Presidential polls can be trivial – here and gone. Or they can mean something, matching past patterns, offering a window on the future. Biden’s plummeting poll numbers mean something. Following Jimmy Carter’s policy blueprint, Biden’s polls are tanking, along with the US economy and global respect.
In only 11 months, Biden’s approval dropped from a media-assisted 64 percent to 36 percent. He lost 28 percent of the public, governs with approval from a third of the nation, may beat Carter to the bottom.
This slide-in a president’s first term, first year – is unprecedented. Biden’s numbers do not track with Nixon, Bush 41, or Trump. They depart from Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Ford, Clinton, Obama, Bush 43 – and of course, Ronald Reagan.
By way of quick review, all patterns are different.
Nixon began at 66 percent in 1972, slid to 24 percent with Watergate corruption. But that was in a second term, after a popular first term and winning reelection in a landslide.
George Herbert Walker Bush rose in popularity to a stunning 89 percent, middle of the Gulf War. Not a campaigner, he dropped to 29 percent by term’s end. But wartime presidents are different, often highly popular, then not so much.
Trump was at 60 percent early 2021, then the COVID body slam, rabid press after January 6th riot, leaving him at 29 percent. That said, it took a full four years.
Going back to the 1940s, Truman – under whom WWII ended – saw an 87 percent approval rating in 1945, diminished to 22 percent by 1952. Eisenhower, who followed Truman, war hero, started at 81 percent, concluded 47 percent.
Kennedy tragically lost early, slid from 86 to 56 percent approval, never lower. Johnson, after Vietnam, slid from 79 percent to 34 percent, while Ford, who stepped up after Nixon, and went from 73 percent to 36 percent, again odd times, extended period.
Similar multi-year slides met Bush 43, who went from 90 percent at 9-11 to 25 percent at the end, and Obama, who was at 69 percent, then ended at 40 percent.
Only two presidents bucked the trend, Clinton who rose – with a growing economy – from 37 to 73 percent, and Reagan, who rose from 35 percent to 74 percent, growing economy, end of Soviet Union.
Only one president has fallen 28 points in his first 11 months, Mr. Biden. However, Jimmy Carter fell fast on similar positions. Between 1977 and 1979, Carter’s approval fell from 74 to 28 percent or 46 points.
Why? Carter’s policies, while not openly socialist, anti-free market, or defeatist, were all three. Biden has just upped the ante, accelerated the process – with a Democrat Congress.
Carter pushed federal mandates, fuel rationing, indulged communist nations (e.g., the Soviet Union and China), pushed alternate and foreign energy sources over US independence, demoralized the US military, raised taxes, increased entitlements, created the massive Department of Education – to this day prescribing federal nostrums to states, municipalities, and parents, at huge taxpayer cost.
What Carter could not do, based on checks in Congress, was pass his guaranteed minimum income, federal job guarantee, negative income tax (money for nothing, discouraging work), cash payments.
Like Biden, he favored legalizing some illegal drugs, was naïve on foreign policy, tended away from deterrence, leading to surprise when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Iran took US hostages, rescue failed, he bumbled into interactions with Cuba, almost withdrawing from South Korea, before stopping.
What was the result of the failed Carter policies, beyond lost approval?
Answer: Devastation of the US economy, higher runaway inflation, higher interest rates, unemployment, and fear (stagflation), unions seeking massive wage spikes, seniors unable to pay bills, reduced consumption, fuel rationing, devalued dollar, diminished respect for the US globally, communist advances, high drug abuse (including in the military), rising public debt, falling public confidence.
These dramatic negatives got reversed – only under Ronald Reagan, who took over Carter’s recession and got America back on our feet. He cut taxes, freed free markets, brought inflation down, created 18 million private jobs, restored the energy sector, reduced federal agencies, tackled (with his wife) the drug crisis, restored the US military, and ended the Soviet Union.
So, this avalanche in Biden’s numbers – is headed lower. He is pursuing failed Carter policies, only magnitudes worse, as pushing with congressional Democrats socialist concentration of power. Expect stagflation, accelerating inflation, taxes, interest rates, and unemployment.
Expect a falling dollar, consumer confidence, labor participation, and social unrest, which will be compounded by Biden’s anti-law enforcement and open border policies.
Expect the US military to struggle with budgets, procurement, operations, recruiting, and retention, as law enforcement is. And expect arrogance in the White House, with reduced international respect.
The only thing missing is Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech – announcing America’s lost confidence, and his patronizing energy conservation speech, in that tan cardigan – warm by a fireplace, energy crisis.
No wonder many see Biden as warmed-over Carter, with cascading policy failures. Expect polls to keep falling, prices to keep rising, and comparisons to Carter to multiply. Once over, Carter may look good.