Biden critics aren’t flocking to GOP like we’d expect. But why?


HR King
May 29, 2001
Trump and abortion:

For about two months now, Democrats’ fortunes in the 2022 midterm elections have appeared to be improving. And as The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has noted, the blue side has been buoyed largely despite President Biden’s poor political standing. Democrats are outperforming the fundamentals that say the president’s party usually loses substantial ground in a midterm, particularly when that president is unpopular.
And a key stat drives home how they’re doing it.
The Post’s Emily Guskin last week highlighted a recent Pew Research Center survey that showed voters who disapprove of Biden but “not so strongly” still favor Democrats over Republicans in the midterms, by 43 percent to 29 percent. In addition, Ronald Brownstein noted in CNN that an NBC News poll also showed that those who “somewhat” disapprove of Biden were breaking about even between the two parties.

This is not normal, Brownstein emphasizes. Those who disapprove of the president even mildly often break for the other party by a wide margin, for perhaps obvious reasons. About two-thirds of those who somewhat disapproved of Barack Obama voted Republican in the 2010 midterm elections, according to exit polls; in 2018, about the same number who somewhat disapproved of Donald Trump voted for Democrats. In both cases, these voters proved essential in flipping the House for the opposition party.
But today, in these polls, such voters aren’t breaking at all for Republicans. And their reluctance to go for the GOP could prevent Republicans from taking over both chambers of Congress — something that once seemed much more likely.
The question is why voters are reluctant to support the Republicans, and how much we should read into such data. To examine that question, it’s worth diving into how unusual this actually is.
It turns out these aren’t the only polls that suggest this group is inordinately prepared to vote Democratic. Quinnipiac University found last month that voters who “somewhat” disapproved of Biden were twice as likely to vote for Democrats as Republicans on the House “generic ballot” — 58 percent to 29 percent.
And this group has been trending toward Democrats. In early April, it was evenly split between the two parties. By late April, Democrats jumped to a 13-point lead. In May, the lead became 20 points. And last month, it was the aforementioned 29 points.
But if you look at those polls, you’ll notice something important: As this was happening, Biden’s approval rating kept dropping — all the way to a new low of 31 percent in the July poll. As it did, those who “somewhat” disapproved of him became, logically, more of a Democratic-leaning group. It perhaps shouldn’t be surprising, then, that this group appears more willing to vote Democratic in 2022. It’s a significant caveat, and it should color any hard-and-fast conclusions.
Indeed, there is some precedent for those who “somewhat” disapprove of a president nonetheless breaking for his party in an election. And, no surprise: It came when that president was historically unpopular.
Exit polls in 2008 showed George W. Bush’s approval rating at just 28 percent — similar to where Biden was in the July Quinnipiac poll. But the 1 in 5 voters who “somewhat” disapproved of Bush broke for Republicans by a 62-35 margin — similar to Biden’s 29-point margin in that poll. Again, these were by and large voters who should have leaned Republican, and they did.
Taking that into consideration, though, there’s still reason to believe this group might be sticking with Democrats more than would be normal, with potentially significant implications for the 2022 midterms.
The NBC poll that showed an even split among voters who “somewhat” disapprove, for instance, pegged Biden’s approval at a relatively respectable 42 percent. Recent elections have been held when presidents were at about that level of popularity — but unlike the NBC poll, those results showed this group breaking for the opposition party in large numbers.
The incumbent president was in the low-to-mid-40s in exit polls of the 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 midterms — between 43 and 45 percent in all four elections — but in each case, voters broke for the opposition party by more than 20 points. In two of those years, they broke for the opposition party by about a 2-to-1 margin. When Bush’s approval rating was 43 percent in 2006 — similar to Biden’s 42 percent today — his party nonetheless lost “somewhat” disapprovers by 21 points.
That is decidedly not what the NBC poll suggests is happening right now. And special election results, to the extent we can read into them, bolster an emerging picture of Democrats outperforming fundamentals such as Biden’s approval rating.
The question is why. A likely culprit appears to be the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which has coincided with Democrats’ sudden streak of special-election success. Another possibility is that the investigation into the top-secret and other documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is keeping the focus on his own party and its liabilities — perhaps in some combination with weak and ideologically extreme GOP candidates dominating the headlines. Still a third, which I don’t think enough people have accounted for, is that disapproval of Biden might be slightly different from that of other recent presidents — that perhaps people don’t like the job he has done but are reacting more to factors such as age and perceived formidability than to his stands on the issues.
Whatever the case, this stat fills out a picture of midterm elections that look as though they might buck the conventional wisdom. Whether they do so enough to save Democrats’ exceedingly slim House and Senate majorities is another matter.



HR Legend
Gold Member
Jan 6, 2009
Yep. The candidates are fine. Yes be nice for all of us if they were a little bit more conservative, but they'll do. Trump being a horses arse and abortion ruling spin have given the left a glimmer of hope.