From the Left



An Old Joe Biden Foe is Back — The Enthusiasm Gap

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Every presidential campaign raises nagging questions of various sorts.

With the 2024 election barely more than a year away, one overarching question haunts Democrats: Why the heck isn’t President Joe Biden doing better in the polls?

The fear and the hand-wringing from my friends and colleagues — and not just the liberals — have begun to remind me of the classic Yuletide “Dennis the Menace” cartoon.

Dennis is seen on Christmas morning awash in toys and wrapping paper as he turns to his parents to ask, “Is this all?”

I hear that question a lot from Democrats and others who are frustrated not by a lack of gifts but by the lack of movement in Biden’s poll numbers.

It’s not like he hasn’t had significant accomplishments to cite, and we’ll be hearing more about them, although his own allies complain — with good reason, in my view — that he doesn’t toot his own horn enough about them. Part of the malaise seems to be leftover exhaustion from the last campaign’s drama, which ended with victory, followed by an assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.


In the current campaign, the economy is seen as a liability for Biden. Inflation soared in 2021 and 2022 to peak at a rate of 9.1% in June 2022, the largest 12-month increase since the 12-month period that ended in November 1981. Those figures have improved, but judging by the polls, voters aren’t feeling it.

Accordingly, Biden’s most recent Gallup approval rating from his fellow Democrats was 75%, the lowest of his presidency. His 37% overall approval rating, down from 41% in September, matches his personal low.

At the same time, Biden’s approval among independents declined four points, to 35%, while just 5% of Republicans approved of his performance, unchanged from the previous poll.

The economy isn’t Biden’s only issue with voters. There, too, are the crises in Israel and Ukraine.


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Mike Smith Mike Luckovich Monte Wolverton Bill Bramhall Pat Byrnes Gary McCoy