Well it's now been just over six months since Joe Biden was sworn in as president. Thought I'd check Real Clear Politics to see his latest polling average. In doing so every few months, we see a trajectory emerging.
Biden's first polling average a week after being sworn in:
After three months:
Now, after six months:
That downward trend line is nothing too shocking really. It's pretty normal for any new president to start out broadly popular and then lose a lot of support over the first two or three years of their presidency, only to rebound in the face of overreach by the resurgent rival party in time to win re-election. That's just kind of a normal historical pattern. Trump was an exception to this rule in that even his first RCP average was below 50%. Of course, HE didn't get re-elected. That's because he was never actually popular and in fact had lost the popular vote even in 2016. He never legitimately represented this country or what it believes in. Anyway though, while this downward trajectory we're seeing for Biden so far looks normal on the surface, the details aren't so normal. First of all, Biden's starting polling average to begin with was lower than that of either of the last couple Democratic presidents we've had: lower than Obama's and also lower than Clinton's. And secondly, but just as importantly, something else abnormal is the groups he's losing support among and who he's making up some of the difference with.
Speaking to that second point about the groups, I took a look at the recent survey most representative of overall public opinion at present: the most recent poll by Politico and Morning Consult, which has Biden above water by a margin of 7 percentage points; the closest in the current sample to his present average. Checking out pages 14 to 16, you'll find some remarkable demographic data that should, for any Democrat anyway (I being one of those), be deeply concerning. The first thing I noticed was right at the top, where it showed Biden now more popular with men than women, which is significant when you consider that 58% of registered Democrats are women and even more so when you consider that, frankly, I've never seen another poll before up to now in which a modern Democratic president was better liked by men than by women. Democrats who lack the support of women lose. The second thing I noticed was his drastically increased support among the wealthiest Americans coupled with falling -- indeed now far lower -- support among both middle class and especially working class people. Finally, I also noticed that his support among white Americans has increased compared to last year's presidential election while his support among black and Hispanic Americans has weakened. It cumulatively forms a picture wherein Biden is increasingly supported primarily by wealthy white men and viewed more critically mainly by working class women (hi!), increasingly including the non-white ones. This is very distressing because it suggests that the Democratic Party here in this country appears to be, however more belatedly, on the same basic trajectory as the British Labour Party, which is no longer able to win major elections because they've, ironically, lost the support of the country's working class.
2020 election vs. now:
57% of women voted for Biden
50% of women currently approve of Biden's job performance
45% of men voted for Biden
54% of men currently approve of Biden's job performance
59% of Americans making over $100,000/year approve of Biden's job performance
51% of Americans making between $50,000 and $100,000 approve
49% of Americans making under $50,000 approve
In last year's election, by contrast, Biden got 55% of the working class vote, 56% of the middle class vote, and lost the upper class vote.
41% of white people voted for Biden
45% of white people currently approve of Biden's job performance
87% of black people voted for Biden
78% of black people currently approve of Biden's job performance
65% of Hispanic people voted for Biden
59% of Hispanic people currently approve of Biden's job performance
(2020 exit poll data for reference)
You might've guessed that I've been continuing to follow polling data closely throughout the year. Well I have and what they cumulatively say is that the reasons working class, and increasingly even middle class, people are losing faith in Biden and the Democrats have to do with the fact that they've experienced less economic recovery and also are much more concerned about surging rates of violent crime than wealthier people are, being as they tend to be more directly affected. Women in general are also more concerned about rising crime than men, as are black and Hispanic people more so than white people. The recent resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks is also starting to weigh on support for the nation's current leadership overall, mostly among working class and middle class voters with fewer work-from-home options and often more public-facing occupations.
Let's take the issue of crime, for example. According to the most recent survey by The Economist and YouGov, wherein Americans are asked how serious an issue they consider crime to be at present, here are...
The percentages of people, by demographic group, who replied that they regard crime as a "very important" issue (see page 146):
67% of people making under $50,000/year
67% of people making between $50,000 and $100,000
55% of people making over $100,000
67% of women
63% of men
76% of black people
71% of Hispanic people
Something like 60% of white people
Overall, 65% of respondents described crime as a "very important" issue, compared to 52% who felt the same way about criminal justice reform (see page 147).
Likewise with the coronavirus, according to the aforementioned Politico/Morning Consult poll, Biden is now above water on his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic by a margin of just 5 percentage points (51% approve, 46% disapprove), whereas up until recent weeks this was by far his best issue. He had consistently averaged over 60% job approval on the issue before the delta variant began to dramatically escalate cases in recent weeks. Here again, the demographic breakdown is revealing.
Approval of Biden's Covid response (see page 122):
60% of those making over $100,000/year still approve of Biden's Covid response
51% of those making between $50,000 and $100/000 still approve
47% of those making under $50,000 approve
53% of men still approve of Biden's Covid response
49% of women approve <-- more public-facing jobs here, typically
Economic optimism/pessimism (see page 208):
54% of those making over $100,000/year believe the economy will improve in the next year
41% of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 believe the economy will improve
34% of those making under $50,000/year believe the economy will improve
44% of men believe the economy will improve in the next year
36% of women believe the economy will improve
The bottom line here is that the Rescue Plan (a.k.a. the March Covid relief bill) is really the only notable thing that's been done legislatively by this administration to date and the Biden Administration's once-successful vaccination program has pretty much ground to a halt of late amid broad complacency; a combination of realities for which many people are to blame that has allowed the delta variant to take hold in every U.S. state. But leadership is expected of presidents. More needs to be done in general on a wide variety of issues. The "Biden blitz" that progressives used to talk about back in the early days so far remains one bill passed after six months, most provisions of which will expire by the end of the year. The next Franklin Roosevelt this president is not exactly. And also, the Democrats really need to start taking the recent upswing in violent crime across urban and even suburban America more seriously than wokeness credentials. Wealthy and privileged people who are largely removed from the harsher realities faced by ordinary people might be fine with a lax administration that mainly just virtue signals and talks a lot more than it acts on serious problems facing the nation, but here on the ground people are growing more fearful and pessimistic about both the present state of affairs and the future alike again. Especially people who form the core of the Democratic Party base and whom Biden and the Democrats cannot well afford to keep losing like they're starting to now. Don't be the UK Labour Party. Don't posture. Care! Do something! Listen to what your core constituents are telling you loud and clear! This downward trajectory can be changed or it can become structural. The choice is there before you.
Last edited by Jaicee - on 31 July 2021