Morning Consult: Biden's per-child payments unexpectedly flop

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

You have to be doing really badly with voters when even your “free money” program ends up washing out in polling. This might not provide a direct measure of the loss of confidence in Joe Biden, but the latest from Morning Consult on one of his signature programs should send up red flags to Democrats pushing his massive spending agenda (via Josh Kraushaar):

BAD NEWS FOR BIDEN — Democrats who were hoping that the monthly $300-per-child checks the federal government started sending to families over the summer would be a winner in the midterms won’t like the findings of our latest poll with Morning Consult. Fewer than half of respondents, 47%, gave congressional Democrats credit for providing the extra cash, and even fewer, 38%, credited President JOE BIDEN. While half of registered voters support the expanded payments (vs. 38% in opposition), only 35% want to make them permanent — an idea Democrats in Congress are weighing at the moment. The payments are set to expire next year.

Recall that Biden and the Democrats structured this not as an end-of-year credit but direct payments. The federal government sends the cash directly to parents each month, which supposedly serves as a regular reminder of Biden’s largesse. (Our largesse, actually, but with Biden’s name on it.) It’s the perfect structure to put in place to buy votes, especially from suburban moms who want extra cash to deal with, um, the inflation that Biden’s fueling with his massive cash-printing spending schemes.

And the program itself is popular, at least somewhat. It scores a 50/38 in the Morning Consult poll, which is a decent score but not exactly overwhelming, and only 24% strongly support it overall. It’s actually more popular among men (53%) than women (48%), and less popular among independents (44%). The question fares better in traditional Democratic demos, but even there it’s not exactly gangbusters except among black voters (74%) — and even that undersells that demo’s usual support for Democrats.

Here’s the key context: 61% of respondents have received the payments (notably, 53% of men and 69% of women, and 65% of independents). If 61% get cash from the program and only 50% approve of it, it’s not exactly money well spent by Democrats. In fact, it looks like a flop even among the recipients.

However popular it might be, Biden and House Democrats aren’t reaping the political benefits. Only 55% of Democrats credit House Democrats for the payments, and only 48% of them credit Biden. That could shift if Biden and the DCCC start campaign ads taking credit for them, but … why would that need a campaign? Biden and House Democrats are the only players in DC who could have passed the program into law (only 10% of overall respondents credit the GOP, by the way).

It certainly looks like voters, including Democrats, are not inclined to credit Biden even for his own programs. That suggests a larger and more comprehensive disconnect by voters from Biden, and again points to a confidence-crisis cascade that even direct cash payments can’t stop. That cascade appears to include Democratic voters at this point, too. Given the reluctance to credit House Democrats even at Biden’s expense, it appears that Biden might be pulling his entire party down with him.

With that in mind, the advice for House Democrats in the upcoming midterms is: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Ed Morrissey 10:01 AM on December 06, 2022