Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Biden Popularity Sinking Deeper

 

Just 18 months before the 2024 presidential election, both major national political parties seem to be locked into the nomination of deeply flawed candidates who enjoy the overwhelming support of their party’s voter base, but remain largely unpopular with the independent voters who are widely expected to decide the outcome of that election.

Former president Donald Trump, whose reputation remains under continuous attack by his Democrat opponents and the mainstream media, has actually regained political support in recent months due to the widespread perception by Republicans and some voters that he is the victim of an unfair double standard and politically motivated criminal prosecutions.

Nevertheless, the opinion polls clearly show that the initial preference of a majority of voters in both parties would have been to avoid a Trump-Biden rematch of the 2020 election in 2024.

Despite their objections to Trump’s self-centered personality and his disruptive governing style, many voters in retrospect have gained a new appreciation for the success of his record as president, especially when compared to the many failures of President Joe Biden’s domestic and foreign policies. This is particularly true with respect to Biden’s mishandling of the American economy and his responsibility for the runaway government spending which ignited the current inflation problem.

Democrats remain frustrated by the public’s perception of their president as a weak and aging leader, unable to harvest the political credit they believe that he deserves for having implemented so much of his liberal domestic policy agenda through congressional legislation and legally questionable executive orders during his first two years in office.

Biden’s weakness was highlighted for all to see last week by the shocking results of the most recent Washington Post-ABC News opinion poll. It showed Biden’s popularity sinking to the lowest point of his presidency, with a meager 36 percent job approval rating, and a projected 6–7-point deficit in a projected head-to-head election match-up against either Donald Trump or the next most popular potential GOP presidential candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Trump’s current lead over Biden bolsters his claim that he would be, by far, the strongest GOP presidential candidate in the 2024 election. He maintains a better than 2-1 lead over DeSantis, his closest competitor for the nomination, among Republican voters, with the other announced and unannounced candidates for the GOP nomination attracting only minimal support. Meanwhile, on the other side, no credible mainstream challenger to Joe Biden has yet to come forward to compete for the Democrat presidential nomination, and none seems likely to appear, as long as the president remains healthy and minimally capable.

WHY THERE IS NO DEMOCRAT ALTERNATIVE TO BIDEN

Poll after poll over the past year has shown that most Democrat voters would have preferred a younger and more vigorous 2024 presidential candidate. Yet few elected Democratic party strategists have dared to go on the record by publicly expressing their serious doubts about Biden’s fitness and ability, at the age of 80, to campaign for and then serve out a full second term as president. Several veteran Democrat political operatives have privately expressed their concern that, by committing itself so early to supporting Biden’s re-election, their party has now painted itself into a deep political corner. They recognize that, despite their deep respect for Biden, he may not be physically or mentally up to the very demanding challenges of running a conventional presidential reelection campaign and effectively governing the country for the next six years.

Democrats have lined up behind Biden’s candidacy because they realize that the only alternative to Biden’s candidacy that would not badly divide their party going into the 2024 election is Vice President Kamala Harris. But she is widely viewed as incompetent, and would most likely lose badly to Donald Trump, or any one of perhaps half-a-dozen other nationally popular potential GOP presidential candidates in next year’s election. Given no other choice, Democrats are now rallying behind President Biden’s reelection campaign, while privately praying that his physical health and declining cognitive abilities hold out, at least until 2024 Election Day, not necessarily because they think he would be the best leader for this country over the next six years, but rather simply because they fear that Harris would be the most likely alternative candidate.

Minnesota congressman Dean Phillips is one of the few Democrat-elected leaders who was willing to speak openly about this party’s Biden problem. Back in February, he told Jonathan Martin, a reporter for Politico, that the reason there are no Democrat officials calling for a new nominee and a reluctance by any viable replacement candidates to step forward is “Fear, plain and simple. People are focused on self-preservation and their aspirations.

“Nobody wants to be the one to do something that would undermine the chances of a Democratic victory in 2024. Yet in quiet rooms, the conversation is just the opposite — we could be at a higher risk if this path [to Biden’s nomination for a second term] is cleared.”

In explaining the current situation within the Democrat party, Phillips drew a parallel to the criticisms and deep misgivings about Donald Trump privately expressed by many Republican leaders. But they were reluctant to publicly criticize Donald Trump when he launched his first re-election effort because Republican voters overwhelmingly favored the former president.

“Yes, the circumstances are different [now], and the presidents are very different, but it’s your responsibility when you represent constituents to speak your truth and not hide it,” Phillips said.

DEMOCRACY REQUIRES A MORE VIABLE COMPETITION

Despite his call for Democrat challengers to step forward, the Minnesota Democrat had high praise for Biden’s performance as president. “He’s a president of great competence and success, I admire the heck out of President Biden,” Phillips told the reporter. “And if he were 15-20 years younger it would be a no-brainer to nominate him, but considering his age it’s absurd we’re not promoting competition but trying to extinguish it.

“What I’m trying to remind my [Democrat] colleagues and the country is that competition is good, and the absence of competition is unhealthy for democracy. Not providing platforms to aspiring leaders is antithetical to strong leadership,” he added.

Politico reporter Martin wrote that he had encountered the same sentiment in his interviews with Democrat officials who attended the National Governor’s Association winter meeting in Washington, DC. He cited one unnamed Democrat senator who confided that most of his colleagues in the chamber do not want Biden to run again, but that they have not been able to create “an alignment of interest” capable of convincing their president to voluntarily give up the “narcotic” of his high office. He also spoke to a Democrat governor who complained about how little campaigning Biden would likely be able to do, and a Democrat congressman who insisted that the reporter turn off his cell phone before telling him that the Democrats had no alternative to Biden, and that a Harris candidacy was simply not an option.

HOW HARRIS MAKES CHALLENGING BIDEN MUCH MORE DIFFICULT

Reporter Martin speculates that the intra-party difficulties that Democrats would face in trying to bypass a Harris candidacy may be one of the reasons why they have been so reluctant to dump Biden in favor of a younger and more attractive 2024 presidential nominee.

If Biden had voluntarily stepped aside instead of announcing his candidacy for re-election last month, Harris would inevitably have faced a serious challenge from multiple candidates, with her liberal supporters inevitably accusing her opponents of racial and gender bias. Sticking with Biden as their 2024 nominee was the safer choice, because it would avoid a messy primary fight and enable the Democrats to remain unified going into the general election with a better chance to win, most still believe despite the latest polls, especially if Donald Trump is once again their GOP opponent.

Biden has already committed himself, at least unofficially, to Harris as his 2024 running mate, by giving her a high-profile role in the video which launched his re-election campaign last month. Biden also came to Harris’ defense in a pre-recorded interview he gave to MSNBC last week, declaring, “Look, I just think that Vice President Harris hasn’t gotten the credit she deserves. She was an attorney general in the state of California. She has been a United States senator. She is really very, very good,” Biden continued. “And with everything going on, she hasn’t gotten the attention she deserves.”

Left unsaid in the interview was the fact that as a woman of color, Harris is an important asset to Biden’s campaign which has, according to the polls, begun to lose some of its traditional support among Black voters, and which is counting heavily upon keeping the support of college-educated suburban women, which Biden won by a wide margin in the 2020 election.

BIDEN CLAIMS HIS AGE IS AN ADVANTAGE

Biden’s age figured prominently in the bad news from the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, with 63 percent of those surveyed now saying that he lacks the mental sharpness needed to function effectively as president and 62 percent questioning his physical health, whereas the public’s perception of Trump’s mental and physical health is much more positive (54 percent and 64 percent, respectively), even though he is only 4 years younger than Biden.

Biden also hit back when questioned about his advanced age in the MSNBC interview, claiming that it will give him an advantage over his 2024 opponent because it has enabled him “to acquire a … lot of wisdom. I know more than the vast majority of people,” Biden immodestly boasted.  “I’m more experienced than anybody who’s ever run for the office, and I think I’ve proven myself to be honorable as well as also effective.”

Biden’s attempt to reverse the age issue in his MSNBC interview smacks of hubris, and was much less effective than Ronald Reagan’s humorous approach to the same issue in his 1984 nationally televised presidential debate with former vice president Walter Mondale. When asked if, at age 73, he was too old to serve a second term as president, Reagan deftly responded, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience,” which even elicited a laugh from his opponent standing next to him. Having effectively dispatched the age issue, Reagan went on to win re-election in a landslide victory of historic proportions, carrying 49 out of the 50 states.

Most Americans don’t seem to agree with Biden’s optimistic current self-assessment of his presidential record and capabilities when he stands for re-election next year at the age 82, nine years older than Reagan when he ran for a second term. Biden’s 36 percent job approval rating in the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll is down 6 points since February, and his 56 percent job disapproval rating includes 47 percent of those surveyed who said they “strongly” disapprove of his performance as president.

BIDEN’S DIMINISHED VOTER SUPPORT ACROSS THE BOARD

The recent deterioration in Biden’s voter support cuts across multiple ethnic and demographic lines. His approval rating is under 50% among non-white adults, urban residents, and those with no affiliation, and stands at only 26% among voters under the age of 30. Even among the independent voters who gave Biden his margin of victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential election, only 57 percent said in the most recent poll that they would vote for him again, while 30 percent now say that they would not. In the 2020 election against Trump, Biden carried the nationwide independent vote by 9 points. But in the latest poll, Trump has reversed that trend, leading Biden among independent voters by a margin of 42 to 34 percent.

The remaining 24 percent of independent voters said that they are still undecided, or might not vote for either Biden or Trump. As a result, the ultimate decision of that segment of independent voters seems likely to determine which of the two candidates will emerge victorious in the 2024 election.

The mishandling of the American economy and the problem of inflation is certain to be one of the main points of disagreement in the 2024 election campaign. Biden and the Democrats have been claiming credit for low unemployment and rising wages, while trying to deny that a recession is imminent, as Trump leads Republicans in blasting Biden’s free-spending policies for igniting inflation and stifling the economy’s growth with new taxes and regulations.

TRUMP HOLDS THE ADVANTAGE ON THE ECONOMY

At this point, Trump holds a significant advantage over Biden on this highly sensitive issue, with 54 percent of those polled saying they believe that Trump’s lowered tax, reduced business regulation policies did a better job of growing the economy when he was president, compared to just 36 percent who approve of Biden’s current handling of the economy.

The inflation issue is likely to further hurt Biden’s already waning support among working-class voters, as well as Black and Hispanics who have increasingly been abandoning their traditional Democrat voting habits. Their already tight household budgets have been hit the hardest by the spike in the cost of many essentials such as basic foods at the supermarket, gas at the pump, as well as rent and utilities for their home.

President Biden’s launch video last month was primarily an attack upon Republicans and Trump by portraying them as threats to democracy, based primarily upon the largely spontaneous riot by frustrated Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, and as opponents to Biden’s liberal policy goals such as combating climate change and promoting “woke” racial and gender-based social issues. The video largely ignored the issues of greatest concern to working-class voters, such as bringing down inflation, restoring respect for law and order and personal safety, ending the immigration chaos and lawlessness on the southern border, and respecting the wishes of parents in the education of their children.

Biden’s central campaign plea to voters to give him a second term so that he can “finish the job.” But it ignores the fact that most American voters do not approve of the job that Biden has already done as president, and believe, by a wide margin, that under Biden’s leadership, the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Although the Biden video mimicked some of the upbeat visual images of Ronald Reagan’s highly successful 1984 re-election campaign TV commercial, memorably titled, “It’s Morning Again in America,” Biden’s threatening re-election message sorely lacked Reagan’s characteristic sunny optimism about America’s future.

BIDEN’S WORKING-CLASS VOTER PROBLEM

The problem for Biden and the Democrats is that their message appeals mostly to the liberal, college-educated voters who already have been voting for them, while further alienating, through neglect, the much larger segment of working-class voters whose primary concerns the Democrats continue to ignore, while promoting their radical liberal/progressive policy agenda instead. In the 2020 election, Trump carried the overall working-class vote by 4 points, and with recent polls showing Republicans making further inroads among working-class Black and Hispanic voters.

These are voters that could tip the balance in the GOP’s favor in several swing states in 2024, such as Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Black voters form the heart of President Biden’s base of support. Black voters in South Carolina rescued his faltering 2020 presidential candidacy after his disastrously poor showing in the earlier Democrat primaries, and he has since rewarded them by moving up the date of the South Carolina primary to the start of next year’s primary season. But support in the Black community for Biden’s presidency has weakened substantially, with polls showing only 41% of Blacks said they wanted him to run for president again and just 55% saying that they expect to vote for him in the 2024 general election. His job approval rating among Blacks has fallen sharply from more than 90% during his first months as president to 58% in the latest Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.

The Democrats also seem to be ignoring the fact that their embrace of far-left “woke” positions on the issues of race and gender risks further alienating the many church-affiliated Black and Hispanic voters, many of whom rightfully feel that their strong traditional Judeo-Christian religious and moral beliefs are the target of a well-organized attack by the progressive Democrat cultural activists who are now dictating federal government policy.

DEMOCRATS CONFRONTING AN ANTI-WOKE VOTER BACKLASH

Because Biden and his Democrat supporters have stubbornly refused to moderate their extreme positions by moving toward the center on the broad range of divisive “woke” gender and racial cultural issues, the Biden campaign will need to contend throughout the 2024 election cycle with a burgeoning voter backlash against the lax Biden administration enforcement against an epidemic of violent crime and illegal immigration; anti-American and race-based curriculums in America’s failing public schools; Biden’s all-out war against the domestic fossil fuel industry, which has already destroyed America’s recently achieved energy independence; the decimation of merit-based academic achievement standards; the introduction of a mandatory, politically-correct vocabulary of personal pronouns and catch phrases; the formal acceptance of “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) standards by government and corporate bureaucracies; and the confusion and controversy created the deliberate liberal abandonment of traditional definitions of gender and marriage.

Another factor that is much harder to measure is the painfully obvious lack of enthusiasm for Biden’s 2024 candidacy in Democrat ranks compared to the strong support he managed to generate campaigning as anti-Trump in the 2020 election. Insufficient enthusiasm among core supporters can make a crucial difference in voter turnout and the outcome of any election. As noted by Ace Conyers, a 22-year-old Black college student at South Carolina State University, “For people to vote, and to be eager to vote, you have to actually want to vote for the person.”

BIDEN HAS LOST THE TRUST OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

The latest poll also reveals that Biden has lost the trust of a majority of the American people that he had enjoyed when he first took office. When most recently asked, only 41 percent of Americans surveyed said that Biden is honest and trustworthy while 54 percent said he is not, whereas three years ago, before he became president, 48 percent said he was honest compared with 45 percent who said he was not.

Trump does not do well in this category either, with only 33 percent of those surveyed saying they consider him to be honest and trustworthy compared to 63 percent who say he is not. However, that result is not surprising, given the fact that Trump’s credibility and character have been under constant and often vicious attack over the past six years from the mainstream media as well as his Democrat political opponents.

Going into the 2024 election campaign, both Trump and Biden can feel confident of strong support from their loyal party voters, with 88 percent of Republicans declaring their intention to vote for Trump and 83 percent of Democrats saying they would vote for Biden.

However, Trump has done a much better job of retaining the support of his original working-class supporters, who have mostly remained quite loyal to him despite the constant drumbeat of harsh criticism and accusations of wrong-doing by his enemies in the mainstream media. His supporters also rightfully resent the fact that they have been unfairly demonized by Biden and the liberal Democrat as so-called “MAGA right-wing bigots and extremists” due solely to their political beliefs.

TRUMP HAS GAINED SUPPORT SINCE BEING INDICTED

Ironically, Trump received a significant boost in his level of support in the wake of his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury, because it was apparent that the flimsy criminal charges which arose out of hush money payments made by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to avoid a scandal during the 2016 presidential campaign, were politically motivated.

Trump’s poll numbers would probably benefit once again, for the same reason, if he gets indicted in Georgia for asking state election officials to review the disputed official vote count in the 2020 presidential election by looking for uncounted Trump ballots, or if the special counsel at the Department of Justice tries to prosecute Trump for the mishandling of government documents after having refused to prosecute Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden himself for committing the same type of offense.

We will shortly find out how voters will react to the promised disclosure by Republican legislators such as House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman James Comer and Iowa Senator Charles Grassley make good on their promises to release new and compelling evidence, based in part upon the testimony of an IRS whistleblower. They claim that the evidence will prove that several members of the Biden family, in addition to Joe’s son, Hunter, have been protected by a politically motivated federal government coverup, shielding them from prosecution for a variety of lucrative influence peddling schemes with foreign agents, going back to Joe Biden’s years as Barack Obama’s vice president.

WILL THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA BEGIN REPORTING THE TRUTH?

A lot will depend on how the mainstream news media will cover this new evidence. Will they report the facts impartially, or will there be another joint effort by pro-Biden members, the deeply entrenched federal bureaucracy, and the liberal corporate news media to suppress and discredit any evidence likely to be damaging to Biden’s prospects for winning the 2024 election?

Thanks to the recent release of the Twitter files, we now know that is exactly what happened to the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story just before the 2020 election, when it was falsely characterized as Russian disinformation in a published letter signed by a group of 51 retired government intelligence officials, and written at the behest of then-Biden senior campaign advisor and current secretary of state Antony Blinken.

Two years later, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CBS were finally forced to admit that the FBI had authenticated the wealth of incriminating evidence found on Hunter Biden’s laptop as genuine, but they still are trying to downplay their reporting on the new evidence that is now surfacing on the Biden family’s influence-peddling schemes.

Trump and his allies still feel that he was cheated out of a victory in the 2020 election due to Democrats taking advantage of far less stringent voting security rules, which were enacted by using the Covid public health emergency as an excuse. However, it now appears that in planning for the 2024 election cycle, Trump and his fellow Republicans plan to emulate the Democrat tactics to exploit those new rules, which permit early voting, relaxed vote security safeguards, and mail ballot harvesting, all in an effort to re-level the electoral playing field.

Trump’s 2024 electoral prospects are also likely to benefit from the fact that, in retrospect, more voters have a favorable view of his performance as president (48 percent) compared to those who currently approve of Biden’s job performance (42 percent), according to a recent Wall Street Journal poll.

Based upon the latest opinion polls, Trump holds a small but significant advantage over Biden in what increasingly appears to be a two-man race for the presidency, but a lot can happen to change that outlook during the 18 months until Election Day.

Key factors to watch as the campaign plays out will be the persistence of inflation, the impact on the economy of elevated interest rates, the perceived health and vitality of President Joe Biden, and the ability of Donald Trump and the Republicans to exercise the necessary self-discipline to stay focused on getting their winning policy message to the American voters.

Stay tuned.

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