The fall in the American president’s popularity is most important among African Americans, a constituency crucial for Democrats.
After a few months, the magic of the early days often begins to fade. This is an adage that is particularly true for Joe Biden in recent weeks, as his popularity ratings continue to decline. According to the statistical summary site FiveThirtyEight, the portion of Americans approving of his action fell to 44% in mid-October, compared to 52% at the end of July. Worse, this drop is even more striking in the African American community, a crucial constituency for the Democratic party.
According to a Pew Research Center study, Biden’s popularity fell 18 points between July and September among Black voters, passing from 85% approval to 67%, the group where it fell the most in the entire American population. “Even if he still enjoys a solid base, it is a significant phenomenon that shows that the honeymoon is over,” commented Nicole Bacharan for the Express, a historian specializing in the United States and author of the book “The Great Days that Changed America.”
Then how to explain such a fall? For Omar Wasow, Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics of Pomona College in California, it results first and foremost from a “growing dissatisfaction” with regard to the new tenant in the White House. “The African American community had great expectations of Biden, but the difficulties that he met advancing his political agenda, in particular in the Senate, generated at the same time an even greater frustration,” he underscored to the Express.
At issue in particular is the division in the Democratic camp concerning the social component of Biden’s economic program, with a plan for the investment of $3.5 trillion. This proposal, which is particularly anticipated among this fringe of the electorate, would provide for, among other things, a strengthening of access to education, health care and child care. To make matters worse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested this week that sections of this plan be cut out entirely in order to placate the discontent of centrists who are hostile to excessive expenditures.
Similarly, a bill supported by the Democrat president aiming to strengthen the right to vote — especially among minorities — is still coming up against Republican opposition in the Senate. “Again, this is a very important request from the African American community, which again finds itself without a reply. Even if Biden doesn’t have control over the work of the Senate, the Black community would like him to be able to do more,” adds Wasow. In a strikingly parallel way, negotiations over a bill restricting law enforcement practices did not succeed in the Senate either, in spite of the huge demonstrations last summer.
But these failed hopes are not the only explanatory factors according to a Morning Consult study, which points as well to the impact of Biden’s toughening on the question of vaccination. Close to two weeks after having announced, on Sept. 9, a vaccine requirement for all federal employees and workers in certain businesses, the White House tenant dropped 12 points in popularity among African American voters, and 17 points among those who are not vaccinated.
“For historic, economic and social reasons, we’re talking about the least vaccinated community in the United States. And imposing vaccination in certain settings has aroused mistrust,” says Bacharan. The necessity of being vaccinated in order to have a meal inside a restaurant, decided in New York and supported by Democrats, was, for example, denounced as “discriminatory” by some leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement in the city because of the lower vaccination rate in the African American community.
Be that as it may, this growing dissatisfaction among Black voters, to whom he in part owes his election, gives the White House tenant grounds for concern. In 2020, 92% of African American voters cast their votes for him. “If the support of the African American community continues to decline, and it rallies less in the 2022 midterm elections, that could cost the Democratic Party dearly, and it would then be nearly certain to lose control of Congress,” in Wasow’s judgment. “So, if he wants to spring back, Biden has no other choice but to get the reforms passed that he promised to them.” If he fails to do so, he risks endangering the rest of his presidency.