Biden’s 40 percent job approval among the youngest voters (age 18-34)—down 16 points since NBC’s April survey—is remarkably low, given the progressive sensibilities of that voting bloc. He’s only winning over 64 percent of African-American voters, one of the most Democratic constituencies in the country. He’s now underwater with Hispanic voters (48 percent approval), continuing his struggles with a group that was once expected to be an essential part of the Democratic coalition. The once-gaping gender gap has shrunk, with Biden only garnering 51 percent support among women.
These numbers may explain why Biden spent the beginning of the year pursuing a fruitless effort to rally his progressive base behind voting-rights legislation. If Democrats lose support from the cadre of Gen Z activists and African American civil-rights leaders, this year’s midterms could go from bad to worse. Even if the political kamikaze mission hurts him with independents, he has a better chance of winning back the base given the degree of backlash he’s incurred with persuadable voters. (The NBC poll found his approval at 36 percent with independents, a stunning 32-point drop from where he stood in April.)
It’s a no-win situation: Tack to the center, and Biden risks seeing depressed Democratic turnout for this year’s midterms with no guarantee he’ll be able to turn things around with swing voters. But placate the base and you’ve alienated the moderates without having any legislative victories to show for it.
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