‘Still a referendum on both’: Biden and Trump end midterms on 2024 collision

For much of this campaign cycle, even as the former president remained popular with the GOP’s rank-and-file, many party leaders had hoped losses by candidates Trump tied himself to could damage his credibility in the run-up to 2024. As Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell put it, the focus had to be “candidate quality” — an ongoing concern after the GOP primaries ended in victory for a number of pro-Trump conservatives with clear liabilities come general election time.

But many of Trump’s favored candidates have recovered in the waning days of the campaign as Republicans surge nationally, with toss-up or better prospects in Senate races in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and New Hampshire.

The fact that Biden was campaigning in heavily Democratic New York on Sunday signaled how seriously his party is concerned about massive losses.

Already, Democrats entered the weekend resigned not only to the likelihood that they will lose the House, but the growing risk that they may lose the Senate too.

“I’m not feeling great,” said Matt Bennett of the center-left group Third Way.

Democratic pollster Molly Murphy, president of Impact Research, said, “October is where it really came back down to earth, and that is just still where it is.”

“They dropped in a ton of money,” said Murphy, whose firm was Biden’s lead pollster in the 2020 election. “And in a bad cycle and when the economy is still in bad shape, that is all culminating into what I think is looking like a tougher and tougher night for Democrats.”

On Sunday, the final CBS News poll of the midterms found Democrats had caught up to Republicans in enthusiasm for the election, erasing a 9-percentage-point GOP advantage in voter interest last month.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that “we have got to translate that to people getting out.”

In a late-hour scramble to lift turnout, Democrats were fanning out across the electoral map this weekend, including in New Hampshire, where Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) campaigned Sunday for vulnerable Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar, who’ve become odd bedfellows on the campaign trail in the run-up to the midterms, poked fun at their newfound tag-teaming at a riverside rally in Nashua — their first appearance together in New Hampshire since finishing second and third, respectively, in the state’s 2020 presidential primary.

“Last time we were on a stage [here], the circumstances were a little different,” Buttigieg joked to Klobuchar from atop an autumn-themed stage erected in a parking lot. Now, he said, “we are absolutely unified in our enthusiasm for your phenomenal congressional delegation.”

But Democrats still face their own intraparty troubles after nearly two years of internecine squabbling over policy. On Saturday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) ripped into Biden for pledging to shut down coal plants during a speech in California, saying “comments like these are the reason the American people are losing trust in President Biden.” The centrist Democrat called Biden’s language “offensive and…

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