End of “honeymoon”: Afghanistan makes popularity of

Beyond the bonfire of vanities, public approval can inflame and threaten an entire government. In the United States, popular opinion often sets the tone in Congress, with representatives putting themselves more or less in favor of White House agendas according to voters’ assessment.

“When Bill Clinton experienced a low approval rating in his administration in 1994, the Democrats lost a significant stake in the House and Senate, and the then president confessed that from that moment on it was impossible to make any grand decisions,” he explains to Brazil in fact George C. Edwards III, professor emeritus at Texas A&M University.

That’s why the drop in popular satisfaction with Biden’s leadership is worrying. For the first time since reaching the top executive post in late January, the Democrat has seen his approval rating drop to below 50% and stall at the current 47%.

The ups and downs in public opinion are all too common, and criticism of the government was expected to kick in at the end of the “honeymoon,” as Dan Wood, professor in the Political Science Department at Texas A&M University, calls the period that understands the months following the elections.

“This honeymoon lasts from three to nine months and, among modern presidents, Joe Biden was the one who enjoyed the longest honeymoon on record,” says the professor.

Also according to Wood, economic factors and what the researcher calls political drama, such as the recent events in Afghanistan, also enter into the popularity equation.

The horror scenes of people falling from moving planes and babies being passed over walls certainly hit Biden. The Democrat put into practice the plan of his predecessor Donald Trump, announced the country’s military withdrawal from the Middle East and received a flood of domestic and international criticism.

Afghans sit on top of a plane as they wait at Kabul International Airport on August 16, 2021. Taliban’s rapid advance surprised the Pentagon / Wakil Kohsar / AFP

“Afghanistan has a little to do with Joe Biden’s falling approval rating, but I think in a few weeks Americans won’t remember that,” says Reed Welch, professor of American politics at Texas A&M University. “A president’s popularity has more to do with the time of the poll, and while the withdrawal of US troops had an impact on that assessment, I think Joe Biden’s real problem is covid-19, which is affecting Americans’ lives. and, most likely, it will continue to affect it for a long time,” he says.

Read more: “Absolute freedom” fetish makes US backtrack on pandemic

This does not mean, however, that all dramatic events overturn a president’s approval. Welch recalls the symbolic case of the Republican Gorge HW Bush, who saw his popularity soar in the 1990s thanks to the way he managed the first Gulf War. Likewise, his son, George W. Bush, saw his then-low approval rise to more than 90 percent for the military’s response to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“These big events can take a president from heaven to hell or vice versa, but what hasn’t happened yet is a president with less than 50% approval gets re-elected,” continues Professor Wood, “and this has been proven once again in the last presidential election, when Trump, below that satisfaction line, lost to Joe Biden.”

The expectation of political scientists is that the Democrat’s approval will rise again in the next polls. “Do you know what the president can do about it? Change the conversation,” replies Professor Edwards, “he wants people to talk about his infrastructure plan, to discuss the economy and approve the historic investment proposal that was sent to Congress.”

Whether or not he turns the page on Afghanistan, it is unlikely that Biden will be able to raise his approval rating much higher than 55%. “The leader’s popularity is a picture of the nation, and ours is divided,” analyzes Welch, who concludes: “just as the Democrats were against anything Trump did and the Republicans supported him, people are already with it. the head made. Each one wears his team’s jersey and so it will be — Democrats with Democrats, Republicans with Republicans.”

No wonder, therefore, that Biden’s second-to-last approval rating is 53%, reflecting a very similar percentage of the election result. In 2020, the Democrat took over the White House with 51.3% of the vote, while Trump took 46.9% of the voters, a margin virtually identical to his popular approval.

Edition: Thales Schmidt

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