The Biden Freefall

Ny Mag explains why Biden’s approval ratings are falling.

The so-called ‘honeymoon period’ ended in June, just as Biden’s approval ratings had peaked at 53%, according to 538. The recent decline is consistent with past presidents, the only exception being George Bush, who only served a single term, so it’s not like it’s that accurate of an indicator.

Such a decline is expected as Biden is unable to fulfill his lofty campaign promises. Moreover, there’s not going to be a ‘billionaire tax’, student loan debt forgiveness, or Medicare for all. This happens no matter who is president: no president can ever come close to fulfilling even just a fraction of their campaign objectives. Trump was especially weak in this regard. So this means some loss of enthusiasm by supporters, but come 2024, democrats’ morale will likely rise. Also, the losing side is stepping up their rhetoric and campaigning for mid-terms, which is also consistent with past trends, especially in 2009-2010 when Republicans went full-in on the offensive against Obama, which was a success as Republicans in 2010 picked up the most House seats since 1946.

I think most of this decline can be attributed to the media turning on Biden, especially regarding the economy. The administration can no longer count on the liberal media to defend it, unlike during the Obama and Clinton years. For the past half year or so, there have been endless headlines even by left-wing sources about surging CPI, ‘the highest inflation gains in xx number of years,’ etc. All of this negativity, weeks on end, eventually eroded to some degree the public’s confidence in Biden. And of course, the right-wing media is also doing the same, so Biden has lost pretty much all media support, save for NRP or a few other unimportant sources. Even the NYTs is cutting back on the wokeness.

Second, Covid made an abrupt comeback in the Summer of 2021 despite Biden assuring the public that the vaccines were ‘95% effective’, which was a lie (or to give the benefit of the doubt, he was badly misinformed).

Third, I think there is a widespread perception that Biden is too incompetent to be an effective leader, even more so than Trump, who was criticized by the media for not being incompetent. It’s hard to find anyone, except for diehard supporters, who actually likes Biden or will enthusiastically defend him. He embodies and typifies the post-Clinton ‘managerial style’ of politics. Everything is pre-planned and scripted and focus-group-tested, all the way down to the details such as ensuring that the crowds hired to attend Biden’s speeches and events are sufficiently diverse. Unlike Bill Clinton, Biden does not convey any sort of coolness or swagger. Biden voters have to concede that the person they voted for is likely not the same person as who is running things, but is just an avatar or simulacrum whatever he represents.

Twitter is also strongly anti-Biden based on what I have observed. Trolls notwithstanding, Trump still had plenty of vocal supporters in the comments on his official Twitter account (before it was axed), but it takes a lot of searching even on Biden’s official POTUS twitter account to find comments that are commendatory or praising of Biden’s performance. It’s either supporters complaining or other negative comments.

Those divisions erupted into view again in early November. After Democrats suffered a defeat in normally blue Virginia and a near defeat in deep-blue New Jersey, the party’s centrist wing had a ready explanation: They had veered too far from the center, catering to their activists rather than the people who had elected them. “We can’t go too far left,” warned Joe Manchin. “This is not a center-left or a left country. We are a center — if anything, a little center-right — country; that’s being shown, and we ought to be able to recognize that.”

The news media, after years of covering the party’s sharp left turn, were primed to accept this interpretation. “Tonight really empowers Manchin and [Kyrsten] Sinema,” a Democratic strategist told Politico. “Joe Manchin’s wing of the Democratic Party will seem much more crowded today,” observed the congressional tip sheet Punchbowl News.

I don’t think Manchin is to blame. Biden’s approval ratings had already bottomed at a new low a month before that. The Iraq pullout did not help either, as coverage was overwhelmingly negative as well, botched by poor planning and unforeseen problems.

[Not to defend Biden, but much of this talk of shortages and crisis is not supported by the evidence, at least by my own personal experience. With the threat of Covid fading, the media has hyped-up the supply and shipping crisis and semiconductor shortage. I was at Best Buy a few weeks ago to buy a new computer, and nothing had changed from when I was last there a couple years ago. Everything I wanted was in stock. It’s not like the laptops were out of stock due to chip shortages or supply chain breakdowns, as the media hype would have you believe. Just because the BMW 7-series or the Audi A8 does not have a certain type of chip, does not mean there is a widespread, catastrophic semiconductor shortage. Regarding inflation, I think however the CPI does understate the true rate of inflation for certain items, such as due to shrinkflation. The quality of clothes has declined markedly I have found too, which can be considered another type of inflation. But this long predates 2021.]

The American elite are not some homogenous, monolithic entity. Its interest are diverse. Media and tech elites generally seek profits and hence will allow considerable criticism of left and the ‘ruling class’ if it’s financially expedient to do so, as we see with the alt-lite’s major presence on Twitter (Ben Schapiro and such), or endless stories about inflation and shortages. Business elites hope to gain the favor of political elites, which explains the censorship of vaccine skepticism on social media. Political elites want to maintain their own power, first and foremost, even before appealing to business elites or the public. Academic elites, probably being the weakest of the three categories, are motivated by ideological purity more so than the other two.