The single biggest indicator of how the 2022 midterm elections will go for the two parties is how the public thinks about President Joe Biden.
Which, ugh, if you are a Democratic candidate looking toward trying to win a race in a swing district or state come that November.
The latest bad news on that front came Thursday in a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Biden’s approval in the survey slid all the way to 43%, a drop of 6 points in a single month. His disapproval, not surprisingly shot up 7 points to 51%.
Those numbers for Biden – and Democrats – are bad. Obviously. But there’s another number buried in that question that should worry them even more.
And it’s this: 41% of people said they strongly disapprove of the job Biden is doing, while just 19% strongly approve of how he is handling his job as president.
What that number suggests is that there is a major passion gap between the two party bases. Democrats like Biden – some even love him. But Republicans HATE him, with 82% saying they strongly disapprove of how he is doing the job.
That sort of energy disparity between the two party bases is, if history is any guide, a recipe for disaster for Democratic candidates for Congress.
This, from Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones, is illustrative of that – ahem – point:
“In Gallup’s polling history, presidents with job approval ratings below 50% have seen their party lose 37 House seats, on average, in midterm elections. That compares with an average loss of 14 seats when presidents had approval ratings above 50%.”
Recent history affirms that trend. With his approval ratings in the low 40s (at best) then-President Donald Trump’s Republican Party got thumped in the 2018 midterms. Republicans lost 40 House seats – and their majority.
The Point: The best news for Biden and his party is that it’s September 2021, not September 2022. If his job approval numbers in a year’s time are anywhere near where they are today, Democrats will likely be facing a wave perched to come crashing down on them on Election Day.