In 2020, many on the right had modest hopes for President Biden.
The hope hinged on the not-implausible theory that he would govern as a centrist because that’s how he campaigned. Biden did markedly better than Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance with Republican-friendly constituencies. Indeed, 7 percent of 2016 Republican Trump voters defected to Biden in 2020. Even Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, caught on hidden camera, admitted that Trump-hostile Republicans delivered Wisconsin to Biden, even as they voted for other Republicans on the ballot.
After Biden won, the evenly split Senate and a House with a very small Democratic margin—combined with widespread disgust with Trump’s post-election schemes—raised hopes for Biden’s centrism. Some even argued that disaffected Republicans should essentially join the Democratic Party. “Why shouldn’t anti-Trump Republicans at least consider becoming a kind-of-Old-Republican wing of Joe Biden’s Democratic party?” asked Bill Kristol, a proudly anti-Trump conservative.
Fast forward several months. Biden has not governed from the center. If you think he has, great. We can argue about that another time. But going by the polls and focus groups, a lot of right-of-center voters don’t see it that way. Which is why Democrats are facing a midterm bloodbath.