Ronald Reagan likely had no inkling that a question he asked the national audience tuned into his debate with then-President Jimmy Carter in 1980 would echo down through the ages. But here we are, 43 years later, and pollsters continue to ask the voting public that same fundamental question about the incumbent chief executive: Are you better off than you were when Joe Biden took office?
Well, the verdict on the president is now in, and it should send chills down the spine of leftists across the land. According to the latest survey of American voters by ABC News/Washington Post, no less than 41% of Americans say their financial position has worsened since Biden became president, compared to 16% who say things have improved. And that is just the tip of the iceberg for the incumbent when you consider that it represents the highest dissatisfaction rate ever recorded in the poll, dating back 37 years.
And that’s not all. It can hardly be lost on Democratic strategists that more than three times as many people say their finances have gotten worse after two years of this current president than the 13% who said the same after the first two years of the Trump presidency. And the Dems, who must have long ago believed they vanquished their reviled enemy once and for all, also need to worry about the stubborn popularity of the 45th president, because this is the third consecutive survey showing Trump defeating Biden in a rematch of 2020 — by a margin as high as five points, and by an average of 1.7%, according to Real Clear Politics. And after rising slightly following the midterm elections, Biden’s approval is stalled at an average of 44%, well below the number generally required for re-election. No president since Harry Truman, 75 years ago, has won a second term with approval that low.
Biden’s Luck About to Run Out?
It is easy to forget the extraordinary luck experienced by Joe Biden in 2020 after face-planting in two previous bids for the White House. Party elders stepped in and cleared the field of primary competitors, saving his failing campaign. Then the pandemic destroyed the roaring economy Trump had built and allowed the quintessential career politician to throw endless cost-free barbs from the cheap seats, shamelessly blaming Trump directly for hundreds of thousands of COVID-related deaths. And all the while, he managed to escape public scrutiny of his declining condition with plausible deniability by remaining in his basement, ostensibly to protect against the virus.
Biden’s luck may be about to run out because he will have none of those enormous advantages this time around. In fact, while much has been made of Republicans who prefer to move on from Donald Trump after the ugliness of 2020 and its aftermath, more Democrats — 60% — want Biden off the 2024 ticket than the 50% of Republicans seeking an alternative to Trump. This leaves both parties in a quandary. There is simply not a viable Democratic alternative to Biden for 2024 since California Governor Gavin Newsom ruled himself out — though that could change if Biden withdraws. Certainly, party leaders could no longer believe that hapless VP Kamala Harris is up to it, if they ever did, and the party’s bench beyond that is, to put it charitably, thin.
But all of this appears to be moot, as Biden has given no indication at all that he will call it quits after four years. Quite the opposite. He got a bit of a spring in his aging step when Democrats managed to avoid a red tide last November. His State of the Union address was the kind delivered not by a lame duck, but by a man intent on remaining in the White House, even until he is 86 years old.
Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Trump will face multiple competitors — and likely go scorched-earth on the ones who threaten him (i.e. Ron DeSantis), while encouraging the long-shots (i.e. Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo et al.) who can serve to expand the field and split the anti-Trump vote. The burning issue is whether Trump can replicate 2016 in successfully exploiting both a large field of GOP competitors and the weakness of his Democratic opponent in the general election.
Republicans failed to achieve the outcome they expected in the 2022 midterm elections because up to a dozen inexperienced candidates hand-picked by Trump in the primaries were widely vilified by elite corporate media and wound up losing winnable races in the general election. That gave Biden and his leftist cohorts a warped view of the overriding sentiments of the American people — and a false sense of security for 2024. But this latest survey demonstrating the economic insecurity of Americans, together with multiple polls showing the supposedly disgraced Donald Trump leading the sitting president, leaves little doubt that the natives are restless.
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