President Joe Biden makes his odd case about vote counting to reporters in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Rod Lamkey/Zuma Press
As America approaches the end of the first year of the Biden presidency—or as Democrats describe it, the era of greed—the White House is arguing that Mr. Biden’s recent polling numbers aren’t as bad as they seem. More consequentially, the president appears to have just admitted that state voting laws aren’t as bad as he often claims.
As for the polling, the White House faces a tough sell in suggesting that public opinion surveys underrate his political strength, given that the industry famously overestimated his appeal and the popularity of congressional Democrats in the days before the 2020 election.
But the White House is now attacking the methodology behind a particular poll which this week delivered an especially harsh assessment of the president’s standing among Americans.
Hans Nichols of Axios reports:
White House deputy chief of staff
Jennifer O’Malley Dillon
is publicly attacking a new poll that gave President Biden a 33% approval rating, using the full weight of her office to call it an “outlier,” according to a memo shared with Axios… By releasing a memo questioning the Quinnipiac University poll’s methodology, the White House is demonstrating how seriously it takes negative perceptions of the president’s job performance at the outset of a critical midterm year. It’s also acknowledging the president’s approval rating is well underwater — just not as deep as Quinnipiac found. “The FiveThirtyEight average of all public polls finds the president’s approval is at 43% approval,” O’Malley Dillon writes. “Quinnipiac, on the other hand, is at 33% approval. This is drastically different from all other recent polls.”
Quinnipiac finds 53% of Americans disapproving, in contrast to the 33% who say they approve of the job Mr. Biden is doing. Readers can decide whether they think this finding is drastically different from, for example, the Rasmussen Reports finding that Biden approval stands at 38% while disapprovers amount to a full 60% of those polled.
As far as this column can tell, the White House is not attacking the methodology behind surveys yielding more favorable news for Mr. Biden, i.e., the surveys showing him to be modestly underwater rather than wildly unpopular.
Since Ms. O’Malley Dillon appeals to the authority of FiveThirtyEight, it also should be noted that the website grades the quality of Quinnipiac surveys with an A-minus, a much better grade than enjoyed by a number of the pollsters who have been reporting higher Biden approval levels. Should we expect an even harsher White House memo laying out the problems with such surveys?
Once again this column hastens to add that public opinion polling is an inexact science, if it’s even a science.
In fairness, this column must also note the question on the minds of many readers in response to the Quinnipiac results: Who are these 33% of Americans claiming the president is doing a good job? Perhaps readers will be inspired to survey their neighbors and share the results. On the other hand, with the weekend approaching perhaps a better plan is to simply offer neighbors some hospitality without politics.
There has been nothing neighborly or even civilized about
outrageous slanders against people who disagree with him on voting procedures. In campaigning for a drastic change in Senate rules to allow him to federalize election oversight, Mr. Biden has pretended that eminently reasonable state rules on voting hours and ID requirements are denying citizens the opportunity to cast ballots. But after another unproductive meeting on Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon, the president appeared to finally admit that his rhetoric is false, suggesting that the real issue is not whether people are able to cast ballots but whether people he trusts are counting those ballots.
Here’s the White House transcript of the President’s conversation with reporters following his meeting with Senate Democrats:
Q Mr. President, are you confident you can get this done? Q Mr. President, why can’t you get these two votes? Q What is the plan B? Q Can you get this done? THE PRESIDENT: First of all, y’all ask questions about complicated subjects like, “Can you get this done?” I hope we can get this done. The honest to God answer is: I don’t know whether we can get this done. Is this mic on? I guess — anyway. And — and — Q We’re not sure. THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m not sure either. But, anyway, I hope we can get this done, but I’m not sure. But one thing for certain — one thing for certain: Like every other major civil rights bill that came along, if we miss the first time, we can come back and try it a second time. We missed this time. We missed this time. And the state legislative bodies continue to change the law not as to who can vote, but who gets to count the vote — count the vote. Count the vote! It’s about election subversion, not just whether or not people get to vote. Who counts the vote? That’s what this is about. That’s what makes this so different than anything else we’ve ever done. I don’t know that we can get it done, but I know one thing: As long as I have a breath in me, as long as I’m in the White House, as long as I’m engaged at all, I’m going to be fighting to change the way these legislatures have moving.
Mr. Biden wants the federal government to take over election oversight in order to replace people that states have chosen to count ballots? It’s unclear whether his reference to “election subversion” is an accusation or a promise, but Thursday’s rant may be the most partisan and disturbing argument he’s made yet.
James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”
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