“Build Back Better” has been President Joe Biden’s slogan for his gargantuan infrastructure boondoggle. According to a new poll, however, the catchphrase might as well apply to the effect the administration’s profligate spending is having on a potential Republican majority in the House of Representatives after the 2022 midterms.
The survey, conducted by the GOP firm Remington Research Group on behalf of the conservative American Action Network, showed the president’s approval rating underwater in seven swing congressional districts currently controlled by Democrats.
The survey was conducted Aug. 28-30 and was “weighted to match expected turnout demographics for the 2022 General Election.” In each of the seven districts, voters disapproved of Biden himself and the Democrats’ spending plan in particular.
In all seven districts, voters also blamed the government for inflation, believed the proposed plan would make it worse, didn’t approve of the welfare spending tucked into the plan and opposed raising taxes to pay for it.
Perhaps most importantly, in two of the four races where polling against a named Republican challenger was conducted, two of the incumbents were down. All four races were within the 3.2 percent margin of error.
More ominously for the left, when pollsters framed the race as being between a generic Democrat and a generic Republican, the GOP came out ahead in all seven districts.
The highest net disapproval of Biden was in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, currently represented by Rep. Elissa Slotkin. In the district, which is home to the state capital of Lansing, 54 percent of voters disapproved of Biden’s job performance compared with 42 percent who approved.
In Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District — which includes Des Moines and the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska, represented by Rep. Cindy Axne — Biden’s net approval is 8 percent underwater, 51 percent to 43 percent.
In California’s 10th Congressional District, which includes Modesto and is represented by Rep. Josh Harder, Biden’s net disapproval sat at 7 percent, 51 percent to 44 percent.
Four other districts — Florida’s 7th, Michigan’s 11th, Virginia’s 2nd and Washington’s 8th — saw net disapproval ranging between 3 and 6 percent for the president.
For right now, Biden’s foreign policy is more unpopular than his economic policy in the districts polled; Biden had 51 percent disapproval vs. 44 percent approval on the economy, whereas he had 51 percent disapproval vs. 42 percent approval on foreign policy.
However, the pollsters also didn’t find any love for the Biden administration’s spending plans in the swing districts — which, according to The Hill, are the top targets for the GOP in the midterms.
On the “Build Back Better” program in general, pollsters found an average of 54 percent disapproval against 36 percent approval — a net disapproval of 18 points.
The social welfare provisions in the program were even more unpopular (55 percent disapproval vs. 36 percent approval, a 19-point disparity), with a general agreement government spending was the cause of inflation (51 percent agree vs. 33 percent disagree, an 18-point margin).
On the whole, Biden’s spending plan was 20 points underwater (55 percent necessary vs. 35 percent unnecessary), and raising taxes to pay for it was especially toxic (55 percent opposition against 28 percent opposition, a 27-point margin).
The most worrying for the Democrats should be the generic ballot, where every challenger lost to a Republican. No theoretical Democrat fared better than a 3-point margin of defeat (that was in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, currently represented by Elaine Luria). Iowa’s 3rd and Michigan’s 8th both saw a 9-point generic Republican margin.
In the four races where they polled with actual candidates, both Axne and Luria were down to Republican challengers, 46-44 percent and 46-45 percent, respectively. And yes, two were up (Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Kim Schrier of Washington), but a 50 percent incumbent retention rate in swing districts won’t hack it for the Democrats in a midterm year, not with Biden on the chopping block.
So, why does this poll matter?
After all, we’ve been told everyone loves them some infrastructure spending. From Fox News reporting on a poll of its own on Aug. 11: “Majorities like the infrastructure packages being considered by Washington lawmakers. Sixty-two percent favor the $1 trillion U.S. Senate package that focuses on roads, bridges, and rail service, and 56 percent favor the additional items such as climate change and childcare included in the U.S. House’s $3.5 trillion package.”
Vox populi, vox dei, after all.
Except it’s not quite that simple, particularly if the Democrats want to hold on to the House of Representatives — and thus the spending spigot.
The Democrats’ strategy for retaining the House relies on retaining either urban or semi-rural districts that they won in 2018 or that they’ve managed to keep via moderate candidates.
Higher taxes, inflation and massive spending sprees aren’t going to be looked upon favorably in swing districts like these, particularly when Democrat incumbents voted for the Biden administration’s unprecedented fiscal splurge.
And keep in mind, Biden is promising us all of this great “free” stuff without a campaign afoot, all with a media who paints it in the warmest possible light. Once the midterm campaigns begin and advertisements start airing on TV, notifying voters just how much debt the administration and their congressional allies have signed American taxpayers onto, watch how quickly this sours.
If House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy takes the speaker’s gavel in January 2023, he might thank Biden for the red wave that helped the GOP “Build Back Better.”
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