Despite pushing Congress to approve an additional $33 billion in lethal aid to Ukraine amidst its ongoing effort to repel Russian invaders and drive them from their homeland, U.S. voters still regard President Joe Biden as a weaker leader than any of his predecessors.
The polling firm Rasmussen Reports queried 1,000 U.S. voters likely to cast ballots in the next election about their feelings regarding Biden’s leadership. Only 24 percent of those who responded said they found him to be a “stronger commander-in-chief” than those who preceded him in office.
The public’s view of Biden’s ability to handle pressing issues of national security was undoubtfully shaped unfavorably by the sudden, chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that took enemies and allies alike by surprise.
In the ensuing chaos, people who had worked with the United States forces and those who had partnered with the Americans on national building projects under George W. Bush and Barack Obama found themselves left behind, unable to get out of the country now that the various provinces and capital city of Kabul had come under the control of the Taliban.
The findings in the latest poll, Rasmussen Reports said, were largely unchanged from November 2021, before the Russians launched their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. In that survey, 57 percent of respondents said Biden was weaker than his predecessors.
Supporter for Biden has been steadily declining since he came into office. His job approval rating in various polls, which started above 60 percent, has dropped into the low 40s and threatens to go even lower as the election nears, due in the main to the perception the current administration has done a poor job controlling inflation and has shown little concern for its impact on the working men and women who used to make up the bulwark of the Democratic Party’s winning electoral coalition.
Shockingly, two-thirds of those responding to the survey who are current or former members of the U.S. military – 64 percent – agreed Biden was a weaker leader than those who came before him. Though only a small part of the survey – 15 percent – their educated opinion on such matters is not something the current administration should ignore going forward.
According to the Rasmussen analysis, not even half of the Democrats who answered the survey conducted online and by telephone would say Biden was “stronger.” Just 41 percent of those in the president’s party agreed with that position, as did 8 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of independents polled. A whopping 84 percent of likely GOP voters said Biden “is a weaker commander in chief compared to most recent presidents,” as did 26 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of unaffiliated voters.
When it comes to dealing with other world leaders, 60 percent of all likely voters found Biden to be “less aggressive than most recent presidents in pushing what’s best for America.” Only 23 percent said he was more aggressive, while just 12 percent said he was “about the same” in pushing for America’s interests.
Those finding Biden “less aggressive” included 80 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of unaffiliated voters.
The survey of 1,000 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on April 24-25, 2022, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
No U-Turns for President Biden ahead of midterms
President Biden begins his second year in office with a 42 percent average job approval rating. Republicans hold a 1 point lead over Democrats in the congressional generic ballot (and the generic ballot question often underestimates GOP support). The Gallup organization reports that in the final quarter of 2021 Republicans took a 5 point lead in party identification for the first time since 1995. As of this writing, 28 House Democrats have announced their retirements, with more expected to follow. Biden’s agenda is stalled in Congress, the Supreme Court blocked his employer vaccine mandate, the coronavirus pandemic continues, and inflation is higher than at any point in the last 39 years. The country—not to mention the president—could use a reset.
We’re not getting one. Instead, on January 19, we got Biden’s combative, discursive, and delusional mess of a 1 hour and 51-minute press conference. Among the reasons the occasion was notable—and notorious—was that it forced the White House to clarify later Biden’s comments on not one but two issues: Biden’s ambiguity over America’s response if Russia launches a “minor incursion” into Ukraine, and Biden’s repeated assertion that the Senate’s failure to pass his election takeover bills throws the legitimacy of the midterm elections into doubt. To watch Biden at the lectern was to experience shock and dismay interspersed with moments of alarm and dark humor. No wonder he hides from the media. It was the worst presidential press conference since Donald Trump stood next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in 2018.
Biden’s message to the 64 percent of the public that says the country is headed in the wrong direction: Everything is fine. Biden’s message to the 42 percent of the public that says economic conditions are poor: You must be joking. “We created six million new jobs—more jobs in one year than at any time before,” Biden said. “Unemployment dropped—the unemployment dropped to 3.9 percent.” Yes, Biden conceded, there is “frustration and fatigue in this country.” But that is due to the pandemic. As for inflation, Biden went on, it will subside when the Federal Reserve tightens the money supply (true), when Congress passes “my Build Back Better plan” (false), and when his anti-monopoly executive orders take effect (also false). “I didn’t overpromise,” Biden said. “But I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen.”
In one sense that’s true—Biden has turned out to be much worse than anybody expected. Just 28 percent of Americans say they have “a great deal of confidence” in his management of the White House. Forty-nine percent say he is doing more to divide than to unite the country. Less than a third want him to run for reelection. Biden shows no sign of taking these atrocious numbers seriously. “I don’t believe the polls,” he said Wednesday. It shows.
I had flashbacks during Biden’s presser to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress in September 2011. Like Obama, Biden didn’t back down from his agenda. Like Obama, Biden challenged Republican obstructionism and tried to define the choice for the electorate between Democratic egalitarianism and Republican extremism. In retrospect, Obama’s economic address was the launch of his reelection campaign. Even though his proposal never became law, he succeeded in casting his opponents in a negative light. It helped him define Mitt Romney the following year as an uncaring plutocrat and win a second term. The Obama-era retreads who fill the Biden administration—including Biden himself—must assume that a similar strategy will limit their losses in the midterms. They tell themselves that if they keep their heads down and soldier on, the left will remain happy, and the center will come back to the Democrats out of fear and dislike of Trump and the MAGA Squad. “What are Republicans for?” Biden said Wednesday. “What are they for? Name me one thing they are for.”
Stopping you, for starters. And, judging by the polls, that may be enough. There are many differences between Obama in 2011 and Biden in 2022, and they don’t work in the incumbent’s favor. For one thing, time is running short for Biden. He has less than 10 months before Election Day. For another, Obama had a Republican House of Representatives to triangulate against. All the voters know now is that Democrats are in full control of the federal government and making a mess of it. A third difference is the state of the world. Obama’s controversial first term looks like a placid oasis compared with the hellscape of today.
Then of course there are the stylistic divergences between Obama and his former vice president. Obama was a cultural figure as well as a president, a man of distinction and suavity whose oratorical presence and position atop his party was never questioned, even if plenty of people (including me) disagreed with just about everything he ever did or said. The same isn’t true of Biden. Obama is incapable of a press conference as rambling and disheveled and politically harmful as Biden’s. Even Bill Clinton, four years Biden’s junior, would have done better. And Clinton’s been out of office for 21 years.
Biden pledged to make some changes this year, however. Not to his White House team. Not to his vice president. According to Biden, they are all doing fine. Nor will he alter his policies. Maybe Build Back Better can pass in “chunks,” maybe Congress can reform the Electoral Count Act to prevent election subversion, but overall Biden is satisfied with himself. “Can you think of any other president that has done as much in one year?” Biden asked in one of his biggest whoppers of the afternoon. “Name one for me.”
Biden doesn’t want to make substantive changes. He wants a different schedule. “I’m going to get out of this place more often.” Never mind that he spent a quarter of his first year in Delaware. “I’m going to go out and talk to the public.” And “now that I have time,” he’s going to seek more advice from “experts outside,” including the “presidential historians” who convinced him that he is FDR and LBJ reborn and set him on the road to a 40 percent approval rating. Finally, Biden said, “We’re going to be out there making sure that we’re helping all those candidates.” No doubt. I, for one, can think of many candidates who Biden is helping. They are all Republicans.
In the period since President Joe Biden marked his hundredth day in office, his popularity as president has tumbled about thirteen points from the mid–50 percent range to the low 40s. The most precipitous drop occurred in late summer 2021, around the time of the Afghanistan debacle. Although it is easy to explain why Biden continues to lose the trust of a majority of Americans, at year’s end he retains the support of a significant minority who still endorse his basic worldview and think that casting further aspersions on Donald Trump will somehow deflect attention from Biden’s own record.
Going into 2022, that deflection will not work. Biden is likely to lose his precarious control over both the Senate and the House unless he can confront and correct his hapless record of misguided priorities. Start with his self-inflicted Afghan meltdown and its repercussions. Before September 1, 2021, there was no reason for the United States to cut and run in Afghanistan. The heavy losses were in the past. Troop levels were low (around 2,500). Casualties were even lower: zero. A coordinated strategy was in place for the Afghans to take the military lead. Biden was consumed by his desire to score political points by pulling out before the symbolic date of September 11, 2021, even though the Taliban were not holed up in their winter caves but were still active in the field. When Biden cut off supplies and logistics, the Afghan army folded. Now, after the Taliban takeover, the risk of starvation, religious intolerance, and subordination and degradation of women are the order of the day.
Biden might describe this debacle as a “success” but it is turning out to be the opening round of a further array of setbacks in other areas. No ally can trust him fully. No foreign aggressor need fear that a strategic Biden pulled out of Afghanistan to save scarce military assets for use in other dangerous theaters. If anything, more resources must now be devoted to the Middle East as Iran, Russia, and Turkey—all with severe problems of internal stability—regard Biden as an easy mark to be toyed with rather than a serious adversary to be avoided. And so, look forward to further Russian incursions in Ukraine and intensified activities in remote places like Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, where US Secretary of State Antony Blinken finds it difficult to tell friend from foe. China’s aggressive intentions toward Taiwan are also fueled in part by Biden’s squeamish attitude.
Given these hostile developments, some expansion of military forces, especially naval and air, seems to be imperative, but Biden is more concerned with long-term climate change and a dangerous flirtation with woke politics in the military. The Defense Department’s bold words on our national preparedness are belied by the 1.6 percent budget increase, a below-inflation increase, which is likely to cause systematic programmatic delays that go hand-in-hand with increased tensions across multiple theaters.
Similarly, Biden’s energy policy reflects systematic presidential overreach, starting with his opening day executive order that unilaterally revoked the permit for the long-overdue Keystone XL pipeline. That decision was an open affront to our Canadian allies, who are far less likely to put their trust in the United States going forward. But more important, it was the first step in the president’s concerted plan to slow-walk the continued development of US fossil fuel sources, relying on the vain hope that increased production of wind and solar will somehow offset those hefty losses. But when the shortages start to set in and the gas prices go up, Biden engages in a “grand” strategic gesture to release some fifty million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum reserve, which will cover less than three days of domestic supply. At the same time, he issues his marching orders to the FTC to investigate the oil companies for alleged price fixing, only to find oil prices dropping shortly thereafter.
Biden’s initial energy blunders have led to further adverse consequences. His appeal to OPEC and others to increase the output of crude oil to offset shortages in the domestic production have fallen on deaf ears. Worse, Biden might well adopt suggestions from Senator Elizabeth Warren to ban or cut back on foreign exports, which could only make matters worse, in part, by slowing down the replacement of dirtier coal with cleaner natural gas. Any export ban would also lead to a decline in domestic production overall, idling refining capacity. These two factors in combination could lead to job and revenue losses, as dirtier foreign energy displaces cleaner domestic production. Biden’s first priority should be to unleash, not stifle, domestic activity.
Nonetheless, Biden has doubled down on his anti-fossil-fuel policies. His misnamed Build Back Better (BBB) program contains a long list of taxes, fees, and regulations that are intended to stifle the production of fossil fuels, which compounds the energy market distortions created by offering a dizzying array of subsidies for solar and wind. These latter sources are not the pollution-free solutions that they are often advertised to be, including, for example, the deforestation in the Philippines in order to mine the larger quantities of nickel needed by solar power systems. Yet Biden is strangely unaware of the downside to alternative energy sources and thus has plunged forward with his recent “Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability.” His program targets zero-emissions programs for electricity generation, automobile fleets, and physical plants. His order does not make the slightest effort to put a cost estimate to the program or to make the elementary calculation on whether a higher rate of return can be achieved through greater efficiency in fossil-fuel production. His program purports to set federal policy for “a carbon-pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050,” which both sidesteps Congress on the one side and seeks to bind future presidents and future Congresses on the other. Ironically, Biden thinks he can achieve savings “through use of full lifecycle cost methodologies”—the case with nickel could easily point against wind and solar.
Furthermore, although the particular impact of this program on the overall economy is unclear at best, nothing in his executive decree addresses the level of inflation, which reached 6.8 percent in November 2021. The Democratic faithful, such as John Cassidy of the New Yorker, spin a happy tale that the crux of the difficulty lies in a combination of supply chain problems and the COVID pandemic, so that when these quiet down, inflation can subside to its former 2 percent level. But Biden is not wise to pin too much hope on this theory, which rids his administration of responsibility even as it battles its own ill-conceived COVID policies, including the increasingly unpopular vaccine mandates being clobbered in the courts. Rather, the large increases in money supply, spurred by government spending and the purchase activities of the Federal Reserve, are key parts of the inflation story.
The biggest inflationary threat comes from the combination of taxation, public expenditures, and regulations associated with “Build Back Better.” At this point, it looks as though that new bill will not make it past the Senate, which Biden should regard as a blessing in disguise. He can then campaign on the platform that our current economic woes were intensified by the failure of the Senate to engage in much-needed public investment, while breathing a sigh of relief that matters did not get any worse.
But they can. A quick look at trade policy suggests how matters can unravel with another round of government meddling. The strongest rap against Donald Trump was the constant fear that his meddling in international markets could lead to trade wars and dangerous protectionism. But now the Biden administration has moved into a protectionist stance, including gratuitous spats with Canada (yet again) over a proposed tariff increase on Canadian softwood lumber, which will only slow down growth in the domestic construction industry. Biden has lost sight of the central principle of trade policy, which is never to arrange tariffs for concentrated domestic industries; the high costs will hurt consumers and export markets that depend on the use of cheaper inputs to remain competitive in markets.
It is therefore no surprise that Biden finds voters pessimistic about both his limited leadership capabilities on the one hand, and his economic policies on the other. Candidate Biden ran on bold promises that helped get him elected. But President Biden has fallen short. Almost a year remains for him to set his house in order in time for the congressional elections, but he shows little inclination to become more moderate, rendering it all the more likely that on the day of reckoning he will have little personal esteem or political support.
Day by day, President Joe Biden grows more unpopular. His approval rating coming into office was north of 50 percent. According to a USA Today/Suffolk poll released earlier this month, it’s now at 38 percent. Yet congressional Democrats are willing to throw their seats away in the next election by sticking with his program.
In a rational world, the collapse in Biden’s approval rating—and of Vice President Kamala Harris, who’s at 28 percent, according to the USA Today/Suffolk poll—would send a signal to Capitol Hill that its current occupants need a course correction. It hasn’t because today’s Democrats don’t understand politics any more than they understand economics.
Biden’s decision Tuesday to release 50 million barrels from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a perfect illustration. This administration has made several decisions throughout its tenure that make it harder to take advantage of the nation’s indigenous energy resources. America was a net exporter of oil when Biden entered the White House. Now it’s dependent once again on imports.
That’s driving up the price at the pump. A rational person would read that fact as a signal that we need a dependable increase in supply. “Drill baby drill,” if you will. Instead, the president is injecting a dose of crude into the marketplace in an amount so small it will not make a difference in the price. And, even if it does manage to bring the price down by a penny or two, it will probably last for less than a week.
What the Democrats don’t get is that their ideas just don’t work. Socialist regimes cling to power by tyrannical, totalitarian means—but as a way to organize an economy, socialism has failed in every place it’s been tried.
Somehow the leaders of the modern Democratic Party can’t seem to figure this out. They’d be happy to extend indefinitely the unemployment payments they increased during the lockdowns the government imposed in the hopes of slowing the spread of COVID.
There would not be enough space in this column to list every example of the Democrats’ distorted thinking. But the American people are waking up to the reality of the Biden presidency. If the Democrats want to survive as a political party that can win national elections, they’d be well-advised to make a change now.
If they don’t, they run the risk of descending into irrelevancy outside of a few states and major cities. Even there, though, the failure of their agenda is gaining notice. People are moving away from Chicago and New York and Los Angeles because—except for the Riordan years in L.A. and the Giuliani-Bloomberg decade in New York—Democrats are still trying public policy prescriptions that didn’t work in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s are still being tried. Now that Democrats are trying those ideas on a bigger scale, they still don’t work. And they’ve added brilliant new wrinkles into the mix—like defunding the police abolishing the pre-trial detention of criminal suspects.
You wouldn’t accept from your doctor the kind of results Chicago schools routinely offer parents regarding the education of their kids. You couldn’t. You’d be dead. Meanwhile, the city’s Democratic leaders continue to resist any alternative that could generate improvement, like expanded school choice.
The nation is split, badly, in many ways. These divides don’t just separate people according to race or income levels but by faith, by location and even by the way they understand the meaning of the American experiment. To many, including the big-government socialists who run the party today, it’s not worth saving. They believe it was compromised from the beginning and should be tossed out on the ash heap of history.
Fortunately, many others—including likely a majority of America’s 330 million people—believe the country’s best days are still ahead. While hardly perfect, if we work together, we can make things better for everyone.
That’s a message that starting to resonate with the electorate. Real reform is coming where it’s needed from the Republicans who, while hardly perfect, are nonetheless making considerable strides. Note the number of elected officials now on the scene who are something other than elite, middle-aged, upper- or upper-middle-class white Protestant men.
The incoming Virginia lieutenant governor is a black woman. The new attorney general who will serve alongside her is the son of Cuban refugees. The most powerful Democrat in New Jersey—Senate President Steve Sweeney—lost his seat to a truck driver who spent just $2,300 on his campaign. The winds of change are beginning to blow. The challenge for the GOP now is to develop a meaningful plan to create that change around which it can build back better a consensus supporting its efforts to lead the nation out of its doldrums and on to better things.
The 2020 election was perhaps one of the most contentious and chaotic in U.S. history. When it was over, the cultural elites expressed relief the voters had chosen to deny President Donald J. Trump a second term.
The race was not close. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s 8 million-plus majority in the popular vote is enough to convince all but the most diehard Trump supporters that the election results reflect the will of the people. Some, especially those who continue to claim the results were tainted by fraud point to the fact a shift of fewer than 50,000 votes spread out among several states would have given Trump a majority in the electoral college which, as political science professors are quick to remind skeptics, is the only majority that counts.
The folks who continue to try and relitigate the outcome of the last election are missing the speed with which the current president is losing support. A poll released Tuesday by Scott Rasmussen found half of all registered voters believe the nation would be better off today had the now-former president been re-elected.
The Rasmussen poll had 50 percent of the more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed saying things “would be better today” if Trump had beaten Biden – including 34 percent who said things would be “much better.” Just 39 percent of those participating in the survey said things would be worse while just about one in ten said they would be the same no matter who won.
These numbers may seem shocking given the mostly favorable coverage Biden has received since his inauguration but, say some Washington veterans, the political operation inside the White House and the Democratic National Committee should have seen it coming. In recent weeks the president has stumbled from failure to failure, projecting an image of incompetence that contrasts sharply with the image of a commanding leader he projected during the 2020 campaign.
Biden came into office projecting national unity as a way of contrasting him with what some said were the divisions of the Trump years. His initial approval numbers, which hovered around 60 percent, have dropped off sharply in recent weeks beginning with the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops of Afghanistan that many say the administration badly mismanaged.
In his analysis of the numbers, pollster Rasmussen suggests another reason may be at the heart of the decline Faced with rising numbers of COVID infections even after the introduction of vaccines produced in record time because Trump cut federal red tape, Biden has proposed mandated vaccinations for federal workers and others that, while “moderately popular overall,” are viewed skeptically by Black voters and Hispanics.
Rasmussen’s data found that “26 percent of Black Democrats believe individuals should decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated” while “60 percent of Hispanic voters have a close friend or relative who will get vaccinated against their will because they can’t afford to lose their job.”
These numbers are largely on par with those who said things in the U.S. today would be better if Trump had won.
“Overall, a plurality of voters would prefer a candidate who supports Trump-like policies,” the Rasmussen poll said, identifying the potential political danger to supposedly moderate Democrats like Biden who, after winning office in 2020 only by gaining the backing of disaffected Republicans and self-described independents have joined with party progressives in the lurch toward policies that can best be described as big government socialism.
The survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted using a mixed-mode approach from September 16-18, 2021. Most respondents were contacted online or via text while 263 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percent.
The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) released a national poll Monday of likely voters that found a strong majority of voters support limits on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and the rejection of abortion on demand.
The poll, which was conducted on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement it would review Mississippi’s 15-week abortion limit and consider the question of whether all “pre-viability” bans on abortion are unconstitutional also found likely voters much more likely to support Republican candidates who back a 15-week limit on abortion versus Democratic candidates who back unlimited abortion.
“Among other findings, this survey of 1,200 likely voters showed that there is a strong center-right coalition that supports the Supreme Court allowing significant limits on abortion. In short, a strong majority of voters oppose unrestricted, abortion on demand, throughout pregnancy. Additionally, this study strongly indicates that the pro-life side of the issue enjoys significantly more intensity than the pro-choice side. Politically, the pendulum has swung decisively in our direction,” said the polling firm OnMessage Inc., in its analysis of the data.
Among the key poll findings:
-53 percent of likely voters said they were more likely to vote for a Republican candidate who supports a 15-week limit on abortion versus just 28 percent of voters who prefer a Democratic candidate who supports unlimited abortion up until the moment of birth. Independent voters break strongly to the GOP side by a 54 percent to 18 percent margin.
-55 percent of likely voters say they are more likely to support a 15-week limit on abortion when they learn that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain.
-43 percent of likely pro-life voters identified abortion as being “very important” (10 on a 1-10 importance scale) in deciding their vote for an elected official, while only 29 percent of pro-choice voters said the same.
“The majority of voters reject late-term abortion and the Democratic candidates who shamefully advocate for it. At 15 weeks, unborn children can feel pain, and most European countries limit abortions at this point. There is strong support among the American people for our nation’s laws to finally catch up with science and international norms,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement announcing the results.
SBA List recently launched a $2 million video ad campaign asserting the humanity of unborn children. The 30 spot is airing on national cable, including on Lifetime and Bravo networks, as well as select streaming services, and in the Washington, D.C. media market on top news stations.
The case before the U.S. Supreme Court is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
With less than two months to go until the election former Vice President Joe Biden’s once considerable lead over Donald J. Trump appears to be vanishing. Polls are showing the Democrat still ahead nationally and in several crucial swing states. Many equally reliable surveys however show the president closing.
Whether this is due to a change in voter attitudes or a change in polling methodology and the way pollsters look at their numbers is anyone’s guess. Public opinion surveys are highly objective analyses of electoral sentiment that can be influenced by both those crunching the numbers and those participating.
Any good survey seeks to replicate the partisan and ideological breakdown of the electorate that will be participating in the next election based largely on what happened in the last. That’s not always a reliable measure as it requires those conducting surveys to manipulate the numbers to account for ideology, partisanship, race, religion, and gender among the respondents that may not resemble who shows up on Election Day.
Environment influences optics. People in solidly Democratic areas are likely to feel comfortable putting Biden/Harris signs in their yards while Trump/Pence supporters in the same neighborhoods might be reluctant to bring attention to their intentions. Demonstrating support for the president, an admittedly divisive figure, can have adverse consequences. In one notorious incident, two 21-year-old women stole a “Make America Great Again” hat off the head of a seven-year-old boy at August’s Delaware Democratic state convention.
They’re now charged with hate crimes as well as robbery, conspiracy, and endangering the welfare of a child – and what they did what was inarguably cruel – but it hardly scratches the surface of what’s going on around the country. The social sanction shown toward Trump supporters is severe and encouraged by Democratic leaders. Congresswomen Maxine Waters, chairman of the House Banking Committee, famously told participants in a California rally that, as far as administration officials were concerned, “If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
Rhetoric and behavior like that can be intimidating. Few people want to open themselves up to the social sanction and shunning that attaches to being a supporter of the president. This may be why, as a recent Rasmussen Reports poll indicated, 17 percent of likely voters who give Trump’s job approval high marks say they are reluctant to let others know how they intend to vote in the fall. “A similar but narrower gap is evident between the two parties,” the polling firm said, with 16 percent of Republicans being less likely to tell others how they intend to vote, compared to 12 percent of Democrats.
This phenomenon was likely present in 2016 as well. Most pre-election polls showed former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton winning the White House easily. Instead, Trump won by the narrowest of margins by pulling together enough narrow victories in the 50 separate state elections that constitute a presidential contest to win a clear if not necessarily convincing victory in the Electoral College. If it is again present, as Rasmussen Report’s latest survey suggests, then most national and state surveys are undercounting the president’s level of support.
If that’s true, then the race is a lot tighter than people are being led to believe by most of the reporting on the race. Other surveys have shown GOP satisfaction with Trump to be much higher than the Democrat’s happiness with Biden. Republicans who say they are likely to vote are also showing much more enthusiasm as regards their participation in the upcoming election than their counterparts. These numbers too suggest support for the president’s re-election is being under-estimated rather than reported accurately even if the numbers in the national surveys say what they say.
Why nothing sticks to Donald Trump or Joe Biden
It was congresswoman Pat Schroeder, Democrat from Colorado, who labeled Ronald Reagan the “Teflon” president in a fit of exasperation in August 1983. What frustrated Schroeder was that nothing “stuck” to Reagan—not the recession, not his misadventures in Lebanon, not his seeming detachment from his own administration. Reagan’s job approval had plunged to a low of 35 percent at the beginning of that year, but his numbers were rising and his personal favorability remained high. “He is just the master of ceremonies at someone else’s dinner,” she said.
Ironically, the one thing that did stick to Reagan was Schroeder’s nickname. The phrase was so catchy that writers applied it to mobsters (“Teflon Don” John Gotti) and to Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Teflon presidents, gangsters, candidates—we have had them all. What we have not experienced until now is a Teflon campaign.
Between March 11, when the coronavirus prompted the NBA to suspend its season, and May 14, some 84,000 Americans died of coronavirus, more than 36 million lost their jobs, and Congress appropriated $3.6 trillion in new spending. It is not foolish to suppose that these world-shaking events would affect the presidential election. On the contrary: One would expect a dramatic swing toward either the incumbent or the challenger. But look at the polls. Not only has there been no big shift. There has been no shift.
On March 11, Joe Biden led Donald Trump by 7 points in the RealClearPolitics average. On May 14, he led Trump by 5 points. “Biden’s advantage,” says Harry Enten of CNN, “is the steadiest in a race with an incumbent running since at least 1944.” He has never been behind. His share of the vote has been impervious to external events.
Neither good nor bad news has an effect. Bernie Sanders ended his campaign on April 8 and endorsed Biden on April 13. Biden received no bump from this display of party unity. Tara Reade accused Biden of sexual assault on March 25, and Biden did not respond directly to the allegation until May 1. His margin over Trump did not shrink. It remained the same.
Why? The incidents of this election cycle are not the reason. Epidemics, depressions, and sex scandals have happened before. What is distinct are the candidates. One in particular.
If this race has been the steadiest in memory, it is because public opinion of the incumbent has been the most consistent in memory. “Trump’s approval rating has the least variation of any post-World War II president,” notes Geoffrey Skelley of FiveThirtyEight. Whatever is in the headlines matters less than one’s view of the president. And he is a subject on which most people’s views are ironclad.
When the crisis began, Trump’s approval rating was 44 percent in the RealClearPoliticsaverage. On May 14, it is 46 percent. A social and economic calamity befell the country, and Trump’s approval ticked up. Not enough for him to win, necessarily. But enough to keep him in contention.
Americans feel more strongly about Trump, either for or against, than about any other candidate since polling began. His supporters give his approval ratings a floor, and his detractors give his ratings a ceiling. There is not a lot of room in between.
For years, Trump voters have said that they are willing to overlook his faults because they believe the stakes in his victory and success are so high. Heard from less often have been Trump’s opponents, who are so desperate to see him gone that they dismiss the failings and vulnerabilities of whoever happens to be challenging him at the moment.
Recently the feminist author Linda Hirshman wrote in the New York Times that she believes Tara Reade’s story but will vote for Joe Biden anyway. “Better to just own up to what you are doing,” she wrote. “Sacrificing Ms. Reade for the good of the many.” Hirshman is the mirror-image of the Trump supporter who, as the president once said, would not be bothered if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue. Intensifying tribalism makes this election a nonstick surface.
What gives Biden the upper hand is that there are more people who feel negatively than positively about Donald Trump. What gives Trump a chance is the uneven distribution of these people across the country. That was the case before coronavirus. It is still the case today.
Watching the numbers hardly budge over these past months, I have sometimes wondered what could move them. War? Spiritual revival? Space aliens?
Don’t think so. Throw anything at it. Nothing adheres to this Teflon campaign.
By Andy Puzder • The Morning Call
Anyone listening to President Donald Trump and to Democratic presidential hopefuls hears an almost Dickensian tale of two very different Americas.
The president takes “the best of times” view and spoke during his State of the Union address about “an unprecedented economic boom” in which “our economy is thriving like never before.”
Democratic presidential hopefuls take the “the worst of times” view and speak of an America that works only for the rich, while working-class paychecks fail even to keep up with the cost of living and people are struggling to get by.
Is either side right?
The American public appears to increasingly share Trump’s sunny view. A Gallup poll released on Monday, under the headline “Americans’ Confidence in Their Finances Keeps Growing,” found that more than two-thirds — 69 percent — of Americans expect to be better off in the coming year. That’s “only two percentage points below the all-time high of 71%” recorded 20 years ago. The poll was based on telephone interviews with 1,017 adults conducted between Jan. 2 and Jan. 10. Continue reading
by Paul Bedard • Washington Examiner
Despite the heavy media and political pressure to make global warming and climate change the top issue in the nation, it is more of a concern to citizens in 36 of 40 other industrialized nations than in the United States, according to Pew Research Center.
Polls famously cannot measure the intangible called intensity.
by Mona Charen
November 06, 2012
“I don’t know,” a very wise and skeptical Washington political analyst confided to me on Sunday as I limned the Romney victory I foresee. “I’d like to believe it,” she said, “but I have to overlook a lot. If you’re right, then a whole lotta state polls have to be wrong.”
Very true. But I’ll climb all the way out onto a limb and assert that the state polls are wrong — or at least misleading. Continue reading