A poll from Iowa is getting plenty of attention, and deservedly so, I think. According to the survey, Iowans disapprove of Joe Biden’s performance as president by a ratio of 2-1. 62 percent say they disapprove. Only 31 percent say they approve.
In June, in a survey by the same pollster, 43 percent approved of Biden’s performance and 52 percent disapproved. But that was before the Afghanistan fiasco and the resurgence of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, which Biden basically promised to halt.
A mere 22 percent approve of the way he has handled the situation in Afghanistan. 36 percent approve of his handling of the pandemic.
I’m a little surprised the latter number is that high. Daily deaths in Iowa attributed to the virus are at just about the same level as a year ago, when Biden all but accused Donald Trump of mass murder. Nationally, the number of daily deaths is about twice as high as it was back then.
How much confidence should we have in the Iowa survey? Plenty. It was conducted by J. Ann Selzer who has an excellent track record in Iowa.
By the way, Biden’s 31 percent approval number is worse than the lowest number she ever recorded for Trump. That was 35 percent.
What are the implications of this poll for the Democrats nationally? They can’t be good.
In fact, Chris Cizzilla of CNN thinks the results should “terrify” Democrats. He writes:
This poll is rightly understood as a blaring red alarm for not just Biden but especially down-ballot Democrats — in Iowa and elsewhere — who will be running in the 2022 midterms.
While Iowa is not the pure swing state that it was in, say, 2000, it remains a place where Democrats can and do win — both in statewide elections and in congressional districts. Democrats, as recently as 2020, controlled three of the state’s four House seats although Republicans won both the first and second districts back last November. And both are considered Democratic re-takeover targets in 2022 — depending, of course, on what the congressional map winds up looking like.
If Biden’s numbers are anywhere close to this bad in other swing states — and districts — Democrats’ hopes of holding onto their very narrow three-seat House majority are somewhere close to nonexistent.
While first term, midterm elections are, historically, very difficult for the president’s party in the House, that trend is made far, far worse if the president’s approval rating is below 50%. As Gallup wrote in 2018:
In Gallup’s polling history, presidents with job approval ratings below 50% have seen their party lose 37 House seats, on average, in midterm elections. That compares with an average loss of 14 seats when presidents had approval ratings above 50%.
And even a loss of 14 seats in 2022 would turn control of the House over to the GOP.
I’ve long believed that Cillizza roots for the Democrats. If so, it’s possible that his partisanship is causing him to overreact to this poll, kind of like I do when Everton falls behind early in a soccer match. But there’s no way to spin the Iowa survey as other than more bad news for the Dems.