Every once in a while, we all have to admit when we get something wrong, and that includes me. On a number of occasions since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, I’ve opened on social media that Putin’s war was probably one of the best things to happen to Joe Biden since he took office. After all, how could it not help him? It finally gave the press an excuse to talk about something other than the Biden border crisis, Bidenflation, skyrocketing gasoline and energy prices, the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, and our deteriorating relationships with many of our allies. Further, it offered Joe Biden the opportunity to look like a real leader on the world stage if our NATO allies took their typical stance of following the lead of the United States in response to an imminent threat. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, according to yet another poll from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, none of that has helped lift Joe Biden’s approval numbers out of the tank. His approval rating is still stuck at 43%, right where they had him before the invasion began. And when pressed on the question of America’s response to the invasion, a majority do not approve of how Biden has handled it. He’s seen as being too cautious and not tough enough to handle an international crisis like the situation in Ukraine. In other words, whatever Biden is selling, most Americans aren’t buying it.
As President Joe Biden meets with key allies in Brussels to coordinate a stronger response to Russia’s monthlong assault on Ukraine, a new poll shows Americans have yet to rally around his leadership.
Concern about Russia has swelled and support for a major US role in the conflict strengthened in the last month, but Biden’s negative approval rating has not budged, according to the poll Thursday from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Few are very confident that he can handle a crisis, and a majority thinks he lacks toughness in dealing with Russia.
Only 43% of Americans approve of Biden and a similar percentage approve of his handling of the relationship with Russia. Both measures are little different from an AP-NORC poll conducted days before the Feb. 24 attack.
None of these numbers are good for team Biden. Barely a quarter of respondents are very confident that the president has the ability to handle a crisis. More than half (56%) don’t believe that he’s been tough enough on Russia. It’s a somewhat surprising result in my view because I’d assumed that Americans were tired of war after 20 years in Afghanistan and the disastrous way that war ended. But there is clearly so much support for Ukraine at this point that many feel we should be taking a more aggressive approach, though a majority still don’t want to see us directly engaging in a war with Russia.
Of course, despite all of the inevitable cheerleading coming from the media, Biden really hasn’t been leading the response to Putin except for “leading from behind.” We were among the last to finally cut off Russia’s oil exports when most other NATO countries had already done so. We also failed to block Russian planes from our airspace until most of the world had already done it. Biden has been tentative in his response whereas others such as Boris Johnson have been decisive.
But even if Joe Biden had acted decisively and boldly in response to the Russian invasion, would it have mattered? Ukraine may be dominating the news cycle, but that situation hasn’t made life any easier for Americans struggling with inflation, rising prices, and stagnant job growth. Many may be watching the daily updates from Kyiv closely, but they still have to head out to work and fill up their tanks on the way. They still have to hit the grocery store and hope to find (and be able to afford) enough food to fill their pantries. If anything, the response to Putin has only driven up prices further, a situation we have been told we’ll just need to deal with as part of our patriotic duty.
The other thing that Vladimir Putin will be unable to do is put off the November midterm elections. They are still heading toward Joe Biden’s party like a freight train. And if this poll is anything to judge by, the Democrats are standing on the tracks like a herd of deer in the headlights.