Tuesday, October 12, 2021


I saw this yesterday in a Politico story:
In a focus group last week, Pennsylvania Democrats one after another articulated the issue vexing top White House aides, party operatives in Virginia and voters in Georgia: Why isn’t President Joe Biden’s diminished job rating rebounding?

All nine participants from Tuesday’s session gave Biden C- grades or lower....

“There is a malaise,” said Sarah Longwell, a moderate Republican strategist who became a vocal supporter of Biden in 2020, and led the focus group of Democratic voters. “People don’t feel like their lives have been improved. They did sort of feel that promises aren’t being kept.” ...

Longwell said she was struck ... by how little Democrats in her surveys blame Republicans for standing in Biden’s way.
Well, of course they don't. In nearly all elite-media reporting, Republicans are practically invisible. The press tells us that the major bills Biden is trying to pass are being blocked by two senators. The larger of the two bills is actually being blocked by fifty-two senators, fifty of whom are never asked to explain why they aren't willing to meet Biden partway. The other bill will probably be blocked by nearly all of the same fifty senators, despite the fact that a number of them claimed to support it a while back. The elite media expects outreach across the aisle from Democrats, but never from Republicans. And so Republicans aren't blamed for their intransigence.
Biden and Democrats in Washington “are in a morass of fighting with each over bills that nobody knows what’s in,” Longwell added. “It just looks like a cluster.”
No one knows what's in the bills because they're Democratic domestic-spending bills, so the press believes that the salient point is Oh my God, the cost of these bills is huge! And Democrats are doing a bad job of messaging, as is usually the case, so of course no one knows what's in the bills.

Longwell and others say that what's particularly dragging Biden down is a sense that the pandemic isn't under control.
[Focus group participants'] answers circled back to a similar point: The pandemic and the many ways it continues to hinder normal life is souring their views of Biden.

One woman said she wanted to buy a car but supply chain issues were delaying new shipments to the dealership. A man complained about understaffed restaurants....

In one widely circulated memo, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg argued that Biden’s steep drop-off can only be explained by the public’s perception of his uneven handling of the pandemic and a belief he is not prioritizing it....

Pandemic fatigue is growing among Biden’s core voters elsewhere, too. In a nearly 100-page study of 40 so-called “gettable” Democrats and independents done in Clark County, Nev., last month, researchers found that voters were “anxious, tired, and exhausted.” The researchers added that voters “looked at the government’s [Covid] stumbles along the way and shrugged their collective shoulders.”
Case numbers are down, and yet Biden isn't declaring victory. Obviously, after the false dawn of this past spring, you can't blame him. But Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott seem prouder of their record of failure -- hundreds of deaths a day in each of their states as a result of this summer's Delta surge -- than Biden is of his successes. The vaccine mandates are working -- employees have largely chosen to comply. States with high vaccination rates continue to avoid the mass death and hospital overcrowding that red states have experienced. If you had a heart attack in New York or Boston this summer, there was an ICU bed for you. Why can't Biden say that his approach is working?

I don't know how -- or whether -- Biden can turn this around. This is the third consecutive Democratic presidency that's been caught in the brambles in its first year or two, after the president underestimated Republican resistance to his agenda. This time, however, we don't have a charismatic Great Communicator in the White House. Maybe Biden has a different sort of likability, and he'll become more popular as COVID recedes and some legislation is passed. But he needs to take some credit. He and his party need to work the refs and get better coverage. And Democrats need to make Republicans the enemy, which is just putting the blame where most of it belongs.

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