Byron York's Daily Memo: Biden poll plunge continues

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BIDEN POLL PLUNGE CONTINUES. The last time a majority approved of President Joe Biden's job performance was Aug. 14, when the RealClearPolitics average of polls showed a 50.1% approval rating. That was down from early April when Biden hit his high-water mark in job approval at 55.7% in the RCP average.

Now the president has hit a low-water mark of 42%, with a disapproval rating of 51.3%. If the present trend continues, it will go lower still.

It may be heading there at this moment. A new poll from Grinnell College conducted by Ann Selzer, known in the political world for conducting the Des Moines Register polls for many years, has Biden at 37% approval, with 50% disapproval and 12% unsure. Even on Biden's strongest point — his handling of the Covid pandemic — the Grinnell poll shows him with just 46% approval. On handling the economy, he's at 36%. On immigration, 27%.

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As president, Biden is hemorrhaging clout. With every drop in his approval rating comes a drop in his influence on Capitol Hill, on his ability to push, cajole, and threaten members of Congress to do what he wants. At the moment, he is trying to get Democrats to agree to a new spending plan in the $1.9 trillion range. That is down from Hill Democratic leaders' $3.5 trillion target, which was down from somewhere in the $6 trillion range of progressives' dreams.

In addition, a president's job approval rating is one of the key factors determining how well his party does in midterm elections. Unless Biden can reverse the current direction of his polls, he will be a drag on his party, which already faces a struggle to keep its exceedingly tenuous grip on power on Capitol Hill.

Plus: Grinnell asked a question that is discussed nearly every day but rarely actually asked at this point. "If the general election were held today, and the candidates for president were Joe Biden for the Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans, for whom would you vote — Biden, Trump, someone else, or would you not vote?" The pollsters found the results dead even — 40% for Biden vs. 40% for Trump. Equally important, 14% said they would vote for someone else, while 4% said they weren't sure, and 1% said they would not vote.

Of course, 2024 might not be a Biden-Trump matchup at all. It's fair to say that for a variety of reasons, there is a huge amount of uncertainty about who will be the Democratic and Republican standard bearers. But Joe Biden's problems are much more immediate than 2024. The more he sinks, the less he can do, right here, right now.

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