Biden’s struggles with base continue: The Note

The strength of the president's support from inside his own party has dropped.

January 31, 2022, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Where does a president go to get his base back?

Among the most striking findings in the latest ABC News/Ipsos poll is the degree to which Democrats -- not just Republicans and independents -- are souring on President Joe Biden's handling of major issues.

Trend lines tell a potentially crucial story. The strength of Biden's support from inside his own party has dropped significantly due to his handling of COVID-19 (82% in the new poll, down from 93% last July), the economic recovery (73%, compared to 88%) and gun violence (55%, compared to 64%).

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks at Carnegie Mellon University at Mill 19 in Pittsburgh, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Joe Biden speaks at Carnegie Mellon University at Mill 19 in Pittsburgh, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/AP

Given the near-total GOP opposition to Biden across the board, plus significant slippage among independents, Biden's broad challenge is and will continue to be to convince many people who voted for him that his leadership is on the right track.

As for what comes next, the poll also points out a potential problem in hoping a Supreme Court nomination will unite Democrats. Among Democrats, 54% say they would rather Biden consider all possible nominees instead of only Black women; 76% of Americans overall think Biden should be looking more broadly for a candidate.

Much of what Biden and his party were able to achieve last year was built around a relatively popular president trying to do relatively popular things. That's quite different now -- and losing sway with your own voters is a particularly difficult problem to fix.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Biden's impending SCOTUS pick hasn't been named, but already conservatives have implied that she is a "beneficiary" of affirmative action and that she could be the choice of the "radical left."

The onslaught of criticism from the right is fueled by Biden's confirmation that he intends to uphold his campaign promise to name a Black woman to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the nation's highest court.

"The irony is that the Supreme Court is at the very same time hearing cases about this sort of affirmative racial discrimination while adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota," Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said on a conservative radio show Friday. "We're going to go from a nice, stately left-wing liberal to someone who's probably more in the style of Sonia Sotomayor."

PHOTO: Sen. Roger Wicker, center, speaks during the Senate Armed Services and Senate Foreign Relations GOP news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 19, 2022.
Sen. Roger Wicker, center, speaks during the Senate Armed Services and Senate Foreign Relations GOP news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 19, 2022.
Jose Luis Magana/AP

It is important to note, again, Biden has not made any choice and Wicker's assumptions, that many consider offensive, are based solely on the notion of Biden's pick being a Black woman.

On ABC's This Week, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, indicated that she is open to supporting a Black woman, but criticized Biden's announcement. She said his public declaration added to the perception that the court is a political institution.

"I believe that diversity benefits the Supreme Court," said Collins to "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos. "But the way that the president has handled this nomination has been clumsy at best."

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

While it remains unclear whether former President Donald Trump will follow through with running for a second term, he is already considering executing a potentially troubling policy if elected.

"If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly. We will treat them fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly," he told supporters on Saturday.

The president's comments came at a rally in the GOP-leaning suburbs of Houston. According to the George Washington University's Program on Extremism, at least 63 of the Jan. 6 rioters who were charged with a crime came from Texas.

PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally, in Conroe, Texas, U.S., January 29, 2022. REUTERS/Go Nakamura?
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally, in Conroe, Texas, U.S., January 29, 2022. REUTERS/Go Nakamura?
Go Nakamura/Reuters

As reported by ABC News earlier this year, more than 700 people have been charged with serious crimes associated with the insurrection. The scope of the charges includes violations like assaulting, resisting or impeding officers, and in some cases, using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer. Beyond that, at least 40 individuals have been charged with conspiracy, and others were charged with corruptly obstructing, influencing or impeding an official proceeding, among other crimes.

The implication of political support for insurrectionists is sure to add a deep wrinkle into how Republicans running for office in 2022 align themselves with the former president, both in Texas and across the country. Those comments could also cast a shadow on Trump's hypothetical reelection -- at least one high-profile Republican, Sen. Susan Collins, said on Sunday it is "very unlikely" she will support Trump in 2024 should he run.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

45%. That's how many Republicans said they approved of the Supreme Court in a September 2021 Gallup poll that found that public approval of the court was at an all-time low. As Democrats move in the coming months to nominate Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement to the court, we'll be keeping a close eye on where public opinion of the court stands, including how much of a motivating factor it is for Democrats' base or Republicans in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. Read more from FiveThirtyEight on what Biden's Supreme Court nominee means for Democrats and the 2022 midterms.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Monday morning covering COVID-19 treatments, including a promising antiviral pill now in scarce supply, with ABC's Anne Flaherty. Then, ABC's Zachary Kiesch reports on the debate over bail reform amid a surge in violent crime. And, a podcast critic breaks down what's causing the drama over vaccine misinformation on Spotify. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris host the National Governors Association at the White House for a meeting at 11 a.m. Then, Biden participates in a bilateral meeting with His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of Qatar at 2 p.m.
  • Press secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing at 1 p.m.
  • First lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff host National Governors Association spouses at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts at 9:45 a.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Tuesday for the latest.

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