Biden still trying to change the subject

This week: Sept. 13, 2021 The Briefing, Vol. IX, Issue 36

  • Public opinion still turning against Biden
  • Sneaky vaccine employer mandate will not be a political winner
  • California Democrats’ racist violence points to a changing political future 


Biden swoon: The rout in Afghanistan is very clearly defining the Biden administration, and it is crushing Joe Biden’s approval numbers. It is an early sign that Biden cannot outrun the traditionally harsh midterm electorate that most first-term presidents face.

Since early August, public polling shows that Biden has progressed from being a relatively popular president in his post-inaugural honeymoon to a troubled and unpopular president whose public facade is on the point of collapse. His numbers have only just begun dragging down Democrats, given that little polling is going on at this point. 

With Biden underwater and in many polls above 50% unpopularity and rising, the congressional generic ballot is nearly tied — traditionally, anything less than a five-point Democratic lead in this measure is a sign that Republicans are ahead. Likewise, although there has not been an abundance of polling lately, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is failing to run away with this fall’s Virginia governor’s race the way one might expect under normal circumstances.  

It is hard to keep the respect of the voting public when you reach majority disapproval — it means that every word out of your mouth only makes people dislike you more. At that point, it becomes hard to dig out of the hole. 

Domestic Pivot: At the moment, Biden is looking for new subjects to discuss in order to distract from Afghanistan. He isn’t having a lot of luck. 

For one thing, he has gotten stuck on his reconciliation package because Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema continue openly refusing to support the $3.5 trillion measure. As much as Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to rage over this, it only helps Manchin in his home state to be able to draw the contrast. There is no universe in which Manchin benefits from siding with the far Left in the Senate — not even if he can bring some bacon home to his state. Although it is different for Sinema, she has no reason to become the 49th vote for something that isn’t going to pass. Manchin effectively gives her cover on the more contentious elements of reconciliation.

Meanwhile, Biden’s efforts to wade into coronavirus politics might be backfiring as well. His declaration of victory over COVID was definitely premature. His attempt now to impose a backdoor national vaccination mandate via Labor regulations is not popular — large majorities appear to oppose it, viewing it as an unconstitutional overreach that will be easily taken even further and abused even more by a future president

The public’s ambivalence about vaccination — they support it, but they also don’t support rules that force it upon employees — is making it difficult to get much political traction on the issue. There hasn’t been much discussion about Biden’s plan to deputize employers and make them require vaccination, but it could become very awkward if a sufficient number of employees refuse. Already, the labor market is so tight in many states that employers cannot fill shifts without offering huge bonuses. If they have to get rid of all vaccine-hesitant employees, it will make things significantly worse. That is to say nothing of the bad blood it will create in many workplaces. Democrats typically inveigh against employer control of employees’ private live — for example, when they claim that the failure to offer certain contraceptives under Obamacare was equivalent to “employer control” of employees’ healthcare. Their sudden embrace of this as a legitimate power of private employers is awkward to say the least. 

Thus, Biden’s efforts to turn vaccination into a political rallying cry against Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republicans he could potentially face in 2024 will be of doubtful use to him. He wants to appear to his base like he is doing something, but it is probably going to be a net negative for his approval rating. 

Governor 2021

California: A white woman wearing a monkey mask attacked a black candidate. But because the victim was Larry Elder, a conservative campaigning for the gubernatorial recall, this act of flagrant racist violence is being glossed over and almost ignored by media within the state. But it is a reminder that, at some point, something has to give. 

Although Gov. Gavin Newsom, D, is now perceived as likely to survive this week’s recall election, there will be a reckoning someday soon for an increasingly white and wealthy left-wing Democratic Party — a party that believes it is entitled to the support of black and Hispanic voters, no matter how little respect it shows them as human beings. Democrats have not been able to accept for decades the idea that non-whites have personal agency and are free to hold whatever political views they wish. 

The fact that Republicans gained black and Hispanic voters moved toward Republicans in the Trump era has been a constant thorn in the side of a narcissistic, mostly white and left-wing media that worked overtime to make some kind of racial innuendo out of everything Trump said. They can’t handle the existence of black conservatives or the fact that Hispanic traditional Democratic strongholds along the Texas border are suddenly starting to turn red. 

The attack on Elder is just one more reminder of this second-most important trend in politics today after the Blue-ing of the suburbs. It turns out that the Bush Republicans had the wrong idea about how to appeal especially to Hispanic but also to black voters. The political sands are shifting such that, at the margins, the Republican Party is going to be a “less-white” party in the future, just as it was perceived when ethnic immigrant families migrated away from the Democrats before and during the Reagan era. 

Senate 2022

Georgia: A new poll shows football legend Herschel Walker running away with the Republican nomination at 76 percent of the vote. This is an astounding result even if it overestimates his support by 20 points. This suggests that Walker could potentially settle the question early and avoid a runoff, winning the nomination in the first round of the primary and perhaps even making some of the current candidates rethink the race.

The GOP nominee in this contest will be running against Sen. Raphael Warnock, who won a partial term in the 2020 special election.

Missouri: For Republicans hoping to avoid nominating former Gov. Eric Greitens, there might be a bit of hope. A new survey by Missouri Scout suggests that Attorney General Eric Schmitt, R, is at least competitive with him, clocking in at 28 percent to Greitens’ 27 percent. Although Democrats have yet to field a truly top-shelf candidate for this open-seat race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, Greitens resigned from office under a cloud and could be vulnerable as the party’s nominee.

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