Speed Reads

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4 theories behind Biden's 'underwater' polling numbers

President Biden's polling numbers are down — way down — warranting descriptions like "underwater" and "brutal."  A recent Quinnipiac University poll found the president "battered on trust, doubted on leadership, and challenged on overall competency," with an approval rating of just 38 percent.

What explanations are there for this damaging dip? Politico attributes the confidence drop-off to the pandemic and its continued presence in the lives of Americans who believed things would be better by now. "There is a malaise," said Sarah Longwell, who led a focus group of COVID-frustrated Pennsylvania Democrats. "People don't feel like their lives have been improved. They did sort of feel that promises aren't being kept."

Frustration might also stem from stalled police reform and voting rights negotiations, as well as disturbing images of Haitian immigrants, sent back their country by way of horse-mounted border agents and a Trump-era immigration policy, suggests The Washington Post. Notably (and unfortunately), that resentment is coming from Biden's key Democratic constituencies, including Black Americans, Latinos, many women, and young people. "I think the frustration is at an all-time high," said activist W. Mondale Robinson. "Black men are pissed off about the nothingness that has happened ... Does it make the work harder? It makes the work damn near impossible."

Other Americans seem to think Biden generally incompetent and his White House not "up to daunting challenges," reports The Hill, citing the Quinnipiac poll. 

But some, like James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, argue the depressed polling is a result of issues outside of the president's control. Even though his "benefit of the doubt" period may be ending, and it's no longer enough for him to simply not be his predecessor, Joyner writes, "the president can only do so much."