he loses a landslide. And yet this is set against the context of really good results for Democrats.

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