If we had a flashing red light alarm here, it would be going off on the results from the latest poll in Iowa. The new poll is absolutely devastating for Democrats hoping to retain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 2022 mid-term elections. After only eight months in office, Joe Biden has botched things up so badly that he is polling worse than either Trump or Obama ever did in Iowa.
Veteran pollster J. Ann Selzer notes that everything Biden touches turns to crap right now. “This is a bad poll for Joe Biden, and it’s playing out in everything that he touches right now,” Selzer told the Des Moines Register. How bad are Biden’s numbers? Biden’s overall approval number is below the lowest ever measured by Selzer – just 31%.
Two big issues for Americans in important swing states like Iowa are the COVID-19 pandemic and the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden has failed miserably on both those topics. His polling on pulling out troops from Afghanistan sits at an anemic 22% among Iowa voters. Iowan’s approval of Biden’s handling of the pandemic is at 36%. Less than 1/3 of Iowa voters approve of Biden’s job performance so far. He hasn’t been in net positive polling territory since March.
Thirty-one percent of Iowans approve of how Biden is handling his job, while 62% disapprove and 7% are not sure, according to the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll.
That’s a 12 percentage point drop in approval from June, the last time the question was asked. Biden’s disapproval numbers jumped by 10 points during the same period. In June, 43% approved and 52% disapproved.
Biden’s job approval has not been in net positive territory in Iowa since March, when 47% of Iowans approved of his performance and 44% disapproved.
It should not be a surprise that Joe Biden has almost zero support from Republicans in Iowa. Republican support polls at just 4% for his overall job performance, with 95% disapproval. And, as the reality is in our hyper-partisan world of domestic politics, the opposite is true with Democrat support. Democrat approval of Biden is at 86%, with 7% disapproval. The all-important Independent voters poll at 62% approval for Biden’s performance in office while 29% disapprove.
For reference, Trump’s lowest approval number was 35% that he received in December 2017. Barack Obama’s was 36% in February 2014. George W. Bush received 25% support in September 2008. So, at 31% approval, Joe Biden’s numbers are in the dumpster. Will he go even lower? We’ll have to wait and see. The withdrawal from Afghanistan brings Republicans, Independents, and Democrats together in their criticism of Biden.
“The way we exited Afghanistan was pretty sad,” said poll respondent Brad Singleton, 45, a political independent and pastor from Montezuma who used to identify as a Republican. “Not the fact that we left Afghanistan, because we probably should have done that a long time ago, but just the way we did that it felt like Americans were abandoned and it felt like we just left equipment there.”
Biden’s handling of Afghanistan is the policy area where he has the least support from Democrats among a range of issues tested. Just 61% of self-identified Democrats approve of how he’s handled the issue, while 25% disapprove. In contrast, 89% of Democrats approve of how he’s handled the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kimala Peterson, a 62-year-old Democrat and poll respondent from Spencer, said she approves of Biden’s handling of Afghanistan and likes that the United States got out of the country. But she said she still feels it could have been handled better.
“The thing that probably disappoints me the most is I think with Afghanistan that maybe that could have been handled better with getting the Americans out and the people who helped us,” said Peterson, a retired library administrative assistant.
Others were just happy to see U.S. troops come home. Jesse Guerra, a 52-year-old poll respondent and political independent from Cedar Rapids, said the military “had no reason being there.”
“He said he was going to get them out, and he did,” he said. “As far as I know, that’s the one good thing he’s done.”
Not said by that last respondent is that 13 of the American service members Biden “got out” were flown home in caskets, thanks to his catastrophically poor decision-making. Hundreds of Afghans were killed in the process at the Kabul airport, too.
The right track/wrong track polling isn’t good for Biden either. Again, it is split along party lines but Democrat support for Biden isn’t anything to get excited about. Only 21% of Iowans polled think the country is going in the right direction.
Iowans are also more likely to say things in the nation have gotten off on the wrong track than they were earlier this year. That number is at 70%, compared to 59% in June. The percentage of Iowans who say things are headed in the right direction has also dropped by 10 points, from 31% in June to 21% in the latest poll.
Those numbers show a clear partisan divide. Just 4% of Republicans say the nation is headed in the right direction, compared to 58% of Democrats and 18% of independents. And 94% of Republicans say things are on the wrong track, compared to 30% of Democrats and 70% of independents.
All of this is particularly bad news for Democrats because Biden’s unpopularity will affect down-ticket races in 2022. It will be impossible for Democrats to keep the House and the Senate if Biden can’t turn this ship around. Democrats will suffer big losses. I’m here for it but it must be terrifying for folks like Pelosi and Schumer. If other swing states begin to show results like these in Iowa, they will see the writing on the wall – their time in power is coming to an end.
While first term, midterm elections are, historically, very difficult for the president’s party in the House, that trend is made far, far worse if the president’s approval rating is below 50%. As Gallup wrote in 2018:
“In Gallup’s polling history, presidents with job approval ratings below 50% have seen their party lose 37 House seats, on average, in midterm elections. That compares with an average loss of 14 seats when presidents had approval ratings above 50%.”
That average is even higher in the wake of the 2018 midterms, where Republicans lost 40 House seats thanks in large part to Donald Trump’s approval ratings being stuck in the low 40s.
This is just one poll and it’s only one swing state but for a seasoned professional pollster like Ann Selzer to admit these results are at an all-time low for Iowa polling, well, that’s good news for Republicans. I’ll cautiously take the good news. I honestly don’t think that Biden has the juice to turn things around for himself. His history of poor decision-making is consistent throughout his very long political career. He hasn’t changed. Biden is who he is.