Fallout from Biden debate performance could impact Colorado Congressional races

Republican candidate already using president's debate performance to attack Democratic opponent
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Posted at 5:34 PM, Jul 03, 2024

DENVER — President Joe Biden met with Democratic governors Wednesday evening, including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis virtually, as he tries to calm fears about his ability to win reelection in November following his poor performance in last week’s presidential debate.

Amid growing calls for Biden to step aside as the Democratic Party’s nominee, the president and his campaign are vowing to fight on, even as a new poll shows him falling further behind former President Donald Trump.

“We've seen what was a bad debate performance escalate into a full threat to Biden's ongoing position as the Democratic nominee for another term,” said Seth Masket, political science professor and director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver. “That in and of itself is kind of shocking, really. I mean historically, the parties are really deferential to their own presidential nominees. If you've been a president before and you're seeking a second term, they almost never get challenged for that.”

Masket said Biden’s poor performance in the debate is not just impacting the presidential race, but could also impact races down ballot.

“If you're running for Congress in a competitive district, it's never good if you know the president at the top of your ballot is unpopular,” Masket said.

Democrat Adam Frisch, who is running in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, was one of the first candidates in the country to call for Biden to step aside.

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Colorado Democrat Adam Frisch calls on Biden to step down from presidential race

Óscar Contreras
12:48 PM, Jul 02, 2024

“I just don't see, with respect, how the Biden-Harris ticket is going to come to victory in November of 2024 and if you don't win, you don't govern,” Frisch said.

Colorado’s 8th Congressional District will be one of the most closely watched races in the country this fall.

Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Yadira Caraveo won the district by just 1,600 votes in 2022.

This year, she is facing a well-funded Republican challenger — Colorado State Representative Gabe Evans.

“Unfortunately, she's been on the wrong side of all of the major issues,” Evans said.

Evans is now trying to use Biden’s performance to his advantage.

“Biden is incapable of leading our country, but my opponent is still OK with that,” Evans said in a tweet on Wednesday. “The United States and CD8 deserve quality leadership that puts people over politics. It’s clear my opponent won’t provide either.”

Fallout from Biden debate performance could impact Colorado Congressional races

Evans shared an article from Colorado Politics, in which Caraveo said it would be up to voters to determine if Biden is capable of serving as president for four more years.

Denver7 reached out to Caraveo’s campaign asking to speak with her about the campaign and to get her thoughts on the presidential debate, but a spokesman said the congresswoman had a “full calendar today and she will not be able to do an interview today.”

Masket said despite the calls for Biden to step aside, he doesn’t think it will happen.

“I still think it's very unlikely that the party is going to dump Joe Biden,” he said.

Several names of popular Democratic leaders, mostly governors, have been mentioned by pundits as possible replacements to Biden, including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.

Polis would not provide a direct answer when he was asked by a reporter on Friday if he agreed with growing calls for Biden to step aside. Instead, the governor warned of the risks of another Trump presidency.

In February, Scripps News asked Polis about concerns voters had about Biden and his age.

“He's the same guy I've known for, you know, decades now and really enjoy being around the president,” Polis said at the time.

Watch that interview from February below.

Colorado Gov. Polis on Biden and his competency

When pressed about concerns voters had about Biden’s ability to communicate effectively with the public, Polis mentioned Biden’s stuttering problem.

“I don't know if many American people know that the president himself is very open about that,” Polis said. “He's had a stuttering problem since he was a young man. So, I mean, if you look at him talking during his Senate career decades ago, he's always had issues around articulation that he's dealt with.”

Polis was among a group of Democratic governors who met with the president on Wednesday, as Biden sought to calm fears in his party about his reelection chances.

Biden attempts to reassure campaign after debate stumbles: 'I'm in this race to the end'

While some governors traveled to the White House, Polis’ office said he would attend the meeting virtually.

“I’m in this race to the end and we’re going to win because when Democrats unite, we will always win. Just as we beat Donald Trump in 2020, we’re going to beat him again in 2024,” Biden told staff, according to a source familiar with his remarks.

Masket said if Biden were to step aside, there’s no guarantee the Democratic Party’s replacement nominee would fair any better in November.

“And in that situation, it might be worse for those candidates in these competitive districts to just to have the Democratic label attached to their name,” he said.

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