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NBC poll shows Biden still slidin', particularly over Ukraine

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

I’ve been waiting and waiting for Joe Biden to get what looked to me like an inevitable bounce in his poll numbers as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After all, the major news networks and cable news outlets have been fighting valiantly to portray Biden as some sort of decisive leader facing down the evils of the Madman of Moscow. And the focus on Ukrain has largely cut the legs out from under the bigger stories of Bidenflation, the Biden border crisis, and the other messes that Uncle Joe has left for others to clean up. Earlier this week, the Associated Press found that the ongoing war still hadn’t delivered any good news for the President, and today NBC News served up another helping of the same trend. Biden’s approval numbers have hit their lowest mark of his presidency in that survey, while one of the biggest concerns brought up by respondents was precisely the issue Biden was probably counting on to rescue him.

Amid Europe’s largest land war since World War II, 7 in 10 Americans expressed low confidence in President Joe Biden’s ability to deal with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a new NBC News poll, and 8 in 10 voiced worry that the war will increase gas prices and possibly involve nuclear weapons.

And during the nation’s largest inflation spike in 40 years, overwhelming majorities said they believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and disapproved of the president’s handling of the economy.

Those are some of the major findings of the new national NBC News poll, which found that Biden’s overall job approval rating had declined to 40 percent, the lowest level of his presidency.

As a kicker to demonstrate how much of an impact Biden’s unpopularity may have on down-ballot voting, NBC also notes that Republicans have moved into a two-point lead on the question of which party should control Congress after the midterms. That’s the first time in this cycle that the NBC survey has shown this.

In terms of job approval, the percentage who flatly disapprove of Biden’s performance has moved up to a solid majority of 55%, with fewer people sitting on the fence. And the demographic breakdown isn’t looking any better. Among women (where Biden performed strongly in 2020), his approval has cratered from 51% in January to 44% now. He’s doing even worse with Hispanic voters, falling from 48 to 39 percent during the same period. And among independent voters who are the key to every race up and down the ticket in all but the most unshakable strongholds on either side, Biden’s approval rating has collapsed to 32%.

Biden is still at 42% on his handling of foreign policy, but on the question of managing the economy, he’s dropped below one-third to 32 percent. The reason for that can be found rather starkly in the list of priorities they have for various issues. In January, Americans’ top concerns were almost evenly spread between jobs and the economy, voting rights/election integrity and the coronavirus. Now, only a couple of months later, one issue topped them all and it was the cost of living.

The news networks may not want to talk about domestic issues as they focus on Ukraine, but Americans don’t need cable news talking heads to remind them of the cost of gasoline, food, and nearly everything else. The real experience of going shopping and filling up their tanks every week trumps anything they might see on CNN.

Could Biden still get a bounce if he somehow contributes to an acceptable resolution in Ukraine? It’s still possible, but that’s not going to do much to change the situation with inflation and the cost of living, no matter how many times Jen Psaki assures everyone that it’s Putin’s fault. And the end result is starting to look more and more likely. As one of the two pollsters who organize these surveys put it to NBC, “the Democrats are headed for a catastrophic election.”