On Wednesday, POLITICO Playbook analyzed the surprisingly poor performance of the Republican Party in Tuesday night's midterm elections, where they went in as prohibitive favorites to retake the House and slight favorites to retake the Senate, only for Democrats to outperform polls in several key battlegrounds and control of both chambers still too early to call.
Ultimately, the results are cause for a victory lap for President Joe Biden, who beat the odds to "squelch" a predicted so-called "red wave" at the ballot box, said the report.
"Once again, Biden defied expectations at the moment he seemed destined for a catastrophic loss — just as he did when he resurrected his left-for-dead candidacy in South Carolina in 2020, and just as he did when he resurrected his left-for-dead legislative agenda this past summer," reported Ryan Lizza, Eugene Daniels, and Rachel Bade. "White House aides were giddy Tuesday night. We’re told that Biden is now leaning toward holding a traditional post-midterm press conference before he leaves town on Thursday for a lengthy foreign trip."
One other likely effect of this election is to lay to rest ongoing rumors that Biden would, despite all his assurances to the contrary, decide not to run again in 2024. One senior White House official told POLITICO simply, "He's running."
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But another factor in the anemic GOP performance was former President Donald Trump, whose interference in Republican primary contests left them with inadequate, scandal-plagued candidates — something even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has publicly expressed frustration about.
"He helped saddle the GOP with poor candidates, and he assisted the White House in its goal of turning the midterms into a choice between unpopular Biden and deeply unpopular Trump," said the report. "Democrats lost blue-collar voters and gained white-collar voters in the Trump years. In some places, that has been a bad trade. But on Tuesday, it may have benefited Democrats, as their new anti-Trump supporters outperformed their former voters now on Team MAGA."