Tough questions if Biden’s endorsement doesn’t follow a booming economy

Doesn’t it seem like everything is breaking President Biden’s way lately?

His main rival – Mr. Biden has already been defeated in 2020 and Democrats, who were defeated again in the midterms — face criminal charges, though now he sees himself running for the nomination anyway.

The economy — teetering on the brink of recession for two years with rising inflation and falling real wages — appears to be on track. Soft landingInflation is falling, real wages are rising and the stock market is recovering.

The backlash against the “awakening” — a topic that Republicans have seemed so keen to exploit in the Biden era — Donald J. Trump appears to have regressed significantly, either because he took too much oxygen or something; Conservatives are overwhelmed; Or progressives have reined in their transgressions and gone back to defense after conservatives have gone on offense.

It is too soon to expect these latest developments to boost Mr. Biden’s approval ratings Dip into the low 40s. But if these trends continue, Mr. Many explanations for Biden’s low approval ratings will soon become less credible. If his numbers don’t start moving in the next few months — as if the wind is at his back — it will soon start to raise serious questions about his standing in the 2024 election.

At this point in his presidency, it’s easy to attribute his low ratings to economic conditions. Yes, unemployment was low and growth was steady. But inflation rose, real incomes fell, stocks fell into a bear market, a recession seemed imminent, and voters could see signs of a struggling economy everywhere, including supply chain shortages and tight interest rates.

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It’s fair to question whether economic conditions are really as bad as voters say they are, but it’s also fair to admit that these kinds of conditions can provide pessimistic voters. Two inflations reminiscent of today’s post-epidemic economy—the postwar economies of 1920 and 1946—were disastrous for the party in power, while unemployment remained low by the era’s standards.

Historically, almost every major political upheaval can feel like inflation Great restlessness In Britain, Red summer Even hyperinflation in America or Weimar Germany. If the price of bread is high can argue Helped by the French Revolution, 9 percent inflation (to peak in June 2022) Mr. It’s easy to accept that it could hurt Biden’s approval ratings by five or 10 percentage points.

But inflation is Mr. It’s hard to say that if it has held back Biden, it should have held him back much longer. Annual inflation fell to 3 percent last month, and real incomes finally started to rise raise. The stock market — one of the most visible and impactful measures of the economy for millions of Americans — has risen about 15 percent in the past six months. University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index It rose 13 percent in July. Hit the highest level since September 2021 – the first full month Mr. Biden’s approval ratings were below 50 percent.

Mr. There’s another factor that should help Biden’s approval rating: the start of a new phase of the Republican primary campaign, including the debates. As Republican candidates gain more prominence in American life, voters are more likely to see Mr. Instead of isolating Biden, we can begin to assess it against the alternatives. Currently Mr. Some Democratic-leaning voters who disapprove of Biden may begin to see the Biden presidency in a different light.

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Perhaps for these reasons, it is time to see many presidents change their stance. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton’s approval ratings were clearly rising at this point in the election cycle — though both were still below 50 percent — as voters began to see and feel an improving economy.

Mr. We’ll see in the coming months if Biden’s ratings begin to rise. I don’t expect it to happen soon: Mr. Reagan and Mr. Clinton’s ratings rose by less than a point per month between this term and her re-election. Barack Obama’s ratings rose at a similar pace from his post-debt-ceiling-crisis nadir that year, if slightly slower.

But even if it is not quick, if these conditions remain Mr. I expect Biden’s ratings to start rising. Today’s era may be polarized, but there are plenty of persuasive and pro-Democrat voters — who disapprove of his performance — to turn to him.

If the economy continues to improve and his ratings stagnate in a few more months, it will gradually begin to raise difficult questions about the true source of his weakness — feeding the perception of a weak president whose age prevents voters from seeing him effectively, whatever his actual record.

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