President Biden is staring down a new year with uncertainty over whether he can turn around his dismal polling numbers and low approval ratings in time for the November election.
The president faces lingering questions over his age and criticism from inside his own party over his handling of foreign and domestic policy issues while taking hit after hit from Republicans over the economy and his son’s business dealings. All those issues amount to an approval rating that hasn’t been able to break above 40 percent for months.
Polls are also showing Biden struggling to top his likely general election opponent, former President Trump, who is polling ahead of Biden including in some key swing states that will help determine who will serve in the White House. The two have been neck-and-neck for months in other polls, setting up what is expected to be a close race.
Here are five things that could prove detrimental to a Biden win in 2024.
Biden, 81, is the oldest president in U.S. history and would be 86 years old at the end of a second term. Skeptics wondered if he would run for reelection given his age but he announced he wanted to take on another term in April.
Since then, the president has faced lingering questions about his stamina and mental capacity. Whenever there’s an incident, like when he fell on stage during the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony earlier this year, political watchers are quick to jump on the question of whether Biden is fit to serve. He has also caused concern with some of his speeches, such as when he asked if a lawmaker who had just been killed in a car accident was in the audience at a White House event.
Biden for the most part has dealt with concerns about his age head on, in part by making light of it. Earlier this month at a campaign reception in Massachusetts, he joked that he was only “only 40 years old,” adding “40 times two and one.”
The White House economic message campaign that created the “Bidenomics” moniker has yet to land with the general public. Americans continue to report not feeling worse off economically under Biden, despite progress in the fight against inflation over the past year and the economy so far avoiding a recession.
The president argues that the economy is improving because of the low unemployment numbers, which currently sit at just 3.7 percent. Additionally, stubborn inflation has finally started to decline slightly, though consumer prices rose 3.1 percent over the past year.
This despite the Federal Reserve indicating that interest rate cuts could come in 2024 after it kept rates the same rate during its December meeting. But the rate still remains high, which greatly impacts the housing market and does little to stop driving up prices on other goods and services.
The term Bideonomics was launched to sum up Biden’s economic agenda, which is focused on building the economy from the middle out and the bottom up. But, even Biden has appeared to abandon the term during his speeches, having not used it since Nov. 1.
His approval rating
Biden is wrapping up the year hitting a record low approval rating and is faced with several polls that have him stuck below 40 percent.
A poll released from Monmouth University on Monday found that just 34 percent approve of his job performance in the White House, with 61 percent disapproving of it. The poll also found that only 3 in 10 Americans polled said that Biden is giving enough attention to the issues most important to them.
Another recent poll, from the Wall Street Journal, had his approval rating at 37 percent and with him trailing Trump, who will end 2023 as the most consistent GOP primary front-runner in outpacing his Republican opponents by double-digits. Recent polls suggest Biden and Trump are neck-in-neck in a hypothetical general election matchup.
Biden has faced low approval ratings on issues that he deems top accomplishments, too. Recent polling shows Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy, inflation, and job creation, as well as his handling of infrastructure issues and climate. Low unemployment, infrastructure projects, and investments to combat climate change are areas that the Biden campaign often tout as key legislative wins during his first term.
His pro-Israel stance
In the more than two months since Hamas attacked Israel Oct. 7, and Israel’s near-constant bombardment of the Gaza Strip as a result, Biden’s pro-Israel stance has drawn scrutiny, not only by GOP opponents, but notably from within the Democratic Party.
Progressives and young Americans have been protesting to object to the president’s support for Israel and to the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians. Protests have followed Biden at stops he’s made across the U.S. as demonstrators have called for a cease-fire, sometimes dubbing him “genocide Joe.”
While the White House has made concerted efforts to amplify its concerns about the civilian death toll in Gaza and on actively working with regional leaders on delivering humanitarian aid to the enclave, that’s done little to quell the bitter criticisms over Israel’s wartime tactics and the president’s pro-Israel stance, despite some cracks forming between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to an end game in the war.
A New York Times/Siena poll showed that just 33 percent of respondents approve of Biden’s Israel policy, which includes agreeing with Israel that a cease-fire would only allow Hamas to regroup and rearm. Roughly two dozen Democrats signed a letter last month to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling on them to seek a cease-fire in Gaza.
The House Impeachment and Hunter Biden
Republicans formalized their impeachment inquiry into Biden just before heading out for the holiday recess, leaving the president with a fight to prepare for in the new year.
While the impeachment inquiry comes with risks of backfiring on Republicans, especially moderates in Biden districts and those in swing states who have to justify the probe to voters, it also opens the door to more scrutiny of the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
The impeachment inquiry is examining allegations about whether the president improperly benefited from or used policy to benefit the foreign business dealings of family members and allegations that the Department of Justice slow-walked a tax crimes investigation into Hunter Biden.
The younger Biden made no qualms of dealing with the congressional probe into his past out in the open, when he made a public statement outside the Capitol after defying a subpoena. That could prove troublesome to the White House, who have gone to great lengths to avoid speaking publicly about Hunter Biden’s legal issues.
Former press secretary Jen Psaki suggested as much, telling an NBC panel recently that she believed the White House wished Hunter Biden would take a more subdued approach.
“This is not helpful to any of them for him to be out there. But, at the same time, the president loves his son. That takes precedent over anything else. That is appealing,” Psaki said. “But, yes, the White House would like him to probably go away right now.”
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