“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” These words from Socrates – almost two and half thousand years old – ring as true today as ever before. Especially when it comes to analyzing the slings and arrows of American electioneering. President Joe Biden had a reinvigorated public persona on the heels of the recent midterm elections, and all seemed possible for a politician hoping to secure his party’s support for 2024. And yet, being back in the spotlight appears to have reminded America that the commander-in-chief is not the polished professional much of the activist media suggest he is.
Biden by the Numbers
Taking an average of the latest polls, the president scores a 42.6% approval rating, with a disapproval of 53%, putting him ten points underwater. Creating an aggregate of only polls that surveyed “likely voters” – the gold standard of polling – Biden scores more than half a point lower, just 42%. Hardly the stuff of legends.
No recent president has ever won re-election on less than 45% popularity. In fact, the last time this particular feat was achieved was by President Harry S. Truman, who – while classed as a “dead president walking” on a meager 40% – embarked on his now legendary whistlestop tour of the nation in 1948. The final ratings of Presidents Ford (45%), Carter (37%), and Bush Senior (34%) all point to a defeat for the incumbent, but a Trumanesque revival remains a possibility.
As for the betting markets, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis is a firm favorite among cash players. Eleven to four against Biden’s three to one, the money seems to indicate a drubbing for the 46th president. Former President Donald Trump is presently rated in the third position at four to one.
Wrong Side of the Track
The Right Direction or Wrong Track metric has long been used to gauge where Americans feel the nation is heading. Rather than focusing on specific policies or personalities, the rubric offers a broad overview of how well folks think things are going. Rasmussen released its January figures this week, and it seems that general dissatisfaction is a fast-growing trend. Just 28% of respondees say the country is on the “right track.” This low a level has not been seen since early September, 2022.
This worsening trend was supported by a recent Gallup poll on the “most important problem facing this country today.” A year ago, the top issues were the economy and inflation at 15%, problems that are still in a precarious situation. But now, 21% – a plurality – say that “the government/poor leadership” is the most significant concern, a six-point increase from November.
Where’s the Beef?
One would assume that with inflation falling, positive midterm results, and gas prices stabilizing – albeit at almost double what they were when he took office, the president would be riding high on the waves of public opinion and Fourth Estate spin. And yet metric after metric shows a dispirited country reacting negatively to each and every move from the administration.
It seems that any wins in the Biden column are suffering under the weight of a malaise of leadership. Political victories appear to be mere caffeine spikes in a nation otherwise tired of a poor performance that looks to drag on interminably.
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