President Biden isn’t the first incumbent to face grim polling a year out from Election Day.
Well before Election Day in 2004, President George W. Bush was warned by strategists that he would face a tough campaign battle because of voter distress over the war in Iraq and over the economy — two issues he had once hoped to ride to a second term.
Mr. Bush’s aides moved quickly to retool the campaign. They turned attention away from the president and his record and set out to portray his likely Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a Vietnam War veteran, as a flip-flopper, unreliable on national security and unfit to lead a nation still reeling from the terror attacks of Sept. 11.
“We saw a weakness we knew we could exploit to our advantage in what was going to be a close election,” said Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s longtime senior political adviser.
Eight years later, aides to another sitting president, Barack Obama, reviewing public and private polls, concluded that concern among voters about the lingering effects of the Great Recession and the direction of the nation could derail his hopes for a second term.
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