The pandemic continues and unexpected new crises have cropped up, from halfway around the world, to the border, even into your dining room. There’s nothing normal about America less than a year into the Biden presidency, and almost nothing in the entire world has changed for the better. It’s a miracle Biden’s approval ratings aren’t even worse.
Less than two weeks ago, the conventional wisdom was President Biden needed a legislative win to bolster his sagging approval rating and recapture the momentum. Infrastructure was supposed to do just that. Just last week, NPR claimed, “The bill’s passage — combined with some positive news on the economy and the pandemic — could give Biden some momentum for tackling the next big piece of his agenda, a sprawling package of social programs, an overhaul of the tax system and billions of dollars of climate incentives.” They quoted Jennifer Palmieri, a former member of the Obama White House, “The week started rough for Biden, but the [infrastructure] win and great jobs numbers shows the path by which Biden can turn this around.” Newsweek was even more specific, “President Joe Biden’s approval rating could be set to bounce back following the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill, as a new poll shows wide support for the measure.” They cited a Politic/Morning Consult Poll that showed a rather lukewarm 54% support for a $1.2 trillion spending spree, only 28% of that strong support, even as they were aware the trajectory was awful, “The president’s approval rating has been on a downward trajectory since August, with a recent Suffolk poll showing 38 percent of Americans approved of his job performance and 66 percent believed the country was on the wrong track.”
Perhaps needless to say, none of this has happened. The only poll I could find that showed increased support was from The Independent and even that put his approval rating at 47%, which is an outlier compared to the Real Clear Politics average. Otherwise, the headlines were pretty dismal. USA Today published the Suffolk poll under the heading “Biden approval sinks to new low” as they pondered the “Gloomy landscape for Democrats in midterms.” CNN noted that a “Majority of Americans say Biden isn’t paying attention,” as 58% claim he isn’t focused on the nation’s most pressing problems. Bloomberg reported on “Biden Approval-Rating Slump: Blame Virus and Economy.” The Australian news channel, 9News, showcased a series of polls indicating Biden would lose to Trump if the election were held today. They note, “After a brief honeymoon in approval ratings, Americans have well and truly soured on Mr Biden. Save for Mr. Trump himself, no president has been as unpopular as Mr. Biden at this stage of his presidency.” Over the weekend, The Washington Post released a new poll showing a further erosion of support, down to 41%, his lowest ever recorded.
As of last Friday, Biden’s approval rating sits at 42.4% in the Real Clear Politics Average. The lowest rating recorded was 36% by the conservative media site, The Federalist, in collaboration with Susquehanna Polling and Research. Reuters/Ipsos and and Politico/Morning Consult paint a brighter picture at 46%; The Independent poll is not included in the average to be clear. President Biden’s average disapproval stands at 52.2%, 9.8% higher than his approval. The highest disapproval rating is from USA/Today Suffolk, a whopping 59%. The lowest is 49% from Reuters/Ipsos, Economist/YouGov, and Monmouth. Moreover, the overall trend is not good. The President has not had a net positive approval rating since August 22; his disapproval rating began at a low 36% and is now a full 16 points higher, a monstrous swing. However you look at it, these numbers are bad and likely to get worse. You know that to be true when the only recent President they can compare them to is Donald Trump, regularly maligned in the mainstream media as the least popular holder of the office in modern history, and Biden’s approval sunk further this weekend to a 42% average as of this morning.
One would think numbers like this might prompt Democrats and progressive pundits to reconsider the direction, policies, and tone of the administration, perhaps even pivoting like Bill Clinton famously did after a thrashing in the 1994 midterm elections, or even Barack Obama after his “shellacking” in 2010. Instead, much of the media sees this as primarily a branding problem, believing President Biden is actually kicking serious ass in office, it’s just not being communicated well to the public. Fridha Ghitis, writing for CNN, is emblematic of this approach. She argues that “Sure, some of the problems are real. But things are not nearly as bad as they seem; not for the president and not for the country. There’s time to make the kinds of adjustments that could quickly improve Biden’s prospects.” Ms. Ghitis believes the first thing Biden needs to do is “correct misperceptions — especially about the economy” and then simply “recalibrate” his stance on a few issues. Like much of the rest of the media, she’s convinced infrastructure is a winner and “if the bill had been passed sooner, the conversation today would sound completely different.”
Therefore, the solution to the President’s woes is to advertise for it. “The administration needs to emphasize the content: roads, bridges, parks, internet. Better, safer roads, modernized transit systems, electric and hybrid buses, intercity rail service, etc. etc.,” and “Biden needs to become a better salesman.” Ironically, she’s saying Biden needs to be more Trumpian when she quotes her CNN colleague, Jim Acosta. “If Trump had gotten an infrastructure bill after all those Infrastructure Weeks, he’d have been flying stealth bombers over the Lincoln Memorial and unveiling the Trump bridge in every swing district in America…” Trump, you see, is now “the consummate marketing man” and Biden needs to up his game in that department. This is because, the economy, in their minds, is actually doing extremely well, the people simply don’t understand how awesome things are. Instead, “the Biden administration has allowed Republicans and their mouthpieces in right-wing media — with some help from the rest of the mainstream media — to create the incorrect impression the economy is not doing well. Talk of ‘brutal’ economic data is absurd hyperbole.” Pay no attention to 30-year high inflation and shortages of everything. While these are “serious issues that must be addressed,” “they are to a large extent the result of unprecedented rates of economic activity.”
We’ve discussed how ridiculous that proposition is, the economy having grown a whopping 1.4% since before the pandemic began while inflation is at 6.4% and climbing, far outpacing any economic growth. The current progressive attempts to rebrand inflation as a good thing only indicate the serious nature of the threat to America at large and, in their warped minds, the Biden Presidency in particular. These attempts will surely fail as inflation is a harsh reality people deal with every day. You cannot market away price increases that threaten people’s ability to put food on the table and gas in their tank, assuming they can afford to own a car given the astronomical jump in prices.
Nor is this desire to spin an obvious crisis limited to inflation. Practically anytime reality runs into their propaganda, they retreat to the propaganda. Hence, our ignominious retreat from Afghanistan is some never-before imagined success story and the Taliban is soon to be a partner we can convince to respect human rights, even as they behead female volleyball players. Likewise, the border remains mired in perpetual chaos with the highest number of encounters with migrants in over two decades and precious few people believe or care that Biden is somehow pursuing a more humane policy. Instead, they see reports of secretly chartered planes depositing illegal aliens all over the country followed by stories like “Illegal immigrant who poses as a minor while crossing border charged with murder in Florida.” According to The New York Post, “A 24-year-old Honduran immigrant who’s charged with murder in the brutal stabbing death of a Florida man had crossed the US border illegally months earlier while posing as an unaccompanied minor.” No one knows for sure, but it seems likely he arrived in Texas on one of those flights and it’s just as likely we can expect similar stories in the future. In response, the Administration insists on claiming the flights aren’t actually in the middle of night, but rather between 2:00 AM and 5:00 AM (for the sake of accuracy, that statement was made before the alleged murder, yet no statement has been made about the murder itself).
This is the reality that Biden and progressives refuse to deal with and that reality sucks out loud, however much they try to spin it. In addition, it certainly doesn’t help that in all of these cases the Administration seems to have been caught completely by surprise, at times responding with snide comments and a shocked sarcasm at first. It took months for them to fully acknowledge the crisis at the border, and Biden himself still hasn’t been there even as more caravans are coming. Less than a month before the Taliban retook Afghanistan, Biden himself was playing up the Afghan Army and claiming a Taliban resurgence was unlikely. Last month, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was downplaying the supply chain crisis and accompanying inflation, describing it as “the tragedy of the treadmill that’s delayed.” Biden himself mocked the idea of even attempting to explain the crisis to voters, bizarrely saying any explanation at all took “lots of luck in your senior year,” as his coach used to say. It took until last week for him to finally acknowledge that inflation was “worrisome,” saying rising prices are “one of the most pressing economic concerns of the American people — and it’s real.” He claimed the administration is prioritizing “getting prices down” and “making sure our stores are fully stocked.”
What’s the old expression about a day late and a dollar short? Rather than respond to these new realities, the administration prefers to continually repackage their old plans. The infrastructure bill is now suddenly a fix for the supply chain, and Build Back Better for inflation, even though both were being pushed long before the crises occurred. Brian Deese, one of Biden’s top economic advisors, told CNN on Sunday, “Well, inflation is high right now, and it is affecting consumers in their pocketbook and also in their outlook for the economy. But those concerns underscore why it’s so important that we move forward on the Build Back Better legislation — this legislation that the House is going to consider this week.” Like magic, a tired, old bill, crammed with Democrat wish list items and panaceas to equity is a cure all for inflation.
The result is an increasing fatigue among voters, who can only bear so much amidst the never ending pandemic, and constant racial tension to the point of conversations centered around whether a road or bridge is racist. Further, this fatigue is prompting some serious buyers’ remorse: President Biden was elected under the assumption that America would experience a return to normalcy after the never-ending battles of the Trump years. Whatever your opinion of President Trump, it seems clear to me that many voters simply wanted some peace and quiet after five years of fighting, and Biden as an aging, somewhat slow, rarely seen, fixture of the political landscape seemed capable of delivering it.
Instead, he’s done precisely the opposite. Fights over masks have been replaced with fights over mandates, kids themselves are still masked in many schools, and the pandemic itself continues. Meanwhile, unexpected new crises have cropped up out of nowhere, from halfway around the world, to the border, even into your dining room, and former President Trump continues to dominate the headlines. In short, there’s nothing normal about America less than a year into the Biden presidency, and almost nothing in the entire world has changed for the better. All things considered, it’s a miracle Biden’s approval ratings aren’t even worse.