Well 2021 is now over. How did it go? Well let's put it this way:
-70% of Americans characterize it as having been a bad year and half say it was the worst year of their lives. Most Americans say they're hopeful for their own futures, but pessimistic about the country's. Rural Americans, white people without college degrees, religious fundamentalists, and both Republicans and independents (the latter category now includes me) are the most pessimistic, and women are feeling more pessimistic than men.
-Just 22% of Americans want President Biden to run for re-election and a survey from last month found him losing to Donald Trump in a hypothetical rematch that's likely to become reality in 2024.
-On the positive side for President Biden, his polling average is the same as in November, so things appear to have finally stabilized for the president. Unfortunately, they've stabilized at a record 12.5 percentage points underwater.
Although the public disapproves of the White House's handling of a great many issues at this point (including even Covid-19; the administration's traditional strong suit), the president's main problem is clearly the accelerating cost of living in this country. The following excerpt from the poll in the current sample with results closest to Biden's average (12 points underwater) demonstrates as much in a way that's clearer than we usually see:
Frustrations over the economy are the main culprit behind Biden’s flagging popularity as nearly every demographic declared it their No. 1 issue.
The economy was the top priority for men and women, every age cohort, Latino and white voters, and those with and without college educations. Black respondents, who named racism their chief priority, said the economy takes second place.
Sixty percent of the survey’s 1,895 respondents said they disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy, marking a six-point decline in approval from September.
On personal economic issues, voters are even more likely to criticize the president. Some 72% disapprove of his handling of the price of everyday goods, while 66% disapprove of his efforts to help their wallets.
Some 84% of those surveyed said the prices they see for everyday goods are higher than they were a year ago, while just 19% report earning more income over the same period. And only 23% say they believe inflation is starting to come down or will begin to decline soon.
Workers wages have risen by an annualized 3% in the last year, which would be impressive in a normal year, but prices have risen by 6.8% over roughly the same period of time, easily overwhelming wage gains. What's more, as you can see above, those wage gains have been had by only a small share of the population, whereas nearly everyone is paying higher prices. Personally, my pay is the same as it was a year ago. Anyway, that 6.8% jump is the single biggest hike in the cost of living this country's seen in 39 years. Americans clearly want more action to bring the cost of living under control. Modest gestures like releasing emergency oil reserves onto the market aren't cutting it. Personally, I'm for price controls. You know, reducing prices by, well, reducing prices rather than by other less intuitive, roundabout, less effective means that are market-oriented rather than consumer-oriented. In the old days when we had a more equitable wealth distribution and felt that it was a good thing, that would've been the government's answer to this type of situation, but now that business corporations have far more power and influence today than back then, as much has unfortunately become a politically unacceptable solution, as the mere suggestion strikes uncontrollable terror in the hearts of the ruling class. That and raising the material standard of living of the population by passing the Build Back Better Act and raising the minimum wage, stuff like that that Biden and the Democrats campaigned on but find themselves unable...or more honestly unwilling...to actually do.
According to the aforementioned CNBC/Change survey, 55% of Americans also now disapprove of the administration's handling of Covid-19 due to a recent increase in the share of the public who feels that the White House's response has been insufficient. However, whereas 24% now feel that way, a much larger 50%, in contrast, feel that the Biden Administration's Covid response has too restrictive, perhaps reflecting their greater concern about their ability to afford the cost of living. (Supply chain issues > defeating the relatively mild and nigh-undefeatable omicron strain I suspect is the dominant mindset there. It's my mindset at this point anyway.)