Harry Enten, formerly of FiveThirtyEight and now of CNN, takes up the question. He writes:
While the causes of Biden’s decline are numerous (e.g. declining trust of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan), perhaps the biggest one is that Americans believe there are big economic problems and that Biden isn’t focused nearly enough on them.
I think that’s right. Enten notes, as we have, that approval of Biden on the economy has tracked almost perfectly with approval of him overall. Says Enten, “Right now, [Biden’s] economic approval is in the low 40s, just as it is overall. In the early summer, it was in the low 50s — as it was overall then, too.”
I think Enten is correct to highlight not just the economy’s performance, but also Biden’s lack of focus on it. Enten points to a CBS News/YouGov poll finding that 60 percent of Americans believe that Biden is not focusing enough on inflation. At the same time, only 37 percent say that Biden and his fellow Democrats are focusing on the issues they care a lot about.
These findings are consistent with one of my pet theories — that voters are unhappy with Biden because he presented himself during the election as a moderate or at most a center-left Democrat, but is governing as a woke leftist. In effect, he defrauded the electorate.
The swing voters who put Biden over the top thought, or deluded themselves into believing, that he was a traditional lunch-bucket Dem, in tune with the concerns of working Americans and the middle class. What they see now is a president who is governing from the left, focusing on agenda items they don’t care that much about, and some they may even oppose, rather than on the price of food and gasoline, the supply chain by which goods and services are delivered, and the invasion of America by waves of illegal immigrants.
Maybe the economy will pick up soon. Maybe inflation will recede. Maybe a less radical Biden will emerge, or at least a less tone-deaf one. But none of these developments seems imminent.