The latest (last Wednesday) poll by YouGov for The Economist shows Biden underwater both among the general population (50% negative, 43% positive) and among registered voters (50% negative, 45% positive). But let's look at the breakdown by party identification:
Republicans- 9% favorable, 89% unfavorable
Independents- 33% favorable, 59% unfavorable
Democrats- 87% favorable, 11% unfavorable
Those Republican numbers are expected and nothing you wouldn't expect. 89% of Republicans also gave Kamala the thumbs down, 90% gave Pelosi the thumbs down, 72% gave Schumer the thumbs down (not because they like him better but because 1 in 5 Republicans don't know who he is or don't know enough about him to have an opinion). Also 79% have an unfavorable view of Obama and 90% of Republicans have an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party. (84% of Democrats have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party.)
Anyway, getting back to Biden, 5% of Democrats have a very unfavorable view of him and 6% have a somewhat unfavorable view of him. More telling, perhaps, 21% of people who consider themselves "liberals" (as opposed to folks who consider themselves moderates or conservatives) have an unfavorable view of Biden. Maybe he needs to work on those people by fighting harder for their interests. If conservatives-- the GOP + Manchin and Sinema and the Blue Dogs-- are going to block his efforts in Congress, he should turn to executive orders... maybe forgiving student debt would be a good way for him to prove whose side he's on when push comes to shove.
At least, according to a report late yesterday by Michael Shear in the NY Times, he's finally ready to give up on the dysfunctional bipartisan bullshit he's been whining about since... um... the early 1970s. Shear started with the speech he gave last week that was well-received by Democrats (and panned by the duplicitous worm from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham). Biden's speech brought him the most positive reaction of his career. He was probably shocked and now views that kind of attack on Trump and on Republicans as a path he should go down. If it isn't accompanied with real action, he may be in for a big unpleasant surprise.
Shear wrote that "The sharp tone comes as Biden seeks to jump-start his agenda, which has largely stalled in Congress. And with midterm elections looming at the end of the year, the president faces a challenge that he has largely avoided so far: drawing Trump and other Republican leaders into a more direct clash of ideas... It was the most searing example since Biden took office of his effort to contrast the two parties, lamenting 'the Big Lie being told by the former president and many Republicans who fear his wrath.' A day later, he took another opportunity to focus on the differences between the two parties as he acclaimed news that the unemployment rate had dropped to 3.9 percent. He predicted that Republicans would accuse him of failing to address the economic pain caused by surging inflation in recent months. 'Malarkey,' Biden said. 'They want to talk down the recovery because they voted against the legislation that made it happen. They voted against the tax cuts for middle-class families. They voted against the funds we needed to reopen our schools, to keep police officers and firefighters on the job, to lower health care premiums. I refuse to let them stand in the way of this recovery,' he added. 'Now my focus is on keeping this recovery strong and durable, notwithstanding Republican obstructionism.'"
The pandemic, which polls suggest is the single biggest drag on the president’s popularity, needs to begin to recede-- at least in the daily lives of most Americans. And the administration needs to be seen doing more to address people’s frustrations, like the current shortage of Covid tests that have led to long lines and empty shelves at pharmacies.
Administration officials note that Biden authorized the purchase of 500 million at-home tests that Americans will be able to request for free. The first tests will ship this month, they say, with more to follow.
The economic rebound from the two-year pandemic may be one of the president’s best stories to tell on March 1. Job growth slowed somewhat in the second half of last year, but unemployment is so low that many employers are struggling to find workers. If he were giving the State of the Union address now, Biden could rightly claim to be presiding over a booming economy.
Still, inflation has driven up prices and that is adding to a disconnect for many people: They do not feel as good about the economy as the numbers suggest they should. Republicans on Friday seized on lower-than-expected job growth to attack Biden’s policies.
“Whether it’s anemic jobs growth, high inflation or a massive supply chain crisis, Democrats are doing a horrible job managing the economy,” said Mike Berg, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Jen Psaki, the president’s press secretary, has repeatedly blamed people’s feelings about living in a pandemic for that disconnect.
“It’s less about data and more about what people are experiencing in their day-to-day life,” she said last week. “It doesn’t look normal. They’re worried about there being labor shortages and there being canceled flights, or not enough teachers in school because of the spread of Omicron. We understand that.”
Central to the administration’s response to those feelings is an effort to pass Biden’s social policy legislation, known as Build Back Better. The president argues that passage of the bill will lower prices for things like child care and prescription drugs, making people feel more secure about their financial futures.
Conservatives, though, are united against it-- every single Republican plus two DINOs, Manchin and Sinema-- which leaves Biden with no other choice but to use executive orders wherever he can... if he's serious about any of the ambitious plans he's put forward. And that's a big "if" that many progressives are feeling unconvinced about. Remember, for all those decades in the Senate, Biden was, more-or-less just what Manchin is today, or almost as bad anyway. And should Louis DeJoy still be postmaster general-- and raising the prices of postage this week?