Biden Struggles To Keep His Head above Water with the War and the Pandemic

Democrats hope the dread of Trump’s return will help them recover.

A foreign war with a clear enemy to fight may have a unifying effect among citizens of a country such as the United States, but that is not the case this time. Neither the handling of the invasion of Ukraine nor domestic policy is helping Joe Biden and the Democratic Party recover from last summer’s decline, when the chaotic exit from Afghanistan marked the beginning of a long, continuing cycle of failures and disappointments.

The impact of war, together with that of the pandemic, are hindering the recovery that the president and his party will need so they don’t lose control of one or both houses of Congress in November’s midterms.

Obama Had a Higher Approval Rating, yet Democrats Still Lost in the 2010 Midterms

Although his name is not on the ballot, no one doubts the impact of the president’s pull over each congressional midterm election. Nobody disputes the impact of these elections on the development of each term’s second half. From this twofold point of view, the low approval rating that Biden has reaped in the latest polls predicts a somber future for the leader and his party. Democrats themselves and non-adverse media describe the outlook as “horrible” (The Washington Post) or “a biblical disaster” (The Hill).

The latest polls concerning the president’s performance place Biden’s approval rating at its lowest point since he arrived in the Oval Office. Percentages range from 41%, according to Reuters/Ipsos or Politico/Morning Consult, and 38%, according to the NBC network. However, the latest report from Quinnipiac University — quoted by the major media as the go-to poll — placed him at only 33%, a precipitous fall from a favorable starting point of 61% in March 2021.

In order to get an idea of what a collapse like this might mean for Biden and his party in the midterms, it is enough to recall the precedent of Barack Obama. In his case, the polls before the 2010 midterms showed public acceptance of his performance at a modest 45% … and that year, Democrats lost 63 seats in the House and six in the Senate.

The immediate causes of Biden’s bind are clear. Apart from demoralizing everybody, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a supply problem that, together with the increased demand after the worst part of the crisis was over, caused spiraling inflation and crushed the underprivileged. And then the war in Ukraine started and consumer prices went on a rampage until they reached a year-on-year increase of 8.5% — the greatest in 40 years — with a 48% rise in fuel prices and excessive increases in the cost of food and housing.

The President’s Approval Rating Has Reached Its Lowest Point since He Arrived in the Oval Office

As for the political background of Biden’s decline, strategists and prominent politicians from the Democratic Party, including most prominently Obama and Hillary Clinton, see a serious problem of communication in the White House and its surroundings. A few days ago, the former secretary of state and former presidential candidate said that the administration and the political organization supporting it “need to be doing a better job of making the case” for their accomplishments. Obama said, “We’ve got a story to tell, just got to tell it.”

However, certain specific poll indicators are making Democrats increasingly pessimistic. First, the low approval rating for Biden’s management of the war in Ukraine. Despite the successes of American intelligence and the unexpected resistance of the Ukrainian people largely thanks to the weaponry provided by Washington, fewer than 40% of Americans consider the leader’s performance with respect to the Russian invasion to be correct and sufficient.

Polls also agree about the concerning loss of votes among young people, Hispanics and African Americans — that is to say, the support the president needs in the future and the support that explains his victory in 2020, for Biden would not be holding office if not for the massive support of African Americans and Latinos.

A Gallup poll published on Thursday shows how Biden’s loss of support is even greater among younger voters. Among boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964), support for Biden’s policies dropped seven points between the first half of 2021 and March; there was a 19-point drop among millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and a 21-point drop among Generation Z (those born after 1997).

Among Hispanics, whose vote was decisive for his victory in key states such as Georgia and Arizona, the president’s approval was at 26% in the poll published by Quinnipiac University last week: the lowest rating of all demographic groups. And regarding the Black vote, a Marquette University poll released on April 1 confirmed the collapse suggested in previous polls, with an approval rating of only 56% versus last year’s 88%.

The Leader Fails To Motivate His Own People To Vote

The terrible news for Biden and the Democrats regarding public opinion not only makes them fear that Republicans will seize control of both houses, but also that that support would enable Trump’s return to the Oval Office. And — paradoxes of politics — the dread of the consequences of such a return is what is being discussed lately in Democratic media as a possible incentive for a recovery. It would be enough to imagine and clearly articulate for the non-Trumpian public what conservative representatives would do in order to consolidate their crackdown on abortion, their offensive against voting rights, against public health care achievements and, undoubtedly, to stop the select committee investigating the bloody attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. It would then be enough to visualize Trump’s return and his alliance with extremist leaders throughout the West; the Orbans and Le Pens of the world and of Europe. …

Currently, however, the weariness among the progressive ranks seems to surpass the influence of the Trump factor and any other fear or hope. Another poll, done by ABC-Ipsos, shows 55% of Republican voters to be “highly motivated” about the midterm elections, compared to only 35% of Democrats who are equally enthusiastic about them. There is half a year left before the big day. Time enough to wake up, but little time left to ensure that certain nightmares will not return.

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