Just 45% Have Confidence In VP Harris As Commander in Chief
As President Biden’s approval rating continues to plumb new depths, even some members of his own Democratic Party have begun to ask the once unthinkable: Will Joe Biden last through his first term in office?
Such a question might have seemed a bit over the top, as Biden only entered office in January of 2021. But, after a year of record inflation and gasoline price hikes, devastating COVID lockdowns, a surge of illegal immigration, the botched departure from Afghanistan, and growing questions over the 79-year-old president’s mental fitness, a surprising number of Americans now think Biden won’t last even another two and a half years in office, according to the latest I&I/TIPP Poll.
The poll asked adults: “In your opinion, how likely is it that Joe Biden will complete his first term in office?”
Predictably, most Americans (71%) said Biden was likely to last through his four years. But 21%, or one in five, said it was “not likely” he would last.
A closer look at the data provides little comfort for Biden’s own pollsters and political advisers.
Just 45% of those responding said it was “very likely” Biden would last. Some 25% said it was only “somewhat likely,” hardly a vote of confidence in Biden’s presidential future. Another 8% said they are “not sure.”
And, as often in recent years, the poll’s results are deeply skewed by political affiliation. Some 90% of Democrats believe Biden will make it to the end of his term, while 49% of Republicans do. Once again, independents split the difference at 66%, though they are closer to the GOP than to the Dems.
Meanwhile, only 6% of Democrats say it’s “unlikely” Biden will last, compared to 43% of Republicans and 22% of independents.
Questions are growing over whether Biden can weather another two-plus years in office. Even the left-leaning media, silent during the election and most of Biden’s first year about the age issue, now openly worry about it.
A recent story in California five-term Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, said the 88-year-old Democrat’s memory is “rapidly deteriorating” and opined that, if true, she should step down.
That prompted MSNBC’s Chuck Todd to bring up the until-now-unspoken dilemma: “It’s a tricky thing,” Todd said. “If you start . . . questioning Dianne Feinstein, the president of the United States is going to start getting this stuff, and that’s something the party doesn’t want to have to deal with, those questions here.”
Of perhaps greater concern for his own party than the infirmities of age is Biden’s shocking plunge in popularity in recent polls, which threatens an epic drubbing for the Democrats in the upcoming mid-term 2022 election.
Biden’s plunging approval-to-disapproval rating in the respected RealClearPolitics poll average for the most recent seven national polls showed how deeply troubled his presidency is: The poll average for “approve” was just 40.6%, versus 52.1% who “disapprove” of the job he’s done. That’s a minus-11.5 job rating from the public.
“That has sent some Democrats into a new round of panic, fearing that a presidential job approval rating in the high 30s would surely mean a Republican House and Senate in this November’s midterm elections,” the Washington Examiner’s Byron York wrote. “Biden could bring his whole party crashing down around his shoulders.”
Then there’s the giant elephant in the room, which, until relatively recently, was almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media: Presidential son Hunter Biden’s questionable business dealings and the possibility that President Biden used his positions as a senator, vice president and even president to profit from Hunter’s business finagling.
“President Joe Biden was more involved in Hunter Biden’s financial and business dealings than previously acknowledged,” a new review of text and email documents by Just The News and the Government Accountability Institute found, “allowing his son to pay some of his bills, diverting one of his tax refunds to his son, rubbing elbows with the first son’s foreign clients and even directly referring a friend who wanted to ‘do some work’ with his son.”
Also troubling are recent verbal gaffes and bizarre behavior by Biden that have raised questions about whether he is mentally healthy enough to do the job of the presidency.
Just last week, as Biden finished a speech, “he turned around and tried to shake hands with thin air and then wandered around looking confused,” tweeted the Washington Free Beacon. Other recent instances of clear verbal and physical decline have raised concerns about Biden’s ability to fulfill his duties.
There are a handful of ways for Biden not to finish his term. One is impeachment and removal from office. Another is resignation. And then there’s the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for a president’s replacement if the majority of his cabinet deems him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Confidence In Harris Is Low
Which brings the inevitable question: If President Biden leaves office before his term is up, will Vice President Kamala Harris be competent enough to succeed him?
To that end, the I&I/TIPP Poll asked a simple but vital question about Harris’ qualifications: “How confident are you that Vice President Kamala Harris would be an effective commander-in-chief against an adversary posing a military threat to the United States if she were to become President?”
There, the answers are not good for Harris. Only 45% of Americans said they would be “confident” in Harris, and only 25% said “very confident.” An equal 45% said they’d be “not confident,” with 30% of that total saying “not at all confident.”
Again, the response by political party was lopsided: 80% of Democrats expressed confidence in Harris, compared to just 14% of Republicans and 32% of independents. Her support is narrowly confined to her own party.
Her ongoing problem with key staff quitting is another issue, with deputy chief of staff Michael Fuchs announcing his departure earlier this month. With Fuchs becoming the 11th Harris aide to depart, even some in her own party question her managerial ability.
Perhaps of greater concern for a vice president who might one day be commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military is her frequent lapses into what critics call “word salad” while speaking — including during overseas visits, where clarity is critical.
She’s also garnered criticism for a tendency to laugh inappropriately while discussing awful events, such as the tragedy in Afghanistan and the plight of Ukrainian refugees, to name but two of many such examples.
Harris’ recent stabs at foreign policy, including serving as an envoy for President Biden in Europe during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have given supporters little to cheer about, and her critics a lot of fodder to further question her abilities.
Would such political weakness for a new president and commander in chief tempt our nation’s foes to act up?
What would a President Harris do if China copied Russia and invaded Taiwan? Or if Iran suddenly announced it had a nuclear weapon? Or Russia decided it needed even more lebensraum after gobbling up part of Ukraine? Or the U.S. again came under terrorist attack or cyberattack?
On these and other questions of national security, the I&I/TIPP Poll suggests Americans are wary of Harris’ potential as a leader of our military if she should take over for Joe Biden.
These polling data come from the April I&I/TIPP Poll of 1,305 adults across the country, which was conducted online from April 4-6. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.
Each month, I&I/TIPP provides timely and informative data from our polls on this topic and others of interest to Americans. TIPP has earned a reputation for excellence by being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.