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Ouch: Biden Starts 2022 with One of His Worst Polls Yet

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

It's now election year in the United States, as voters will go to the polls in November and deliver a verdict on the first half of President Biden's term. Democrats have the strong headwinds of historical trends blowing in their faces, and recent polling has confirmed that they're very likely facing a very difficult cycle. A coup de grace for their hopes of clinging to their majorities would be a public dissatisfied with the direction of the country and the performance of the Democratic president. Joe Biden ended 2021 on a low note, and as 2022 dawns on our political landscape, a fresh national survey from CNBC underscores deep frustrations being felt by the electorate. Biden is currently a heavy anchor on his party: 


President Joe Biden’s disapproval rating hit a new high in December as more voters signaled their unhappiness with his administration’s supervision of the economy and the Covid-19 pandemic. Fifty-six percent of voters now say they disapprove of the job Biden is doing, the worst such reading of his presidency as he approaches the end of his first year in office, according to new CNBC/Change Research polls. Prior polls in the series showed Biden’s disapproval rating at 54% in early September and 49% in April. Biden’s approval rating is now at 44%, down from 46% in September and 51% in April.

Twelve points underwater, overall – and if previous polling is any guide, the canyon between strong approval and strong disapproval is wide. This factors into enthusiasm gaps that drive turnout. On individual issues, Biden is also in weak position

He's at 60 percent disapproval on the economy. Inflation is clearly biting hard, and that will be a slow recovery over the coming months. Consumer – and voter – sentiment doesn't turn on a dime. Majority disapproval on COVID is also a real blow. The Omicron wave will hopefully crest and recede in the coming weeks, but the taste of incompetence may linger with many voters. Biden began his nosedive with the Afghanistan disgrace and hasn't recovered. Even when we get through the latest (last?) major COVID burst, it will be remembered that the man who pledged to "shut down the virus" with "science" actually bungled it, even failing on basic testing after spending nearly $2 trillion on a supposed pandemic relief bill that was so wasteful and slanted that it became a party-line vote. Let's have a look at his presidential approval trajectory


And by a two-to-one margin, Americans say the country is on the wrong track. Democrats control all of Washington. As of this moment, it appears as though many voters are hungry for a change. Democratic incumbents seem to know it, too: 

Representative Bobby L. Rush, the most senior Illinois House lawmaker, said on Monday that he planned to retire at the end of the year, adding to a wave of Democrats who have decided against seeking re-election in what is expected to be a tough midterm cycle for the party. Mr. Rush, 75, a pastor and former Black Panther who built himself into an electoral powerhouse in his district on the South Side of Chicago, said in an announcement...Two dozen House Democrats have now announced their plans to either retire or seek a different political office before the November election, when many Democrats fear they will lose control of the House. With the departure of several senior lawmakers, Democrats face a loss of institutional knowledge and experience. 

Rush is from a deep blue Chicago district, and Democrats are in no danger of losing his seat. He's also a septuagenarian who says he wants to spend more time at home. Fair enough. His decision shouldn't be over-analyzed. But the two dozen announced departures (now 25, following an announcement from a Michigan Democrat) are definitely telling, and it's entirely possible that a guy like Rush would look at the calculus very differently if he thought his prospects of remaining in the majority were even halfway decent. But he's looking around and heading for the exits. A lot can change in ten months, but at the moment, the question doesn't appear to be whether or not Democrats will lose the midterms. It's how badly they'll lose the midterms, and if both houses of Congress can flip red. Of course, this type of thing doesn't help in a Biden-won district: 


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