President Biden‘s slipping poll numbers are setting off alarm bells for Democrats and leaving Republicans licking their chops as they prepare for the 2022 midterm elections.
Mr. Biden‘s honeymoon period started to fade early in the summer, and his approval rating went underwater for the first time after the chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan.
Things haven’t gotten any rosier. Mr. Biden is trying to deal with another disappointing jobs report, unyielding pandemic woes, a spike in urban crime and Democratic infighting on Capitol Hill that has jeopardized key pillars of his agenda.
“If voters don’t like the job the president is doing, they can’t vote against him in a midterm because he‘s not on the ballot. So they take out their frustration on candidates from his party,” said Nathan Gonzalez, editor and publisher of Inside Elections, a nonpartisan election tracker.
“The good news for Democrats is that there’s still a lot of time between now and November of 2022,” he said. “The bad news for Democrats is that the country is facing multiple complex problems that don’t have simple solutions.”
Heading into the summer, Mr. Biden was riding high in the polls, with 52% of voters approving of his job performance and 43% disapproving.
Those percentages have since flipped: 43% of voters now approve of Mr. Biden‘s performance and 52% disapprove, according to the latest Real Clear Politics average of polls.
That doesn’t bode well for Democrats. History shows a president’s party almost always loses House seats in midterm elections.
President Obama received a “shellacking” — his description — in the 2010 midterm elections when Republicans netted 63 House seats, captured the majority in the lower chamber and made gains in the Senate.
President Trump met a similar fate in 2018 when Democrats gained a net total of 41 seats and retook control of the House.
Mr. Biden has lost ground across the board, shedding support among most age groups, races and voters with a high school education or less, according to a YouGovAmerica tracking poll.
He went from a net positive 12 percentage points among voters younger than 30 in mid-June to a net negative18 points in October. Over that period, he went from a positive 26-point net approval rating among voters ages 30-44 to a net negative 10.
Black voters remain supportive, though Mr. Biden‘s support has slipped there as well.
Hispanic support has fallen more dramatically, from a net positive 31 percentage points in June to a net negative 9 points this month.
A bright spot in the tracking poll for Mr. Biden is voters with postgraduate degrees. His approval rating with that group moved from 54%-44% to 64%-35%.
His approval rating over that time has dropped a net 14 percentage points among Democrats and a net 10 percentage points among independents.
A possible good omen for Mr. Biden is that his approval numbers are much better than they were for Mr. Trump at this point in his presidency, when 55% disapproved and 39% approved.
Democrats hold a slim 220-212 majority in the House, and Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tiebreaking vote in the Senate.
The razor-thin margins and the hyperpartisan environment in Washington has left Mr. Biden with no wiggle room to carve out a legislative agenda that pleases both the liberal and moderate wings of the Democratic Party.
Mr. Biden was able to push a $1.9 trillion coronavirus package through Congress but has struggled to re-create that magic for $3.5 trillion in new spending on social programs and $1 trillion for transportation projects. Both packages are teetering amid infighting in Congress.
Republicans say Democrats are in trouble because Mr. Biden and his party have bowed to a radical strain of liberalism and abandoned working-class voters in key states and congressional districts.
“Biden‘s plummeting poll numbers are a dire warning sign for House Democrats,” said Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “If vulnerable Democrats were smart, they’d retire now and save themselves the embarrassment of having to defend their toxic socialist agenda.”
Democrats, meanwhile, are convinced they can win over voters by passing the Biden bills and reminding them that Mr. Trump controls the Republican Party.
Chris Taylor, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, credited Mr. Biden and House Democrats with “tackling America’s toughest challenges.”
“House Republicans have doubled down on an extremist agenda that includes pushing conspiracy theories about the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine while Americans die needlessly, and our economic rebound is threatened,” Mr. Taylor said. “Voters know that they’re just too dangerous to be in charge of Washington.”