According to a New York Times/Siena College survey, President Joe Biden’s job approval rating is at 33%. This makes him one of the most unpopular first-term presidents in American history. Sixty-four% of Democrats want another candidate in 2024’s presidential race.
According to my knowledge, no modern president has experienced greater dissatisfaction from his own party than he did during his first term. Only 13% voters think the United States has a good track record, the lowest percentage since the Great Recession.
Not long ago, left-wing pundits couldn’t stop talking about Donald Trump’s poll numbers—”Donald Trump is remarkably unpopular”; “The unprecedented unpopularity of Donald Trump”; “Trump is officially the most unpopular president since modern polling began in the 1930s. It will forever be his legacy,” and so on. They would argue that a president who has such piddling support would not be allowed to initiate policy changes.
Nowadays, Democrats want their historically unpopular president to sign “transformative” legislation using reconciliation and unilaterally restructure American governance. Modern liberalism has one consistent characteristic: the belief that politics should be played according to two sets of rules.
Still, I don’t put too much reliance on national polls. Yes, unpopularity is important. It hurts Democrats. It also further debunks the notion that the Democratic Party’s agenda items are vastly more popular, and Republicans who stand in their way are undermining “democracy.”
Republicans should remember, however, that the job approval rating is not measured in a bubble. According to the New York Times/Siena College Poll, Biden wins a matchup with Trump 44-41. The real presidential election is largely a binary decision for voters. Many of those unhappy with Biden may never vote Republican.
This seems to be the only lesson for Democrats like Joe Scarborough. “So Biden’s going into halftime shooting 33% from the field and he is STILL beating Trump University,” tweets Morning Joe. They argue that all these unanticipated and unfair events have befallen Biden, but he still leads Trump (conveniently forgetting that also he had to deal with a once in a century global pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout due to lockdowns).
It’s certainly entertaining watching partisans feign excitement over their mollycoddled candidate holding a 44-41 lead in a national poll against a guy who is accused of sedition on virtually every news channel daily. These numbers will look different if Trump (or someone like Florida Gov.) is in charge. Ron DeSantis reminds voters what gas prices and 401(k),s looked like before COVID-19.
The left is convincing themselves that winning a poll in a national election is something. (Siena had Hillary Clinton up 17 percent in its final 2016 poll. There is no popular election. Biden must win states. The president is in deep trouble in almost all of them, on almost any issue, and in almost all polls. I’m no prognosticator or election expert—Biden might well win reelection—but none of that could possibly be heartening news for Democrats.
I’m just unsure how it gets any better for Biden. Social media allows Democrats to do a lot with self-soothing and convince themselves that things will become more friendly for the president. They might, in part, be able to stop undermining the economy or energy production if Biden stops.
Economic indicators, however, aren’t projecting a big turnaround. Even if they did, Biden’s claim to moderation, largely a function of his age, has already been obliterated. Two-thirds of independents don’t approve of his performance. At the same time, Biden’s progressive rhetoric is also transparently unprincipled. Neither Biden nor any president really has the power to mollify progressives—not until the Constitution is rendered inoperative.
With all that said, the prevailing concern about Biden among voters in the New York Times/Siena College poll isn’t ideological; it’s his age—by which we can deduce they mean his competence. In the 2020 race, Biden’s fragile state was largely concealed from the public by the campaign and press. Incoherent today, except for the rare occasions when the president enters into unscripted interactions, is what you see. The chances of the president’s cognitive state improving, I’m afraid, are nil. That’s not how nature works.
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