October 9, 2021 - 9:01 pm
President Joe Biden’s poll numbers have disintegrated thanks to his decision to jettison the “moderate” mantle and align himself with the far left. A week is an eternity in politics, yet alone a year, but his plummeting approval ratings have Democrats fretting about their election prospects in the upcoming midterms and beyond.
“Biden’s abysmal standing with independents spells disaster for Democrats in the midterm elections if it does not substantially improve,” Henry Olson of The Washington Post wrote last week.
In his 2020 victory over Donald Trump, Mr. Biden handily won independents by a 54-42 margin, CNN reports. After nearly nine months in office, however, the president has alienated the very voters who lifted him to the White House. A national Quinnipiac poll last week found that 60 percent of unaffiliated voters disapprove of Mr. Biden’s performance, a number mirrored by an Associated Press/NORC survey which put his approval rating among independents at 38 percent.
The administration’s problems have been many and obvious. Mr. Biden utterly failed to anticipate the Afghanistan fiasco, confidently proclaiming to reporters in July that a Taliban takeover of the country was not inevitable upon U.S. withdrawal. Oops. The mess at the border has gone on for months thanks to the president’s tacit encouragement to migrants seeking entry into the United States. Oops. The economy has underperformed, and the White House has downplayed the threat of inflation, calling it “transitory,” only to see prices for gasoline and consumer goods continue to soar. Oops.
But of equal importance, Mr. Biden has governed as if he enjoyed a landslide mandate to create a European-style welfare state that fosters dependency and vastly expands the country’s already-bloated bureaucracies. In reality, his party has the slimmest of margins in the House and a one-vote edge in the Senate only because the vice president casts the tie-breaker. Mr. Biden’s attraction on the campaign trail was as a steady hand who would unite a country battered by Trump fatigue, not as a transformational figure rushing to upend traditional institutions and norms.
Progressives argue that the president just needs a few legislative victories to reverse his collapsing poll numbers. Spending trillions more on expanding welfare programs, creating more entitlements and crippling the nation’s energy sector under the guise of fighting climate change, they contend, will energize voters to jump aboard the Biden gravy train. Then Democrats can move on to packing the Supreme Court, granting statehood to D.C. and Puerto Rico and nationalizing elections.
But while all that might appeal to the hard-core base — now dominated by the ultra left — it’s not so certain that such an agenda will bring independent and moderate voters into the fold. And there’s the rub: Activist Democrats have become radicalized on a number of issues, and Mr. Biden has opted to go along for the ride rather than appeal to the voters he needs to maintain his congressional majorities.
In The New York Times last week, Ezra Klein profiled David Shor, who has become increasingly prominent for his political data analysis. His theory? “The Democratic Party was trapped in an echo chamber of Twitter activists and woke staff members,” Mr. Klein reports. “It had lost touch with the working-class voters of all races that it needs to win elections, and even progressive institutions dedicated to data analysis were refusing to face the hard facts of public opinion and electoral geography.”
If they don’t tone down the radical messaging, Mr. Shor warns, the electoral map in coming elections looks dire for the Democratic Party. “But here’s the truly frightening thought for frustrated Democrats,” Mr. Klein writes. “This might be the high-water mark of power they’ll have for the next decade.”
The lesson should be obvious: President Biden caters to his party’s radical wing at his own risk.