AMERICA'S DIRECTION: 84% DEMS APPROVE ~ 20% GOP SAY NO
A poll today by the Associated Press (AP) and the National Opinion
Research Center (NORC) shows that President Joe Biden's administration
is gaining positive traction.
Sixty-three percent of Americans approve of how he is handling his job
as president. Seventy-one percent approve of how he is handling the
coronavirus pandemic; 62 percent percent approve of how he is handling
health care. Fifty-seven percent approve of how he is handling the
economy; 54 percent approve of how he is handling foreign affairs.
Fifty-four percent of Americans think the country is going in the right
direction. This is the highest number since 2017, but it is split by
party: 84 percent of Democrats like the country's direction, while only
20 percent of Republicans do.
Biden's weak spots are in immigration, where 43 percent approve and 54 percent
disapprove, and gun policy, where 48 percent approve and 49 percent disapprove.
And yet, Biden's people have been working to address the influx of
migrant children; White House Secretary Jen Psaki noted last week that
"At the end of March, there were more than 5,000 children in Customs and
Border Protection Patrol stations. Today, that number is approximately
600.... The amount of time children spend in CBP facilities is down by 75
percent -- from 131 hours at the end of March to under 30 hours now."
The administration has backed that short-term work with a long-term
initiative. Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris met virtually with
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leader of the left of
center populist nationalist coalition party MORENA, to talk about
finding ways to promote economic development to address the root causes
prompting the flight of refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and
They also talked about working together to protect human rights and
dismantle the criminal networks that smuggle migrants. She will travel
to Guatemala and Mexico in June, where she will meet with their leaders.
Disapproval of Biden's gun policies might well reflect a desire
for a stronger stance.
In April, a Morning Consult/Politico poll showed that 64 percent
of registered voters supported stricter gun control laws. We have had an
average of ten mass shootings a week in 2021, 194 in all. (A mass
shooting is one in which four people are killed or wounded.)
This week, Biden will be meeting with bipartisan groups of leaders,
including Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senator Mitch
McConnell (R-KY), to begin to hammer out an infrastructure measure based
on his American Jobs Plan. He will also meet with Senators John Barrasso
(R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Roger
Wicker (R-MS), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who have proposed their
own $568 billion proposal without corporate tax hikes.
As the good news from the administration is starting to filter into the
media, bad news from the Trump wing of the Republican Party is also
starting to get traction.
On Saturday, we learned that at retreats in March and April, staff for
the National Republican Congressional Committee refused to tell
lawmakers how badly Trump is polling in core battleground districts,
where 54 percent see Biden favorably while only 41 percent still favor
Trump. Vice President Kamala Harris, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue
Plan, and the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan are all more popular in
those districts than the former president.
Indeed, it is more than a little odd that party leaders are bending over
backward to tie their party to a former president who, after all, never
broke 50 percent favorability ratings—the first time in polling history that
had happened -- and who lost both the White House and Congress.
Another set of data from Catalist, a voter database company in
Washington, D.C., shows that the 2020 election was the most diverse
ever, with Latino and Asian voters turning out in bigger numbers than
ever before. Black voting increased substantially, while Asian-American
and Pacific Islander voters had a decisive increase in turnout. The
electorate was 72 percent white, down 2 percent from 2016 and 5 percent from 2008.
Thirty-nine percent of Biden-Harris voters were people of color (61 percent
were white); only 15 percent of Trump-Pence voters were POC (85 percent were white).
This demographic trend is behind the new voter suppression bills in
But the racial breakdown of the 2020 vote is not the
only problem for the current Republican Party. The biggest turnout gains
in 2020 were among young voters, 18 to 40 years old, who now make up 31 percent
of voters, while those over 55 have dropped to only 44 percent of the
electorate. Younger voters skew heavily toward the Democrats. Also
notable was that women break heavily toward Democrats by a 10 point
gap -- 79 percent of women of color support Democrats; 58 percent of white women voted
for Biden-Harris -- and women make up 54 percent of the electorate overall.
News out of the private "recount" in Arizona by Cyber Ninjas, a company
without experience in election recounts and whose owner has already gone
on record as believing that rigged voting machines in Arizona cost Trump
victory, continues to be embarrassing as well.
Although the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which has a
Republican majority, said the count was fair and opposed a recount,
sixteen Republicans in the state senate voted to give the ballots for
Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, to the company for a private
The count has been plagued by conspiracy theories -- one observer
claimed they are examining the ballots for signs of bamboo in the paper
to show that tens of thousands of ballots were flown in from Asia -- and
it turned out that one of the people recounting the ballots had been at
the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Now the "recount" is running so far
behind it appears it won't be done until August, rather than May 14 as
the company promised.
State senator Paul Boyer, who voted for the "audit," told New York Times
reporter Michael Wines: "It makes us look like idiots.... Looking back, I
didn't think it would be this ridiculous. It's embarrassing to be a
state senator at this point."
And then, this morning, the Washington Post dropped a long,
investigative story by reporters Emma Brown, Aaron C. Davis, Jon Swaine,
and Josh Dawsey revealing that the arguments former president Trump has
grabbed to "prove" the election was stolen from him were part of a long
conspiracy theory hatched in 2018 by Russell J. Ramsland, Jr., "a
Republican businessman who has sold everything from Tex-Mex food in
London to a wellness technology that beams light into the human
The story follows how Ramsland's theories, which were debunked as
"bat-s**t insane" by White House lawyers, got pumped into the media by
Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani,
among others, and how Trump came to embrace them.
While Republican leaders are still standing behind those theories, and
the former president, opponents of the party's direction are pushing
back not just against Trump but also against those leaders supporting
Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) tweeted this morning: "A few
days before Jan 6, our GOP members had a conference call. I told Kevin
[McCarthy] that his words and our party's actions would lead to violence
on January 6th. Kevin dismissively responded with 'ok Adam, operator
next question.' And we got violence."
Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) has narrated a video distributed by the
Republican Accountability Project recalling the violence of January 6,
blaming Trump for spreading lies about the election, and reminding
viewers that more than 60 lawsuits disproved his claims that the
election was stolen.
The video says "we are the party of Lincoln. We are not the party of
QAnon" (showing an image of Jacob Chansley, the so-called "QAnon
Shaman," who wore a horned headdress during the Capitol insurrection)
"or white supremacy" (showing an image of Fox News Channel personality
"We cannot embrace insurrection" (showing a picture of Georgia
Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene). "President Trump
provoked an attack on the United States Capitol which resulted in five
people dying. That is a person who does not have a role as a leader of
our party going forward." The video features an image of McCarthy
standing with Trump. Cheney made it clear she was not about to shut up.
This afternoon, McCarthy released a statement calling for Cheney's
ouster as conference chair, featuring the line: "[u]nlike the left, we
embrace free thought and debate." (References to George Orwell, who
famously wrote about how fascists used language to rewrite history, were
all over Twitter.)
McCarthy and other Trump loyalists have suggested that Cheney needs to
go because she keeps talking about the past, but Allan Smith of NBC
News points out that Trump himself seems to be the one who cannot
stop talking about the past.
©Heather Cox Richardson
Letter from an American