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First on CNN: Top Biden adviser’s end-of-year memo celebrates president’s ‘strong jolt of momentum’ heading into 2023

<i>Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>President Joe Biden speaks about lowering prescription drug costs and protecting Social Security and Medicare at Jones Elementary School in Joliet
AFP via Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
President Joe Biden speaks about lowering prescription drug costs and protecting Social Security and Medicare at Jones Elementary School in Joliet

By MJ Lee and Phil Mattingly, CNN

One of President Joe Biden’s top advisers is underscoring the president’s political durability and touting a “strong jolt of momentum” as Biden heads into the second half of his term.

That’s according to a memo from Mike Donilon, a senior adviser to Biden who wrote the note that was circulated to allies Monday morning and shared with CNN.

“We see the President’s approval rating on the upswing, a resilient economic climate, and strong support for the President’s agenda,” writes Donilon, who has been one of the president’s most trusted hands for decades.

The memo captures a view inside the White House that Biden ends the year in the best position he’s held since his first six months in office, carrying with him a list of concrete legislative accomplishments that officials are planning to highlight throughout the months ahead. While not explicitly detailed in the memo itself, the catalog of positive poll numbers laid out also carry an implicit nod toward the animating factors behind a potential 2024 Biden reelection bid.

Donilon writes that one of the most important factors contributing to Biden’s upswing is a “resilient economy” as he cites jobs growth, the recent drop in gas prices and the moderation of inflation. Historically high prices have been a stubborn problem plaguing the White House for much of Biden’s first term in office so far, but recent economic indicators suggest that inflation in the US may finally be starting to slow.

“While it will take time to get inflation back to normal levels as we make the transition to stable and steady growth — and we may face setbacks along the way — we are moving in the right direction,” Donilon writes.

The three-page memo also discusses the results of the midterm election, in which Democrats far outperformed expectations. There is no question that defying a so-called “red wave” handed Biden a “strong jolt of momentum” heading into 2023, Donilon says.

In trying to make sense of why Biden’s political party performed much better than expected, Donilon says a number of factors — from “Republican extremism” to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade to concerns about threats to democracy — were contributing factors.

“But what hasn’t been fully reported on — or fully understood — is how important a role the achievements and the agenda of the President and the Democrats played in the midterms,” Donilon writes. “And this is especially important because the popularity of these achievements and agenda will be just as important in the New Year. The ability for Democratic candidates to point to a series of popular achievements was critical to their winning campaigns.”

Among the public polling that Donilon cites in his new memo is CNN’s December survey, which showed Biden’s job approval rating at 46%. That marked an improvement from the 41% approval seen in late October, and his strongest numbers in CNN polling since a year ago.

The memo comes as Biden has said he will take time over the winter holidays to deliberate with his family whether to seek a second term, with an announcement expected in the new year.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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