Let's discuss Joe Biden's poll numbers on the economy


Joe Biden’s approval ratings on the economy have been dreadful for quite some time now and show no sign of improving. Last month, the Wall Street Journal found that “only 23% of voters say Biden’s policies have helped them personally, while 53% say they have been hurt by the president’s agenda. By contrast, about half of voters say Trump’s policies when he was president helped them personally, more than the 37% who say they were hurt.” 

The USA Today/Suffolk University Poll released yesterday shows his overall approval rating nearly 20 points under water. And it reports as positive progress that “29% say the economy is in recovery, a jump of 8 percentage points since the survey in late October,” noting that, “in the wake of positive reports on employment, inflation and the stock market, that’s the highest level since August 2021.” 

In the RealClearPolitics averages, Biden’s approval ratings are 40.4 percent approve/56.1 percent disapprove overall, and 37.2 percent approve/59.7 percent disapprove on the economy.

To listen to Democratic partisans online and in the press, you’d think this is all the fault of the media not doing its part to convince Americans that everything is rosy and that Bidenomics is working. In fact, Democrats face four basic obstacles in promoting a positive economic message:

First, reality. The more an issue affects people’s daily lives directly, the harder it is to convince them not to believe their own experience. With the exception of gas prices, which rise and fall visibly, people can see in their own budgets that many things are still more expensive than they were before inflation took flight in 2021–22, and that their wages haven’t kept up. They can see that high interest rates have made it harder to buy a house or a new car or take out college loans. And that kind of sticker shock takes a while to wear off.

Second, the baseline problem. Democratic flacks keep pointing to statistical measures to show how things are better than they were on the day Biden was inaugurated. But Biden was sworn in while we were still near the height of a global pandemic, before there had been any significant distribution of vaccines. Even Biden couldn’t make things worse than that. And while there may have been some political traction in 2020 to claiming that the pandemic was Donald Trump’s fault, nobody thinks that today. Voters are more apt to mentally compare the Biden economy to the pre-pandemic Trump economy, and that is a comparison that remains unfavorable for Democrats.

Third, the ideology problem. Deeply ingrained in the progressive and liberal temperament, affecting the party’s official and unofficial spokespeople, sympathetic journalists, and Democratic voters (especially young ones) is economic pessimism, a focus on how the little guy is still hurting even when times appear good. After all, if everybody’s doing fine, who needs to expand entitlements, or unionize, or demand public money for debt forgiveness, or complain about inequality, or blame corporate greed for high prices, or — at the edges — howl about the hopelessness of a systematically racist system, or call for reparations, or daydream about revolution against “late capitalism”? To brag about a strong economy is to undermine the public demand for the Democrats’ own product. It may have a natural ring to it when Republican spokespeople point to a strong stock market and say “look at your 401(k),” but Democrats always sound a little off-key singing that tune.

Fourth, the spokesman problem. Democrats are having trouble getting people to buy their message because nobody buys the messenger anymore. Biden just isn’t capable, at this juncture, of persuading anybody of anything, and the more voters see or hear him, the worse things get.

It will take a lot for Democrats to turn the corner on the economy in 2024, and in an election year, time tends to run short when trying to set the mood for voters on that score. Which is why they’re going to put most of their eggs in other baskets — mostly by focusing on Donald Trump.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post