Bottom falling out: Biden drops to 33% in NYT poll

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Maybe the worst presidential poll I’ve ever seen.

Out of morbid curiosity, I skimmed hundreds of Trump polls to see how many times over the course of four years he touched 33 percent among registered voters. (He once hit 32 percent in a poll of all adults.) Answer: Just three, and one of those was conducted immediately after January 6. Biden’s approval is as low right now as Trump’s was in his worst hour.


And the kicker is that the Times poll that has him at 33 percent isn’t the worst number floating around today.

Civiqs has produced outlandishly gruesome results for Biden for awhile so we can chalk that sub-30 figure up to a “house effect” of sorts. But there’s no excuse for the NYT/Siena result, which features relentlessly ugly data for Democrats throughout — with one notable exception.

President Biden is facing an alarming level of doubt from inside his own party, with 64 percent of Democratic voters saying they would prefer a new standard-bearer in the 2024 presidential campaign, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll, as voters nationwide have soured on his leadership, giving him a meager 33 percent job-approval rating.

Widespread concerns about the economy and inflation have helped turn the national mood decidedly dark, both on Mr. Biden and the trajectory of the nation. More than three-quarters of registered voters see the United States moving in the wrong direction, a pervasive sense of pessimism that spans every corner of the country, every age range and racial group, cities, suburbs and rural areas, as well as both political parties.

For Mr. Biden, that bleak national outlook has pushed his job approval rating to a perilously low point. Republican opposition is predictably overwhelming, but more than two-thirds of independents also now disapprove of the president’s performance, and nearly half disapprove strongly. Among fellow Democrats his approval rating stands at 70 percent, a relatively low figure for a president, especially heading into the 2022 midterms when Mr. Biden needs to rally Democrats to the polls to maintain control of Congress.


Not a single demographic polled by the Times has a majority saying they’d prefer Biden to be the Democratic nominee in 2024 to someone else. Even African-Americans split 43/47 on the issue. Among Democrats under the age of 30, fully 94 percent want a different nominee. Read that again.

If nothing changes before November, the midterms will become a pure experiment to see how many House seats an out-party can conceivably win in a country as gerrymandered as ours now is. Every seat that’s remotely flippable will flip.

I won’t belabor the reasons Biden has hit the skids lately as it’s been a running theme on the site for the past two weeks. Inflation is a beast, anxiety about Biden’s age and fitness for office continues to grow, and the left is furious that they’ve seen abortion rights evaporate despite having total control of government. It’s a perfect storm. And that storm has swept Biden to the brink of matching Trump’s worst-ever approval rating in the RCP average:

Trump reached 37.1 percent approval briefly in the winter of his first year in office but never sunk to that depth again, even after the insurrection. Biden is a hair’s breadth away.

And yet.

In spite of everything, Democrats are within reach of a second Biden term even in the NYT/Siena doomsday poll. All they need to have a fighting chance is for Republican primary voters to be idiots.


Those numbers among young adults and Hispanics are horribly weak for an incumbent Democrat but still good enough to make Biden a slight favorite against Trump in 2024. The more generic the eventual Republican nominee is, the greater the odds of a comfortable GOP victory will become. The election will become a referendum on whether Biden’s presidency was a success or failure. The less generic the nominee is — and you know who I mean — the more even doddering Joe Biden will begin to look appealing to swing voters. In that case, the election will become a question of who’s the lesser evil.

Trump may be Biden’s secret weapon in fending off a Democratic insurgency, in fact. Despite majorities of every key constituency favoring fresh blood in the next cycle, party leaders are deathly afraid of seeing Biden primaried while Trump is waiting in the wings. They know what’s happened before in general elections to incumbents bruised by a contested primary.

Fear runs deep of yet another unfavorable Biden comparison to Jimmy Carter, who survived a 1980 primary challenge from Ted Kennedy but not the lasting wound going into the general election. Democrats privately hoping Biden might reverse course and not run are petrified that they’re backbiting their way into allowing Trump and Trumpism back into power…

Carter-Kennedy isn’t the only historical example on Democrats’ minds. There’s Ronald Reagan’s bruising 1976 primary campaign against Republican President Gerald Ford, which helped pave the way for Carter’s win. Or George H.W. Bush never quite recovering from Pat Buchanan’s 1992 primary campaign, which hurt him with the GOP base heading into the general election…

For all the free media attention that would come from declaring a primary campaign against Biden, no one seems to want to go down as blowing a hole in the party for Republicans to march back through — particularly at a moment when apocalyptic feelings are so high. This is about future ambitions, too: Those would-be candidates are aware Democratic voters would never forgive a spoiler.


Republican voters are probably too stubborn and cultish to tell Trump no if he seeks the nomination a third time. Ron DeSantis is the only GOP pol who could potentially stop him and Trump would still be favored in that race. Meanwhile, Democratic voters are so horrified by the thought of Trump returning to the White House that they’re de facto hostages of Biden’s pride. If he decides he wants to run again, as foolish as that would be, they’ll clear the field and fall in line behind him, unifying the party for one last goal-line stand against Trump in November 2024.

We may, in other words, be stumbling towards a second Trump/Biden election even though strong majorities don’t want either candidate to run again. Via YouGov:

Nothing would better reflect the nagging sense of national decline and civic paralysis that colors all of our politics nowadays than two widely disliked guys who are well past their prime wheezing their way to easy renominations in 2024. God help us.

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