Joe Biden's approval went from low to meh. That's about all there is to celebrate

·3 min read

Biden is back, baby.

Democratic strategists and media pundits are celebrating a seeming resurgence of the formerly doomed Biden presidency. Politico declared, “Somehow, someway, Joe Biden is back in the game.” Axios praised “Biden’s success story,” while Yahoo! News said the past week showed “the makings of a comeback.”

After 18 months of bad headlines for the White House, the remnants of Biden’s base had some reason for optimism. Sen. Joe Manchin surprised Washington with a last-minute compromise on a drastically reduced version of the Build Back Better plan. Even Kyrsten Sinema signed on. Congress also passed bills to boost domestic semiconductor production and relieve veterans exposed to burn pits.

It didn’t hurt that the military took out Ayman al-Zawahri, the Al Qaeda head’s first media coverage in about a decade. (Well, it hurt Zawahri, but no one else.)

Grocery, rent prices are still increasing

Despite the comeback narrative, bad news still rolled in. The economy suffered the second consecutive quarter of negative GDP growth, a situation that used to be called a recession before D.C. lexicographers tweaked the definition.

Inflation eased a bit, lowering from 9.1% in June to 8.5% in July, though grocery prices, rent and electricity continued to rise.

Yet, as we head into the midterms, the numbers to watch are from the pollsters.

The good news for Democrats? Biden is experiencing a comeback. The bad news? It’s only 3 percentage points.

Back on July 20, the president hit an all-time low of 36.8%, according to the RealClearPolitics approval average. By Aug. 10, it had soared to 39.9%.

An improvement, yes, but still … not great. It’s about where the president was stuck about a month and a half ago.

Few think Biden should run again

President Joe Biden on Aug. 7, 2022.
President Joe Biden on Aug. 7, 2022.

Dipping into other surveys makes Biden’s fortunes look even worse.

Only 18% of Americans believe the president should run for reelection. Even a plurality of Democrats prefers the 79-year-old trade his seat behind the Resolute Desk for a rocking chair at the beach house.

In a recent congressional primary debate, Rep. Jerry Nadler said it was “too early to say” if Mr. Biden should run again. His opponent, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, added, “I don’t believe he’s running for reelection.”

Nevertheless, White House staffers are seizing the Biden boomlet. Every other day, Biden is at a lectern, shielding his squint with a pair of aviators and reading optimistic talking points to the best of his ability. The set pieces inspire little confidence, but at least he has some not-so-bad news to report.

The administration told Politico they plan to keep Biden in the spotlight. Then again, the president recently departed for another vacation. Maybe they should pack a podium on Air Force One.

Democrats' legislation won't affect many voters

The problem going forward is that the recent legislation isn’t likely to affect many voters, certainly not before November. Democrats lamely named the Schumer/Manchin bill the Inflation Reduction Act, although it won’t improve inflation one bit.

Arizona was key: How Sinema, Kelly shaped the Inflation Reduction Act

To counter Biden’s massive COVID-19 relief bill that helped fuel our economic problems, the new law allocates $430 billion more in green energy and health care spending. Any deficit reduction is delayed well into the future, but a lot more money will be thrown into the inflation mix now.

It also demands 87,000 new IRS agents be hired. Just what stressed-out Americans have been praying for.

It seems that neither party wants to address the issues voters actually care about. Perhaps it’s because a failing economy doesn’t affect politicians or their wealthy donors. More likely, they have no solutions to offer.

If Biden wants to improve his polls any further, he would be wise to focus on the concerns of ordinary Americans. Promises of windmills and IRS agents can only get you so far.

Jon Gabriel, a Mesa resident, is editor-in-chief of and a contributor to The Republic and On Twitter: @exjon.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Joe Biden boosted his approval rating, but a major problem remains