Yesterday, Philip Bump wrote that Democratic voters have lost confidence that Biden can keep any of his campaign promises. His collapsing polling numbers aren't just because of lockstep GOP hatred but also because independents have turned against him and because many Democrats have given up on him. "In Pew’s data," wrote Bump, "Biden has gone from 95 percent approval among Democrats last spring to 76 percent in January. Since September, the percentage of Democrats who say they strongly approve of the job he’s doing has fallen from 27 to 21 percent. That’s a problem in part because approval ratings are a continuum: Voters don’t go from strongly approve to strongly disapprove in one fell swoop. First they transition from strong to less-strong approval-- as many Democrats have."
Pew’s data also suggests that Democrats have not only lost confidence in Biden’s ability to work across the aisle (understandably) but also are far less likely to even see that as a useful outcome. Since a year ago, there has been a 23-point net swing away from Democratic support for working with Republicans and toward standing up to the right. There was a larger swing among Republicans, even as they were far less likely to support congressional leaders’ working with Biden a year ago.
Of course, Biden’s inability to pass legislation is a function not only of intransigence from the opposing party but also from within his own. Most Democrats think Biden is listening to both moderate and liberal members of his party, though they are also much more likely to say he’s listening only to moderates than to say he’s listening only to liberals. As for who he shouldbe listening to, 6 in 10 Democrats say that he should be listening to both sides.
(Interestingly, 11 percent of self-described liberal Democrats think he should be listening only to moderates. Nine percent of self-described moderates say the same about liberals.)
There are, of course, other concerns that filter in. Democrats share Republican frustration over increased prices for gasoline and consumer goods, though they view the changes in the past 12 months as less severe. (Four in 10 Democrats say gas prices have gone up a lot, for example, compared with 7 in 10 Republicans.) Confidence among Democrats in Biden’s ability to make good economic decisions is down 15 points over the past year.
Notice that much of this is out of Biden’s control. His pledges to unify the country — framed ambitiously to the point of near-delusion — were dependent on Republican acquiescence, which was always unlikely. The economy has been buffeted by factors that are not unique to the United States, such as supply-chain issues and inflation. And the government’s ability to combat the pandemic is hampered by indifference to that effort that itself overlaps with partisanship. As I wrote last week, though, Biden went from under- to over-promising on making change, probably contributing to the drop in confidence in his presidency.
The good news is that Biden can probably recover with members of his party. The bad news is that, even if he does, recent history suggests that is about the best he can hope to do.
I was looking at a different poll this morning, the one Morning Consult did for Politico. It shows that a "generic Republican" would beat Biden pretty decisively-- 46-37%. That is a devastating number. But what's a generic Republican? When Morning Consult asked Republican primary voters who they would vote for, no one comes close to Trump:
Señor Trumpanzee- 49%
Ron DeSantis- 14%
Mike Pence- 13%
Mitt Romney- 4%
Ted Cruz- 2%
Liz Cheney- 2%
Nikki Haley- 2%
Josh Hawley- 2%
And if Trump dies or is declared unfit to run or if something else causes him to not run, the polling results look pretty ugly for Republicans too:
Trumpanzee Jr- 24%
So Morning Consult then asked all voters-- not just Republicans this time-- for whom they would vote in one-on-one matchups. Remember the generic number? Look at these, when Democrats and independents are confronted with real life:
Donald Trump- 44%
Ted Cruz- 39%
Mike Pence- 42%
Ron DeSantis- 39%
Those choices sure wake people up fast! Biden is destined to always be the lesser evil. People may not like him much but he's viewed as better than the real life monsters the Republicans have on hand. And, speaking of real life monsters, the public is going to be seeing lots more about Trump's failed coup-- and worse. Worse? Sure, today, for example, CBS News reported the on-going plot by violent domestic right-wing terrorists-- a genre that has become, thanks to extremists like Madison Cawthorn, Marjorie Traitor Greene, Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, etc, more and more identified with the GOP-- to disrupt the U.S. power grid. A Department of Homeland Security intelligence bulletin shared with law enforcement agencies and utility operators Monday: "DVEs [Domestic violent extremists] have developed credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020, identifying the electric grid as a particularly attractive target given its interdependency with other infrastructure sectors."
In October 2020, the Department of Justice charged four suspected racially-motivated domestic violent extremists who "believed in the superiority of the white race and discussed accelerationist objectives" with conspiracy to damage transformers in Idaho and surrounding states. The federal indictment alleged that a handwritten list of transformers, substations, and other components of the power grid in the Northwest were discovered among a defendant's possessions by federal law enforcement.
Meanwhile, one of the Trump nuts, Jeremiah Caplinger, on trial for the sacking of the Capitol quoted from Game of Thrones in a social media post days after the Capitol riot: "As said by Cersi Lannister 'I choose violence.'" Yes, he did, as so many Republican elected officials have, in the hope of appealing to a Fox News and hate talk radio-radicalized and increasingly deranged and extremist base.
Prosecutors explained the plot of a Game of Thrones episode to argue that a Capitol rioter who quoted the character Cersei Lannister on social media showed proof of criminal intent, according to a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday.
Two days after the insurrection, Jeremiah Caplinger, 25, posted an image of a soldier from the American Revolution with the caption: “As said by Cersi Lannister ‘I choose violence,'” according to the document.
In a footnote, the prosecutors explained the plot of the episode in which the quote appears, saying: “Cersei Lannister is a fictional character in the HBO television series Game of Thrones. After being confronted by a group of politically-empowered religious zealots, who warn her that if she does not yield to them ‘there will be violence’, Cersei Lannister responds, ‘I choose violence.'”
The footnote went on to explain that Lannister used “a weapon of mass destruction to blow up one of the largest and most important buildings in the capital city” which contained “politicians and religious leaders.”
“In stating, ‘I choose violence’, Cersei Lannister embraced-- and then carried out-- mass murder to achieve her political ends,” the document adds. “In the context of Caplinger posting this just two days after January 6, Caplinger’s adoption of this quote is alarming and provides insight into his mental state and intent in storming the Capitol.”
Prosecutors said that Caplinger brought body armor with him on January 6, scaled a wall on Capitol grounds, and entered office suites. Other social media posts, cited in the document, show he had little remorse.
Caplinger in November pleaded guilty to one count of stepping on, climbing, removing, or injuring property on Capitol grounds. He faces up to six months in prison, the court filing said.
Last year, Caplinger told MLive that he was inspired by former President Donald Trump to travel to Washington, DC, and participate in the “Stop the Steal” rally.
He'll be sentenced next week. How many other Republicans will be in the news like this between now and the 2024 election? And when will they get to the GOP elected officials who conspired with them, like Mo Brooks (R-AL), Lauren Boebert (Q-CO), Scott Perry (R-PA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX)...?