A new poll by ABC News / Washington Post shows that President Joe Biden has so far failed to unite the nation. His approval level is just 52 percent, one of the lowest election results for a president since 1945. The result reflects not only our hardened politics, but also Biden’s decision to move forward with a hard-left agenda and legislation muscular to a handful of votes . There is little evidence of any effort to reach consensus or compromise. Still, the survey is surprising. After all, Governor Andrew Cuomo has a 56 percent poll and would still win re-election despite allegations he engaged in sexual harassment, botched the pandemic and hid embarrassing data on Covid-19 deaths.
Biden’s popularity is less than any modern president, with the exception of Gerald Ford in 1974 with 48% and Donald Trump with 42% in 2017. ABC reports that “[f]For the 14 presidents from Truman to Biden, the 100-day average is 66%. “
I was disappointed that Biden failed to lead from the middle. I didn’t have the same expectations of Trump to change his style of division or change his politics. However, Biden was once known as a temperate who could make hard calls. I had an opportunity to meet Biden as a senator and I liked him. I was hoping that despite disappointing moments in the campaign, Biden would reappear after the election.
After the election, Biden promised to be honest with the public and make tough calls. He didn’t keep that promise. Biden has remained silent on questions from efforts to end the filibuster to raw efforts to grab the Supreme Court. He has repeatedly shown that he is unwilling to face the far left of his party, which appears to be driving legislative and political initiatives. He failed to make the tough demands and the failure of the leadership on issues such as the trial brought the party into conflict with a majority of voters in some areas.
I never understood why Trump didn’t moderate his rhetoric or politics, as every poll showed he continued to lose critical women and suburban voters. Biden seems equally blind to the cost of pursuing the same strategy from the left. He’s still doing ten points better than Trump, but that’s still barely the majority of voters who support his new presidency. Given his more presidential behavior and moderate language, Biden should be much better off. However, his party has put itself on an agenda that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has confirmed has exceeded the expectations of its far-left allies.
The AOC’s statement appears to be repeated in this poll, which found that 40 percent of voters were concerned that Biden was too liberal – the highest of the recent Democratic presidents. Another 53 percent feared that he would expand the government too much. Only 52 percent approved his dealings with the economy and only 37 percent approved his work on immigration. (He received high marks for his pandemic relief efforts and attempt to raise corporate taxes).
The poll also reveals a sharp partisan difference, with only 13 percent of Republicans supporting Biden (another departure from previous modern presidents who generally saw greater support from the opposing party, with the exception of Trump). What is possibly a bigger problem is that independents usually offer a sizeable majority for a new president after 100 days – 75% for Reagan and 67% for Obama. Only 47% of the independents support Biden’s work. Again, he’s closer to Trump, who only saw 38% support at the same time.
There was a time (not so long ago) when the media was viewed as left-wing but was still trustworthy when it came to basic stories. Polls show that trust is now gone. The result is that there is no one trustworthy and shared source of information. Our divisions remain unchanged and are only deepened by both our politics and the press.
Biden will have to decide whether he will continue to delve into the extremes of his party or whether he will be late in turning to the center. Trump refused to moderate his statements or his politics. Biden is better at rhetoric, but has continued the same departmental policy. At least Trump was honest about his inflexibility and defiance. Biden continues to speak out on compromise, but there is little evidence of willingness to compromise on many issues. That could succeed if the Democrats in both houses can maintain their lean leadership. As with Trump, however, his first 100 days were tailored to satisfy the extreme extreme of his voting base rather than seeking broader support through a more moderate agenda.