Biden battles with falling popularity; Trump staging a comeback?

US President Joe Biden is battling falling popularity among his voters, as several polls show his ratings have been plummeting since 2021 at 36 per cent; though it recovered 6 per cent to haul up to 42 per cent, he still remained unpopular among the electorate, especially the young Whites and Hispanic people.

Though a slight cause for comfort, Biden’s public approval rating rose six percentage points this week to 42 per cent, rebounding from a week earlier when it had sunk to the lowest level of his presidency, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Wednesday found.

Alarm bells have been ringing in the ruling Democratic Party with Biden’s approval rating falling below 50 per cent since August 2021, raising fears about the prospects in at least one chamber of Congress in the November 8 mid-term elections.

The 2022 mid-term elections necessitated by the restricting of 2020 consensus (like India’s delimitation of constituencies) shows that 35 seats out of 100 in the Congress are on the ballot, while all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs for the party that pitches high on rhetoric on how the country is being governed.

The restriction based on population increase or decrease due to migration might throw up multiple candidates in a constituency or lessen the numbers.

The Biden administration has a myriad of problems on its table, ranging from a surge in inflation, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine driving fuel prices (record high of $6 a gallon this week) higher, and global supply chains still hindered by the Covid-19 pandemic, baby food shortages, and the public outcry over the Buffalo and Texas shootings with 62.5 per cent of the country calling for ‘Gun Control’ legislation.

Even among Republicans, the call for gun control has risen from 37 per cent to 44 per cent, even as Biden procrastinates a decision in the Congress for want of adequate support saying, “this violence has to come to an end”.

The President’s popularity within his own party rose to 78 per cent from 72 per cent the prior week. In the opposition, only 12 per cent of Republicans approve of his performance in office.

Biden’s overall approval rating last week rivalled the lows of his predecessor, Donald Trump, whose popularity bottomed out at 33 per cent in December 2017, said the Reuters/Ipsos poll that’s conducted online in English throughout the United States.

The latest poll gathered responses from a total of 1,005 adults, including 435 Democrats and 371 Republicans. It has a credibility interval — a measure of precision — of four percentage points.

As his political predicament worsens, Biden is pushing his staff for a more compelling message and a sharper strategy while puzzled how his staff tried to stifle his plain-speaking persona, his most potent asset, says a media report in the US.

Rattled by plummeting approval ratings, Biden is looking to regain voters’ confidence that he can provide the sure-handed leadership he promised during the campaign, reports quoting people close to the President said.

Crises have piled up to make the Biden White House look inept: record inflation, high gas prices, a rise in Covid case numbers, and now a Texas school massacre that is one more horrific reminder that he has been unable to get the Congress to pass legislation to curb gun violence.

Democratic leaders are at a loss about how he can revive his prospects by November, when mid-term elections may cost his party control of the Congress. However, if the Congress splits 50:50, Vice President Kamala Harris can still cast her vote to retain democratic power in the Congress.

The US has already begun the mid-term polls for 2022, with several states electing new mayors and governors or retaining the incumbents, but the acid test is the run up to the 2024 elections as former President Donald Trump, still unpopular with majority of the black voters and senior citizens among the white population, is prepping a major attempt to stage a comeback to secure the Republican nomination.

Here’s how. At the recent National Rifle Association convention which followed the Texas shooting that claimed 19 children’s lives besides two teachers, Trump made a personal appearance leveraging his advantage over Biden even as the Republican Texas governor preferred to stay away and sent only a video message.

A lot of southern states don’t favour gun control and they are the voting belts of the Republican party. The East and West favour as they feel this violence will not end in the near future.

Will Biden shake up his admin?

Speculation is rife that Biden might reshuffle the West Wing staff with strong indications that Chief of Staff Ron Klain might leave anytime during or after the mid-term polls.

Anita Dunn, a White House advisor and Biden confidant, to whom he often turns to when his fortunes look bleak, is tipped to be the successor, news reports claimed.

Dunn began working at the White House at the start of the term, then left and returned in early May at Biden’s specific request. No woman or coloured person has ever been the White House Chief of Staff since after World War II when the post was created.

The problem right now in the West Wing of the White House, which houses key staff and aides and advisors to the President, is that even though Biden is delivering succinct messages to be carried across the nation, his staff are failing to deliver, apparently returning with explanations that the President meant something else.

This has annoyed Biden to contemplate changes as the Republicans seem to be leveraging on talking points that Biden is not in control in the White House among his own staff.

Both Trump and Biden are fighting bitterly to regain whatever was lost in the 2020 presidential elections as the battle for supremacy reigns in the mayoral and gubernatorial elections that began in February this year.

But it’s clear that Trump is exploiting the situation to be re-elected as President in 2024 and his chances are best since he left the White House in January 2021, said CBS in a report.

The odds-on Trump being favourite to win the 2024 US presidential elections at the moment seem bright as he leads the field of candidates with a 26.3 per cent likelihood of winning, which equates to +280, on the Smarkets betting exchange, based in the UK.

It’s too soon to predict as another two years have to go by and the Russia-Ukraine war has to end, which might change the scenario. Consequently, inflation too might recede to lower levels.

Biden is given only a 15.1 per cent chance of re-election, which equates to +560, CBS said in its report.

“Donald Trump has now hit an all-time high mark on the Smarkets exchange and is pulling away as the clear favourite to win the 2024 elections,” Smarkets head of political markets, Matthew Shaddick, said in a release.

“Polls continue to place him way ahead of any other Republican and Smarkets prices give him a 70 per cent chance to run again. Biden’s chances are rated incredibly low for a sitting President, with the markets giving him only around a one-in-six chance of re-election.”

By Ashok Nilakantan