Biden's 'Coronavirus Malaise' Has Democrats Looking for an Exit

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

It’s bad enough that Joe Biden’s approval numbers are in the toilet. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Biden with an anemic 38 percent approval rating.


What’s worse is that Democrats are beginning to believe his numbers will never bounce back.

Democratic strategists predicted that once the vaccines were successfully rolled out, people were back to work, and the nation came back to life with concerts, ballgames, and other “normal” activities, the American people would see how good they have it with Joe Biden as president and give him their support.

Instead, Americans are in a sour mood. The coronavirus is still hindering a return to normal life. More accurately, politicians are using the pandemic as an excuse to continue restricting our freedoms.


In a focus group last week, Pennsylvania Democrats one after another articulated the issue vexing top White House aides, party operatives in Virginia, and voters in Georgia: Why isn’t President Joe Biden’s diminished job rating rebounding?

All nine participants from Tuesday’s session gave Biden C- grades or lower. And their answers circled back to a similar point: The pandemic and the many ways it continues to hinder normal life is souring their views of Biden.

Surprisingly, mainstream Democrats like those who participated in the focus group aren’t blaming Republicans. Sarah Longwell, who led the focus group of Democratic voters, thinks that the pandemic’s shadow over the country is a long one.

Longwell said she was struck by how similar the concerns of Democrats sounded to Republicans, and also by how little Democrats in her surveys blame Republicans for standing in Biden’s way. It’s a point echoed by nearly a dozen strategists who have compiled or reviewed research into Biden’s precipitous decline.

Biden and Democrats in Washington “are in a morass of fighting with each over bills that nobody knows what’s in,” Longwell added. “It just looks like a cluster.”


If Democratic voters aren’t blaming Republicans for the state of the nation, who are they blaming? The answer to that question should chill the blood of Biden’s political operatives. If Biden is unable to blame the GOP for the nation’s problems, the blame will eventually come back to him. And given the probable state of affairs in America in 2024, Kamala Harris better be warming up in the bullpen to relieve the tired old man.

The question Democrats have is can the decline be reversed? Many Democratic strategists believe that Biden has got to get out of the morass he created with his spending plans. Those plans are now mired in political purgatory and, say these strategists, it’s leading to the perception among voters that the president isn’t focused on dealing with the pandemic.

In one widely circulated memo, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg argued that Biden’s steep drop-off can only be explained by the public’s perception of his uneven handling of the pandemic and a belief he is not prioritizing it. Rosenberg, who has been in touch with White House and party committee officials, contends that the tens of millions of dollars being spent to sell Biden’s Build Back Better agenda is “reminding” voters that the president isn’t focused on the virus. Even passing both bills won’t be enough to significantly improve Biden’s standing without Democrats first establishing they are the party responsible for defeating Covid, he said.


Biden has to be seen “doing something about the problem.” It’s been Biden who created the perception that the coronavirus was an existential threat to everyone — adults, children, oldsters. It’s too late now to claim that he was just playing politics earlier and there really isn’t a danger to most kids or healthy adults. So in effect, Biden’s problems are entirely of his own making.

It appears that many Democrats have reached that same conclusion. If the political strategists have lost faith in Biden’s ability to lead, their clients may not be far behind. And with the economy going down the tubes and inflation rising, the pandemic may be the least of Biden’s worries.


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