Biden faces unease over inflation, his leadership

The state of the White House is under siege.

As President Biden prepares to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday, he faces a nation rocked by inflation, optimistic about the future and uncertain of his leadership, according to a new USA poll. TODAY / Suffolk University.

The prime-time address to a joint session of Congress will be one of the president’s biggest opportunities this year — eight months before a potentially turbulent midterm election — to convince worried Americans that he shares their priorities and has a plan to address them. their problems.

Biden’s approval-disapproval rating is steady but dismal at 39%-57%, with 44% now hitting saying they “strongly” disapprove of the job he is doing as president. Despite strong economic growth and low unemployment, a 51% majority of respondents say the economy is in recession or depression, the bleakest outlook in six years.

“Our country is going to hell in a hand basket,” said Mary Vavis, 75, an independent voter from New Braunfels, a suburb of San Antonio, who was among those interviewed. “A lot of people are just trying to make ends meet, trying to feed their families, and this administration seems to be stopping that every moment. They don’t care about us.”

But Laura Niswonger, 50, a teacher from Conway, Arkansas, praised Biden’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his stance toward autocratic leaders abroad, especially compared to his predecessor, Donald Trump. “I feel so much better than I did two years ago,” Niswonger, a Democrat, said in a follow-up interview.

President Joe Biden speaks on Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington.

Even so, when asked if she expected things to improve in the country, she hesitated. “I don’t know, to be honest,” she said.

The poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken by landline and cell phone from Feb. 15-20, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. It was carried out as Russia prepared to launch its invasion of Ukraine, an event that now reverberates in global politics and economics.

In the survey, only 3% identify foreign policy as the most important issue they would like Biden to address in the State of the Union.

The main concern, by far, is inflation, cited by 27%. The only other issues that split into double digits are voting rights and racial justice, at 15%, and immigration, at 11%.

The findings shed light on the nation’s polarized priorities. Voting rights/racial justice is the top choice among Democrats, at 35%, but cited by only 2% of Republicans. Immigration trails only inflation among Republicans’ concerns, at 20%, but is chosen by only 6% of Democrats.

Concerns about COVID are decreasing, named by 5% as their top priority. Concern about crime is increasing, cited by 6%. A majority of 55% say crime has increased in their community over the past year. Even more, 72%, say it has increased across the country.

“Many minds and hearts to change”

“President Biden has some time to turn things around before 2024, but with the midterm elections eight months away, time is running out,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “A lot hinges on this speech, including the careers of so many politicians on both sides of the aisle whose political trajectories can go up or down depending on whether Biden can step off the mat.”

He added: “Even before the invasion, 65% of registered voters say the country is already on the wrong track. That’s a lot of minds and hearts to change.

If the Congressional elections were held today, 39% would vote for the Democratic candidate and 37% for the Republican. One in four, 24%, are undecided. This nearly even split accurately reflects responses to the USA TODAY/Suffolk poll conducted in December.

Continued:One year after Jan. 6, Americans say democracy is in jeopardy but disagree on why: USA TODAY/Suffolk poll

In what could be a warning sign for Democrats, 47% say they would prefer a new Republican-controlled Congress ‘to act as a check on President Biden’; 43% say they would prefer a new Democratic-controlled Congress “to help President Biden get things done.”

Republicans need to flip one Senate seat and five House of Representatives seats to gain control of the Democrats and reverse the power dynamics in Washington.

Congressional approval could hardly be less. Seventy-six percent to 15 percent of respondents disapprove of the work the House and Senate do.

“Hopefully with the election, maybe they realize that our country needs to come together,” said Pamela Spear, a Democrat from Kief, a small rural town in North Dakota who was nominated by the German-Russian settlers after Kiev, now the capital of Ukraine. “To me, there’s too much hate in this country right now, and it’s pitting everyone against everyone.”

After high rhetoric, low expectations

Whatever program the president lays out on Tuesday, expectations are low for his ability to do so. Almost two-thirds of those polled, 64%, say they are “not very confident” or “not at all convinced” that he will be able to achieve many of his goals this year. Twenty-nine percent are “very” or “somewhat” confident that he can.

The massive Build Back Better bill, which contains the heart of the national agenda Biden introduced to Congress last year, has stalled in the Senate. Now 41% say he should just move on to other initiatives; Another 23% favor reducing its size and trying to transmit again.

Twenty-eight percent of those polled, including 55% Democrats, say he should keep fighting for it.

Right now, more Americans disapprove than they approve of Biden’s handling of COVID (46% approve-48% disapprove) and especially the economy (36% approve-58% disapprove). By two to one, 63% to 32%, they say he is not a strong leader.

His overall Jobs approval rating among Democrats stands at 83%, but among independents it has dropped to 31%, and 50% of independents express “strong” disapproval.

Continued:Pandemic, insurgency and now a new cold war? For Joe Biden, a presidency full of crises

Biden is “pretty well, but he’s working against a lot of people (who) don’t want to help him,” said Charles Stelte, 74, an independent voter from Pawnee, Illinois. In the State of the Union address, “I’m sure he’ll talk about what’s happening in Europe right now, but the main thing is I want to see what he has to say about aid to Europe. ‘America.”

William Featherstone, 47, a Republican from suburban Ridgefield Park, NJ, predicted “just empty rhetoric” in Tuesday’s speech and disaster for the presidential party in November.

“It’s going to be like when Newt Gingrich and his team won the contract with America and then Barack Obama’s first midterm where the Republicans took control,” he said, noting the congressional elections from 1994 and 2010. “People are pissed off.”

Comments are closed.