On Nov. 20, 2021, Joe Biden hit the lowest overall approval numbers of his presidency in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, bottoming out with the support of a mere 41.3% of voters.
Biden experienced a slight recovery in his numbers for a few weeks after that — until we entered the new year. On Jan. 6, 2022, Biden registered his highest ever disapproval numbers, reaching a personal high of 54%. His approval numbers in 2022, meanwhile, are just a hair higher than his all-time lows.
Whatever thing that could have momentarily helped Biden after Thanksgiving has all but evaporated. The most likely culprit for Biden’s newly flagging support entering 2022 is the surge in cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19. Case numbers have skyrocketed beyond any previous wave, including with the delta variant or in the 2020-21 winter surge 12 months ago.
Last year, new daily cases of the coronavirus topped out at around 300,000 a day. Now? Omicron has registered a single-day high of more than 700,000 new cases and multiple days of more than 500,000 new cases.
It is true that cases are not the most critical metric. Hospitalizations are the most important metric, because that tells us how much pressure a given surge is placing on the health care system. The CDC’s seven-day average of hospitalizations for omicron sits at 95,250, below the peak hospitalizations for last winter’s surge of 124,031.
But while it’s lower than last winter, omicron has a higher wave than the summer delta surge.
In other words, we’re in the middle of the most extensive spread of the coronavirus yet, and the second-largest spike in hospitalizations. Fortunately, the United States has an adult population nearing 75% fully vaccinated status, and 86% have had at least one shot. The blessings of Operation Warp Speed continue, despite the failures of the Biden administration.
My last column for 2021 made the case that Biden’s sudden pivot to claiming the federal government had no answer on COVID-19 was based on his own inadequacies. Per a Politico report, the current strategy in the White House is to “hold on and hope the worst is over soon.”
It’s not that the federal government doesn’t have a role here; it’s that the president has given up. Politico further reported:
The new reality has further darkened the mood among White House aides already frustrated by the lack of progress toward ending a pandemic many initially believed could be dispatched within a year.
The Biden administration believed they could sweep into office, ride the coattails of Trump, and declare victory despite not doing anything to build on Trump’s momentum on the virus.
Instead, Biden allowed the public health agencies to destroy confidence in the vaccines through the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the White House drug their feet on expanding vaccines to younger Americans including teenagers and children, and the messaging on booster shots spent months being contradicted by every statement uttered by anyone in Biden’s orbit.
None of this counts failures like rationing monoclonal antibody treatments instead of expanding manufacturing output. Or allowing the CDC and FDA to restrict the manufacturing of tests, thus making a crucial component of disease tracking expensive and out of reach for many Americans.
Biden campaigned on the promise that he alone could solve the pandemic, and right in the middle of the worst case surge and second-worst hospitalization surge, he’s throwing his hands up and declaring that there’s nothing he can or will do.
The mainstream press would have rightly hammered Trump if he tried any of these gimmicks.
The pandemic is still a thing. The public health care system still faces real threats. And Biden is abdicating his leadership.
That’s the real reason we’re entering the new year with Biden hitting all-time highs on disapproval. Biden has failed in many areas. He’s allowed inflation to run rampant and even helped inflame inflationary pressures. He abandoned Americans and our allies in Afghanistan to the mercy of terrorists. But in 2022, he’s sinking further than ever because he’s openly admitting he’s failed at fulfilling the one central promise he made on the campaign trail: that he’d end the pandemic.
This COVID surge will undoubtedly calm down, as prior waves have done. Seasonal swings are natural. We’ll likely have another mini-surge in the spring, and a summer surge in the south, followed by some new surge next winter. Who knows what stage of the Greek alphabet we’ll be at by then.
Biden walking away is tantamount to surrender. We should have every available resource at our disposal, from vaccines to treatments. Stepping away, as he has, gives up on those kinds of solutions and is a failure of leadership. If Biden cannot see that, he deserves the shellacking likely coming for Democrats in November.
You cannot run on solving one of the preeminent issues of our time and then throw your hands in the air and walk away less than a year later. That’s what Biden has done. He’s the failure.