Looks like the months of blaming Vladimir Putin for all Joe Biden’s failures hasn’t done much at all for the president. The last USA Today/Suffolk poll in mid-February put Biden at 39/57, with 44% strongly disapproving. Today’s entry, after four months of messaging on corporate greed and “Putin’s price hike” puts Biden at 39/58, with 47% strongly disapproving.

Susan Page writes that American voters are “in a funk,” but it’s clear where the funk originates, and it ain’t in Moscow:

Only 39% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president. A stunning 47% “strongly” disapprove; just 16% “strongly” approve. Academic studies have shown that presidential approval is one of the most reliable predictors of what happens in midterm elections, and a rating this low would traditionally signal significant losses for the president’s party.

I’m beginning to suspect that Biden’s “Be Confident!” slogan won’t reverse things any more than the “Putin’s price hike” message did. His leadership not only hasn’t inspired much confidence, it has convinced voters that Biden’s taking the country in the wrong direction. That’s not a partisan outcome either, but a very broad consensus:

More than seven in 10, 71%, say the United States is “on the wrong track;” 16% say it’s headed in the right direction. Even most Democrats say the country is on the wrong track, 46%-34%. Three of four independents and nearly every Republican agree.

Four months ago, that number was an already-appalling 22/65. Biden has lost twelve points in the gap since the invasion of Ukraine and the addition of Putin to Biden’s blamethrowing portfolio. Interestingly, Page reports that the survey still shows a tie in the congressional ballot, which structurally means a big night for the GOP in November:

Americans split 40%-40% when asked whether they would vote for a Republican or a Democrat for Congress if the election was held today. Independent analysts and strategists in both parties say Republicans are likely to pick up the handful of seats they need to take control of the House. Democrats now hold 220 House seats; 218 are needed for control.

Does that seem odd, considering the twelve-point gap shift in the direction question? Four months ago, Democrats had a 39/37 edge on the generic ballot in the same poll series. This time, independents are breaking toward the GOP by five, 32/27, which makes me wonder whether this survey may have oversampled Democrats a bit. USA Today hasn’t published the Suffolk toplines yet, let alone the crosstabs, but the February sample had D/R/I of 33/31/32 after rounding. I wonder if this one had a wider Democrat advantage — and if it did, then these results are even worse for Biden and the Democrats.

Page doesn’t make much mention of Biden’s approval ratings on specific issues. If topline approval hasn’t improved Biden’s overall standing, I doubt he’s seen much improvement from February’s 36/58 on the economy, 32/63 on leadership, or 24/49 on Russia/Ukraine.

So where does this leave us in the RCP aggregate? Biden’s now at 39.8/54.7 after a brief dip two days ago to 38.9/54.6. A -7 net disapproval from the perpetual outlier of YouGov helped shore up the average, but the best result other than YouGov for Biden recently has been the -12 gap in IBD/TIPP’s 37/49.

Any other president would see this as a signal to launch a complete pivot, perhaps especially on energy policy, to re-engage the electorate. No other president sniffs his own methane emissions as much as Joe Biden, however, although he’s not necessarily alone in that category. No other president has gotten this crosswise with the electorate while enjoying such favorable treatment in the press, however, which shouldn’t just worry Democrats — it should frighten the hell out of them.

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