“In short, many households don’t just feel worse off; they are worse off” admitted Bloomberg’s opinion editors last week.

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash.

Trump Takes 2024 Lead as Biden Approval Hits New Low, WSJ Poll Finds,” reported Aaron Zitner and Alex Leary for the Wall Street Journal last week.

It was the cap on a run of bad polling for President Joe Biden, amidst a reelection campaign already in full swing. Despite months of positive media coverage touting the objective excellence of Bidenomics, concerns about the economy persist.

“Unhappiness with Biden’s performance is pervasive, with economic pessimism weighing him down,” noted Zitner and Leary for the WSJ. “President Biden’s political standing is at its weakest point of his presidency, a new Wall Street Journal Poll finds, with voters giving him his lowest job-performance marks and favoring Donald Trump for the first time in a head-to-head test of the likely 2024 presidential matchup.”

There was worse news to come.

“Biden lags behind Trump by 4 percentage points, 47% to 43%, on a hypothetical ballot with only those two candidates,” revealed Zitner and Leary. “Trump’s lead expands to 6 points, 37% to 31%, when five potential third-party and independent candidates are added to the mix.”

“The findings deliver the latest shock for Biden and for Democrats, some of whom have openly fretted about the 81-year-old president’s stamina and have increasingly played up warnings of 77-year-old Trump’s potential return, casting the Republican as hellbent on retribution and a danger to democracy,” they wrote.

The main crux of voter concern appears to be inflation.

Voters are right to complain about inflation,” admitted Bloomberg’s opinion editors in defeat on December 8, 2023. The rub — that inflation isn’t rising as fast as it was but prices remain stubbornly high — has been obvious to most consumers all year.

All the excuses media outlets have been trotting out — that the U.S. economy is actually pretty great, but voters aren’t knowledgeable enough about economics to understand, or they are lying; or that the economy is really great, like really, really great (all things considered), or when compared with some other nations, or when compared historically with the past century — have been falling flat.

“Recent data show a still-growing economy, a gently cooling jobs market, and a slower pace of price increases in services,” noted Bloomberg’s opinion editors. “Investors are growing more confident that the Fed won’t need to raise its policy rate any higher — and might start cutting in another few months.”

“President Joe Biden’s administration seems baffled that voters aren’t celebrating this accomplishment,” Bloomberg’s opinion editors wrote. “Opinion polls show they’re persistently unhappy with the economy. It shouldn’t be a mystery why.”

“Since 2020, prices overall have risen by roughly 20%,” they continued. “Average wages have indeed risen a fraction more. But for many families, the cost of living depends especially on the prices of groceries, utilities, housing, and credit. As reporting by Bloomberg Economics and Businessweek shows, groceries are up 25% since 2020; the food budget for a four-person household is up more than 30%. Housing is less affordable than it has been for years, thanks to higher rents, home prices, and (especially) mortgage rates. The share of wages spent on interest payments, including credit card bills and auto loans, is at its highest since just before the crash of 2008 — and close to a record.”

As a result, Biden has been paying in the polls.

A new 2024 youth poll doesn’t look promising for Biden,” warned Zeeshan Aleem for MSNBC on December 5, 2023. “A sustained downturn in youth enthusiasm could be disastrous for Democrats in 2024.”

“In the Institute of Politics poll, which was conducted from Oct. 23 to Nov. 6, just 49% of 18- to 29-year-olds across the political spectrum said they “definitely” planned to vote next year,” noted Aleem. “That’s a marked drop from the fall of 2019, when 57% said they “definitely” planned to vote.”

“Part of Biden’s ongoing struggle with young voters stems from the same vexing riddle Biden faces with Americans as a whole,” Aleem concluded. “Despite strong economic growth, a low unemployment rate, rising wages, and slowing inflation, recent surveys show that Americans have a negative outlook on the economy, and in this new poll, young voters trust Trump over Biden on handling the economy by a 15-point margin.”

In worse news for Biden, it doesn’t appear as if the U.S. economy is likely to make a huge change for the better in the coming year. If anything, things are likely to get worse as lagging indicators — like unemployment — catch up for other downward trends and negative market signals.

The Fed watcher who called the 2007 housing bubble expects interest rates to stay high for ‘much, much, much longer.,’” warned Will Daniel recently for Fortune Magazine. “It’s payback for the unsustainable ‘free money era.’”

Can President Joe Biden’s team turn things around? Not everyone is convinced.

Where Are the Pros in Biden’s Campaign?” wondered Karl Rove for the Wall Street Journal on November 29, 2023. “It’s unclear that his relatively greenhorn team can even fix his failing 2020 strategy.”

“The president’s campaign manager, Julie Chávez Rodriguez, has never run a campaign,” wrote Rove. “The sum of her election experience? She volunteered for Barack Obama’s 2008 run, worked in Kamala Harris’s dreadful 2019 bid, then became the Biden campaign’s senior adviser for Latino affairs, principally responsible for calming agitated Hispanic party insiders. She’s now in charge of something that’s hard for the most seasoned campaign hands to handle.”

“Her deputy does have experience: Quentin Fulks ran Sen. Raphael Warnock’s 2022 Georgia re-elect and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s 2018 race,” Rove went on. “Ms. Rodriguez and Mr. Fulks have so far been given a tiny staff.”

“The plan is to outsource the duties a larger campaign staff would handle — the ground game, digital, polling, and message testing — to the Democratic National Committee,” Rove mused. “That’s a doozy of an idea. The DNC’s chairman is Jaime Harrison, who headed the South Carolina Democrats when the party didn’t win a single statewide contest. Mr. Harrison then ran for the Senate in 2020, raising a record $130 million before losing to Sen. Lindsey Graham by 10.3 points.”

Joe Biden Is in Trouble,” as John Della Volpe put it for the New York Times last week.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)