Joe Biden’s presidency appears to be unravelling at remarkable speed. Back in January, in the days after his inauguration, Biden enjoyed considerable public support. His job-approval score was 58 per cent, with only 35 per cent disapproving.
That could be put down to a widespread sense of relief that the sturm and drang of the Trump years were finally over, especially in the aftermath of the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. Biden benefitted too from being widely regarded as a decent man. And it didn’t hurt that large parts of the news media spent all day every day praising him as a marvellous antidote to his frightful predecessor.
Yet the evidence is now clear: the more Biden does the job of president, the less Americans approve. The RCP poll average now has him at 46 approval; 51 disapproval.
That’s quite a drop. He is not quite as unpopular as Trump at the same stage in his presidency. Trump scored 40; 54 on the approve/disapprove charts in late September, 2017. But if Biden can’t arrest his so-far fairly constant poll slide, he could be unperforming Trump by the end of the year.
Most worryingly for Team Biden, a new ABC/Ipsos Mori poll shows Biden’s support collapsing on his handling of key issues.
The obvious one is the great bungle that was the Afghanistan withdrawal: the latest ABC survey showed his support over Afghanistan slid from 55 per cent approve in late July to 38 per cent in August. That’s hardly surprising, given the global sense of America’s failure and humiliation.
Biden still enjoys strong majority support for his handling of Covid-19, though that too has fallen from 69 per cent to 64.
On immigration, Biden remains strongly disapproved of, though his rating has improved since July as his administration has started to toughen up its border policies.
On the economy, however, Biden is sliding. Americans quite liked Joe when he was introducing mega-spending bills. As inflation bites, however, and the stock market takes fright, his approval score for ‘handling of the economic recovery’ has declined from 60 per cent in March to 55 per cent in late August.
If the Democrats manage to pass Biden’s gargantuan infrastructure bill into law in the coming days, he might enjoy a sudden reprieve. But for now the polls strongly indicate that Americans are increasingly unhappy with their Commander-in-Chief.
The post-Trump honeymoon is long gone. Now the image Biden has tried to present of himself as a competent technocrat seems absurd as he shows signs of fatigue and mental exhaustion. His public performances on the world stage are increasingly embarrassing. It’s becoming ever more obvious that his handlers don’t want him answering questions from the press. That’s not healthy and voters can see it.
If the President and his administration cannot halt the drift, or reverse the creeping impression of terrifying incompetence, the Democratic party can expect a battering in the mid-term elections next year.