Many swing-district House Democrats are distancing themselves from Joe Biden as they face difficult reelection bids. The task won't be easy—those same Democrats have voted with the president 100 percent of the time.
During a Tuesday Fox News appearance, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.) said she does not want Biden to join her on the campaign trail and would rather "do the campaigning myself." Just months ago, however, Spanberger—who votes with Biden 100 percent of the time—said she "welcome[d] the opportunity" to bring Biden to her district when the president visited Virginia in February.
Rep. Kim Schrier (D., Wash.), meanwhile, in a new ad touted "taking on the Biden administration to suspend the gas tax." The Democrat's claim is a bizarre one, considering that Biden supports the policy—he called on Congress to suspend the gas tax two days before Schrier released the spot. Schrier has also voted with Biden 100 percent of the time, and she was photographed in April holding hands with the president when he visited Seattle.
Spanberger and Schrier's newfound attempts to break away from Biden show how vulnerable House Democrats are fighting for their political lives in a midterm environment that is extremely unfavorable to their party. While Biden won both Virginia and Washington by double digits, his approval rating is 26 and 10 points underwater in the two states, respectively, according to Civiqs. Biden's freefall comes as the country experiences record-high inflation, an issue some House Democrats have used to criticize Biden despite voting for his multitrillion-dollar stimulus packages.
Rep. Chris Pappas (D., N.H.), for example, in early June criticized Biden on the economy, saying the Democrat's administration "took their eye off the ball when it came to inflation." But Pappas regularly touts his vote for Biden's $2 trillion stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan, which liberal economists say drove the nation's inflation surge. Pappas also votes with Biden 100 percent of the time, including on the president's Build Back Better Act, which called for more than $2 trillion in additional spending at a time of record-high inflation. Rep. Susan Wild (D., Pa.) also voted for the bill just weeks after questioning how Biden would pay for the pricey package.
Spanberger, Schrier, Pappas, and Wild did not return requests for comment. In addition to their 100 percent Biden scores, all four endorsed Biden in 2020, and Spanberger, Schrier, and Wild said in the past they were "proud" and "honored" to earn his endorsement.
"Having the endorsement of a man who knows the struggles and priorities of Pennsylvania speaks volumes," Wild said in September 2020. "I look forward to working with a White House that not only understands the needs of the seventh district, but is also committed to producing real solutions for the people back home."
Even with Democrats' best efforts, Republicans won't make it easy for frontline members to disassociate themselves from the president given their voting records. The National Republican Congressional Committee has already labeled Spanberger one of Biden's "loyal cronies," and the group hammered Schrier in April for being "all smiles with Joe Biden while Washington State families struggle under Democrats' failed agenda."
Not every vulnerable House Democrat is bucking Biden. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio)—whose new district in 2020 narrowly voted for former president Donald Trump—continues to heap praise on the Delaware Democrat, calling his first year in office "outstanding" during a February event. Still, even Kaptur is trying to distance herself from the national Democratic Party. Her first general election ad rails against "people in Washington" who "care only about the coasts"—Kaptur has been in Congress since 1983 and votes with Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) 100 percent and 99 percent of the time, respectively.