It is, without question, bad news for President Joe Biden – and the broader Democratic Party – that 41% of Americans approve of his job performance and 58% disapprove in the new CNN national poll.
But there’s far worse news for Biden and his party buried in that same survey.
So, let’s dig.
Biden’s approval rating is split in the CNN survey (and in most polls) between those who approve or disapprove “strongly” or just “moderately.”
And that’s where the depth of Biden’s problems comes into very sharp relief. Just 15% say they “strongly” approve of the job he is doing as President while 41% “strongly” disapprove.
That sort of disparity tells us this: The Democratic base – those most likely to support Biden – is feeling a bit “meh” toward him at the moment. Meanwhile, the GOP base is on fire, passionate in its distaste for the way Biden has handled the presidency.
And that’s exactly what you see when the numbers are broken out by party. While roughly one-third (36%) of Democrats strongly approve of the job Biden is doing, about three-fourths (76%) of Republicans strongly disapprove of how he is managing the job.
Among key constituencies for both parties, it’s a similar story. Just 3 in 10 Black Americans and fewer than 1 in 5 Latino Americans strongly approve of the job Biden is doing. More than 6 in 10 White non-college graduates and 3 in 4 conservatives strongly disapprove of how Biden is handling his presidency.
(Sidebar: Another indicator of how strongly opposed many are to Biden? In the CNN poll, 56% of those who disapprove of him said they couldn’t name a single thing he had done as President of which they approve.)
Why does this disparity in energy matter? Because midterm elections – more so than presidential contests – tend to be battles of the bases. And when one side is very fired up (as Republicans are right now) and the other side is, well, not (as Democrats are right now), you tend to see major congressional seat shifts, like in 2018, 2010, 2006 and 1994.
The Point: The best – and maybe only – good news in these numbers for Biden and other Democrats is that it’s February 2022, not October 2022. If this passion gap between the bases is still in place come this fall, Democrats are likely to get crushed at the ballot box.