Next week, the president Joe Biden It is exactly nine months after arriving in the White House. And although his mandate still has more than three years to go, at the moment he is in free fall. So much so that the situation is already causing panic among Democrats.
(Read here: US government suspends raids of immigrants in workplaces)
According to an average of surveys of Real Clear Politics, which includes recent polls from Gallup, Fox, Reuters, Rasmussen y Monmouth, the popularity of the president already reaches a sad 43 percent. A point drop when compared to his high point, which was a week after assuming the reins of the Oval Office.
(You may be interested in: Duque: an investment of US $ 2,300 million was achieved for 11 projects)
Although it has not yet reached the depths to which Donald Trump reached during his four-year term (34 percent in January 2021 and an average of 41 percent throughout his presidency), the figures are among the worst for a president in his first year of government. Just as sensitive are his disapproval rates, already reaching nearly 53 percent. In other words, more than half the country is seeing it with negative eyes.
To put it in context, Barack Obama, his Democratic predecessor, enjoyed 53 percent approval and only 40 percent critics at this point in his term.
The worst thing for Biden is that his image is falling even among the base of his own party. And drastically. In another sample from the PEW Research Center, its popularity among African Americans has dropped from 85 percent in July to 67 percent in September; among Hispanics from 72 percent to 56; and among Asians from 68 to 54 percent.
Overall, among Democratic voters the slump has been from 88 percent to 75 percent in just the last three months. In fact, there is no single indicator where Biden is doing well. The assessment for its performance in the face of the pandemic has fallen 14 points, in foreign policy 11 points, in economics 8 points, in immigration 10 points and in unification of the country 14 points.
They are not people who think to change parties. But they are people who feel disappointed and have lost enthusiasm
Although Biden started his presidency with a roof given the deep polarization that exists in the country after the traumatic elections last year, statistics show that from the well-known honeymoon that presidents experience at the beginning of their terms, there is nothing left.
(Read here: Police officers in the US violently remove an Afro paraplegic from his car)
Of course, regardless of polarization, there are several factors that explain the bad moment it is going through. Some associated with their own errors. Others, to the difficult situation in which he has had to govern.
Undoubtedly, the most costly – at least for now – has been the end of the US military intervention, in Afghanistan and the chaotic retreat of this country. The deaths of US soldiers, the sudden collapse of the Afghan government, and the refugee crisis it sparked are events that have brought Republicans, Democrats and allies in the international community together in criticism.
Another false start was his decision to negotiate an agreement for the sale of nuclear submarines to Australia behind the back of France, a country with which there was a previous business valued in billions of dollars. Such was the indignation of Paris that he called his ambassador to consult, something never before seen in the recent history of these two allies.
And in the domestic arena his problems are innumerable. Given their precarious majority in Congress, Republicans have managed to stop much of their agenda and, in the process, have made Democrats themselves fight. Two gigantic investment projects, one for $ 1.2 trillion in infrastructure and the other for $ 3.5 trillion to finance most of its proposals on climate change, education and health, are on hold.
And while an agreement was finally reached this week to raise the debt ceiling, finance government spending, and avoid an embarrassing default on US financial obligations, the pact only covers two months, which guarantees that this nightmare will return in December.
To top it off, the immigration issue it has become quite a headache. His rise to the White House and promises that under his administration the controversial anti-immigrant measures adopted by Trump would be reversed, caused a massive exodus of Central Americans to the southern border that has become chaotic.
At the same time, the decision to grant a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians who were already in the country, unleashed a new wave of migrants from this country who showed up at the border with the false illusion that it would also shelter them.
(In other news: Biden promises more investment in Mexico and Central America for migration)
And the images of men on horseback giving force to the illegals to avoid their passage, not only went around the world but also caused a storm among Democrats who bet on a more humane approach to immigration.
Many of the people who voted for Biden did so against Trump. Now that Trump is not here, they judge him on his own merits and the fulfillment of his promises
Not to mention the crisis that it caused in other countries such as Colombia, where thousands of Haitians have arrived seeking routes to enter the United States. This week President Iván Duque himself, another ally, asked the administration to clarify that this TPS does not include new migrants and that the arrival of Haitians is aggravating the extreme situation that the country is already experiencing due to the exodus of Venezuelans.
In a sense, Biden is up against a rock and a hard place. Given that the immigration issue is explosive in electoral terms, the president has preserved most of the policies that Trump raised to curb the entry of migrants and refugees. Something that resents the rank and file of the party and sees it as an unfulfilled promise. But the situation that has been created on the border has been used by his Republican rivals to criticize him for encouraging the arrival of foreigners.
And that is precisely where its main weakness lies. Biden came to the presidency well aware that the Republican opposition would be sustained and en bloc. But he has not been able to fulfill the base of his party that he expected a substantial change in the face of the Trump era.
They do not forgive him, for example, that he has thrown in the towel in the fight to raise the minimum wage, or that the Democrats have not been able to pass laws to reform the police or stop the electoral reforms that Republicans are advancing in several states to suppress the minority vote, among other things.
But doing it without the support of the Republicans would imply reforming the laws of the Legislative. Something that is seen as a “nuclear option” that the president has avoided so far.
The result has been an underachievement mandate that has left many dissatisfied. “A lot of the people who voted for Biden did so against Trump. Now that Trump is gone, they judge him on his own merits and the fulfillment of his promises. They are not people who think to change parties. But they are people who feel disappointed and have lost enthusiasm, “says Nsé Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project, an organization dedicated to promoting electoral participation.
A sentiment that has Democrats very concerned. Nobody knows if the bad news that Biden drags today will accompany him throughout his term. In fact, in three years the situation may change radically. But, facing the near future, the fear is great.
(See also: Everything you need to know about immigrant visas for the United States)
Almost a year before the midterm legislative elections, many believe that the president’s bad times could affect their chances of preserving the majority in Congress. That is already Pyrrhic in itself and that it faces a great challenge, since generally the party in power loses seats in this type of election.
If that happens, and the Republicans win back the legislature, his last two years in the White House could turn into a nightmare.
Many are looking at the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election next month as a thermometer to gauge the magnitude of the problem.
Until recently, the victory of Democrat Terry McAuliffe seemed assured in a state where this party has dominated political life for two decades. However, the latest polls show a rise in Republican Glenn Younkgin, which could come as a surprise.
For now, McAuliffe is still a favorite. But if he loses concern, he would panic, as it would be seen as a preamble to what can happen in the legislative elections.
Nobody knows yet. What is clear is that Biden, being the leader of the party, seems today a heavy burden.
SERGIO GÓMEZ MASERI
EN TWITTER: @ SERGOM68