Biden lagging behind Trump in approval ratings - GulfToday

Biden lagging behind Trump in approval ratings

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Republicans have chosen Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson as the next Speaker of the House. File/Associated Press

The United States could lose its perfect credit rating after Moody’s Investors Service said it could downgrade the country’s creditworthiness due to its self-destructive partisan politics. The very suggestion of a downgrade could harm US investors, increase costs of borrowing, and make it more expensive for the government to pay its debts. The Biden administration promptly rejected this report and blamed the deepening divisions within the US on extreme Republicans.

The situation could become worse if the Democrat White House and the Republican House of Representatives do not agree on the state budget by Friday midnight. If there is no coming together, funding for the government will begin to shut down at one minute past midnight. While financial commentators predict there will be a resolution to continue funding, even this will eventually compel warring legislators to adopt a budget. If a “continuing resolution” is adopted, the sparring sides could have another 45 days to draft and pass a budget.

Republican speaker of the House Mike Johnson — who has had the job for only two weeks — has provided a plan to avert a government shutdown but it has been summarily dismissed by the White House and Democrat-controlled Senate. The Democrats seek a $1.54 trillion budget, but hardline Republicans demand $120 billion in cuts. In relation to the trillion-and-a-half-dollar proposal, the Republican demand seems to be financially negligible. Instead, it is driven by politics and designed to demonstrate, once again, that the Republicans – who have a narrow majority in the House of Representatives – have the “power of the purse,” that is, the authority over spending.

Politicisation of the budget is also designed to undermine Bidenonomics, President Joe Biden’s 2024 campaign pledge to fix the broken US economic system which has been in place since Republican Ronald Reagan was president. This model has enriched wealthy individuals and corporations, squeezed the middle class, and impoverished the poor. Biden promises to tax the rich to strengthen the middle class and improve the lives of the poor.

However, Biden’s approval rating stands at 38.7 while 55.5 per cent of US citizens disapprove of him. In office he has reversed some of predecessor Donald Trump’s worst actions. Biden has returned the US to the World Health Organisation and the Paris climate change accord and repaired US relations with NATO. Biden tackled COVID-19 which Trump regarded as a “little flu” — although he became very ill with Covid – and saved US lives. Biden also provided financial aid to individuals and companies negatively impacted by Covid. He has created jobs and reduced inflation. But he has not publicly laid claim to his achievements or been given credit for them.

These have been offset by Biden’s major foreign policy debacles. He withdrew US forces from Afghanistan without ensuring that the country would not return to Taliban rule. He encouraged Ukraine to defy Russia when Moscow demanded that Kyiv renounce its bid to join NATO. Russia invaded Ukraine and is prosecuting a war Ukraine cannot win. Biden has refused to demand Israel end its war on Gaza which has created a humanitarian catastrophe. These policies have turned many US voters against Biden.

Another reason for a high disapproval rating is his age. He will be 81 on November 20th. He is not a mentally acute and lively octogenarian. He walks and talks like an old man. He is not charismatic. While in office he has not cultivated the public by holding frequent press conferences and explaining his policies during televised public addresses. Biden could lose the election by default because some Democrats and many independents who voted for him in 2020 could stay away from the polls next year.

By contrast, Biden’s likely Republican rival Donald, an intrusive 77, is all charisma and no good sense. His approval rating is 40.9 per cent and disapproval rating is 54.9 per cent. Polls show that he is leading Biden in “swing states” — Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — which Biden won in 2020. Trump is erratic and unpredictable.

His four-year stay in the White House was chaotic. He withdrew the US from a host of major international agreements, including the 2015 deal with Iran to lift sanctions in exchange for reducing its nuclear programme and gave Israel everything it wanted. These policies have been calamitous for this region. He favoured the rich with tax breaks, polluters by reducing restrictions on emissions, and harmed the environment by allowing drilling for oil in national forests.

He escaped impeachment for violating presidential norms and took home classified documents when he left office for which he faces charges of misappropriating government property and risking the exposure of US secrets to people without security clearance.

Due to his multiple court cases, Trump is constantly in the news. Indictments for crimes for which he is charged are unlikely to prevent him from standing for re-election or taking office if he were to win the presidency. Whatever happens on the legal front, Trump will continue to enjoy the support of his loyal “base.” While the size of his “base” is difficult to assess, polls show that 59 per cent of Republicans back him and that he is gaining decisive support among local party organisers although he has refused to take part in debates with Republican rivals.

In 2016, US voters chose Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton because they wanted change after eight years of the Democrat Obama administration. White supremacists favoured Trump because he is white, misogynists because they opposed a woman in the White House, and Christian evangelicals and conservatives because he promised to overturn progressive policies.

In 2020, the electorate gave Biden a huge win because he is not Trump. In 2024, Trump might return to the presidency because he is not Biden. It is unbelievable that the US, with a population of 332 million, cannot identify and promote candidates for the presidency other than doddery Biden and unreliable Trump. That country’s lack of talented, sensible, suitable young politicians prepared to challenge the older generation poses a grave danger to the US and the world.

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