Joe Biden: So Much Winning But Still Losing
Why Biden may be winning even when no one says they'll vote for him.
Ominous signs abound for Biden and the free world as we career towards the next US election like an out of control autonomous Tesla. In the latest NYT/Siena poll Biden loses to Trump by 4-10 points in 5 of the most critical battleground states. He trails Trump in a theoretical match up 44 to 48 across the US. It's looking pretty grim. His coalition is disintegrating before our eyes and two thirds of the US say the country is moving in the wrong direction. Is this the reality or just a lull before the political sh*t-storm.
The under 30 vote moved from a 22 point upside for Biden in 2020 to 1 point, proving Trump is too old for no one, his lead with Latinos is shrinking and even 22% of the black vote is going for Trump (an apparent unheard of record for modern times).
The most shocking part of the poll results weren’t the numbers though.
After all, looking historically at third year numbers of incumbent Presidents, Biden has good sloucheronic, or is it chronic, company.
The current President’s numbers are similar to Trump’s, Clinton’s, Obama’s, George W. Bush, even Reagan’s third year of his first term - same slump for the lot of them. And well Romney was beating Obama in a similar poll but then Obama went on to beat him. And Clinton was massacring Trump at an equivalent time in their match up and we all know how that turned out a year later... so handwringing maybe take a break.
No, the most shocking part to me anyway was some of the quotes from the participants in the survey - I’ll give you a few “I had high hopes for Biden. You can't be worse than Trump. But then years go by and things happen with inflation, war in Ukraine, Israel, our borders” says Jahmerry Henry (25). Or “I don’t think he’s the right guy to go toe to toe with these other world leaders that don’t respect him or fear him” Travis Waterman, 33. He voted for Biden but now sees him as “weak”. Like watered down olive oil from a drought driven dearth.
Has this ‘ol cowboy got enough giddyup for the slightly macho American populace?
Oy vey (yiddish) ooiii (italian) WTF (twitter/x) holy mother of god are Americans completely insane (the rest of the world) hehehe (Putin/Xi). I mean world leaders are practically on their knees thanking God that Trump isn’t the one handling the Ukraine and Israel situation. Biden is Elvis - level popular with his 40% then those foreign leaders: Trudeau’s at 36%, Scholz is at 29, Sunak’s at 28% and Macron and Japan’s Kishida are both at a down low 23%. Of course Putin and Xi are looking at 98% approval but that’s just a guess because they’re so sweet and also they don’t do polling….. I’m thinking maybe those guys don’t think Biden’s so weak after all.
People really aren’t happy with their leaders these days. So ok those were petty selective quotes perhaps and maybe we should take a closer look at what’s really happening outside of the Fox news influencer foreign policy bubble.
Let's look at the economy. The macroeconomic data is flying. I mean Bidenomics is producing numbers like no man’s business. Take GDP. GDP flew past the pre-pandemic level by the first quarter of 2021 and has grown by 6% since Biden took over. And according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis real GDP increased at an annual rate of 4.9% in the third quarter of 2023. That’s amazeballs growth. Almost akin to a China-size property bubble.
The unemployment rate is a consistent 3.4-3.9% this year. That's the best rate since 1948 and its considered full employment. That means if you want a job there’s a job waiting for you or your next door robot if you don't get an AI move on.
Wage growth has increased 5% in 2022, 4.3% in 2023, predicted to grow by another 5% in 2024.
Inflation that soared because of the pandemic is down to 3.2% from a high of 7% in 2021. Meaning you might actually get to keep a teeny fraction of that wage growth.
Either way, those are some sizzling numbers. And any President with numbers like those would be feeling a little Beatles like revivalist love from his countryfolk in years past. But, obviously Bidenomics is a big fat word that means nothing to the average Joe. Just ask Patricia Flores, a former Biden voter, “I don’t see anything he’s done to benefit us”, she told the pollster. I.e. the only numbers I’m remembering combine inflation with the ol’ dudes age.
It feels like the good news of Bidenomics. All those Acts he passed in the last two years. While doing the macro thing for the economy is a big zero for the voters. They might hear about it but they ain’t feeling it. Just like the newest Beatles revival tune. What’s it called again? The yawning economic inequality means that once upon a time if the GDP rose we all felt it nowadays that's just a select few. And that's just the way it is.
If inflation is down to 3.2% that's still a product that costs 3.2% more this month then last. Wage growth means nothing if inflation growth exceeds it. That's been happening for the last 3 years. And full employment doesn’t mean anything if you're not sure how many hours you’ll be working or if the job will be steady and stable. People don’t feel stable if they aren't sure they will be able to afford this month with their wage that they bought last month. Or if they'll have it at all with the crypto slump and AI pump.
The big idea coming from political strategists that voters don’t know what Biden’s done might just be wrong. It could be that voters don’t care what Biden’s done because as far as they can see they aren't any better off. It's just words in the air. Another ad touting your accomplishment. But they don’t see it and they don’t feel it so why should they care. And just saying it again and again and louder and louder- LOOK MA! BIDENOMICS might be how american tourists order dinner in France but it's kind of obnoxious. You can start to sound like an old crank. Who wants to vote for an old crank. Oh wait…
How to turn all that ‘winning’ into winning votes… ah that’s a great question and it won't happen by jamming how great you are down people's throats. It starts by saying what you’ll do in the next 4 years. Give them a vision of what you’ll accomplish. And make it clear who the other guys are and what they’ll do. Like Musk does on X again and again and again.
The country, that big under thirty vote, those Hispanic voters, the Black voters - they're Biden voters at heart. You’ve got to remind them what they risk losing. Last time they lost the constitutional right to abortion. They lost the 250 year tradition of the peaceful transition of power. They lost a lot of lives in a shambolic pandemic response. But then again who's counting.
You need to give them a positive reason so that maybe they’ll listen. Biden is quite blunt and workmanlike. He’ll need to inspire. It’s his missing ingredient. That list of Presidents Clinton, Obama, Reagan they all inspired and got a second term. Even George W. (thanks to 9/11 ) inspired. Those single term folks, Ford, Bush Sr, Carter not so much. So which one are you Mr President?
Now I'm handwringing…
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