William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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DON'T IGNORE DOMESTIC POLITICS – OVERNIGHT:  President Biden delivers his first State of the Union address Tuesday night.  I can feel your excitement.  The president will speak in the midst of one of the greatest international crises of recent times.  I don't expect either eloquence or brilliance, but I hope his speech is not an embarrassment. 

Behind the president on the rostrum will be the vice president, Kamala Harris, assuming she shows up.  Next to her will be Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, who will be celebrating her 130th birthday in a few weeks. 

Never before have so many owed so little to so few. 

Hanging over the proceedings will be the political status of the president and his party.  The word is "grim."  From The Washington Examiner: 

President Joe Biden's handling of the economy is dragging down Democrats' hopes in the midterm elections just as he prepares to deliver his first State of the Union address and grapples with the war in Ukraine, according to a new poll.

The ABC- and Washington Post-commissioned survey gets worse for the Democrats deeper into the crosstabs. Three-fourths of Americans say the economy is in bad shape, and 6 in 10 say they are feeling the brutal boot of inflation — now at a 40-year high. A paltry 17% say they are better off under Biden. And Republicans have a staggering 20-point lead among voters asked which party can best steer the economy through the current challenges.

"Post-ABC poll finds a deeply pessimistic nation, worried about the economy and Biden’s leadership," the normally Biden-friendly Washington Post headlined its story on the poll.

As primary season ramps up, generic Republican House candidates have a 49-42% lead over Democrats among registered voters. The gap expands to 54-41% when sorted for registered voters who say they will turn out in November.

It's not just his handling of the economy that has Biden's job approval hitting a new low of just 37%, including a stunning 61% disapproval among independent voters. He is below 50% for his handling of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, he has fallen on his pandemic response, and more and more voters are questioning his mental state.

Even Democrats' support for Biden is faltering. Nearly one-fourth either disapprove (19%) or are withholding judgment (4%) of his performance.

The numbers, as well as the spiraling situation in Ukraine, present a dismal backdrop to Biden's Tuesday State of the Union speech. Only former presidents Gerald Ford and Donald Trump had approval ratings as low as Biden's on the eve of their first addresses to the nation.

The party affiliation numbers have shifted rapidly and dramatically since late 2021. In four ABC/Washington Post polls conducted last year from January through September, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by an average of 7 percentage points. Since November, it's been just one percentage point.

COMMENT:  It's true that the midterm elections are eight months away, about 20 lifetimes in politics.  Yes, things can change, but it's hard to see how Biden and his party can make enough progress to make a difference.  The president is set in his ways, tied to policies that are clearly unpopular.  His party has taken a sharp left turn.  Traditional Democratic groups aren't so traditional any longer.  Hispanic voters, in particular, appear largely alienated by Democratic leftism.  There don't seem to be any good breaks on the horizon.

Read the rest of the numbers in the story.

February 27,  2022