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  • snitzoid

It's the economy stupid. Sorry, it's immigration stupid. #1 issue per polls sinking Dems?

Honestly, Joe's crushed it on so many issues, it's hard to pick where he should improve an already perfect playbook. As far as I'm concerned, if he can avoid falling asleep or dying, he's a shoe in to deliver the Dems a huge midterm victory.

A Playbook to Revive the Biden Presidency

He’ll need to appeal to the center of the country, not his party, on, say, immigration.

By William A. Galston, WSJ

Nov. 30, 2021 12:26 pm ET

If history is any guide, Democrats will lose control of the House next year. Of the 10 previous postwar presidents who entered the Oval Office via election, nine saw their party suffer losses in the House, averaging 23 seats, during their first midterm. The exception was George W. Bush, who rode his soaring post-9/11 job approval to gain a modest eight Republican seats in 2002.

Although Democratic leaders hope to defy this dismal history, their official game plan doesn’t look promising. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, believes that the solution is better messaging—“telling people what you’ve done,” starting with the president.

This strategy seldom if ever succeeds, in part because of timing: People typically don’t experience the benefits of new laws until long after the presidential signing ceremony. Besides, midterm voters tend to focus on what the president and his party haven’t accomplished or have handled poorly. After a landslide victory in November 1964, Lyndon Johnson and a large Democratic majority spearheaded the most productive Congress since the early days of the New Deal. Their reward was a 47-seat loss in November 1966. What some voters view as progress, others see as overreach.

Current omens don’t look good for Democrats. Not only is President Biden’s job approval languishing in the low 40s, but Democrats trail in the national House polls by large margins. If the midterm election were held tomorrow, the result would be a rout.

To retain a share of power in Washington, Democrats must craft a three-year plan to climb out of the deep hole they have dug for themselves, by limiting their losses next year and then cooperating with the president to restore his public standing. This means paying attention to what most Americans think, not only the party’s base. Here’s an example.

In a recent survey, 61% of Americans said that how Mr. Biden deals with immigration is “very important” for their evaluation of his presidency, and only 36% approve of his handling of this issue. Public disapproval extends well beyond Republicans, ideological conservatives and whites without college degrees. In 2020 Mr. Biden carried 59% of voters under 30 to Donald Trump’s 35%, but only 36% of young adults approve of what Mr. Biden is doing on immigration. He won Hispanics 59% to 38%, but only 37% approve. Some 52% of independents supported his presidential bid, but only 33% back his immigration policy. Although at least 52% of whites with college degrees voted for him last year, only 36% think he is doing a good job on immigration.

You might think Mr. Biden has lost public support on this issue because he hasn’t met the hopes of his supporters for a full reversal of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies, which they regard as inhumane and immoral. But the opposite is true. Only 15% of Americans believe that the administration’s policy has been too tough, compared with 57% who think it hasn’t been tough enough and 28% who think it has been about right.

Pluralities or majorities of moderates, independents, young adults, blacks, and college-educated whites are in the “not tough enough” camp. And here’s the kicker: 53% of Hispanics agree with them; only 18% say that the president has been too tough. Only liberals disagree.

To be sure, 54% of Democrats say Mr. Biden’s immigration policy is about right, with the remainder about evenly divided between too tough and not tough enough. But this is, in microcosm, the fundamental problem of his presidency. He is governing from the center of his party but not from the center of the country, and he is losing support from voters who expected otherwise.

Oddly, the president has moved toward a more reasonable border policy, but hardly anyone knows it. In late summer, the administration released a new blueprint for streamlining the asylum process, shortening the adjudication of individual cases from years to months. This proposal would immediately increase the number of officials who are qualified to serve as adjudicators, and the administration should work to expand their ranks further until claims can be processed even faster.

This is a key part of the battle, because most asylum claims lack merit. But the administration must also ensure that asylum seekers aren’t allowed to disappear into the U.S. while their applications are being evaluated. In late August, the Supreme Court ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy. The administration should stop fighting this decision and work with the government of Mexico to secure humane treatment for those in its jurisdiction.

In late October, the news broke that the Justice Department was negotiating large cash settlements with families that the Trump administration had separated after they had crossed the border illegally. Large majorities of Americans disapproved of President Trump’s policy, but more than 6 in 10 reject paying compensation to these families. If I were dreaming up material for a Republican attack ad, I couldn’t do better.

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