Biden says Democrats in 'strongest position' in months; new poll suggests that’s wishful thinking
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An optimistic President Biden rallied the Democratic Party ahead of November’s midterm elections, when they hope to defend their razor-thin House and Senate majorities.
“Coming out of the State of the Union, we are in the strongest position we’ve been in months,” the president argued as he addressed the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting.
On Thursday evening he emphasized that Democrats “have a record – a record to be proud of; an agenda that addresses the biggest concerns here in America, in people’s lives; the message that resonates.”
But a new national survey suggests the president’s comments are wishful thinking, that talk of a Biden “bounce” in the polls – following his State of the Union address on March 1 and after most Americans appear to be supportive of his handling of America’s moves to punish Russia for its deadly assault on neighboring Ukraine – might be overrated.
An NPR/PBS/Marist national survey released March 4 that indicated the president’s approval up to 47% and his disapproval down to 51% grabbed plenty of headlines. And it was followed earlier this week by polls from Reuters/Ipsos and Politico/Morning Score that also suggested a post-State of the Union bump for Biden.
But Biden stands well underwater at 42% approval and 57% disapproval in a Wall Street Journal survey conducted March 2-7 and released on Friday. Those numbers were virtually unchanged for the Journal’s previous poll, which was conducted in November.
Half of those questioned in the poll cited inflation and the economy as their most pressing issue, and 63% give the president a thumbs-down on how he’s handling the soaring costs of fuel and food. And by a 47%-30% margin, those surveyed said Republicans rather than Democrats were better able to handle inflation.
“The mood of the country hasn’t gotten any better since the last poll. In fact, it’s gotten a little worse,” Democratic pollster John Anzalone told the Journal. Anzalone, who was the lead pollster on Biden’s successful 2020 presidential campaign, conducted the Journal survey along with veteran Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, who conducted surveys for former President Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns.
With under eight months to go until the midterms, the survey indicated the GOP with a five-point advantage over the Democrats in the generic ballot, a key barometer used to gauge support for congressional races.
And the poll’s generic ballot question pointed to a big jump in support for Republican among Hispanic voters and an erosion for Democrats among Black voters, which Real Clear Politics co-founder and president Tom Bevan argued was “a 5-alarm fire for the Democratic Party.”
Biden’s approval rating hovered in the low to mid-50s during his first six months in the White House. But the president’s numbers started sagging in August in the wake of Biden’s much criticized handling of the turbulent U.S. exit from Afghanistan and following a surge in COVID-19 cases last summer amid the coronavirus’ delta variant among mainly unvaccinated people.
The plunge in the president’s approval was also fueled by the surge in inflation and to a lesser degree the dramatic rise over the past year of migrants trying to cross into the U.S. along the southern border.
An average of the all the most recent national polls on the president’s standing with Americans compiled by Real Clear Politics put Biden at 41%-54% on March 1, the day he delivered the State of the Union address and less than a week after Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine. According to the latest average, the president now stands at 43%-52%.
A similar compilation by the polling aggregator and analysis shop FiveThirtyEight also showed Biden with a slight bump, from 41%-54% on March 1 to 43%-51% now.
President Biden delivers the State of the Union address, at the U.S. Capitol on March 1, 2022.
(Saul Loeb, Pool via AP)
Veteran Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News poll with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, said that he’s “pretty skeptical about a bounce back either due to the State of the Union or a Ukrainian rally effect.”
And Anderson told Fox News that “it’s not a huge change. It’s certainly not like things have done a 360 and now Biden’s on a clear upward trend. I think we’ll know in a couple of weeks but as of right now the answer is maybe.”
Shaw, who conducted polling for former President George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, said that polling indicates that Biden “basically lost independents last fall. I don’t see any reason to think that short-term forces have moved in a way that [they’re] going to get them back.”
He also said there’s not much polling data that “suggests the American public thinks that the Democrats have an economic plan that matches what they’re seeing right now.”
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