The Biden presidency is perhaps the most consequential “We told you so!” moment in American political history. Biden supporters said his many years of experience and willingness to compromise made him the right guy for the job after the norm-crushing presidency of Donald Trump. Joe Biden, they said, would restore our alliances with other nations, get the economy roaring again, and defeat COVID. Even more importantly, there would be no more mean tweets.
Trump supporters pointed to Biden’s history of terrible foreign policy decisions, his utter lack of a real plan to fight COVID, and his endless gaffes as proof he wasn’t up for the job. And, well, the Trump supporters have been proven right.
In fact, one could say that the opposite of what Biden supporters said would happen has happened. Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and his lack of diplomatic skills have insulted our allies, the economy is facing historic inflation and is struggling to fill millions of jobs openings, and COVID is clearly not under control. Sure, there are no more mean tweets, but who wouldn’t trade lower gas prices for some mean tweets right now?
Joe Biden’s poll numbers have trended downward since he took office, but the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan set off an unprecedented implosion in support, rapidly sending Biden’s approval ratings underwater. Despite the passage of time, he’s yet to show signs of resurfacing anytime soon. Even the liberal media was largely unable to make excuses for him. All efforts to shift the public’s attention to other issues (like his vaccine mandate) have failed to redirect the trajectory of his approval numbers back towards positive territory. The latest poll from the highly respected Gallup organization not only showed him underwater in approval but with an approval spread of -10 points. This is a hard deficit to recover from without something major happening in your favor. And it doesn’t look like that will happen soon.
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This is a stunning implosion. Biden went from getting the “most votes for president” of any candidate in history to becoming utterly toxic to a decisive majority of Americans in less than a year.
In fact, as CNN’s Chris Cillizza notes, Biden’s decline in approval “could not come at a worse time for his presidency. Right now, Congress is embroiled in a series of critical fights — most notably over a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget bill, which, taken together, form the crux of Biden’s entire first-term agenda. There’s also consternation — and confusion — over raising the debt limit and funding the government.”
These “crises,” as he puts it, “would be more manageable for Biden if he was in a stronger position with the American public. If, say, he was at 55% or even 60% approval, Biden’s ability to cajole warring moderate and liberal forces in the House would be significantly higher. All politicians are aware of the leverage (or lack thereof) that a president has over them — and act accordingly.”
If Biden’s decline in approval imperils his legislative agenda this early in his presidency, it really does seem unlikely that he’ll be able to regain the support he’s lost, which has come almost entirely from independents who have soured on him. As Democrats look towards the upcoming midterm elections, their willingness to take risks to support Biden’s radical agenda will be almost nonexistent. Midterms are already tough for the party in power, and Biden’s lack of popularity doesn’t give them any wiggle room. Had Joe Biden been more competent, or had he just been the so-called centrist that he claimed to be during the campaign, he might have salvaged his presidency. Now it looks like he’s destroyed his legacy–and he may take his party with him.