By Ron Faucheux
A deep dive into the data should put a Halloween scare into the White House – and the Democratic Party.
President Joe Biden’s dropping poll numbers are worse than they seem. A deep dive into the data shows two overlooked problems that most news stories haven’t caught: an intensity problem and a national mood problem.
An intensity problem happens when a politician’s “hard” negative ratings rise much higher than his or her “hard” positive ratings. Voters who hold strongly negative views are less likely to shift to the positive side than are voters who hold only somewhat negative views — and that spells trouble in the next election.
Put another way, Biden’s supporters tend to be only so-so in their esteem, while opponents are more passionate in their enmity.
In the recent Quinnipiac University poll , for example, Biden’s overall job approval rating is 40%, with 53% disapproving. That’s not good. But when you look at internal numbers that didn’t make it into the headlines, it gets worse: The number of voters who strongly disapprove of the job the president is doing is more than twice that of those who strongly approve, 45% to 20%.
The same is true for Biden’s personal popularity. Among voters, he’s 46% favorable and 51% unfavorable in an Economist poll . However, the very unfavorable is bigger than the very favorable, 40% to 26%.
Biden also has an intensity problem when it comes to his handling of important issues. Economist polling found that almost twice as many voters strongly disapprove of Biden’s handling of jobs and the economy than those who strongly approve, 39% to 20%. In addition, 35% strongly disapprove of Biden’s performance on healthcare, while only 17% strongly approve, and 35% strongly disapprove of his handling of the abortion issues, while only 15% strongly approve. On crime, 38% strongly disapprove and 12% strongly approve.
Even on civil rights, a core Democratic issue, Biden’s approval rating is underwater at 42%, with 47% disapproving. Adding to the sting: Strongly disapprove is more than twice that of strongly approve, 35% to 16%. Immigration is worse. A late September survey found Biden’s approval rating on the issue is 24%, with 61% disapproving. Looking at intensity, 43% strongly disapproved and a mere 4% strongly approved.
None of this is good news for Democrats, just like it wasn’t good news for Republicans when former President Donald Trump’s hard negative ratings wreaked havoc on his party in the 2018 midterm elections, when the GOP lost 41 House seats, and in the 2020 presidential election, when it lost the White House. In the latest Economist poll, Trump’s very unfavorable rating is nearly twice as big as his very favorable rating, 48% to 25%.
In addition to polls on Biden, survey data are capturing an increasingly troublesome public mood. The poll that received the most attention was conducted by Gallup , showing 52% of voters believe “government is trying to do too many things,” while 43% believe “government should do more to solve our country’s problems.”
Gallup’s previous measure a year earlier found only 41% thought the government was doing too much and that 54% wanted it to do more. That’s a big turnaround, and it works against public acceptance of the big-ticket, multitrillion-dollar agenda that Biden and the far Left are pushing.
Moreover, Gallup found that 50% of voters said they prefer “less government services in order to reduce taxes,” while only 19% prefer “more government services if that meant more taxes.” Twenty-nine percent said they’d prefer the level of services and taxes as now exist.
The Quinnipiac poll found that a majority of adults, 52%, think the country is worse off today than it was a year ago, and 41% think it’s better off. On top of that, 69% perceive the economy as either “poor” or “not so good.”
These are the kinds of survey results that give an “in” party heartburn.
Democrats, however, are lucky their adversaries aren’t doing so hot, either. Quinnipiac found that while 60% of voters disapprove of the way Democrats in Congress are handling their job, an even bigger 65% disapprove of the Republicans.
The best possible advice to both sides is advice they won’t take: Forget politics and focus on governing. As we see in the numbers, voters are restless.
Ron Faucheux is a writer, pollster, and nonpartisan political analyst. He publishes “LunchtimePolitics.com ,” a newsletter on polls.
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