This week: The Briefing, Vol. X, Issue 28
- Joe Biden’s Roaring 20s
- What could an election amid recession look like?
- Trump endorses Mullin for runoff
Coping with failure: The delusion of the partisan usually holds that somehow, natural political consequences and historic political trends can somehow be avoided. In a midterm year, a president’s party can be expected to suffer substantial losses even when things are relatively good — as Donald Trump’s Republican Party was in 2018, George W. Bush’s was in 2006, and Barack Obama’s in 2014.
But when things are lousy — at a time of inflation, spiking energy prices, shortages, an apparent recession, spiraling crime, rampant homelessness — the political consequences to the president’s party are likely to be severe.
Democrats have an answer to this — it just isn’t a very good one. The January 6 committee seems to be their means of coping with the failure of the Biden presidency and the likelihood of large Republican gains in November’s election.
Democrats have genuinely convinced themselves that the January 6, 2021 riot is going to be a major issue in the 2022 election. One can see them proclaiming this on the major media networks and in the newspapers. One can see it on social media. Some people really do believe that recent testimony before the House select committee has the attention of the nation and will be deeply consequential.
This continues to be very much a delusion — a mistake, or perhaps even a willing delusion.
At a moment when most of the population has ceased to think about Trump at all (remember — only a tiny percentage of voters even participate in party primaries), let alone the Capitol riot, the media remain obsessed with him. They seem at times to forget who is actually the president of the United States.
Biden’s Roaring 20s: But for most people, the focus is on Joe Biden, not Donald Trump. One guy is actually president and falling off his bike. They other guy isn’t even allowed back on Twitter.
A new poll from Civiqs, which has surveyed more than 200,000 registered over the course of the election cycle, has Biden below 30% approval for the first time. This is the lowest point of his presidency so far. Among registered voters age 34 and under, Biden’s approval rating is only 20%, according to that same poll, with 60% disapproval. Kamala Harris polls only slightly better.
For purposes of comparison: President Trump, who never even once scored a positive approval rating in the Civiqs poll at any time in his presidency — not even during his so-called honeymoon period — nonetheless never fell below 39% approval over the course of four years and 510,000 survey responses by Civiqs.
In fact, the only groups with whom Biden’s numbers are not upside-down right now are self-identified Democrats (63% approval), blacks (only 55%), Hawaiians (46%) and Vermonters (43%). That’s it. His deep unpopularity continues to be a factor in every politically important state for 2022, including the key Senate battlegrounds of Pennsylvania (57% disapproval), Arizona (63%), Ohio (63%), Wisconsin (58%), North Carolina (59%), Nevada (60%), and Georgia (63%).
Meanwhile, Republicans continue to hold a consistent upper hand in polls of the generic congressional ballot.
Somehow, the blockbuster testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson has not changed any of this or even created a slight blip in the trend.
Of course, anything can happen. There are no certainties in politics. But It is rare to see such a divergence between reality and the media narrative as wide as the one developing now.
The last time the divergence was this apparent was probably in late 2013, when Senate Republicans shut down the government for a time. The conventional pundit wisdom then was that Republicans, already deeply divided, would never survive their chaotic and hopeless effort to block Obamacare, nor their raucous primary season. Instead, the 2014 election returned a historically large Republican House majority and a nine-seat GOP gain in the Senate. And again, that was at a time where the circumstances were much more favorable to Barack Obama’s Democratic Party than today’s are to Joe Biden and his party.
Biden’s travails far exceed anything Obama suffered. Where Obama struggled due to a slow recovery, Biden’s America is about to be plunged into an official recession just in time for the fall campaign season. And the public, far from being captivated by January 6 or obsessed with Donald Trump, yawned both of them off a year ago or more.
The truth is that Democrats, far from wanting to nationalize this year’s election, are going to do everything they can to de-nationalize it. They will pursue a least-harm strategy of helping their candidates succeed and survive based on “local issues.”
To be sure, that business about “local issues” gets a bad rap. It is the perennial mantra of every losing party in every election cycle and it has been for decades. But for a party headed toward big losses, a nationalized election is a much scarier prospect. A nationalized election focused on the likely upcoming announcement that the economy is in recession would be even more of a disaster. This hasn’t happened in earnest since 2008, when George W. Bush’s Republicans were clobbered and Barack Obama took power with a 60-seat Senate majority. This time, it could be just as bad.
Georgia: Although the outlook on this race has been mixed and the polling scrambled, it is good for Republicans to see that at least some polls have NFL great Herschel Walker already leading the accidental Sen. Ralph Warnock, even if they are Democratic polls. Democrats are trying to use Walker’s illegitimate children against him, whereas Warnock faces headwinds over an apparent illegal use of campaign money.
Missouri: It could be premature, but in the late stages of this August 2 Republican primary, a new survey from the Tarrance Group has disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens falling back to 16% out of what seemed like an eternal virtual three-way tie. The remaining frontrunners are Rep. Vicky Hartzler (24 percent) and Attorney General Eric Schmitt (28 percent). Greitens’s approval rating with Republicans is upside-down (49 percent disapprove), so it may have been inevitable that his level of support on the ballot question would fall off eventually.
Former President Trump has not endorsed in this race, but he did have some nice things to say a few months ago about Rep. Billy Long, who is back into the single digits. Over the weekend, he savaged Hartzler and announced he would not be endorsing her. It was not immediately clear why.
Oklahoma: Former state House Speaker and cable news favorite T.W. Shannon already faced an uphill climb in his Aug. 23 runoff election, but President Trump’s endorsement of Rep. Markwayne Mullin probably seals the deal. Mullin got 43 percent in Round One amid a crowded field. The very people most likely to find Mullin unacceptable — the most active conservative voters — are also the most likely to be swayed by Trump.