Ex uno saltem

Jonathan V. Last:

Dan Pfeiffer has an interesting little exegesis on Joe Biden’s approval numbers over here. Mostly it’s about polarization and the persistent gap in R and D attitudes. Today that gap is so large that getting to 53.8 percent approval (where Biden is now) is hard.

Two nuggets from Pfeiffer for you:

(1) “As an example of how much things have changed, Bill Clinton’s approval rating among Republicans was 41 percent in a Gallup poll immediately after being impeached by a Republican Congress.”

Holy crap! I’d forgotten that. A truly amazing feat.

(2) This bit on Biden and negative partisanship is very smart:

[W]e live in an era of negative partisanship—where hatred for the other party is the biggest driving factor in political action. This is why Biden’s policies can poll in the seventies, and his approval rating can be in the low fifties. . . .

Therefore, as we think about 2022, we should focus a little more on Biden’s disapproval rating. In the aforementioned ABC/Washington Post poll, only 42 percent of respondents disapprove of Biden’s job performance. Based on recent history, this number is impressively low. At this point in his Presidency, Trump’s disapproval was 53 percent. Biden’s number is only three points higher than Bill Clinton’s at the 100-day mark in a radically less polarized era.

Biden hasn’t gotten Republican voters to like him, but he has prevented them from hating him — a truly remarkable achievement.

Yes. Keep an eye on Biden’s disapproval numbers as much as his approval numbers.

I want you to look at approval rating splits by party for the last 70 years:

Yes, the difference by party affiliation has been growing since Reagan, but that’s not what concerns me most.

What scares the crap out of me is that beginning in the Obama years, the direction of partisan approval ratings started diverging.

From Ike to W, partisans were always more favorable to presidents from their own party. But even though there was a gulf between them, both Democrats and Republicans moved in the same directions—like they were tethered together.

So when Ike’s popularity increased among Republicans, it increased among Democrats, too. Just at a lower valence.

And when George H.W. Bush’s popularity decreased among Democrats, it decreased among Republicans, too.

But starting around 2011, something weird started happening:

Obama’s approval rating among Democrats went up—at the same time that it went down among Republicans.

That disassociation only lasted for a year or two. But then it happened again with Trump. For the first two years, Republican approval for Trump increased at the same time it was decreasing among Democrats. And then for the second two years that dynamic flipped.

The only time we’d seen this kind of directional divergence before was during the Ford presidency, but the circumstances there were weird enough that I consider it an aberration.

But it’s been close to the norm for the last decade.


Here is why this directional divergence worries me:

If Rs and Ds have a persistent partisan split in how they react to presidents, that’s not great. But we can live with it, so long as they both inhabit the same reality.

And we measure this shared reality by watching how the groups move in their approval. So long as they go up, or down, together, it means that they’re looking at and living in the same world.

Once they start moving in opposite directions it’s a sign that the two groups are living in totally different worlds.

Think I’m exaggerating?

90 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Independents think the Derek Chauvin verdict was correct. But 46 percent of Republicans think Chauvin was wrongfully convicted. …

When you see the red and blue lines moving in opposite directions in that first graph, it tells you that people no longer agree on either (a) what the world looks like or (b) what the world should look like.

What happens when we stop agreeing about basic reality? Nothing good.

It is rather ironic that The Bulwark, which refused to unify with pro-Trump elements within the Republican Party in order to get Trump defeated, now preaches unity. Nor, interestingly, does The Bulwark have anything to say about the Grand Canyon-size gap between candidate Biden and president Biden, who is in no sense the moderate he claimed to be.

 

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