Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Difficult Midterm Election Shapes Biden’s 100-Day Strategy

Joe Biden understands he has little time to accomplish the legislative agenda he believes his election provided him. He has wisely focused on the public’s highest priorities of pandemic management and COVID-19 financial relief. Infrastructure, his next big item, is a lower public priority, but has powerful constituencies. It will be a longer project, but doable in the first year.

Biden’s main hazard to passing legislation is the well-established history of a new president’s first midterm election being a disaster. The average since Ronald Reagan’s first midterm election is a House of Representatives loss of more than 40 seats. And, of course, Democrats only have a four-seat majority in the House and are tied in the Senate.

Democrats hope Biden’s performance will help make a difference in the November 2022 outcome. The data in the National Dashboard today:

  • Presidential approval is a net 12 points positive, with Biden now at 53 percent approval in RealClearPolitics ratings (similar rating at 538 – 53% to 41%). Biden has slid down a couple of points from his opening at 55 percent as Republican partisans have turned more negative.
  • The public’s view of the direction of the country has improved and is now at 44 percent, up from 39 percent last year, with still 49 percent believing its going in the wrong direction. Also, the Dow is up 11 percent in 2021 for a very positive first quarter.
  • The Democrats have 218 seats, the Republicans 212 and 5 are vacant. Hence, if 4 House seats shift, Kevin McCarthy becomes the Speaker. Both parties have extreme factions that are hard to govern, but Republicans have the advantage today.

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