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Why Is Biden Now Less Popular Than Trump?

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Feb 19, 2022 - 11:25 PM

Authored by James Robbins, op-ed via USAToday.com,

President Joe Biden is now so unpopular that he has fallen a bit below even Donald Trump’s dismal showing at this point in his presidency.

Real Clear Politics average of presidential approval polls has Biden at 41% approval and 53% disapproval. Trump’s corresponding 2018 approval number edges Biden at 41.4%, with disapproval at 53.9%. 

How did it come to this? Biden started out with much higher approval than Trump, who was hampered in his first year by the false Russian collusion narrative and highly negative news coverage. But by the start of Trump’s second year, his numbers began slowly to improve; Biden’s have continued to sink. Now those converging lines have crossed.

“Lower than Trump” is hardly the first year result the White House expected. Biden received the most popular votes of anyone elected to the presidency. “Working class Joe” ran as a moderate who would restore sanity to Washington and move Americans forward together. He used the word “unity” eight times in his inaugural address.

But then came the bait and switch. In office, Biden veered to the left, pursuing a “big and bold” progressive legislative agenda.

Things looked good at first; Biden’s honeymoon period of robust poll numbers stretched into July.

Mistakes began to pile up

Then the hits began to pile up.

The White House declared July 4 was Independence Day from the COVID-19 pandemic, but was blindsided by the delta variant, followed by the omicron wave. Public confidence in Biden’s ability to manage the crisis plummeted.

In August, the botched pullout from Afghanistan and surprise Taliban entry into Kabul also drove numbers lower. Though many expected this to be a temporary blip, by Labor Day, Biden’s approval rating was firmly underwater and heading down.

The legislative foibles of the fall and winter – the collapse of the Build Back Better bill, the defeat of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and no progress on immigration reform, minimum wage or student debt relief – sent the message that this White House could not deliver.

Then came inflation. The White House downplayed it, joked about it, said it was temporary, then slammed NBC News anchor Lester Holt for even asking about it.

And as reports of worsening inflation began piling up, Biden touted the supposed "strongest first-year economic track record of any president in the last 50 years." No wonder Obama adviser David Axelrod says it’s time for Biden to start "painting a credible, realistic picture."

Comparing the numbers in the latest Economist/YouGov poll with those of a year ago shows how decisively Biden has lost his mojo:

►His approval on managing the economy went from plus 13 to negative 7, with 70% now rating economic conditions either just fair or poor.

►59% now call inflation “very serious,” when a year ago it was such a nonissue the poll did not even ask about it.

►On handling the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden dropped from an optimistic plus 19 to negative 9.

►Biden’s general favorability plunged from plus 9 to minus 10, and his reputation for being a strong leader cratered from plus 7 to minus 30.

With midterm elections looming this fall, Biden is below where President Barack Obama was when his party suffered the 2010 electoral shellacking

[ZH: And Biden is tracking below Trump for current 'favorability'...]

Being at the bottom of the approval heap does not augur well for Biden’s 2024 reelection chances, either, should he choose to run, something a majority of Democrats would rather not see happen.

Comeback is still possible

But trends are not destiny. President Ronald Reagan went from low approval during the 1982 recession to the strongest reelection in modern history. On the other hand, George H.W. Bush was soaring at 80% approval at the start of his second year, and two years later was staring at defeat at the hands of a previously little known Arkansas governor.

Biden could turn things around, but his government seems less to be charting its own course than the product of events beyond its control. And despite his historically bad approval numbers, the White House still seems unaware or unconvinced that Biden's presidency is failing.

Maybe miracles will happen. COVID will ebb, inflation will fade, the economy will bloom, Russia will retreat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia will cave, progressives will rally, Republicans will cooperate, unity will prevail, and those sub-Trump approval numbers will shoot right back up.

Maybe.

But don’t bet on it.

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