New polls released today by Gallup, Morning Consult and YouGov all show Biden's job approval ratings nearly in really miserable Trump-like territory, Gallup at 40%, Morning Consult at 41% and YouGov at 42%. Last week Quinnipiac has him in the low thirties. Almost all Democrats say they think he's doing a good job and almost all Republicans say he's doing a bad job. Independents talking with pollsters agree with the Republicans on this. This is pretty daunting-- even if Biden is doing 10 points better than the worst president in U.S. history:
I hate to say I told you so, but was there ever a point in the last couple of years that I didn't warn that Biden would be the second worst president in contemporary history? Correct answer: No. Here's something to mull next time you decide to vote for a conservative Democrat in a primary, telling yourself that any blue will do:
In his Washington Post column today, Max Boot, a right-wing Biden booster, wrote that "Biden was never going to be another FDR or LBJ, not with only 50 votes in the Senate. He was lucky to pass more than $3 trillion in spending last year, with $1.2 trillion of that coming in a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Why isn’t that good enough for his supporters? But nor is he destined to become another Jimmy Carter-- a one-term president who is widely, perhaps unfairly, perceived as a failure. A large part of Biden’s problem is that presidents get blamed for a lot of things they have little control over-- in his case, Covid-19 and inflation."
In the news section of the same paper, Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager and Sean Sullivan looked at the long slide in Biden's ratings and seem to conclude that the one thing I think Biden did really well-- getting the U.S. out of Afghanistan while the media let the GOP write the twisted headlines and shamefully misleading narrative-- was the beginning of the decline. They pinned Terry McAuliffe's loss not on the fact that he was miserably bad candidate, but on Biden's "failures" in Afghanistan.
"In post-election briefings with Democrats after McAuliffe lost," reported the trio, "campaign aides argued that the crises the Biden administration faced in August undercut the president and his party’s message of competence and a return to normalcy. Biden presented himself as an antidote to his predecessor, offering the promise of what his own campaign ads called 'strong, steady, stable leadership' after four years of bedlam under President Donald Trump. But the tumult surrounding the administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan offered an early glimpse of the cascade of crises that have badly eroded Biden’s image of restoring calm."
Anyone who had ever looked at the history of invaders leaving Afghanistan would have known that the only invader to get out as smoothly and get off as lightly as Biden, was Alexander the Great... and he only did so with three sham marriages, first to Roxana, a teenage Sogdian princess, and then to Stateira II, daughter of Darius III, the dead emperor, and to Stateira's cousin, Parysatis II.
Biden on Thursday marks the first full year of his presidency facing intraparty Democratic disarray, stalled legislation, supply chain issues, worrying inflation, rising tensions with Russia and another highly transmissible coronavirus variant called omicron-- all of which have led to an approval ratings average stuck in the low 40s.
Biden’s staffers and other defenders say he took office facing unprecedented calamity-- from a historic pandemic to a struggling economy-- and note that despite a thin congressional majority, he managed to pass two major pieces of legislation in his first year: an economic stimulus plan designed to help rescue the country from the pandemic; and a massive infrastructure package.
But the administration has also repeatedly underestimated the magnitude of the nation’s challenges, including failing to anticipate the delta and omicron coronavirus variants, and has struggled to unite the liberal base and the more moderate wing of the Democratic Party. The president and his team have also stumbled in offering a clear and reassuring message, unable to convince many Americans that they understand their travails or that better days are ahead.
...The decline in Biden’s poll numbers, which already were dropping, accelerated dramatically over the summer. By early September, more Americans disapproved than approved of the way Biden was handling his job for the first time in his presidency, according to a Washington Post average of polls since May 2021.
Post-ABC polls showed a 10-point drop in approval of Biden’s handling of the pandemic from late June to early September. The September Post-ABC poll also found that 60 percent disapproved of his handling of the situation in Afghanistan, and by November, Biden’s overall job ratings had dipped further amid rising disapproval of his handling of the economy and the coronavirus.
...“Old.” “Incoherent.” “Lazy.” “Sleepy Joe.”
These were among the first descriptions that came to mind for 10 suburban women swing voters who gathered late last year for a virtual focus group conducted by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake on behalf of several liberal organizations. The results were reviewed by The Post on the condition of anonymity to protect the identity of the participants and the groups.
Asked to elaborate, the women in the focus group said it seemed as if “he’s trying,” but that Biden shuffles and frequently seems to lose his train of thought. Biden is “wishy-washy” in standing up to his own party, one woman said, explaining that she thought the president seemed more like an actor in a “supporting role.”
“He doesn’t convey being strong to me,” she said. “He seems weak.”
Others offered suggestions: “If he needs a nap beforehand, take that, because we need him to be there for us.”
In an attempt to overcome such criticism, the administration has begun to change its messaging strategy, allowing Biden to more frequently speak directly to Americans who are struggling, a top official said. Aides believe Biden’s capacity for empathy comes through in such appearances.
As one example, this official said, the White House held Biden’s first public event of the year with farmers and ranchers to address the rising costs of meat and poultry.
White House aides are also talking up Biden’s upcoming State of the Union address in March, telling officials the speech represents the best chance to put things on the agenda and build momentum heading into the midterm elections.
“What people see in President Biden is somebody who thinks about what they’re worried about every single day when he wakes up and walks into the Oval Office, and is doing everything in his power to make their lives better,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said. “So he’s going to continue to do the work. We’re going continue to make progress.”
Biden’s tone has changed, as well. In two high-profile speeches this month-- one to mark the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and the other to push for voting rights legislation-- the president took a more forceful approach, directly challenging Trump and Republicans.
...One Democratic strategist said the Biden team can turn his presidency around-- but probably not in time to stave off defeat in the November midterms.
“They’re in a tough spot,” this person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share a candid opinion. “Can they recover? For the 2024 reelection-- yes. For 2022-- probably not.”
Administration officials have long contended that if they can just get the coronavirus under control, it will drastically improve the lives of Americans, as well as their own political prospects. But that task, so far, has proved Sisyphean.
...Both allies and critics say the administration is at the mercy of a rapidly shifting, once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, but one which they have failed to defeat as Biden promised.
“Biden needed to get us through covid, and when he was getting us through covid, his numbers went up and when we were getting defeated by covid, his numbers went down, and that’s where we are now,” said Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist. “He needs to be the general who got us through the battle with covid and rally the American people, and I think there’s still time to do it, but omicron has made that more challenging.”
Steven Law, a former top aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who heads the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC supporting Senate Republicans, said he believes that “almost nobody voted for Biden-- they voted against the other guy.”
“The dominant Biden argument was, ‘I’m going to fix this covid issue and the previous president wasn’t able to do it,’ and in many ways, this Biden White House has become everything candidate Biden said was wrong against his predecessor,” Law said.
The doom-and-gloom in Democratic circles is palpable. Not many people think Biden is a strong leader up to the problems the country is facing, and Democrats worry that they're going to get crushed-- and so do the anti-Trump Republicans like Charlie Sykes and Sarah Longwell. They want to see the Democrats go on the offense-- against their erstwhile party. Longwell: "The silver lining for Democrats (though it’s not great for the country) is that the vast majority of Republican candidates running for office in 2022 are genuine MAGA wackos who might not be cognitively capable of keeping their mouths shut about Trump when talking to suburban voters. They might actually spend the whole campaign snuggling up to Trump and screaming about election conspiracies-- many of these folks are certifiable! They scare moderates. Now, Democrats can’t win elections just by saying 'We’re not insane like those guys.' But while you’re demonstrating that you can govern effectively on the points [by going on the offense legislatively in regard to COVID and the economy], you should still take a few moments to say, 'Man, a bunch of those folks are really out of their minds. I mean, let’s just look at the ones whose last names start with G: Gosar. Gohmert. Greene. Gaetz.'"
But... but... but, Jack Shafer at Politico is suggesting we all prepare ourselves for the inevitable Biden comeback. Has he been asleep for a few years? He suggests Biden "may be cratering at just the right time... [T]here’s most of a year before the 2022 elections, and nearly three years before Americans vote for president again-- and two big things have sorted themselves out over the last couple of weeks that could play to the president’s political advantage over the long haul. First, now that the vast progressive legislative agenda that he adopted-- an agenda that was really not very popular-- has been flushed to the Blue Plains Treatment Plant on the Potomac River, he can return to the smaller-gauge policies that made him popular in the first place. There’s still legislative time to break out smaller, more executable chunks of the BBB bill for passage-- including stuff that Manchin will support-- that will give Democratic candidates more to crow about and restore Biden’s previous reputation as a moderate fiscal drinker and not a drunk. The BBB debacle might be the best thing to happen to the Biden presidency yet. Second, last week he hit the lowest of all his lows in the Quinnipiac Poll, scoring only 33 percent in job approval. That’s as low as President Donald Trump reached at the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot. He’s fallen so far that everything has to be up from here.
Why should we assume Biden has hit bottom? Successful policy initiatives appear to drive popularity upward, academics agree, and policy failures, such as a defeated legislative agenda, drive it down. As his ambitious plans got whittled down and then were finally shipped off to Blue Plains, the crowd that had previously been ga-ga for Biden now took to expressing their disappointment in him to the pollsters. With no more campaign pledges to renege on-- and discounting other disasters like an Ebola outbreak or World War III over Ukraine-- it’s hard to imagine any additional diehard Biden supporters will desert him and cause his ratings to tumble lower. The only presidents to have rated lower in the Gallup Polls were Harry Truman (22 percent, during the Korean War), Richard Nixon (24 percent on his way out the door) and Jimmy Carter (28 percent, during wild inflation). When you’ve fallen into the subbasement, as Biden truly has, then almost any vertical improvement looks like a comeback.
As presidential scholars tell us, a rising economy lifts all incumbents’ boats. It isn’t exactly morning in America yet, but things are looking up. We just may be turning the corner on Covid. Despite the burst of inflation and supply chain hassles, the economic signs look great. Unemployment is down. Wages are up. Signing bonuses are common. People are quitting their bad jobs for better ones. Consumers are buying lots of stuff. If the current economic trends continue into the summer, Democratic candidates on the hustings will have a positive story to tell voters. Had the Build Back Better behemoth passed, the Republicans would have campaigned against big government and more taxes. Instead, with no new taxes in the immediate offing, Biden Democrats have denied Republicans their primary issue, leaving Biden and his followers yet another popularity-enhancing chapter to read to constituents.
...The best time to buy a politician’s stock is when he’s hit bottom. This is Biden’s. To maximize your political gains, take a flyer on him as he hits an upswing.