“If aliens attacked Earth, do you think we would be safer under Joe Biden or Donald Trump?” That’s a question in a new poll of American voters, and 43 percent of respondents opted for Trump, 32 percent for Biden, while 25 percent sagaciously picked “Don’t know.”
It’s fun to imagine President Donald in charge against the extraterrestrials. “Zogblark the Magnificent is a good friend of mine,” Trump would shout from the White House lawn, as the helicopter blades of Marine One clattered away behind. “He’s said some very nice things about me. Believe me. Things you wouldn’t believe… but we can’t have him exerting the supreme authority of the Nebulons over our beautiful planet — the most beautiful planet in the universe, they say.” The Little Green Men wouldn’t know what to make of the Big Orange One.
Biden shows no indication that he’s had enough. Unless he stands down, it’s hard to see anybody stopping him
Sci-fi aside, that survey might be more revealing than you think, especially given the current mania for Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, and the fact that the polls consistently show that almost half of Americans believe alien spacecraft have visited our world. Americans might not like Trump, but a growing number believe their nation is in peril, and when existential push comes to apocalyptic shove, the people of the Land of the Free would rather have Trump than Biden in the White House.
Last weekend, an ABC/Washington Post poll showed Trump beating Biden by 51 percent to 42 percent in a hypothetical 2024 match-up. A single poll could be written off as an outlier, but Biden’s numbers look worse the more you dig into them, especially if, as seems all too likely, he faces Trump at the ballot next year. Of the 56 percent who disapprove of Biden, a large proportion believe that life was better under Trump.
It’s well-known that Americans are worried about Biden’s age — some 70 percent think he’s too old to serve a second term. But his administration’s problems go deeper. The White House keeps trumpeting its economic achievements, but voters aren’t listening. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed by ABC/Washington Post disapprove of the President’s handling of the economy, whereas only 49 percent felt the same way, looking back, about Trump.
Americans are very concerned about aliens — the illegal, not the inter-planetary sort — and on that score, Biden is failing miserably too: 62 percent disapprove of his handling of the US-Mexico border. And perhaps most disturbingly for Team Biden, 53 percent of 18-35-year-olds appear to prefer the last president to the current one.
Biden’s dismal performance has triggered yet more talk in Washington of a “dump Joe” movement gaining ground in Democratic circles. The problem with that idea is that despite all his embarrassing senior moments, Biden shows no indication that he’s had enough. Unless he stands down, it’s hard to see anybody stopping him.
More than 60 percent of Democratic voters say they want a different candidate on their ticket in 2024. But nobody knows who that should be. Only 8 percent of Democrats who want to ditch Biden support Kamala Harris; 20 percent prefer “just someone else.” There is no credible alternative.
This Biden White House is worried, though. You can tell because its officials keep insisting that they are not. “We don’t take the ups and downs of individual polls to heart,” one Biden advisor said earlier this month. “What will matter is next year when our voters are fully engaged.” Others point out that the polls looked similarly bleak for the Democrats ahead of the midterm elections last year, yet there was no significant red Republican wave.
Mike Donilon, a senior White House consultant, has been urging anxious Democrats to settle down and trust the “Rose Garden strategy.” This is essentially a “project fear” approach focusing on the dangers of a Trump second term. Biden will keep saying that “democracy is at stake” because America’s sacred institutions may not survive another assault from “MAGA Republicans.”
That message, combined with endless frightening TV ads showing MAGA fanatics storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021, should mobilize anti-Trump voters as election day approaches. Yet most Americans are not nearly as exercised about the Trumpist threat to democratic “norms” as partisan Democrats are. Many voters consider the Biden administration’s radical identity politics on racial and LGBTQ issues to be at least as destructive to the fabric of American life.
Team Biden is betting that by this time next year the economy will have blossomed. That’s quite a gamble: for now, voters appear to be sick of Biden and his cabinet bragging about employment figures when a record number of people feel worse off. “Bidenomics” is, at best, a giant experiment in government spending, the results of which are yet to be seen. Americans may not be in a depression but they are depressed: that economic “feel-good factor” is likely to prove elusive.
The issue on which Democrats are most confident they can win is abortion. It would be an irony if Biden, America’s second Catholic commander-in-chief, found himself re-elected thanks to a practice which his Church condemns as an excommunicatable sin. But Joe has never let his faith hamper his career, and even ardent anti-abortionists now admit that what they call “the life issue” has become toxic for Republicans in many swing states. Since Dobbs — the Supreme Court decision last year which overturned Roe v. Wade — a variety of state-level and special elections have shown that whenever what pro-abortionists like to call “women’s reproductive rights” are on the ballot, the Democrats can drive out huge amounts of support.
Trump understands this point. That’s why in recent months he has endeavored to sound moderate on abortion. “It’s delicate,” he says. He has called his rival Ron DeSantis’s six-week abortion ban in Florida “a terrible thing” and suggested working with “both sides” to find a compromise. Such talk draws criticism from evangelical and Catholic groups but doesn’t appear to dent his popularity in the polls. Critics scoff at his shallow flip-flopping, but Trump understands the zeitgeist better than his rivals. Morality in politics belongs in a galaxy far, far away.