WASHINGTON – The honeymoon is over. And the weakening of Republican support was inevitable. But Democrats are alarmed by President Joe Biden’s decline in approval of jobs among core groups at his base – including black voters, Hispanics and women.
Despite his slippage in his work approval, Biden’s economic agenda remains popular in the same polls, which reveal voters support his plans to overhaul America’s infrastructure, expand medicare, universal funding for health. pre-K and clean energy investment.
But the bills have been stuck in a complicated legislative deadlock for months. Since late June, Biden’s approval rating has fallen from 52.7% to 44.5% in the FiveThirtyEight average, with disapproval exceeding approval since late August.
Democratic pollsters say Biden needs Congress to pass his agenda for his approval to be restored.
“Voters are waiting for a return on what they were promised,” said Jeff Horwitt, a Democratic pollster who co-leads the NBC News poll.
Horwitt said the sausage-making process is not inspiring to voters, who just want to know if they can afford to babysit and make ends meet.
“It’s messy. And it’s part of the law-making process. But having meetings and disagreements – it doesn’t make people feel good about the president and the job he does,” he said. said Horwitt. “The things promised during the campaign – few of them have yet become law. The good news for Democrats is that there is time. But you have to have wins.”
Negative and positive loops
The changes within Biden’s base have been brutal.
A Pew Research Center poll found that from July to September, Biden’s approval rating fell 18 points among black voters, 16 points among Hispanics, and 12 points among women. He won all three groups with lopsided margins last year. Among voters who identify as Democrats or Skinny Democrats, his approval dropped 13 points, to 75%.
Among Independents, another key group that propelled him to the White House, Biden’s approval rose from 54% to 42% over the summer.
But the same poll found 2: 1 national support for the two pillars of Biden’s agenda: the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the $ 3.5 trillion economic and social package. dollars.
Bill McInturff, the Republican pollster co-leads the NBC News poll, said Biden was stuck in a “negative loop” of setbacks and bad stories about them, from Afghanistan pullout to missed deadlines on Capitol Hill to internal Democratic quarrels over its national agenda.
“We are starting to see a softening among the main Democratic constituencies,” he said. “The main Democrats who helped elect him weren’t just looking for an alternative to [Donald] Asset. They were looking for a very significant policy change. “
McInturff said passing the two bills would improve Biden’s prospects, especially with his base.
“Then we get into a positive loop: The Democrats were able to resolve their internal feuds. The Democrats did something, a major achievement. There is so much money in these bills, and there is so much. that the main Democratic voters want, “he said.
But McInturff said elasticity is limited in this polarized era, with higher intensity of presidential support and cross-party opposition.
Cornell Belcher, a pollster who worked for former President Barack Obama, said Biden had been through “tumultuous times” and questioned whether passing his economic proposals would be enough to regain lost Democratic support.
“There are problems with the key elements of his coalition,” he said.
“The ghost of 2010”
Belcher said many voters were more motivated by problems with the franchise and justice in law enforcement, which faded in Washington due to Democrats’ inability to overcome or break through the obstruction. to 60 votes in the Senate, where they have 50 votes, to advance these priorities. .
“Democrats are trying to put points on a board that passes legislation like Build Back Better and Infrastructure, which are strong and popular laws,” Belcher said. “But these kids and young people, these progressives who gave the Democrats and Joe Biden a majority in this country – they weren’t walking for potholes.”
In the 2020 election, Biden won 92% of black voters. His approval among black voters is only 67% in a recent Pew Research poll, 66% in a YouGov poll and 66% in a Quinnipiac University poll.
Belcher said he heard “the ghost of 2010”, referring to Obama’s first midterm election, when Democrats were not enthusiastic and the party was beaten.
“In a nutshell, if the Democrats don’t give their grassroots something to be energized so that we can mobilize them and energize them, we will have 2010 and 2014 again,” he said.
Horwitt took a more optimistic view, saying Biden faces “a low point” in the polls and will rebound as long as he pushes his economic agenda through.
It raises the stakes as Democrats contemplate tough decisions to resolve a myriad of differences between competing factions within the party on price, scope and politics.
“If these bills fail, that’s a huge problem,” he said. “If you can’t pass these bills and show that you can deliver, then the rationale for the Democratic vote is really in question.”