“It’s feeling unwell,” said Sarah Longwell, a moderate Republican strategist who became a vocal supporter of Biden in 2020 and who led the Democratic Voters focus group. “People don’t feel that their lives have been improved. They had the feeling that promises were not being kept. “
After nearly nine months in office, Biden and his team claim that the ravages of the pandemic are gradually easing as a result of his actions. They indicate that polls show strong support for his legislative agenda, which is anchored by physical infrastructure and social and climate spending packages. You realize how rare it has been for democratic lawmakers to break from their ranks, even at this difficult time today.
But Biden’s standing with Americans has plummeted, with his average approval rating dropping nearly 15 points since the end of June. He’s seen a drop in the Democrats and even more so in the Republicans, but those The decline was particularly steep among independent voters. Over the same period, the president has sought to salvage his domestic political initiatives amid disputes between the Democrats over their size and order. He has led a chaotic and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan and has been criticized for reacting to the inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants on the US-Mexico border.
But it’s the pandemic that hovers over everything, making it all the harder for the White House to reverse the slide.
Longwell said she was impressed with how similar Democrats’ concerns sounded to Republicans and how little Democrats in their polls accuse Republicans of standing in the way of Biden. This is a point echoed by nearly a dozen strategists who have compiled or reviewed research into Biden’s steep decline.
Biden and the Washington Democrats “are in a quagmire of each other over bills that no one knows what’s inside,” Longwell added. “It just looks like a cluster.”
The White House has never denied the notion that Biden’s political fate is linked to his handling of the Covid-19 fight. Because of this, when they took office, they quickly passed a $ 1.9 trillion relief bill and placed great emphasis on getting people vaccinated. But recognizing a hurdle is different from overcoming it. Early, optimistic proclamations about the reopening of the country proved premature, as did the belief that they could use persuasion, access and education to increase vaccination rates.
Biden’s job has been hampered by some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, who have promoted anti-vaccine conspiracies and opposed the wearing of vaccines and masks in predominantly red counties. But public health experts have also criticized the government for using their Messaging and slow to adopt new approaches. Recent pressure on vaccine mandates has spiked vaccination rates, but tens of millions have still not received a vaccination.
For the president and his allies, there is only one clear way out: reports from leading party activists, some of which have been shared with the White House and Democratic Committees, as well as polls provided to POLITICO, all suggest that Biden has the virus needs to get a grip on it to claw its way out of the mess.
In a widely used memoDemocratic strategist Simon Rosenberg argued that Biden’s steep decline can only be explained by public perception of his uneven handling of the pandemic and a belief that he is not prioritizing it. Rosenberg, who has been in contact with White House and Party Committee officials, claims that the tens of millions of dollars spent selling Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda “reminds” voters that the president is not up the virus is concentrated. Even passing both bills will not be enough to significantly improve Biden’s standing without Democrats first realizing they are the party responsible for beating Covid, he said.
“The President’s downfall is alarming. It’s serious, ”said Rosenberg. “But it can also be reversed. And it won’t be reversed if those two bills are passed alone. He has to get Covid under control. ”
In interviews conducted in Swing State Georgia and in focus groups conducted on other battlefields, most grassroots voters shared these concerns. Kayla Scott, 30, a coffee shop worker in southeast Atlanta, said more federal government funding to help with the aftermath of the pandemic would go a long way.
“Especially not just people with children, a lot of us have no children,” said Scott, a black woman who voted for Biden in 2020. “But a lot of us have to be in this public environment as a service.” Workers because there is no real extra help for us and people get sick every day. “
Pandemic fatigue is also growing elsewhere among Biden’s core voters. In a nearly 100-page study of 40 so-called “gettable” Democrats and Independents conducted last month in Clark County, Nevada, researchers found that voters were “anxious, tired and exhausted.” The researchers added that voters “looked at the government” [Covid] stumbles on the way and shrugs his shoulders. “
“I see them as flat on their backs,” Gretchen Barton, director of research at the democratic nonprofit Future Majority, which conducted the study with the liberal advocacy group Way to Win, told POLITICO.
Future Majority President Mark Riddle, whose recent change research polls cover battlefield states and swing congressional districts, called it 46 percent of Biden’s approval rating for dealing with Covid in battlefield states. But voters there say they still trust the Democrats (41 percent) versus the Republicans (24 percent) when asked which party did better in defeating Covid, the poll found.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted Friday that there is “no question” the ongoing pandemic is affecting Biden’s numbers.
“It’s a really tough time in our country. We’re still fighting Covid and a lot of people thought we’d get through it, including us, “Psaki told reporters. But she added the president’s focus is not on fluctuating polls but on “getting the pandemic under control, getting back to life, a version of normalcy that people can have”. [the] Occupational safety. “
Others in orbit of the President take the longer view. “You and I will have this conversation in a year,” said John Anzalone, Biden’s longtime pollster. “The political environment will be different. And Biden’s numbers will be too. “
In interviews and polling analysis, Democrats said they ultimately need to get to a place where Biden and low-voting candidates are offending the Covid issue. Biden’s guidelines on vaccination mandates were a good start, Riddle said, but he advised Democrats to make Republicans pay for their intransigence and, in some cases, wall off and weed governments. Ron DeSantis from Florida and Greg Abbott from Texas.
Only two post-war presidents – including Trump – had lower approval ratings than Biden at this point in their tenure in office. And while this may be a product of a more polarized nation, its failure irritates Democrats across the country – particularly in Virginia, where a gubernatorial race next month is one of the party’s first major political tests since Biden took office.
It’s not just the virus resurgence that has hampered Biden. While Afghanistan and the border have largely disappeared from the news cycle, polls show that they contributed to its slide, particularly in terms of voters’ perception of his proficiency in the job. In Georgia, Democrats said they remained confused and angry about Biden’s decisions on Afghanistan, migrants on the border and the intra-party feud over its economic agenda. “Disappointed” was a word used by most of the black and white voters speaking to POLITICO in the greater Atlanta area when describing Biden’s tenure. But none said they were ready to abandon the Democrats in 2022 and 2024.
Sylvia Bernstein, a 71-year-old Biden voter from Atlanta, said Biden made “appalling mistakes”, particularly with regard to Afghanistan and refugees. “And now, this budget he’s trying to get through – $ 3 trillion – I don’t see that happening,” said Bernstein, who is white. “And I don’t think he got a lot of support from other Democrats. Everyone seems to stumble around. “
The hope of the Democrats elected is that the success of the legislation will ultimately reassure voters like Bernstein and give Biden a necessary respite from the seemingly endless brutal news cycles he’s been through, be it about the Covid battle or the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“We can do it, then those numbers will turn around,” said Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (DS.C.) of Biden’s job numbers. “We can’t do it, then these numbers won’t turn around.”
In particular, Clyburn blamed the ongoing internal party struggles over the Build Back Better plan for hurting the president.
“In essence, the President’s programs are what people seem to want. Like everything else, it is sausage making that is causing problems with the surveys, ”he added. “There are one or two [senators] that will keep him from turning 50. “