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Biden Slides to Worst Approval Rating Yet

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

On my radio show last week, I asked Karl Rove about the striking lack of a "rally around the flag" effect in President Biden's polling numbers. There was a minor blip after the State of the Union Address, but Biden's numbers backslid very quickly. Rove offered his analysis, agreeing that the pain of inflation is an overriding domestic issue – and noting that Biden is failing the double test of demonstrating strong leadership and shooting straight with the American people. 

That brew leads to ugly assessments from voters, as illustrated in the latest national survey from NBC News, which finds the president at his lowest ebb (40/55) to date: 


"The erosion in Biden’s approval rating has been across the board among key demographic groups, including Black respondents (from 64% approve in January to 62% now), women (from 51% approve to 44%), Latinos (from 48% to 39%) and independents (36% to 32%)," per NBC's write-up. The GOP enjoys a modest 2022 generic ballot lead in this poll, mirroring the latest Fox News survey finding on the same question. The NBC numbers also reflect the application of a famous political aphorism – it's the economy, stupid: 


Biden has gained ground on COVID, as the issue has faded from an all-encompassing crisis, and ticked up on foreign policy (though a majority still disapproves). He's just getting pummeled on the economy, on which he's fully 30 points underwater. And it's, by far, the top concern on voters' minds. Another worry for Democrats? Young people, who backed Biden over Trump by large margins in 2020, aren't engaged in the midterm cycle:  


Leftists are also often the aggressors in the "culture wars," which the media attempts to pin on the Right, often after conservatives react to various escalations by "progressives." Some on the left are willing to admit to this dynamic. Well, the progressives have been picking more culture fights lately – and losing them, according to this Josh Kraushaar analysis in National Journal: 

Progressive Democrats have staked out ideological territory on cultural flashpoints ranging from race and gender to affirmative action, crime and policing, education, and COVID restrictions that are out of the political mainstream. Some of these fights, like the battle over inclusive language (like the much-discussed debate over Latinx) end up being more symbolic than substantive. Other flashpoints, like the fight against testing and gifted and talented programs in the name of racial equity, are quality-of-life issues where the stakes are higher. But the one thing they all have in common is that they’re issues where Democrats are on the losing side of a debate that’s becoming increasingly salient to voters. As Democratic political scientist Ruy Teixeira, co-author of the "Liberal Patriot" blog, told The New York Times: “The current Democratic brand suffers from multiple deficiencies that make it somewhere between uncompelling and toxic to wide swaths of American voters who might potentially be their allies.”

One of the examples reviewed was the public framing, and subsequent polling, on Florida's bill on parents' rights and LGBT issues. Having key elements of your base depressed or disengaged is bad. Having the other side's core voters extremely motivated is also bad. Being out of touch on cultural issues doesn't help.  Pile on widespread economic discontentment, and a wave starts to build. On that score, I'll leave you with this: 


For what it's worth, that data point is almost identical to NBC's finding on the question. 

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