Yikes: Biden's net job approval drops 12 points among black voters since he announced federal vaccine mandate

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

A yuuuuge caveat to the generally favorable polling the mandate has received over the past 10 days. The reason Biden’s mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees is a few points over 50 percent in most polls is because a sizable Republican minority supports it. Something like a third of GOPers care more about ending the pandemic ASAP and saving lives than they do about their partisan duty to oppose Democrats on all things. They’re willing to back the president on this issue in the interest of twisting the arms of the unvaccinated to get jabbed, no matter how legally dubious the federal mandate might be.

That’s good news for Biden. But no one expects those Republicans to vote Democratic in 2022 or 2024 just because they’re with him on this single issue. The fact that they’re willing to cross the aisle on a vaccine mandate may indicate that they’re marginally more open to voting for Dems than the average GOPer is, but the midterms aren’t going to be decided by Biden’s new OSHA rule.

Whereas the midterms might be decided by key parts of Biden’s base deciding not to turn out due to anger or frustration at his policies.

Did Mandate Joe consider that a rule requiring vax-skeptical African-Americans to get jabbed might not work out for him? Hoo boy:

That’s net job approval, do note, not overall job approval. Biden went from 76/17 among black voters to 71/24, still strong but maybe just weak enough to turn a big night for Republicans next November into a monster night. Unvaccinated black voters are driving the downturn, not surprisingly, dropping from 62/27 support pre-mandate to 56/38 after. Biden has lost more than one net point in approval on average among that group every day since the mandate was announced.

To which the White House would presumably say, “They’ll come around. The more people are forced to get vaccinated, the more quickly the pandemic ends. And the more quickly the pandemic ends, the sooner we get back to normal and enjoy robust economic growth.” There’s something to that logic if their calculus pays off. If COVID is in retreat next fall and Biden’s rolling out big jobs reports month after month, unvaxxed black voters might let bygones be bygones in relief that we’ve finally gotten past COVID. In fact, there’s evidence today from Maine that a different anti-vax cohort up there is grudgingly cooperating with vaccine mandates despite the tough talk about massive civil disobedience to Biden’s policy:

During a September 1 news conference, Northern Light, the second-largest health care provider in Maine, said that “only 20 staff, out of more than 10,000, left their jobs over [Gov. Janet] Mills’ healthcare worker vaccine mandate.”

The Northern Light representative added that “many more staff workers have had to leave their jobs after catching COVID and unvaccinated workers are more susceptible to that outcome.” Eighty-eight percent of Northern Light’s staff is currently vaccinated.

Maine Health, the largest in-state health care provider, shared similar employment information. So far only 0.19% of their workforce has quit in protest.

“Over recent weeks, we have had 45 people out of our care team of 23,000 resign and cite the vaccination requirement as among the reasons for their doing so,” said John Porter, Maine Health’s Associate Vice President of System Communications and Public Affairs.

That’s the optimistic possibility for the White House on the mandate, that people will suck it up and get used to it. The pessimistic view is that anger at Biden’s policy among the unvaccinated will bleed over into other policies, leading voters who might otherwise have been more sympathetic to him to view his entire agenda with greater skepticism. Are we already seeing that in the new data on black voters, maybe?

Among all voters his numbers across a variety of issues are stable. Among black voters he’s down in every category. The share of anti-vaxxers out there is small but they’re very committed to their position. Fight with them on that one and they might be willing to fight with you on everything else.

Maybe Biden should take a page from Ron DeSantis and do a little pandering to the vaccine skeptics inside his tent by trumpeting the availability of monoclonal antibody treatments for those who’ve been infected. There’s no contradiction between being pro-vax and pro-treatment, of course, but some anti-vaxxers have embraced monoclonal antibodies as an excuse to believe that vaccination isn’t urgently necessary. Which is dumb for a variety of reasons, but oh well:

Vaccine-resistant Americans are turning to the treatment with a zeal that has, at times, mystified their doctors, chasing down lengthy infusions after rejecting vaccines that cost one-hundredth as much. Orders have exploded so quickly this summer — to 168,000 doses per week in late August, up from 27,000 in July — that the Biden administration warned states this week of a dwindling national supply…

Some Republican governors have set up antibody clinics while opposing vaccine mandates, frustrating even some of the drugs’ strongest proponents. Raising vaccination rates, scientists said, would obviate the need for many of the costly antibody treatments in the first place. The infusions take about an hour and a half, including monitoring afterward, and require constant attention from nurses whom hard-hit states often cannot spare.

“It’s clogging up resources, it’s hard to give, and a vaccine is $20 and could prevent almost all of that,” said Dr. Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist and the chief of population health at Family Health Centers of San Diego, a community-based provider. Pushing antibodies while playing down vaccines, he said, was “like investing in car insurance without investing in brakes.”

Pfizer’s vaccine has full FDA approval while the antibody treatments remain under an emergency use authorization, and of course both involve invasive injections of substances that trigger biological process which the recipient doesn’t fully understand. But some anti-vaxxers are so sold on propaganda against vaccines that they eagerly prefer the “experimental” treatment to the proven prophylactic.

Maybe Biden should try that with black anti-vaxxers. “In case you’re not subject to any vaccine mandate, just know that I made sure that monoclonal antibody infusions are there waiting for you.”

In lieu of an exit question, read this piece at the Atlantic about “crunchy” left-wing hippie anti-vaxxers in Massachusetts and upstate New York trying to figure out whether they can oppose vaccination while remaining progressives in good standing.