Can something be shocking without being surprising?

It’s not surprising that Biden’s approval would collapse under the weight of inflation, gas prices, and the rising likelihood of a recession.

But a sub-38 percent approval rating is shocking all the same. Obama never came close to that low, bottoming out at 40.1 percent. Trump did drop below 38 percent a few times during his first year as president but from March 2018 until his second impeachment he never landed south of 40.

Biden crossed the political Mendoza line this morning, notes Phil Kerpen — although he’s re-crossed it in the other direction in the hours since. As I write this at noon ET, a new poll from Reuters that has Biden at 38/57 approval nudged him back up to 38.1 percent in the average.

Trump’s four-year record for disapproval was 58.1 percent, also set early in his presidency. Today Biden is at 57.4 on disapproval, less than a point away.

Do people understand how catastrophic these midterms are going to be for Democrats if this doesn’t change significantly in the next few months?

Even the Dems’ great hoped-for deus ex machina, a massive backlash to the overruling of Roe, is nowhere in evidence in today’s data. Five polls tracked by RCP were conducted after the Dobbs ruling was issued and Biden is at 38-40 percent in all of them. If Dems are destined to get a midterm bounce from angry pro-choicers, it’s not bleeding over into Biden’s numbers even a little bit.

In fact, given the anger lefties are feeling this week at the Democratic establishment for having failed so completely to protect the right to choose, it’s conceivable that Biden’s numbers will drop further. To progressives, no one symbolizes tired, failed Dem leadership that’s overstayed its welcome in Washington like Sleepy Joe, right?

You have to go back nine polls, to mid-June, to find one in which Biden’s approval is above 40 percent. (Ironically, that was a Fox News survey that put him at 43.) Meanwhile, there are some that have him considerably lower than the 38.1 percent he’s currently pulling in the average. The right’s favorite polling outfit, Trafalgar, dropped this on him a few days ago:

Trafalgar prides itself on detecting opinions from voters who tend to get overlooked by other pollsters, keeping its surveys short in the belief that people who wouldn’t otherwise respond to a longer one will answer. That’s given them a track record of spotting Republican upsets in the making where the competition foresaw Democratic victory. It’s possible, in other words, that Biden’s true approval among the public is closer to Trafalgar’s 35 percent figure than RCP’s 38.1.

Especially since they’re not the only pollster that has him at 35. Quinnipiac does too.

I can’t wrap my head around what Republicans’ margins in the House and Senate might look like next year if Dems stumble into November with Biden in the mid-30s in approval. A safe bet would be that every last GOPer running in a competitive Senate race will win, no matter how unpopular or underqualified. Herschel Walker over Raphael Warnock in Georgia, Mehmet Oz over John Fetterman — the bloodletting would be seen from coast to coast. Fringe Republican candidates like Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake who are supposed to have no chance of winning a general election because of their “rigged election” crankery would become favorites.

It’s uncharted territory. Not even the pros will venture a strong guess at how big the red wave might be if Biden is at, say, 35 percent in late October.

There’s one glimmer of hope for Dems. Although Biden is seeing zero benefit from the Dobbs decision in his numbers, the party at large is seeing a modest benefit on the generic ballot:

They’ve gained more than a full point in less than a week following the ruling. But even that good news comes with caveats:

1. Republicans have gained half a point over the same period.

2. At 42.3 percent today, Dems have merely regained the ground they lost in the generic ballot between June 17 and the Dobbs decision.

3. If a backlash to Roe shows up in November, it may show up mainly in states where Dems have little chance of winning anyway. Bill Scher flagged this detail from a new YouGov poll that has Democrats gaining a single point on the generic ballot since Dobbs.

It’s red states that have trigger laws, not blue states, and Republicans already have an overwhelming advantage in those states — especially in this national environment. If, say, Alabama Democrats turn out en masse in November to protest Roe being overturned, that’s the difference between Republican Katie Britt winning a Senate seat 62/38 versus winning it 57/43. Dems need turnout up everywhere this fall, especially in purple states (obviously). If the backlash is concentrated only in places with the harshest new abortion restrictions, then it’s worth next to nothing to them. They’re in enormously deep trouble.

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