‘It’s a tough time’: why is Biden one of the most unpopular US presidents?

Part of the challenge for Biden is to convince a demoralised public that “the future is still up for grabs”.

Joe Biden, Donald Trump

22/1/2022 5:00:00 PM

Part of the challenge for Biden is to convince a demoralised public that “the future is still up for grabs”.

Puzzle of Biden’s unpopularity has some pieces within his control and some not, experts say, as Covid casts a shadow over his first year in office

“Whenever a president disappoints expectations, that’s a problem,” said Bill Galston, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution who also served as a White House policy adviser to former President Clinton.Now, amid a surge caused by the Omicron variant, the president and his team are recalibrating. Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, recently said that Omicron would “find just about everybody”. Biden recently conceded that eradicating the virus was unlikely, but that it was possible to “control” it.

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Oh yes, the public will swallow more lies , nvm the daily living issues

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at this point in their presidencies. The puzzle of Biden’s unpopularity has many pieces, pollsters and political analysts say. Biden came to office with lofty ambitions: he promised to lift the threat of deadly virus and usher in a new era of responsive governance and bipartisanship in Washington. One year into his presidency, Biden remains confronted by an unabating pandemic, a nation still very much divided and a Republican party that continues to embrace the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election. “Whenever a president disappoints expectations, that’s a problem,” said Bill Galston, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution who also served as a White House policy adviser to former President Clinton. Story continues Galston said the administration has “not done a good job of managing expectations” around Covid. In July, Biden came just shy of declaring “independence” from the virus, only to be proven wrong by the arrival of the fast-spreading Delta variant. Now, amid a surge caused by the Omicron variant, the president and his team are recalibrating. Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, recently said that Omicron would “find just about everybody”. Biden recently conceded that eradicating the virus was unlikely, but that it was possible to “control” it. It is the case for swing voters who believed Biden would govern as a centrist bridge-builder in an age of deep division, Galston continued, and for Democrats to whom Biden promised an ambitious legislative agenda despite holding wafer-thin margins in Congress. Sarah Longwell, a prominent anti-Trump Republican strategist, has observed support for the president decline among voters in the focus groups she has convened over the past year. When asked to grade Biden’s first year, many voters she spoke to, including Democrats, gave him Cs, Ds and Fs. The grades, Longwell said, not only reflected their views of the president, but also a shared discontent as the pandemic enters its third year and inflation continues to rise. “There’s an element of it that has nothing to do with Joe Biden,” Longwell said. “It’s just a tough time.” Line chart of President Biden's job approval rating in 2021 by political party. All US parties approval of Biden declined. Asked about Biden’s gloomy reviews, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, offered a similar explanation. “People are fatigued across the country. It’s impacting how they live, how they work. There are worries about their kids, their ability to experience joyful things in life like concerts and going to restaurants and seeing friends,” Psaki said. “We understand that.” “The president knows that the best, most important step he can take is to continue to fight to get the pandemic under control and also to lower costs for Americans across the country,” she added. Biden’s popularity began to slip as the Delta variant of Covid-19 spread across the country, falling sharply after the US’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, during which 13 service members were killed by a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport. Though a majority of Americans favored withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the desperate scenes from Kabul as the Taliban took control undercut perceptions of Biden as a seasoned foreign policy expert who would restore America’s standing on the world stage. “The way in which we left Afghanistan inflicted a blow on the president’s general image of experience and competence, which had a lingering effect,” Galston said. The way in which we left Afghanistan inflicted a blow on the president’s general image of experience and competence Bill Galston Historically, voters tend to punish the president’s party in the first midterm elections after a new administration takes power. But the defeats tend to be steeper when a president is unpopular. According to Gallup polling, presidents with job approval ratings below 50% have seen their parties lose an average of 37 House seats during the midterm elections. Already Republicans’ unexpected strength last year in off-cycle elections in states Biden won by wide margins in 2020 – like Virginia and New Jersey – has delivered a stark warning of a dangerous future to Democrats. The results suggested that the resistance-driven passion that drove Democratic victories during the Trump era had fizzled. Perhaps most alarming for Democrats was the electorate’s deep sense of malaise. Despite a mass vaccination campaign and trillions of dollars in relief money, voters feel worse now about the state of the pandemic and the economy than they did earlier in Biden’s presidency, according to a CBS News/YouGov survey. Few voters give Biden credit for muscling through a trillion-dollar investment in the nation’s infrastructure or passing the American Rescue Plan, which sent checks to most Americans and slashed poverty rates. “It’s an ironic situation where the policies are more popular than the politicians, which is very rare,” said Celinda Lake, a veteran Democratic pollster. “Usually it’s the other way around.” Further capturing that frustration, a Gallup poll released on Monday found a dramatic shift in party preference over the last year, swinging from a nine-point Democratic advantage at the beginning of 2021 to a five-point Republican advantage by the end of the year. The change follows the collapse of Biden’s presidential approval ratings. Line chart of a Gallup poll surveying US political party affiliation in 2021. Democrats advantage to begin 2021 flipped to a Republican lead by the end. This augurs poorly for Democrats, leaving a narrowing window to deliver on their campaign promises, from Build Back Better to voting rights and immigration reform. Messy intra-party negotiations over Biden’s sprawling climate and social policy bill overshadowed the policy, leaving the public with a shallow understanding of its contents and concern over its cost. The legislation remains in limbo after Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, announced he could not support the measure in its current form. Amid the stalemate over his agenda, Democrats have become disenchanted with Biden. He is