Is there any evidence of a crisis-rally bounce for Joe Biden in the polls? The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll gives Biden a bit of improvement, but only on Ukraine and only among the previously undecided. Biden gets a boost from a remarkable unanimity among Americans about supporting Ukraine without getting militarily entangled in the war:
In all, 73 percent say the United States is doing either the right amount or too little to support Ukraine.
At the same time, 72 percent oppose the U.S. taking direct military action against Russian forces, while 21 percent support the idea. Even among those who say the United States is doing too little to support Ukraine, 57 percent oppose direct military action, something President Biden has said is off the table, repeatedly warning that such a move could lead to “World War III.”
The findings suggest that Biden’s policies largely reflect Americans’ preferences when it comes to the Russian invasion.
Biden isn’t getting much of a bump from this unanimity, however. On Ukraine, he’s still at the same level of disapproval, although some undecideds have shifted to support:
Approval for Biden’s handling of the war in the Ukraine — as well as his handling of the pandemic — has helped buoy his overall job approval ratings, which increased five points from 37 percent in February to 42 percent in the new poll. Still, Biden remains solidly in negative territory, with 52 percent disapproving of his job performance amid persistent concerns about the economy.
Specifically, 42 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, up from 33 percent when Russia launched its invasion just over two months ago. Now, 47 percent of Americans disapprove of his handling of the crisis, the same percent that disapproved in February, while fewer people say they have no opinion.
A 42/47 rating for a policy that gets 72% support from the electorate is not a promising sign for Democrats’ midterm prospects. That’s especially true of Biden’s approval ratings overall and on other topics in this poll series. These don’t get much attention from the Post, but there isn’t much of a rebound shown in the data:
- Overall approval: 42/52, previously 37/55 in February
- Economy: 38/57, 37/58 in February
- COVID-19 pandemic: 51/43, 44/50 in February
Democrats seemed to fare a bit better on the generic ballot question, but this is quite an outlier at the moment. They bounced back from a 42/49 in February to a 46/45 edge in this poll, but that’s still within the margin of error — and may be a sample-related issue. The partisan D/R/I split two months ago was 27/26/40; this time it’s 29/25/40. That might explain a bit of the wiggle on Biden’s approval on pandemic response too.
As for being an outlier, RealClearPolitics has the aggregate generic ballot at 46.4/42.2 in favor of the GOP. Susquehanna finds a 10-point advantage for the GOP, NPR/PBS and Quinnipiac put it at R+3, and Emerson at R+6. Furthermore, the WaPo/ABC choice of trust on the economy puts Republicans up double digits at 50/36, only slightly down from the previous 54/35, and up 50/31 on inflation as well. On crime, Republicans lead 47/35, and on immigration, the GOP has a 43/40 edge.
Now, ask yourselves this: which issues will likely drive voter decisions in the midterms? Will it be on issues where Democrats lead like ethnic and gender equity, abortion, and education? Or will it be on crime, inflation, the economy, and the border crisis that Biden stoked? YMMV, but I doubt that voters will thunder to the polls to vote on ethnic and gender equity — and those who do on education probably won’t be motivated by Democratic positions on it, as Terry McAuliffe discovered to his embarrassment in Virginia last year.
Regardless, we can finally put to rest the notion that Biden’s problems and that of his fellow Democrats is messaging. They’ve been messaging the hell out of the public square, helped enormously by a friendly media industry, and it’s not having any impact at all.