The latest Morning Consult-Politico poll, for example, has the president at 60 percent approval with only 37 percent disapproval. He’s off the charts among Democrats (92 percent) and wins independents 52 percent to 40 percent. Sixty-three percent approve of his handling of the covid-19 pandemic (compared to 24 percent approval for congressional Republicans). Despite the actions of many GOP governors, nearly 70 percent of voters think “Americans should continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus even if it means continued damage to the economy.”
Republicans’ quibbling about the definition of infrastructure has largely fallen on deaf ears. Voters generally have more expansive definitions for infrastructure, which in their minds includes schools (70 percent say it’s infrastructure), child care (53 percent), manufacturing (69 percent), water pipes (78 percent), Internet (68 percent), housing (69 percent). Biden’s overall plan gets 57 percent approval, with only 24 percent disapproval. Mention an increase in corporate taxes, and support climbs to 62 percent.
On guns, a number of restrictions draw large majorities, such as background checks (83 percent), banning assault-style guns (64 percent), banning high-capacity magazines (65 percent), mandatory waiting times (73 percent), raising the age to buy a gun to 21 years (77 percent) and barring sales to people reported as having a mental illness (83 percent).
And in good news for congressional Democrats, the poll reports: “Democratic voters, at 81 percent, are 9 percentage points more likely than Republican voters, at 72 percent, to say they’re at least ‘somewhat’ enthusiastic about voting in the 2022 midterms.” Republicans will surely reply (not unfairly) that the 2022 midterms are more than a year and a half away.
To be sure, there is variation among polls, and keep in mind that Democrats did worse in 2020 than their poll numbers would have suggested. (It’s unclear whether this is a phenomenon unique to elections in which the disgraced now-former president is on the ballot.) Nevertheless, there are some useful takeaways for both parties.
First, the American Jobs Plan is very popular and gets more popular with the corporate tax increases included. If Republicans hope to defeat the bill by dwelling on the tax hikes, they might reconsider. Corporations that are exercised about an increase (and running ads, even) might want to stop reminding voters what is in the bill.
Second, Democrats were wise to open the aperture on what “infrastructure” includes. They do better when they list specific items that are very popular; Republicans giving the back of their hands to items beyond their narrow definition of infrastructure is not resonating beyond the true believers among their base.
Third, Democrats really, really like Biden and his plans. That seems to translate into an enthusiasm advantage ahead of the midterms. If Biden’s goal was to hit the ball out of the park with Democrats and win over a healthy share of independents and a sliver of Republicans, he is on the right track. It turns out that addressing the pandemic, spending lots of money on things voters want, forcing corporations to pay more (or anything!) in taxes and avoiding social media and stupid culture wars are popular.
Republicans and the media have continually underestimated Biden and his team. They should take a look at the scoreboard.