Voters turning away from Biden and Democrats as inflation and pandemic persist, polls show
President Joe Biden and the Democrats in Congress are in political free fall as key voting blocs conclude that the majority party in Washington is ignoring their most pressing problems.
Biden’s job approval rating had nosedived to near 40% as the annual holiday season commenced, with Republicans taking the lead in generic-ballot polling gauging which party voters would prefer be in charge on Capitol Hill. The corresponding changes in Democratic and GOP fortunes have coincided with skyrocketing inflation and lingering pandemic conditions that are causing anxiety and frustration among the independents and suburban Republicans whose critical votes put Biden and the Democrats in power.
Challenging economic conditions and risks from the coronavirus would pose political hurdles for any administration, as they did for former President Donald Trump. But Republican pollsters say the troubles afflicting Biden that threaten to remove congressional Democrats from power in 2022 run deeper. For voters, inflation and the pandemic are priorities. Meanwhile, they see Democrats in Washington focused on creating and expanding social programs — and fighting among themselves to do it.
“The agenda the Democrats are pushing is not the agenda the American people feel they’re dealing with,” said David Winston, a GOP pollster who advises congressional Republicans. “This is a more fundamental problem.”
One year after Biden ousted Trump and the Democrats captured the Senate, completing the takeover of Congress initiated in the 2018 midterm elections, the party is in a total quagmire.
Centrist and liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill are at odds over Biden’s $2 trillion proposal to invest taxpayer dollars on a host of new social programs, infighting that has lasted for months and contributed directly to the party’s deteriorating political position. Accordingly, newly revealed polling, reported first by Politico , shows that Trump is leading Biden head-to-head in a hypothetical rematch in crucial battleground states — and the Democratic Party’s image among critical voting blocs is cratering .
In the aftermath of Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s upset victory this month in Virginia, a state the president won by more than 10 points in November, centrist Democratic think tank Third Way commissioned a series of focus groups with Biden voters in the suburbs of Richmond and Washington to find out what went wrong. What they found was startling. According to the memo prepared by ALG Research:
- “Our weak national brand left us vulnerable.”
- “Voters are unhappy with the direction of the country and don’t think we get it.”
- “Voters believe the economy is bad, and no amount of stats can change their mind (at least in the short term).”
- “Voters think we are focused on social issues, not the economy.”
Senior spokesman for Third Way Matt Bennett told the Washington Examiner the Democrats are in distress with no clear path to recovery, although he said enacting Biden’s social spending program, the legislation known as “Build Back Better,” would improve the party’s prospects significantly.
“We don’t know yet precisely what the Democratic brand problem is or where it comes from. Our sense is that the brand issues substantially predate Biden and are about a range of things — distrust on handling the economy and a sense that we are out of touch on some culture issues,” Bennett said. He added that Republicans have benefited substantially from Trump’s exit from the White House.
“The GOP brand has been given a temporary reprieve from Trump,” Bennet said. “[It’s] not clear that congressional candidates can slip that noose as deftly as Youngkin did. But it won’t be as potent as when Trump is actually on the ballot.”
Historically, presidents are rebuked in midterm elections, with the brunt falling on members of their party in the House and Senate. In that regard, the world of hurt that could await Democrats in 2020 is normal. The same happened to Trump in 2018, when Democrats flipped 40 House seats and captured Senate seats in Arizona and Nevada. The same happened to Republicans George W. Bush in 2006 and Ronald Reagan in 1982 and 1986.
But Republican pollster Wes Anderson said Biden is experiencing more than the beginnings of the typical midterm election reprimand.
Anderson conducted “an absurd amount” of focus groups in 2019 and 2020. The sessions included swing voters, most of whom were independents, but also some soft Republicans and conservative Democrats. The overwhelming opinion he ran into was broad support for Trump on a range of issues. But Biden appealed to them because he was campaigning as a centrist and they were almost totally exhausted by Trump’s provocative behavior. Biden, they thought, would be competent and restorative.
Instead, they see a president who is governing like a boilerplate liberal and who is beholden to the left wing of his party. This Biden is not the uniter they bargained for. After they watched his leadership of the botched withdrawal of American military forces from Afghanistan, swing voters determined that he was also not the “competent” alternative to Trump that they thought they voted for.
“Currently, a sizable majority of American voters have decided that President Biden and his party are 1) horribly incompetent, 2) deeply divisive, and 3) controlled by the radical Left. In that order,” Anderson said. “Any one of these factors is a real problem for the Democrats. All three are deadly.”
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