Democrats, including White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and Biden pollster John Anzalone, argue that individual pieces of the COVID bill itself are popular. They both pointed to a poll out this week from Yahoo/YouGov that found large majorities of Americans supporting everything from $2,000 relief checks (74 percent approve) to a raise in the minimum wage to $15/hour (58 percent support). However, the poll also found that policies that Biden enacted by Executive Order, such as rejoining the Paris Climate accord and halting construction of the wall at the southern border, had less than majority support. Lifting the ban on travelers from Muslim countries, for example, had support of just 42 percent of Americans.
So, if Democrats decide to go ahead with reconciliation (as it looks almost certain to be the case today), they can not afford those policies that are currently popular to become unpopular.
More fundamentally, however, is the question of whether the Biden administration will be able to show Americans that they have successfully tackled COVID and improved the economy. If the economy recovers, vaccine production and distribution improve, and families can plan for summer vacations and schools back in session, process arguments about a lack of bipartisan outreach aren’t going to get much traction.
However, if the next six months are messy, those attacks will likely carry more of a sting. Republicans will have an easier time making the case that Democrats, in their zeal to promote their own limited agenda, failed to fix the nations more serious problems.