Republicans have a strong lead on the congressional ballot a year before the 2022 midterm elections, as President Joe Biden’s popularity rating drops to a record low of 38%.
A USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll conducted from Wednesday to Friday indicated that Biden’s popularity has dwindled among the independent voters who gave him a one-year triumph against President Donald Trump.
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Advocates claim that Biden and his party are on the mend after the House passed a $1.2 trillion “hard” infrastructure plan late Friday, bringing it to Biden’s desk for his signature.
Stronger-than-expected employment growth was reported in an upbeat economic report issued Friday morning. However, the poll reveals the depth of the hole Democrats must climb out of as they prepare for the elections in a year – on Nov. 8, 2022 – that will determine congressional power and influence Biden’s second two years in office. The president’s opinions are currently sour.
The following are some of the findings:
- Large percentage of those polled, 46%, believe Biden has performed worse than expected as president, including 16% of those who voted for him. Independents feel he’s done worse, not better, than they expected, by a 7-1 margin (44 percent -6 percent).
- Nearly two-thirds of Americans, or 64%, do not want Biden to run for re-election in 2024. Democrats account for 28% of the total. Trump’s re-election in 2024 is opposed by 58 percent of voters, including 24 percent of Republicans.
- Vice President Kamala Harris has a 28 percent approval rating, which is significantly worse than Biden’s. According to the poll, 51% of people disapprove of the job she’s doing. One in five people, or 21%, are undecided.
- Americans are solidly in favor of the infrastructure package that Biden is about to sign, but they are divided on the more expensive and far-reaching “Build Back Better” legislation that is now being considered in Congress. Only one in four people believe the bill’s provisions will benefit them and their family.
Those polled said they would vote for their Republican congressional candidate over the Democratic one by 46 percent to 38 percent if the election were held today, an advantage that would help the GOP achieve a majority in the House and Senate.
A president’s party normally loses ground in his first midterm election, but the GOP only needs to flip five seats in the House and one in the Senate to reclaim power. That scenario would make it much more difficult for Biden to enact legislation, which is already challenging in a Democratic-controlled Congress and would allow robust Republican supervision of his administration.
The poll, which was conducted by landline and cellphone among 1,000 registered voters, has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. Tony Emmi, 62, a retired health care worker from Wilmington, Delaware, who was among those surveyed, voted for Biden for president and derides Trump as “deceitful” and “malicious.” The Democrat, on the other hand, claims Biden hasn’t done enough to hold his party accountable and get things done. “I believe our country is heading in a bad manner,” Emmi adds.
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Two-thirds of Americans (66%) believe the country is on the wrong road, while one-fifth (20%) believe it is on the right track. That’s not much different from the public’s unease in the last weeks of Trump’s presidency. The infrastructure package, which received bipartisan approval on Friday, is supported by a margin of 2-1 (61 percent to 32 percent) among those polled.
A third of Republicans are among the backers. Kathleen Loyd, 70, a former juvenile court officer from Piedmont, Missouri, says, “We’re not keeping our infrastructure updated – I don’t mean recently updated, I mean since 1930, some of these things have been in existence.” When she drives, she avoids potholes and had to renovate her kitchen after a water main burst.
The “Build Back Better” bill, championed by House Democrats, has a split public. The $1.85 trillion measure is supported by 47 percent of those polled, while 44 percent reject it.
More than $500 billion in climate change and sustainable energy financing is included in the massive package. Pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds would be established, the child tax credit would be extended for one year, Medicaid coverage would be expanded in some areas, Medicare hearing coverage would be added, and affordable housing initiatives would be funded.
Most Americans aren’t convinced that the measure will help them, at least not yet, according to the White House and its friends. Those polled are slightly more inclined to believe that its policies would harm rather than aid their family (30% vs. 26%). Thirty-one percent believe it would have little impact.
These findings point to either a lack of communication on the part of the bill’s supporters or a gap between what people believe they need. “Is this budget bill out of hand? I’m not sure, “Nia Anderson, 45, a stay-at-home mother of three from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, agrees. She voted for Biden and believes he’s doing “great,” but she’s concerned about her children and family.
She was getting ready to drive her three children, aged 13, 9, and 6, across town to obtain COVID-19 vaccines. “That’s what keeps me awake at night,” she explains. Congress receives poor marks in the poll, with only 12% approving and 75% disapproving. The Democratic Party in Congress has a 29 percent positive rating, while the Republican Party has a 35 percent favorable rating.
A blowout is common for the party of a president whose popularity rating has fallen below 50%. Republicans lost 41 House seats in the 2017 midterm elections, while Trump’s support rating was at 37%. Democrats lost 54 seats in the 1994 midterm elections, when President Bill Clinton’s support rating was at 48 percent.
Since winning last year’s election, Biden has lost ground with voters, but Trump hasn’t gained any. Two-thirds of those polled said their view of Trump hasn’t changed in the previous year. Fourteen percent think their opinion of him has improved, while 19 percent believe it has deteriorated.
Trump, on the other hand, has a stronger hold on his core fans than Biden. Nearly 4 in 10 of those who voted for Biden last year say they hope he doesn’t seek for re-election; 50% say they hope he does. 1 in 4 people who voted for Trump last year hope he won’t run again, while 65 percent think he will. Lynda Ensenat, 54, a Trump voter and independent insurance adjuster from New Orleans, says, “I think he did a terrific job then, and I believe he’ll do a great job in the future.” “There’s a lot wrong with this society right now, and all the Democrat liberals are 100 percent for fixing it.”