At Ernest Hemingway’s The sun also rises, a character is asked how he went bankrupt. “Gradually, then suddenly” is the answer.
This formulation could also help explain what it feels like to lose an election. The collapse of popular support for President Joe Biden has been so long in coming that a new Quinnipiac poll showing him with just 33% approval (!) has been met with mostly yawns.
Dig a little deeper, however, and things get even scarier for Democrats.
Biden votes a dismal 24% approval among Hispanics (with 54% disapproval). And while its numbers among African Americans are still above water at 63%, its numbers have fallen nearly 20 percentage points since last April.
This poll may be a new low, but it is not an outlier. The trends are clear. NBC News recently compared polls from 2018 (a great midterm year for the Dems) with its own polls from 2022 — and college-educated women are the only cohort become bluer. (Conversely, NBC News found a “pronounced [Republican] change in men’s 20 points,” as noted by Steve Kornacki.)
So why is all this happening and what does it all mean? Let’s unbox this.
There are many theories as to why Hispanics downgraded on Biden, but let’s start with a few pick cuts.
Many Hispanics work in the service industry and have been disproportionately harmed by the lockdowns (a policy more likely to be associated with the Democratic Party). Some Hispanics came to America from socialist countries with political repression and failing economies, and therefore dislike the increasingly socialist tilt of the Democratic Party. And some are repelled by the party’s “woke” politics. For example, many Latinos really don’t like the word “Latinx”. And there are polls to suggest that Hispanic Democrats have been particularly discouraged by the “defunding the police” rhetoric.
What about black Americans? One theory holds that Biden’s failure to pass progressive legislation, like a voting rights bill or police reform, is to blame. But there’s really no data to suggest that black voters prioritized those goals. Likewise, Biden’s slide with black Americans began before his legislative failures. (Interestingly, it seems more plausible that Biden’s vaccine mandates actually had something to do with this decline.)
The main explanation, however, is probably simple: Hispanics and African Americans, like many of us, are worried about inflation.
“The Democrats are a bit like a man lost at sea who finally decides to quench his thirst by drinking salt water. And if Democrats are at sea, Biden deserves much of the blame.”
As Democratic pollster Jay Campbell told CNBC, “The cost of living just blew everything else, including COVID, out of the water. And part of the reason for that is that there is attitudes about the economy that are largely a partisan phenomenon,” Campbell said. “That’s not the case with inflation, or at least not right now. This is the main problem for Democrats, Independents and Republicans.
This makes even more sense when you consider that inflation hurts low-wage Americans more than anyone else, and that a disproportionate percentage of minorities belong to this economic cohort. As a result, some once reliable Democratic voters may prioritize their “working class” status over their racial identity.
To understand how dangerous this attrition is for Dems, consider that only about 37.5% of Americans have a bachelor’s degree and about 60% of Americans are white (about 65% of whites didn’t get a bachelor’s degree). their university degree). Because white people with no college education have a strong tendency to lean towards Republicans, Democrats must outperform with all the others just to keep up. It’s not enough to win over college graduates and minority voters – margins matter. And Joe Biden does not deliver.
Complicating the problem further, the more predictable quick fixes could actually make Democrats’ long-term problems worse.
If you assume that college-educated women are your main base, what do you do or say to increase their participation rate? And if you assume that minority votes are essential to prevent an electoral tsunami, what do you say or do (apart from fixing inflation)?
It’s a Catch-22. The fastest way for Democrats to grow in numbers might be to do or say progressive things that, ironically, perpetuate their long-term decline.
In this regard, the Democrats are a bit like a man lost at sea who finally decides to quench his thirst by drinking salt water. And if Democrats are at sea, Biden deserves much of the blame.
After being elected, Biden quickly shrugged off the “Biden coalition” that got him elected and tried to become LBJ’s second coming. The disastrous pullout from Afghanistan came on his watch, and it seems to have started his decline in the polls. Likewise, Biden’s policies and rhetoric have likely contributed to a range of issues, including inflation and the border crisis. And finally, Biden’s inability to lead or inspire effectively as a public speaker makes it very difficult for him to change the current trajectory.
With his approval ratings hitting a new low, Joe Biden had better hopes that April was, indeed, the cruelest month of the year. We were already expecting complete obliteration for the Dems, in November. Don’t get me wrong: it could be even worse.
The sun goes down too.