Joe Biden’s average approval rating is 54 percent. That’s not bad, though it lags behind the 100-day numbers of every post-World War II president except Donald Trump.
But our friend Michael Barone looks behind that number and sees worrying signs for Democrats.
For one thing, Biden’s 41.6 percent disapproval number is about equal to Trump’s. And Biden’s real numbers may be worse than what the poll average shows because, as The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter suggests, polls seem to be under-sampling Republican voters.
Barone sees Biden’s appeal to white non-college voters as limited. He points to several congressional districts, including Rep. Cheri Bustos’ Illinois district. It voted 58 percent for Barack Obama in 2012, but 50-48 percent for Donald Trump last year. Bustos, who won by 52-48, is retiring.
What about the college-educated voters Trump turned off? Barone points to the May 1 special election in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Trump carried the district by only 51-47. On May 1, the district nominated two Republicans and GOP candidates won 62 percent of the vote.
Biden’s woke agenda may appeal to the mainstream media and the professoriate. However, it doesn’t seem to enchant upscale voters in Texas. Barone point out that voters in affluent Southlake, Texas split 70 percent to 30 percent in favor of ousting school board members who mandated critical race theory instruction, which the Biden Education Department wants to encourage.
And in hyper-liberal Austin, 57 percent of voters opted to reinstate a law banning camping in public spaces. “The desire to ‘keep Austin weird’ evidently doesn’t go so far as endorsing California-style tent cities under every overpass,” Barone concludes.
Barone acknowledges that Biden’s connection with treatment of the homeless may be tenuous. But that’s not the case when it comes to the border crisis (as even Biden is now describing it). Barone cites the reaction of Sen. Mark Kelly (D. Ariz.) to Biden’s April 29 speech on the subject. Said Kelly:
What I didn’t hear tonight was a plan to address the immediate crisis at the border.
And Laredo-based Rep. Henry Cuellar, also a Democrat, declared “we’re not paying attention to the border’s communities, and it’s not under control. I can tell you that.”
Barone points to two polls on immigration. A CNN poll shows 78 percent agreeing that the border is in “crisis.” An NBC poll shows 59 percent disapproval and only 35 percent approval of Biden’s performance on border security and immigration.
Finally, Barone notes a diminution in enthusiasm for Biden and for the left. The audience for Biden’s April 28 speech to Congress was about 30 percent smaller than Trump’s audience for his 2020 State of the Union. And viewership of pro-Biden MSNBC and CNN is down by even larger percentages.
As homicides increase in city after city at the highest rates ever measured, and as tens of thousands keep crossing the border illegally, a lukewarm overall-positive rating and a de-energized core constituency may not be enough for Democrats to hold on to their current tenuous majorities.
So too with an economic recovery. Americans probably understand that some level of recovery is inevitable following the pandemic. How much credit they will give Democrats remains to be seen.
Keep in mind that the economy was recovering in 1994 and 2010 under Democratic presidents. But in both years, the mid-term election didn’t go well for Democrats.
Keep in mind, as well, that it won’t take GOP success on the scale of 1994 and 2010 to end the current Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.