This Week: The Briefing, Vol. X, Issue 30
- Democrats intensify jockeying to replace Biden
- Republican voter enthusiasm is way up
- DeSantis nearly catches up with Trump in Michigan
As hard as it is to believe, Joe Biden’s approval ratings continue to find new depths, this time down to 31 percent. And he trails former President Donald Trump in four out of the last five polls of that hypothetical matchup.
We noted last week that Democrats are already openly jockeying for position to replace him on the 2024 ballot. And within the last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has expanded his trolling ad campaign from Florida to Texas. The obvious intention is to increase his profile with Democrats in those states who hate their own respective governors. They’ll get a vote in the 2024 primaries, after all.
No other Democrats situated to run appear to be taking such public steps toward doing so.
Newsom is hardly an ideal candidate for Democrats, but he is in a much better position to do this sort of thing than the other obvious contender, Kamala Harris. It’s not just that Harris’s favorable numbers are even worse than Biden’s. It’s also that, as his vice president, Harris almost certainly cannot run against Biden. Even if she does choose eventually to break with him and run again, she has to be a loyal member of the administration until stabbing him in the back at the last minute.
But that’s 2024. In the meantime, Democrats have to deal with Biden’s numbers dragging them down in the 2022 midterm. And here, they loom over everything. Biden’s average approval gap — that is, the difference between his approval and disapproval ratings — is negative 20 points.
One effect is that Republicans are significantly more enthusiastic about voting this fall than Democrats are. This shows up in the Marquette University Law School poll conducted nationwide and released last week.
That survey shows that 63% of Republicans are “very enthusiastic” about voting in November, up 8 points since May. Compare that to just 45% of Democrats who are “very enthusiastic.” That is a potentially fatal enthusiasm gap, although not unprecedented for a president’s first midterm.
But the even more alarming part for Democrats has to be the loss of faith in Biden among voters in core Democratic groups. Younger voters are among the most thoroughly disillusioned by Biden, giving him only a 21 percent approval rating in the latest Quinnipiac poll. Hispanic voters are also especially sour on Biden, giving him only 19 percent, with a shockingly high 68 percent disapproval rating. This one is perhaps less surprising, as a realignment appears to be going on in this demographic group.
Both of these groups view former President Donald Trump unfavorably, mind you, but not as unfavorably as they view Biden. And the poll also shows Republicans narrowly winning the Hispanic vote (45 to 42 percent) while losing the youngest age cohort (under 35) by a mere 10 points, which is much better than one would normally expect.
Dobbs decision: Ever since Roe v. Wade was overturned, we have been keeping an eye out for any evidence that that event is helping Democrats avoid a massive electoral loss this fall. Although the Dobbs decision is unpopular when survey respondents are asked about it, we see no evidence so far that it is negatively affecting election outcomes for pro-life candidates or the party normally associated with them.
January 6 Committee: The other lifeline that Democrats are counting on (or at least hoping for) is the January 6 show trial. Hearings were televised in prime time last week, and the committee will return with a final report in the fall, sure to be scathing.
One very interesting result of the Quinnipiac Poll was that, even though Trump’s favorability rating is significantly higher than Biden’s, 48% of respondents believe that he actually committed a crime associated with the Capital riot.
So it appears that this understanding, to some degree, is baked into the cake. Even with that, however, Democrats are losing the generic congressional vote with national adults by one point in that same poll. So far, then, January 6 hasn’t become a lifeline yet, either, although it could affect things going forward into 2024.
New Hampshire: The Democratic firm Data for Progress has Sen. Maggie Hassan narrowly leading all three of her relatively anonymous potential opponents. Hassan gets 49% against Chuck Morse, Kevin Smith, and Donald Bolduc. Morse gets 46%, whereas the other two get 45%.
The same poll shows that, Even as Democratic wokeness threatens the future of New Hampshire’s first in the nation presidential primary, most voters do not blame Hassan or any other elected official for this. It is considered bad form in New Hampshire in both parties to try to turn the first in the nation primary into a political issue.
Michigan: Here’s an interesting result from a Detroit News poll. Former president Donald Trump, although he has a 76% favorability rating with Republican voters in the Great Lakes State, is in a virtual tie with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 presidential nomination. The final result is 45% Trump to 42% DeSantis, well within the poll’s margin of error. Trump remains who he is, and most Republicans continue to love him, but voters may warm more quickly to someone who is in the spotlight, actively fighting a relevant battle. Where Trump seems fixed upon the 2020 election — even to the point of calling Wisconsin legislators to get them to decertify Biden’s victory — DeSantis has is sparring with leftists on major cultural issues and winning most of his fights, all while running for re-election.