Biden’s Achilles Heel

The International online survey research firm YouGov just released a major US national poll for CBS News reporting upon their respondents’ attitudes and views about President Joe Biden and his Administration’s effectiveness, and the segmented data revealed a surprising information point.

In fact, the analysis pinpointed what appears to be a severe area of weakness for the President's Democratic Party in relation to the midterm elections.

The exhaustive survey, conducted online of 2,094 American adults during the January 12-14 period focused on the issue areas (in alphabetical order) of Afghanistan, the coronavirus, crime, the economy, inflation, immigration, police and policing, and race relations. In all areas but coronavirus, where the President scored a 52:48% favorable rating, his approval score was underwater.

His worst showing came in his handling of inflation. On this issue, the respondent sample expressed unfavorable views about the Administration’s performance in a whopping 30:70% positive to negative ratio.

While there has been quite a bit of post-2020 election coverage about the Republicans’ improved performance among Hispanics in particular, one group with whom Democrats have gained substantially during the past few elections is among college educated voters. The Republicans’ diminished vote within this sector is likely a bigger area of concern for party leaders and strategists than how the GOP candidates are performing with minority voters.

Since the Obama presidential election of 2012, the Republican share among college educated voters has significantly dropped. In fact, it is within this segment where Joe Biden outperformed Hillary Clinton with his greatest increase level. In 2012, President Obama captured 46% of the college educated vote. Four years later, Ms. Clinton increased the percentage to 50, and in 2020, Mr. Biden’s share rose to 54%, or a full eight points better than Obama’s in an eight-year period.

These figures come from the Catalist data trust firm, an entity that bills itself as the “longest running such company in progressive politics,” as reported in a post-election analysis article on the Vox information news site.

The YouGov/CBS poll segmentation categorizes white 4-year college educated voters. Except for the coronavirus and crime issues, this highly educated sector appears to be turning on President Biden. In fact, their negative views on the economy, and particularly inflation, closely mirror the aggregate response, a sampling universe that contains overwhelmingly negative responses from self-identified conservatives.

In the area of inflation, while the aggregate ratio was 30:70% as mentioned above, the split recorded among the segmented college educated elite was a similar 36:64% positive to negative. Answering the question about how things are going in America, the college educated segment was actually more negative than the at-large sample. A total of 77% of this group said that the situation in America is going somewhat badly (42%) or very badly (35%), as compared to the 73% combined response from the aggregate ratio.

In terms of overall job approval, Biden stands at 56% negative within the entire respondent sample and 55% down among the college educated. Within the college segment, however, a huge 75% of those expressing a negative view say they feel strongly about their position.

On Biden’s handling of immigration, the college segment records a 38:62% negative response; race relations, 48:52% negative; crime, 43:57% negative; information about coronavirus, 49:51% negative; police and policing, 40:60% negative; and Afghanistan, 41:59% negative. Only on coronavirus vaccine distribution does the President land in positive numbers among the college educated sample, at 56:44%.

While opinions on most of the tested issues could easily change within the course of the year prior to the midterm elections, the inflation question might be key. According to most economists, the inflation problem looks to be long term, thus Biden’s performance rating in this area could remain seriously negative for the foreseeable future.

Therefore, a disciplined Republican campaign message focusing on inflation and the rising cost of goods and services is likely an area where the Democratic candidates will be hard-pressed to provide an adequate response. A targeted strategy based upon this issue could provide winning points for the GOP as they attempt to win back voters, particularly within the college educated universe, that have been drifting away from them in the most recent elections.

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