Joe Biden’s approval numbers have been falling so far and so quickly that Democratic candidates are beginning to distance themselves from the president. In Virginia, for example, Terry McAuliffe has repeatedly declined to mention Biden, who won the state 54-44 just a year ago, according to the New York Times.
From January until the summer, President Biden enjoyed approval numbers from an electorate eager to turn the page on a pandemic and turn down the rhetorical temperature at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
But beginning in June, as the Delta variant started to undo some of the pandemic progress, then accelerating into Biden’s botched pull out of Afghanistan and reckless retaliation that killed 10 innocent Afghanis, the number of voters approving of Biden fell below the number who disapprove.
Pollsters call that phenomenon — when more voters disapprove than approve — being “underwater.” The trend accelerated for Biden as the summer turned to fall. On Friday, the gap reached a peak, with 51.9% disapproving and 42.4% approving. Falling from +18 to -9.5 is catastrophic — a 27.5% net tumble.
In Nevada, the news is even worse for the president. According to polling by Civiqs, Biden stands at 57 disapprove and 34 approve for a -23 score.
Democrats understand this will be very hard to overcome in 2022. Americans like checks and balances. So midterm elections are always hard on the party that holds the White House, especially when they’re in the majority. But they become brutal when more voters disapprove of the president than approve, and thus even more strongly value the counterweight that Congress can provide.
“The real drop in Biden’s numbers occurred in the summer,” said Adam Geller, CEO of National Research, Inc., who polls for Republican clients including President Trump. In an interview with the Nevada Globe, Geller explained, “Some of it was related to the Afghanistan withdrawal, some of it was related to the border crisis, and some of it was related to inflation and supply chain difficulties. His drop in both favorable ratings and job approval ratings is most acute among Independent voters – the very voters who are found in purple districts – the kind of districts that are up for grabs next year.”
This is why competitive races, such as Catherine Cortez Masto’s first bid to defend her senate seat, have attracted so much attention. Two of her would-be Republican challengers—former Attorney General Adam Laxalt and West Point grad Sam Brown—each raised over a million dollars in the just ended 3rd quarter, a sure sign of national hopes for a race that could determine control of the senate. At the same time, non-federal races could easily be affected by the national dynamic as well. As we’ve seen with McAuliffe’s efforts to nationalize his race in Virginia—he mentioned “Trump” 18 times in a 12 minute interview on CNN—Gov. Sisolak will surely be hoping that Biden’s numbers improve before this time next year.
In Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto has been aggressively attempting the same maneuver. Her Twitter feed contains continual references not to her own record or even Nevada, but to the danger to the country that a Republican majority would inevitably create. The odds that voters know or care who Mitch McConnell is or about the mechanics of how the Senate works are possibly higher than in many states, as Nevadans watched Cortez Masto’s mentor Harry Reid skillfully wield power from that same perch. But when she writes of a “Trump-endorsed opponent,” or “Mitch McConnell’s time as Majority Leader was a disaster for America,” it’s pretty clearly aimed at a national donors not voting Nevadans.
Mitch McConnell’s time as Majority Leader was a disaster for America. We can’t go back.
— Catherine Cortez Masto (@CatherineForNV) October 29, 2021
We can’t let Mitch McConnell become Majority leader again. Not in 2022, not ever.
— Catherine Cortez Masto (@CatherineForNV) October 23, 2021
If Biden’s numbers remain inconvenient for Cortez Masto heading into next year, it will be more difficult for her to run away from the association. Where McAuliffe is running for governor and is highly associated with occasional Biden rivals the Clintons, Cortez Masto has a history with Joe Biden that will be harder to shake. Biden swore her into the senate and she endorsed him during the primary. But more importantly, Reid claimed that Biden told him Cortez Masto was in the final three for consideration as his running mate. (She eventually withdrew her name from consideration.)
Biden’s weakening numbers are all the more striking because they come amid a transparent push by the mainstream media to obscure factual bad news. A laughably clear example occurred a few weeks ago. The jobs report came out showing that 194,000 new jobs had been created, compared to consensus estimates of 500,000. That’s a miss of more than 60%. A catastrophic number and the second disappointing number in a row. None of the three network newscasts on Friday night mentioned it.
“The Quinnipiac poll that showed Biden’s approval at 38% should set off alarm bells among Dems,” according to Geller. “Even Trump’s job approvals tended to hover around 43%. And Obama’s job approvals were in the low 50’s at this point in 2009.”
While the Virginia and New Jersey governor’s races will give an early look at the Midterm mood of the electorate, some Republicans believe they’re already seeing a red tide. GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel congratulated Jon Dunwell for having flipped a state rep seat in Iowa in a special election. She says the district had been held by Democrats for 46 years.
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