The wheels are coming off at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. President Joe Biden was behind the curve on the baby formula shortage. He’s in denial about inflation, despite a last-ditch effort to be seen as taking the issue seriously. He has accomplished just enough for the left to alienate independents but not enough to satisfy his base.
As a result, the latest Civiqs poll is devastating for Biden. He has just a 34 percent job approval rating to 55 percent who disapprove. The president is underwater with every age group and in 47 of 50 states. He is below 50 percent in every state, with Hawaii being his best at 49 percent. Biden barely manages plus-2 net approval with Hispanics as 43 percent of that crucial voting bloc disapproves.
If this holds until November, it is not good for the Democrats’ razor-thin majorities in both houses of Congress. Biden is at 31 percent approval in Arizona as 58 percent disapprove. He’s at 30 percent in Georgia, with 58 percent disapproving. The breakdown is 34 percent to 57 percent in Nevada, 37 percent to 53 percent in New Hampshire.
Those are the Senate battleground states deciding the majority in what is an evenly divided chamber under Democratic control thanks solely to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. The Democrats will need to win a large number of Biden disapprovers to win the competitive races that would keep them from falling back into the minority. It’s a tall order.
Democrats do hope to get a boost from guns and abortion. A series of mass shootings, especially the heartbreaking school massacre in Texas, has put gun control back on the public agenda. Roe v. Wade is expected to soon be overturned by the Supreme Court. But both of these issues also animate the other side. Consider that in 1994, when Biden helped pass the assault weapons ban, it cost Democrats seats in Congress. That same year, no pro-life incumbent in either party was defeated by a pro-choice challenger.
It’s also the case that many liberal voters will see Biden and the Democrats as losers for being unable to deliver on guns or protect the Roe regime on abortion. Consider these tough words from Rep. Mondaire Jones, a left-wing Democrat from New York. “If the filibuster obstructs us, we will abolish it,” he said at a congressional hearing. “If the Supreme Court objects, we will expand. We will not rest until we’ve taken weapons of war out of our communities.”
Does anyone believe the Democrats have the votes to accomplish any of these things? It will soon be evident to everyone, including their own base, that they don’t. Only so much electoral fearmongering can obscure the fact that Biden and his allies have overpromised but underdelivered. That will be a demoralizing reality.
One remarkable report saw Democrats inside and outside the White House trading blame for their legislative inaction and perilous positioning ahead of November’s elections. Biden himself was said to be “unhappy about a pattern” in which West Wing aides take “a clear and succinct statement” by the president and “rush to explain that he actually meant something else.”
Biden was also described as “annoyed that he wasn’t alerted sooner about the baby formula shortage,” which is consistent with his public comments that he wasn’t briefed until April and did not have the same level of understanding of the severity of the problem as the executives he had convened at the White House in June to discuss it.
With the nontrivial exception of the vice president’s office, this White House has not previously been riven by finger-pointing and rumors of turnover even as the polls looked dismal. That is no longer the case. We have seen top staffers leave. It’s entirely possible there will be more, perhaps before the midterms. And people are already assigning blame — including, supposedly, the president.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre now regularly answers questions by saying she hasn’t talked to the president about various controversial issues or claiming to have not heard parts of his speeches.
While some still contest that the White House is adrift, Biden’s leadership is suspect. Trump called him “Sleepy Joe,” and the president does seem asleep at the switch.
Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, W. James Antle III is the Washington Examiner’s politics editor. He was previously managing editor of the Daily Caller, associate editor of the American Spectator, and senior writer for the American Conservative. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? You can follow home on Twitter: @Jimantle.