Politics What Biden's low approval ratings and high-profile wins could...

What Biden’s low approval ratings and high-profile wins could mean for the midterms


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President Biden speaks from the White House balcony on Monday, announcing that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been killed in a US drone strike.

Jim Watson/Pool/Getty Images

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Jim Watson/Pool/Getty Images

President Biden speaks from the White House balcony on Monday, announcing that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been killed in a US drone strike.

Jim Watson/Pool/Getty Images

It’s been a busy few weeks for President Biden. Despite repeated cases of covid, he has been able to attempt the assassination of Al-Qaeda’s top leader, Gas prices fellA major domestic production bill passed and Congress is on the verge of finally passing a major health care, tax and climate package.

Those wins come at a crucial time, with November’s midterm elections fast approaching and Biden’s approval ratings at an all-time low.

npr/PBS NewsHourA /Marist poll released in mid-July put Biden’s approval rating at 36%. And the drop in Biden’s support from his own party is a record low, with a relatively low 75% of Democrats saying they approve of the job he’s doing (for comparison, former President Donald Trump’s approval rating in his party has never been lower).

Could these recent victories change how Democrats feel about the president and what they consider their options before the midterms?

NPR White House Correspondent Asma Khalid asked these questions Morning edition Two Democratic strategists: Ben LaBolt, who worked on communications for Biden and former President Barack Obama, and Chris Huntley, Sen. Former speechwriter for Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

While midterms are typically historically difficult for any party in control of the White House, LaBolt says these strong results and momentum in Congress are showing people that their votes matter and could help change perceptions of the president and congressional Democrats.

Huntley agrees that it’s a “real vivid, galvanizing moment” for many people. And he believes others will be swayed to vote not by the success of Democrats, but by the threat of Republican control of Congress.

“There are a lot of people who want the president and the administration to go further on the environment, to go further on student loans, to go further on voting rights, to go further on justice. … I think people understand the urgency. At this point, and if we’re going to take these important, “It’s a slippery slope if we lose key state races,” Huntley says.

What can Biden do to woo voters before the midterms?

“A lot of people, progressive people, are saying, ‘Look, we need to do more to meet our nation’s human infrastructure needs,'” says Huntley. “We have to invest in America’s most valuable resource, its people.”

That could include more investment in child nutrition, tuition-free community college, paid family and medical leave and other initiatives that Biden promised and championed at the start of his administration.

“The political reality doesn’t match that,” adds Huntley.

For example, many young voters are disappointed that Biden hasn’t followed through on his campaign promise to forgive at least a portion of student loan debt — something Huntley noted disproportionately affects people of color and “crushes an entire generation.”

LaBolt says he understands why some Democrats are frustrated or apathetic, having voted in record numbers only to see campaign promises go unfulfilled. But he encourages them to celebrate other victories as confirmed by the Congress Record number of judges and advancing major climate and health care legislation.

“A lot of these were listed as priorities during the Democratic primaries, when certain subsets of America were discussing what issues were most important to them,” LaBolt says of those campaign promises. “Well, today the American people, the broad electorate, are telling us that the cost of living is the most important thing to them. And that’s exactly where the focus of the president and Congress is today.”

Is 2024 too early to think about?

Given these accomplishments, Khalid asks, why do so many Americans not want Biden to run for president again? A CNN poll A poll released last week, for example, found that 75% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters want the party to nominate someone else.

Huntley acknowledges that the political process moves slower than many people would like, but encourages them to focus on issues like liberties at stake.

LaBolt agrees, the focus should be on the 2022 midterms, not the 2024 presidential election.

“People like to focus on presidential elections because that’s the highest-profile form of politics we practice,” he says. “But there have been presidents from President Obama to President Clinton who have gone through tough midterm elections. And then when the American people were presented with an alternative, which was Republican control of Congress, they realized that’s what they wanted and it wasn’t Republican. Focus on their priorities. Didn’t.”

How can Biden take bold action without being divisive?

LaBolt says the question is where Biden channels his political energy to achieve the most effective results (for example, two Democratic senators do not support changing the filibuster).

Despite those challenges, LaBolt says Biden is taking action where he can, such as addressing voting rights through the Justice Department and moving toward climate action through the Environmental Protection Agency.

“These are presidents who have worked in government their entire careers,” LaBolt says. “He understands that Congress has some levers to pull. The executive has some levers to pull. The levers that the executive pulls are constraints on what the courts will do with those executive actions. And so I think he’s studied very closely what the executive. They can do. Such actions, where they can be effective in such a way that they will not be thrown out by the courts, but continue to advance these important priorities.”

At the end of the day, given Biden’s platform and track record, Huntley says there are “just so many different ways that he’s taking a progressive policy.” Therefore, voters feel it is more important to speak, he added.

“I believe it’s up to us to make sure we hold our leaders accountable … so that when we take a stand on student loan cancellation, when we call for progress in health care, when we call for stronger. Investing in climate change, witnessing There’s a cloud that joins us and it’s not seen as a minority idea,” says Huntley. “It is seen what the will of the people is.”

This interview was conducted by Asma Khalid, produced by Nina Kravinsky and David West, and edited by John Helton and Kaity Kline.

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