“The President’s popularity rating is lower than in any previous Post-ABC News poll. For the first time a majority expressed little or no confidence that his program will lead to improvement of the economy….A majority of Americans, 54 percent, disapproves of his overall handling of the presidency. Only 42 percent approve of his performance, a striking shift of 17 points since four months ago, when the president was given a 49-to-44 percent favorable rating. The president has lost support across the board, from Republicans, Democrats and independents….Fifty-eight percent said that, where they live, the current presidency has made things worse for people. Only 20 percent said it has made things better.”
Is the president referenced here Joe Biden? No. You would be surprised to learn it was a poll on Ronald Reagan from January 25, 1983. Other polls at the time indicated that Reagan’s approval rating was as low as 35%.
The problem for Reagan in early 1983 was that unemployment was 10.8%. However, the economy rebounded strongly beginning in the summer of 1983 and unemployment dropped to 7.4% by October 1984. Moreover, Democratic nominee Walter Mondale ran a poor campaign. As we all know, Reagan was easily re-elected.
The lesson here is that early presidential approval ratings don’t mean very much. Early in their term, presidents are compared to their campaign promises and to a hypothetical ideal that doesn’t exist. By the time a president is up for re-election and voters are tuned in, the president is compared to the actual alternative being offered up by the opposing party.
Like Reagan, Bill Clinton overcame early low approval ratings to cruise to an easy re-election. Clinton hit his low mark of a 37% approval rating in June 1993. The turning point for the Clinton presidency were Newt Gingrich’s two government shutdowns aimed at funding tax breaks for the rich with cuts to Medicare. Gingrich’s extremism scared swing voters and boosted Clinton’s approval ratings. What’s more, the economy steadily improved between 1993 and 1996.
Barack Obama’s trajectory was similar to those of Reagan and Clinton. Obama’s approval rating bottomed out at 38% between August and October of 2011. Like Reagan, Obama was dragged down by a poor economy.
As in the case of Reagan and Clinton, the economy began to make steady progress late in Obama’s first term. Between early 2009 and October 2012, the unemployment rate declined from 10% to 7.7%.
Obama was also blessed by weak and extreme opposition. Mitt Romney was a ruthless corporate raider who made himself extremely wealthy by laying off thousands of workers. In addition, Romney committed a huge gaffe when he dismissed 47% of the U.S. population as irresponsible moochers who felt entitled to government assistance.
At the present time, President Biden appears to be in a position similar to Reagan, Clinton and Obama during the early portion of his first term. Currently, Biden’s approval rating is 42.9% in Nate Silver’s presidential approval polling average. What’s more, swing voters are unhappy about the status of the pandemic and 6% inflation.
Fortunately, Biden appears to share the same positive pattern with his last three predecessors who were re-elected. Already, the economy is hot — Biden has created a record 5.6 million jobs in 10 months and we’re experiencing our strongest GDP growth since Reagan’s “Morning in America” during the early 1980s.
The economy isn’t only good right now — it’s expected to get better. Most economists believe that the current bout of inflation is temporary and should be over by late 2022 and or early 2023. Unemployment is projected to drop to 3.5% by early 2023 and 4.3% GDP growth is forecast by 2022.
Biden won’t only be enjoying a good economy, he will also be facing extreme and incompetent opposition. If the GOP regains control of one or more houses of Congress in 2022, they will scare the hell out of swing voters.
Already, the members of the so-called House Freedom Caucus are talking about a government shutdown aimed at stopping Biden’s vaccine/testing mandate. The likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert will control Kevin McCarthy if he should become speaker. Expect multiple government shutdowns aimed at ending funding for the production and distribution of vaccines.
What’s more, Trump will be the GOP nominee again in 2024. Trump wondered if you could inject disinfectants into the human body to cure disease. He thought we had planes that were invisible, and he ate “hamberders.” He wanted to shoot nuclear missiles at hurricanes, put alligators in a moat, and buy Greenland.
Trump has visibly deteriorated since he was soundly defeated by Biden in 2020. “If you read Trump’s statements everyday its obvious that he’s completely off his rocker. By that I mean even more off his rocker than he was before. Who better to make president than an obsessive 78 year old narcissist.” Heather Digby Parton.
Now some of you may scoff about my bold and fearless prediction. Let me tell you something. In a piece dated August 2, 2019, I predicted that Joe Biden would win the Democratic nomination. Subsequently, in a piece dated July 9, 2020, I predicted that Biden would beat Trump. You underestimate me (and Joe Biden) at your peril.
I think we have reason to feel confident about 2022 and 2024 with an improving economy and a radicalized GOP. Now let’s get it done!