The state of Joe Biden’s United States

March 03, 2022

By Brooke Rollins

By Brooke Rollins in The Washington Times

President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address this week, and its theatrics proved a testament to his disastrous first year in office. Frightened by the twin specters of continued protests against draconian COVID-19 mandates and general American disapproval, his administration caused the United States Capitol to be ringed with new fencing — and they’ve put the National Guard on alert. Perhaps nothing synopsizes the capsizing vessel that is the Biden White House than this: They’re building a fortress around the seat of the American people’s government but refuse to protect our nation’s southern border.

The sense of dread felt by the president’s apparatus is justified because Americans deeply dislike the president. A pair of new polls tell the tale.

One of them, from NBC/PBS NewsHour/Marist, puts the president at a mere 39% approval. That approval number is smaller than the lone strong-disapproval cohort, which sits at 41% — with 55% disapproving at large. All the subject-matter indicators are similarly bad. Only 36% approve of Mr. Biden’s economic record. A stunning 67%, more than two-thirds of Americans, believe the country is going in the wrong direction. 

Among Americans at large, 56% consider his first year in office to be a failure. That last number gets more interesting when you break it down: Mr. Biden’s first year is a failure according to 61% of whites, 28% of Blacks and 56% of Hispanics. Every single age and area cohort puts up a majority believing he’s failed.

We should pause here to reflect on what these figures mean. Sentiment figures are not predictive of election or candidate-preference outcomes, but they are suggestive. What these numbers suggest, especially as the president is the de facto stand-in for national Democrats, is that Democrats won’t win nationally again for a generation. This may seem like hyperbole, but the numbers alone bear it on the race/ethnicity figures. A Democratic candidate who loses more than a quarter of the black vote, and a majority of the Hispanic vote, isn’t going anywhere. A Democratic candidate who squanders the usual Democratic advantage among young voters isn’t going anywhere.

An alert observer might note that this is consistent with the unfolding reorientation of the Democratic coalition toward a mostly white, mostly college-educated core demographic. That’s probably accurate. But that even among them, Biden’s year-one failure is stark: He loses a majority of men and musters only a plurality among women. This is a coalition in collapse.

The other poll, from WaPo/ABC, offers even worse news in its approval rating for the president. It sits at a historic low of 37%. A figure this low in the era of modern polling usually represents the nadir of a president’s fortunes. It also usually requires something catastrophic to have occurred that imparts upon the Nation a sense of humiliation. That’s why, according to Gallup’s numbers, President Lyndon B. Johnson got into this territory after Tet, and President Ronald Reagan got into it after the Beirut massacre. Mr. Biden has his own foreign-policy disasters to answer for — chief among them the American defeat in Afghanistan and the failure to prevent the Russian war upon Ukraine — but that is hardly the whole bill of indictment against him.

This second poll also illuminates the first’s picture of a collapsing Democratic coalition with sentiment numbers speaking directly to their likely electoral consequences. With midterm elections rapidly approaching, Americans prefer Republican control of Congress by a bare majority. They intend to vote for a Republican Congressional candidate by a seven-point plurality. They give the Republicans just shy of a 20-point advantage in efficacy on the economy.

What does all this mean? A presidential-approval rating isn’t a baseball score. It signifies something consequential — not just about the state of the president, but about the state of America. Just over a year after Mr. Biden took office, the country he helms is suffering thanks to his leadership or absence thereof. We have endured defeat abroad, war in Europe, economic insecurity, a historical border crisis, generational inflation and more. The kicker to it is he’s just getting started: This is only year one, and this administration will last through to January 2025.

The good news, though, is that if the State of the Union is tested and divided, then the state of America is strong — because unlike their fenced-in and heavily guarded elites in Washington, Americans are strong. It’s easy to look at our leadership and feel despair, but that would be a mistake. All we need to do is look to one another to feel hope. This country isn’t done yet. The greatest legacy of the failed administration of Jimmy Carter is it ushered in the freedom, hope and prosperity of Reagan. Similarly, I am confident Mr. Biden will usher in the return of America First!

Brooke Leslie Rollins is the President and CEO of the America First Policy Institute.