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Salvo 01.14.2022 10 minutes

Failing as Predicted

President Biden Attends Special Caucus Meeting With Senate Democrats

Joe Biden's Presidency is shaping up to be a historical disaster.

Barack Obama once said—allegedly but plausibly—that Democrats should never underestimate Joe Biden’s ability to foul things up. Actually, he didn’t say “foul,” but this is a family publication. That caution went by the wayside in 2020, as Democrats rushed to embrace Biden as their partisan savior. For a flickering moment, it seemed like their confidence was vindicated.

Now, barely one week from the first anniversary of the Biden Administration, Obama’s warning has proven prophetic. Joe Biden has fouled things up badly. Name a disastrous American President across the past two centuries, and Biden will match and raise him. Woodrow Wilson banked on authoritarian technocrats to solidify his rule: Biden is right there with him. Herbert Hoover blundered through and worsened the defining crisis of his Presidency: Biden’s pandemic record has achieved the same end. Andrew Johnson’s governing ineptitude and arrogance squandered the confidence of his party: Biden is presiding over a comparable breakup of his own coalition. Jimmy Carter managed to plunge America into simultaneous economic stagnation and inflation: Biden has done in one year what he managed in four.

Only the unique failings of Richard Nixon and James Buchanan have eluded the Biden Presidency to date, but give Joe Biden time. He has three more years.

In his Inaugural Address just a year back, Biden said, “I understand that many Americans view the future with some fear and trepidation.” He meant it as a condescending line toward his political opposites, but as sometimes happens with this President, he was accidentally right. Many Americans do view the future with some fear and trepidation—because he’s in charge. Just look at the record of the past twelve months: an American war shamefully lost, inflation roaring at the highest level in forty years, a pandemic still unbeaten despite every promise, national division soaring, and more. All that in the first year. What’s next?

Americans aren’t waiting to render judgment on this Administration. The collapse in confidence is already well underway. On January 12, Quinnipiac—well-regarded but also chronically left-leaning—released its latest poll on Presidential performance. The results for Joe Biden and his Administration are, in a word, catastrophic.

The President’s job-approval rating is underwater by 20 points, with only 33 percent of Americans approving of him. Now, it should be noted that this figure by itself isn’t historically unprecedented. What is historically unprecedented is when it is happening within the Presidential term. Every President of the modern era who sunk to these depths in job-approval ratings has done so at the end of his term—usually on the verge of failing to secure reelection. Only Joe Biden has managed to get here at the end of year one.

It’s a historic Presidency, but not in the way he envisioned.

It gets worse when you dig into the numbers. Democratic aspirations for long-term electoral dominance are pinned in part on the youth vote. Quinnipiac finds that 18-34 year olds—encompassing Gen-Z and Millennial cohorts—disapprove of Biden’s performance by an even larger margin than the general population. Americans in general disapprove of him by 20 points; Americans 18-34 disapprove of him by 28 points. Only 24 percent of respondents in that age bracket like Biden. It’s again a 28-point disapproval gap, with only 30 percent approving, for the next bracket up, 35 to 49.

What about another core aspirational Democratic constituency, women voters? Biden is underwater there too, by thirteen points, with only 38 percent approval.

Or what about the racial and ethnic groups upon whom Democrats rely for their electoral prospects? Among African Americans, Biden finally commands majority approval — but only at 57 percent, which is unusually low for a Democratic President. In that same group, 27 percent disapprove. Whites disapprove of him by a margin of twenty-five points, with only 32 percent approval, nearly the same as the general-population number. It is among Hispanics where we see the most extraordinary collapse: only 28 percent approve of the President, putting him underwater by 23 points.

Now the real revelatory point. Quinnipiac’s poll script gathered all these negative assessments of the President, and then followed up with this question: “Would you say that Joe Biden is doing a better job as president than you expected, a worse job, or about what you expected?” Setting aside self-identified Republicans, every single group— whether by age, sex, race, or ethnicity—has a plurality or a majority saying he’s doing “as expected.”

Joe Biden at the end of year one is a disaster. Barack Obama predicted it. The American people recognize it. And the American people are also saying, now, that it’s pretty much what they expected.

All this is bad enough, but there’s one thing that makes it worse: he has three years to go.

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