April’s promise has led to August’s peril. When we conducted our last poll, spring’s gentle breeze was at President Biden’s back and COVID seemed destined to slowly fade away with it, leaving us with a return to normal life. But a pair of summer storms, both foreign and domestic, have changed things considerably. The foreign storm—the rapid collapse of the Afghan government as American troops began their withdrawal—may well have longer lasting geopolitical implications, but it is the domestic storm—COVID’s Delta Wave—that is causing more difficulties here at home and for President Biden.
Beyond that, so much has changed since the war’s beginning, when George W. Bush’s job rating was 85% and 70% said the country was headed in the right direction. Now, Joe Biden’s job rating is 49% and just 29% say the country is headed in the right direction. While not all of this decline can be ascribed to Afghanistan, we entered the war united and leave it divided amongst ourselves.
Some other key insights that underscore the division in the country:
- Preference for Congress: 47% Democratic-controlled, 46% Republican-controlled
- There is not a single public figure that a majority of Americans say is in the mainstream in their approach to the issues.
- Partisans cannot even agree on what is most important—50% of Democrats say that COVID-19 is the top issue, but just 13% of Republicans feel the same way, while 50% of Republicans say that border security and immigration is the top issue, just 4% of Democrats agree.