Analysis: Why some of Biden’s problems might be overblown right now


President Joe Biden has had a terrible, horrible, no good, even very bad week. He’s under impeachment investigation, his son was indicted in Delaware, inflation appears to be rising, the United Auto Workers went on strike after Biden said they wouldn’t wouldn’t, and the chattering class is talking about his no-run for re-election.

Some of these factors are why my colleague Zach Wolf wrote that “Biden’s two worst weaknesses have been exposed” last week, and it’s also why I wrote about the president’s struggles heading into the next year.

But while Biden clearly has problems — no president with an approval rating hovering around 40% is in good shape — some of his problems seem exaggerated at present. Here are three reasons why:

A Washington Post op-ed by columnist David Ignatius calling on Biden not to run for re-election was widely circulated last week.

Regardless of whether or not Biden should run, the fact is that he is a candidate. Many people will cite polls (like CNN’s) showing that a majority of Democrats don’t think the party should rename it.

But these surveys don’t tell you much. They pit Biden against himself and no one else. When asked in the CNN poll to name a preferred alternative to Biden, only a little more than 10% wanted someone else and could name a specific person.

Faced with the announced Democratic opposition (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson), Biden crushed it. It is more than 70% on average according to a recent survey.

Additionally, Biden’s job approval rating among Democrats hovers around 80%. This is well above the level at which previous leaders faced serious primary difficulties. These challenges (such as when Ted Kennedy challenged incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980) came at a time when the president enjoyed approval ratings in the 50s or 60s among members of his own party.

It’s worth analyzing whether the fact that many Democrats don’t think Biden should be re-nominated masks a bigger problem he could face in a general election.

But Biden draws more than 90% of Democrats in general election polls from Fox News and Quinnipiac University released last week. In both polls, his share slightly exceeds former President Donald Trump’s share among Republicans (although within the margin of error).

The fact is, Biden has problems, but worrying about re-nomination is not one of them.

From a political perspective, Biden’s ties to his son Hunter have caused the president nothing but grief. Most voters believe Biden did something inappropriate regarding his son’s business dealings.

So it could naturally follow that the Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into the president’s ties to his son’s foreign trade deals would be detrimental to his political future.

On average, about 40% of voters think Joe Biden did something illegal. Most voters don’t.

Some Republicans are no doubt hoping that Biden’s own problems will make their likely nominee (Trump), who is facing four indictments, look less bad by comparison. A majority of voters, however, believe that Trump committed a crime.

The public does not see the Biden and Trump cases in the same way.

A Wall Street Journal poll taken in late August found that a majority of Americans (52%) did not want Biden impeached.

Republicans will have to prove their case in the court of public opinion.

It is conceivable that Republicans will overstep the mark as they have in the past. Bill Clinton’s impeachment inquiry in 1998 preceded one of the best performances by a presidential party in a midterm election. Clinton’s Democratic Party won seats in the House, something that has happened three times for the president’s party in midterm elections in the last century.

To see how impeachment could shake things up for the GOP this cycle, consider independent voters. While the vast majority of independents disapprove of the job Biden is doing as president (64%) in our latest CNN poll, only 39% think he has done something illegal.

An election over a potentially unpopular impeachment would be better for Biden than an election over an issue that really hurts him (like voters considering him too old).

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Biden is the president heading into an election, voters are unhappy with the state of the economy, and his party is performing much better in elections than many people thought. .

This is what happened in the 2022 midterm elections.

The inflation rate is lower today than it was then, but it is rising slightly. Voters, from time to time, overwhelmingly disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy. They even say the economy matters more than any other issue, as they did in 2022.

What none of this data takes into account is that Americans almost always view the economy as the biggest problem, according to Gallup.

Believe it or not, fewer Americans say the economy is the top issue facing the country now (31%) than in the median (40%) or average (45%) presidential election since 1988.

Thinking back to recent presidential elections in which the economy was the main issue (1992, 2008, and 2012), the state of the economy dominated the headlines.

But as mentioned above, there are a lot of other things going on in the country right now, as was also the case during the 2022 midterm elections.

It’s not like the economy is helping Biden. I’m just not sure it will harm him.

After all, there’s a reason Democrats have consistently outperformed the 2020 presidential benchmark in this year’s special elections.

If things were really that bad for Biden and the Democrats, they would most likely lose elections across the country. It’s just not happening at this point.


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