Summer smiles at Joe Biden: after several setbacks, he regains popularity

WASHINGTON.- The boreal summer is coming to an end, but if it were for Joe Biden, it would never end. If a year ago Biden and the White House were overwhelmed by bad news – the Delta variant, the paralysis of his agenda in Congress, and his worst crisis: the chaotic exit from Afghanistan –, now the president and leader of the Democratic Party is surfing one of the best moments of his government. It is no longer just a “summer”. After several difficult months, in which the war in Ukraine, internal political friction, internal missteps and an economy distressed by the worst inflation since the 1980s piled up, Biden seems to have managed to turn the history of his presidency on its head.

All the polls show the same trend: support for the Biden administration is growing, and his popularity took off from the floor to which it had fallen in July, which made it the least valued president since the postwareven worse than its predecessor, donald trump. The last poll that confirmed the change was from the AP agency, which gave 45% support – nine points above July –, just before his departure to London, this Saturday, for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Biden will then land in New York on Tuesday to deliver his message to the United Nations General Assembly.

President Joe Biden speaks at a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Sept. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Joe Biden speaks at a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Sept. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Biden’s revival in popularity is far from definitive or to put an end to his problems or those of the Democrats. Most of the country still disapproves of his administration, and his economic policy generates more criticism than praise among Americans. But the uptick in recent weeks has served to reinvigorate Democrats, who until recently seemed resigned to taking a beating in November’s midterm elections, engulfed by a “red wave.” Despite the new political climate, Republicans are still confident of their victory.

Behind Biden’s rebound appear three phenomena that were intertwined this summer. After setting a record, gasoline prices – a fact to which North Americans react with extreme sensitivity – have fallen day after day for the past three months, providing a respite from inflation. Light, but I breathe at last. It is the economy’s biggest problem, and it caught the Biden administration off guard. The second push came from Congress: months of negotiations that, more than once, hit a wall and came close to capsizing, finally led to Democrats manage to pass a handful of lawsincluding a package that included several of the initiatives that Biden had presented in his domestic agenda Build Back Better, or Build Back Better. That string of legislative victories renewed Biden’s credentials as a skillful negotiator, and chased away, at least momentarily, a deeply rooted idea in the United States: that Washington is gripped by gridlockinstitutional paralysis, and it is impossible to get anything out of Congress.

The last ingredient was the return to the front pages of Donald Trump’s diaries, following the FBI raid on his residence at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, when authorities seized confidential documents he took from the White House. The return of Trump, who faces a pile of problems in the Justice, refreshed in the imagination some of the reasons that led many Americans to choose Biden in the first place, even though he is far from being his favorite politician.

President Joe Biden in Wilmington, Del., on Sept. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Joe Biden in Wilmington, Del., on Sept. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“I don’t think I’m the best person for this task; he is the best of the people we had to choose, ”said Betty Bogacz, 74, a retiree from Portland, Oregon, to the AP agency. “He represented stability, which I think President Trump did not represent at all.”

Leaning back on his rebound, and with his sights set on the November legislative elections, Biden traveled weeks ago to Philadelphia to give a speech in which he reinforced one of the favorite themes of his presidency, the defense of democracy. Incidentally, Biden took the opportunity to make a difference from Trump in the most direct message against the tycoon since he arrived at the White House. Biden always refers to Trump as “my predecessor”, but on that occasion he called him with his first and last name, and charged directly against his movement Make America Great Again.

“Much of what is happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and the ‘MAGA’ Republicans represent extremism that threatens the very foundation of our republic.”Biden said.

The rebound allows Biden to get rid of an uncomfortable label: he is no longer the most undervalued president since the postwar period, something that was often heard in the coverage of his government. The latest polls mark a break and show support in clear growth. Biden now has slightly more than 43% support, according to the FiveThirtyEight site, above what Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton had at the same time in their first terms. The story turned around in July, when his popularity began to rise.

Voices in the Democratic Party calling for them to step aside by 2024 have been silenced, and the ruling party is now excited about trying to fight for control of Congress in November’s legislative elections. The idea of ​​a “red wave” that it passes control of the Capitol to the Republican Party has lost strength due to the improvement in the presidential image, the irruption of Trump in the national political conversation –who also continues to question the 2020 election–, and a higher than usual participation of the women who are beginning to be seen in the primaries, furious with the ruling of the Supreme Court that took away the constitutional protection of the right to abortion. The Democrats now hope to retain the Senate, although the vast majority of Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Barack and Michelle Obama returned to the White House to discover their official portraits
Barack and Michelle Obama returned to the White House to discover their official portraitsAndrew Harnik – AP

Days ago, Barack Obama returned to the White House for the presentation of his official portrait and that of his wife, Michelle Obama. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, welcomed them as successors, friends and family, a bond forged over years shared in Washington. Before introducing it, Biden received a long standing ovation. “Joe, it is now a good fortune for the United States to have you as president,” Obama said, at the start of his speech. Obama, who did not want to openly endorse Biden in 2016, now told him that he had “gone further” than they had achieved together during his presidency, and jumped on the new Biden wave: “The country is better than when you took office, and we should all be deeply grateful for that”hill.

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