The Democratic Party exceeded midterm expectations in tossup races across the nation after President Biden campaigned in largely blue areas and shied away from many of the tougher contests.
The president played it safe by mostly campaigning in secure Democratic states like New Mexico, California, Illinois and New York. His last event before election day was with Wes Moore, the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland who led by more than 30 points in the polls and cruised to an easy victory Tuesday.
Brad Bannon, a Democratic political strategist, said the White House’s cautious approach to the campaign trail appeared to pay off because it allowed voters to be more exposed to some of the weaker Republican candidates.
“It was a benefit to the Democrats,” Bannon told Fox News Digital. “Biden realized his own standing with voters was subpar, and in a way, by stepping back, he let Republicans, especially Donald Trump, step forward and destroy themselves.”
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Democrats have a chance to maintain control of the Senate pending three races yet to be called in Nevada, Arizona and Georgia. Biden did not appear with any of these three Democratic Senate candidates on the campaign trail.
Republicans are expected to win a majority of the House of Representatives as votes continue to be counted, but the margin will be slimmer than anticipated. The GOP’s strongest gains were in two states where Biden campaigned over the past week. Republicans picked up four seats in Florida and three seats in New York, including a historical defeat over Rep. Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Brendan Steinhauser, a consultant for GOP candidates, said Biden’s most significant challenge is his lack of appeal with moderates.
“I don’t think Biden won over a lot of independents,” Steinhauser told Fox News Digital. “He spoke to his crowd and that was it.”
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Biden did not appear with an extensive list of Democratic Senate candidates in competitive races. The president made visits to Ohio and North Carolina after the primary elections, but did not appear at events with the Democratic Senate candidates in those states, both of whom lost.
Biden never campaigned for Sen. Ralph Warnock, D-Ga., as he faced a tight race against Republican candidate Herschel Walker, which is set for a runoff election in December. The same goes for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D.-Nev., who trails Republican candidate Adam Laxalt as the final votes are counted.
First lady Jill Biden campaigned in Arizona without her husband for Sen. Mark Kelly, who leads Republican candidate Blake Masters as the final votes are counted.
Biden did campaign with former President Barack Obama in Pennsylvania on Sunday with Democrats John Fetterman, who ran for the U.S. Senate, and gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro. Both candidates emerged victorious on Tuesday, which Kevin Walling, a former Biden campaign surrogate, said shows the president still has a wide appeal that benefited his party on the campaign trail.
“He made Pennsylvania and the critical Senate and governor’s races a key focus, traveling to the Keystone State more than any other midterm battleground, and it paid off mightily,” Walling told Fox News Digital.
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Richard Painter, an ethics lawyer who worked in the George W. Bush administration, said the midterm results are more a result of incompetence from Republicans than a strong defense from Democrats.
“This is not an environment where Biden would have swayed independent voters,” Painter told Fox News Digital. “It was more weakness on the Republican side than Biden being perceived as an effective messenger.”
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Several of Biden’s cabinet members increased official travel in recent months and often attended fundraising and campaign events for Democrats. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is one of the more popular speakers, and headlined events for Democrats in New Hampshire and Nevada.