President Joe Biden has delivered on many of his promises when it comes to getting the nation back on track to be able to safely gather to celebrate America’s 245th birthday.
But while the Fourth of July was supposed to serve as a benchmark for getting the pandemic under control, I think it also serves as a benchmark for the Biden administration more broadly. As Biden continues to push his landmark bipartisan infrastructure legislation, he has worked hard to hold true to his pledge to be a president for all Americans through bipartisanship and focusing on commonsense solutions to the Trump train wreck.
It’s no secret that Biden has taken heat from both Democrats and Republicans for not being progressive enough and not being centrist enough, respectively.
It’s no secret that Biden has taken heat from Democrats for not being progressive enough and from Republicans for not being centrist enough. But that just means he’s doing his job. His ability to navigate the halls of Congress is truly his most powerful asset given that he spent over 30 years in those very halls negotiating and trying to reach across the aisle to enact change.
June’s Gallup poll shows that 56 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance as well, including 55 percent of independents — a key voting bloc for the president. However, Biden’s biggest hurdle will come from the Democrats who wish to keep control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterms. With congressional approval down to 38 percent among Democrat voters, frustration with a lack of progressive legislation is clearly taking its toll. When Biden’s infrastructure bill failed to pass this spring, Democrats’ confidence in Congress failed with it. And it’s true that Biden’s signature infrastructure legislation has been met with a lot of challenges; but the president is banking on his bipartisanship on the issue to get it passed in the coming weeks. If he can make that happen, he should be able to keep his approval rating steady and bump up congressional Democrats’ approval at the same time.
Now, Biden is taking his infrastructure plan on the road, where he will sell his bipartisan approach to voters, starting with the swing state of Wisconsin. The state may have a Senate seat up for grabs in 2022, if Ron Johnson, the Republican incumbent, decides not to seek a third term. Several Democrats have already announced their candidacies.
In addition to Wisconsin, Biden and his Cabinet members have a slew of swing state visits planned over the long holiday weekend in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada and New Hampshire. Like in Wisconsin, the goal is both to celebrate the progress made in the fight against Covid-19 and pitch the positive impact his infrastructure plan will have on America’s middle-class families. Biden’s ability to connect with blue-collar voters remains vital, and the infrastructure deal should play well with this demographic.
Biden’s approach has always been a slow and steady one, and his presidency is no different. Even though he could curry more favor with his party in the short-term by pushing progressive policies such as gun control, police reform and voting rights through his For the People Act, keeping the Democrats in power requires the support of the swing states. Many of the hot Senate races in the 2022 midterms are in states where issues like jobs and the economy are more important to swing voters than landmark election, police and gun control reforms, according to swing state polling.
This means Biden is walking a bit of a tightrope when it comes to moving his Build Back Better agenda forward but also keeping his party happy. But if there’s anyone who could keep their balance on the high wire through 2024, my money would be on Joe.
Notably, Trump was unable to work with Democrats on an infrastructure deal. Biden’s ability to do so, on the other hand, highlights the stark contrast between the two administrations. It’s a low bar, for sure. The president's job now is to prove that his administration can both restore America’s place in the world and actually get things done. If he can do that, Democrats may actually have a shot at keeping power, even in the face of unparalleled pandemic challenges and political division.