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Presidential debate already shaking things up down-ballot in swing states

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Presidential debate already shaking things up down-ballot in swing states


One of the Democratic Party’s many problems to address this morning is the down-ballot effect of President Biden’s performance in the debate last night.

Shortly after the debate ended, Politico’s Ally Mutnick blogged: “There’s some chatter among Democrats that Joe Biden’s performance tonight will spook major funders of campaigns and outside groups, potentially causing pain downballot. ‘I don’t think you are all ready for the amount of donor meltdown tomorrow,’ said one Democratic operative involved in several 2024 races.”

Pundits and Republican candidates in swing-state congressional races did not mince words reacting to the debate while some Democratic candidates ghosted events or distanced themselves from the sitting president.

Pennsylvania

A Republican on CNN’s panel, Trump 2016 campaign adviser David Urban, warned Biden’s debate could be the catalyst for downballot losses for Democrats.

Biden’s performance during the first presidential debate could hurt democrats seeking election throughout the country. AFP via Getty Images

“Bob Casey, I promise you tonight in the state of Pennsylvania, is throwing up in his mouth,” Urban said.

The Pennsylvania senator is in a tight race against Republican David McCormick as he seeks re-election to a fourth term.

“As an American, put aside politics for a second, we should be worried. Our Founders, our forefathers had some vision on this. They had something called the 25th Amendment. If the people around the president think he is not capable of fulfilling his responsibilities in a time of war,” McCormick said, “then they have a responsibility to acknowledge that and possibly replace the president.”

Republican House candidate Ryan Mackenzie is challenging a Democratic incumbent in the 7th Congressional District, a Lehigh Valley swing district in eastern Pennsylvania.

David Urban, warned Biden’s debate could be the catalyst for downballot losses for Democrats during CNN’s post-debate panel. David Urban/X
Republican House candidate Ryan Mackenzie is challenging a Democratic incumbent in the 7th Congressional District, a Lehigh Valley swing district in eastern Pennsylvania. Rep Mackenzie/X

“We saw Joe Biden attempt the impossible,” said Mackenzie. “Defending four years of an open border, out-of-control spending, rapidly rising prices, and diminished standing in the world. Joe Biden and his allies like Susan Wild can try to hide their disastrous record, but it won’t work. Every day, voters are seeing the consequences of their bad policies at the grocery store, at work, at the pump, and in their neighborhoods. That’s why on November 5th we all need to vote for change.”

His opponent, Democratic Rep. Susan Wild, was all in for Biden before the debate but focused on Trump’s performance afterward, “If you want to ask me about the guy who lied and is an extremist,” Wild told press Friday morning, “I’m happy to talk about that.”

Rob Bresnahan is also running in a swing district (the 8th, in the Pocono Mountains/Scranton area) against a Democrat incumbent: “We have a leadership void in the White House. Joe Biden may be a nice guy, but it’s time for him to hang them up. It’s time for new leadership in Washington, DC.”

Democratic Rep. Susan Wild, was all in for Biden before the debate but focused on Trump’s performance afterward. Susan Wild/X
Pundits and Republican candidates in swing-state congressional races did not mince words reacting to the debate while some Democratic candidates ghosted events or distanced themselves from the sitting president. Getty Images

Arizona

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a primary-care physician and Navy veteran, is a Republican candidate in the 4th Congressional District. “What we observed tonight was a President Biden with an incapacity to be coherent let alone lead our nation,” he said.

Blake Masters, Republican candidate in the 8th Congressional District, tweeted: “The format is so devastating for Biden. By ‘format’ I mean ‘being awake.’ Meanwhile Trump is in top form and is crushing this debate. He will be elected President in November.”

In Chandler, GOP candidate Kelly Cooper, who’s likely running against Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton this November in the 4th Congressional District, told The Post, “After tonight’s debate, it’s clear that Biden is unfit for office. He’s left our border unsecured and created a failing economy. The American people deserve a change.”

GOP Senate candidate Kari Lake held an event in Laveen with Utah Sen. Mike Lee Friday. “I think I’m more worried than I was before about the next four and a half months,” she said. “Joe Biden is not equipped to run this country, every single person who watched that debate knows it, I think even our Democrat friends know it,” the Trump-backed candidate added.

GOP Senate candidate Kari Lake held an event in Laveen with Utah Sen. Mike Lee Friday. Cameron Arcand

Virginia

Democrat Missy Cotter Smasal reportedly skipped a veterans’ event at which she was scheduled to appear ahead of Trump’s rally in Chesapeake Friday afternoon. In a tweet Thursday morning, she said, “I will always have the backs of veterans and military families.”

Cotter Smasal sent out an email after the debate claiming she was up over freshman incumbent Republican Jen Kiggans, who is one of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s top targets this year. Kiggans flipped this seat from Democratic to Republican in 2022. 

Wisconsin Rep. Derrick Van Orden called Biden a train wreck during the debate. Derrick Van Orden/X

Wisconsin

Incumbent Republican Rep. Derrick Van Orden tweeted, “Biden was as a [sic] train wreck looking for a track. @CNN laid more high speed rail in 90 min than the Biden admin has in 3 years. Fact check: True.”

Ben Voelkel, spokesman for GOP challenger Eric Hovde in Wisconsin’s hot US Senate race, told The Post Friday morning, “It’s not surprising that President Biden struggled to explain the disastrous consequences of the inflationary and open borders policies Sen. Baldwin fully supports. What’s more surprising is that Sen. Baldwin wants four more years of the runaway inflation families feel every day and the open borders that have allowed dangerous criminals, terrorists and deadly drugs to flood our country.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who “is proud” to have voted with President Biden 95.5% of the time, distanced herself from the president Friday, according to reports: “Tammy Baldwin is running her own race for the people of Wisconsin,” her campaign spokesman Andrew Mamo told local reporters.

Incumbent Rep. Bryan Steil is defending his seat against Democrat Peter Barca, who has secured a spot in the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” program. “It is clear that Americans cannot afford another four years of Joe Biden’s policies,” Steil told The Post. “From the broken border to the skyrocketing cost of living, Joe Biden didn’t outline a plan to address Americans concerns.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a Detroit Branch NAACP dinner on May 19, 2024. REUTERS

Michigan

In Michigan, a swing state where Democrats control the Legislature and the executive, party loyalists defended Biden after his debate performance.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted, “From blundering the COVID-19 response, to inciting an insurrection, to being convicted of 34 charges in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election, Donald Trump continues to blame everyone but himself. I think he needs to touch grass.”

Michigan is a crucial battleground state, with hotly contested House races in its 7th and 8th Congressional districts.

Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D) attends a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing on July 18, 2023. Getty Images

The Great Lakes state also has a competitive Senate race, with Elissa Slotkin (Democrat) and Mike Rogers (Republican) as the presumptive frontrunners.

Biden won the state narrowly in 2020, after Trump flipped it in 2016 by winning the support of former Obama voters.


Follow the latest on Trump and Biden’s 2024 debate:


The Michigan Trump campaign said Biden’s weak performance will affect the outcome of all the elections in the state.

“Not only did Joe Biden’s performance make it abundantly clear that he is unfit and unable to be President of the United States, but President Trump proved that he is what America needs to get back on track,” Trump’s Michigan communications director Victoria LaCivita told The Post. “Michiganders want the commonsense, Republican policies spearheaded by President Trump, and that momentum will carry over to support Republicans downballot who share his vision.”

Ohio

Chris Devine, a University of Dayton political science professor, said, “President Biden’s poor performance in last night’s debate should cause concern among Democrats running in downballot races, such as Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio.”

“With Biden at the top of the ballot, Democrats might struggle to mobilize some of their supporters in Ohio to get out and vote — perhaps enough to make the difference in what is expected to be one of the closest Senate races this year, he added.

Additional reporting by Josh Christenson.





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