Just how bad are Democrats’ prospects in next week’s midterms? Apparently so bad that they feel the need to shore up their GOTV efforts in the Windy City with some presidential gasbaggery.

Lynn Sweet reported late last night that Secret Service and White House details landed in Chicago to prepare for a Joe Biden rally in deep-blue Illinois:

President Joe Biden, stumping for Democrats ahead of Tuesday’s midterm balloting, may stop in Chicago — likely Friday — to lead a get-out-the vote rally for Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the rest of the Democratic ticket in Illinois.

A source said White House advance personnel and members of the Secret Service were on the ground in Chicago preparing for a possible presidential visit.

Three days before the midterms, and they’re sending Biden to a place where “rallying the voters” usually means registering the dead for the Democrat machine.

It’s a curious choice in a tight home-stretch time frame where resource allocations are zero-sum. Allocating them in one place necessarily means starving other places, in other words.  This would be the time to use a presidential rally to help a same-party candidate get over the top in a tightly contested race. In Illinois, though, Tammy Duckworth leads Kathy Salvi in her Senate race by double digits (49/39 in Emerson is the closest of the recent polls), while Pritzker’s doing almost as well against Darren Bailey (50/41 in the same Emerson poll and +15 in two others).

Are Democrats seeing something else in their Illinois polling? Are they getting concerned that a red wave may wash all the way up to Chi-town, a bastion of their national power? This reminds me of a signal many missed in the 2016 election, when Barack Obama made an emergency visit to Michigan the Sunday before Election Day, rather than to a state where Democrats worked to take away from Republicans in that cycle. It turned out to be both futile and prescient, as Donald Trump won Michigan and the election with it.

If Biden’s being sent out to rescue Illinois, well … yikes.

There’s another explanation for this, however. It may be that Biden’s doing a safety tour, attempting to look active while doing a minimal amount of damage to competitive Democrats. That doesn’t explain Biden’s itinerary yesterday, though it might explain the rest of his week:

Biden was in Florida on Tuesday campaigning for Democratic governor candidate Charlie Crist and Rep. Val Demings, D-Fl., who is running for the Senate.

On Thursday, Biden travels to Albuquerque, New Mexico. And on election eve Biden goes to Columbia, Maryland, for a Democratic National Committee get-out-the-vote rally.

Biden’s approval rating in Florida is mired in the low-to-mid 30s, so that’s not a safety dance. Charlie Crist may have prompted that by repeatedly inviting Biden to campaign with him, apparently on his way to plumbing the depths of embarrassment in Florida politics. That won’t do Demings much good in her race against Marco Rubio, but at this point, Florida has more or less fallen out of range for Democrats anyway. They’re already beginning to concede that the GOP may well win Miami-Dade this election, a previously unthinkable outcome that Biden has made into a reality.

New Mexico and Maryland are more securely blue, although that also is a matter of scale. Incumbent governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has led the polls for most of her re-election fight against Republican Mark Ronchetti, but they’re narrowing up now. Ronchetti only trails by four in RCP’s aggregation, and Trafalgar has him up by a point. Biden can do some real damage by showing up now in New Mexico. Maryland, however, is far safer; Democrat Wes Moore is sailing past Dan Cox by almost 30 points in RCP’s aggregation.

At the very least, this travel schedule makes it very clear that Democrats are playing entirely on defense. And Biden’s dance card also makes it clear why.

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