President Biden’s recent comments about Trump supporters espousing “semi-fascism” and accusing the former president’s followers of representing “an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic” shocked many Americans. Now, despite White House denials of ill intent, a majority of voters call Biden’s remarks divisive, September’s I&I/TIPP Poll shows.
During his campaign for the presidency and even in his inauguration speech in 2021, Biden vowed to “unify” the country after years of often-bitter political division. Voters warmed to the idea that he could bring Americans together after years of angry ideological debates, polls showed.
But the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows Americans no longer believe that Biden is a uniter, but a divider.
The online poll of 1,277 adults taken from Sept. 7-9 showed that 62% of Americans believed Biden’s comments about Trump and his MAGA followers “increases division in the country.” Just 29% disagreed. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 2.8 percentage points.
Perhaps surprisingly, Democrats — at 73% — were more likely to say that Biden’s MAGA comments increased division than either Republicans (50%) or independents (57%). Blacks and Hispanics (70%) exceeded white respondents (58%) in seeing the comments as divisive.
The poll also asked if Biden’s comments “endanger Americans’ First Amendment rights to free speech and free assembly.” Once more, by 55% to 33%, Americans agreed.
Finally, in order to discern whether Americans felt Biden’s remarks were out-of-bounds for the office of the White House, voters were asked whether the remarks were “an uncouth and politically biased use of the office of the president.”
Again, 58% agreed vs. 30% who disagreed.
Nor is the I&I/TIPP Poll the only public opinion survey to find general displeasure with Biden when it comes to unifying the nation.
All the way back in February, a Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service Battleground Civility Poll found 43% of voters believed politics had gotten less civil since President Biden took office, compared with 29% who said things were more civil 27% who said they were about the same.
Even before that, in September 2021, a Pew Research Poll found Biden already “losing ground” among voters, with a negative favorability rating just eight months into his first year in office.
Meanwhile, a recent Fox News Poll reports that 54% of those surveyed said the U.S. is now “less united” under Biden, while 37% said it is more divided.
Many, as our own I&I/TIPP Polls show, find a big difference between the remarks Biden made during his election campaign and just after his election, and the remarks he has made since then.
“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify; who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States,” Biden said immediately after the 2020 election, repeating his election campaign promise that many found hopeful.
“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” Biden added. “And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”
Months later, he even made “unity” the theme of his 2021 inauguration speech.
More recently, however, Biden has embraced a more combative rhetoric that, to many Republicans and independents, not to mention some moderate Democrat, sounds both hostile and threatening.
Just this month, with November’s mid-term elections looming, he made repeated comments about the threats that “MAGA Republicans” pose to America.
“Look, extreme MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and our economic security, they embrace political violence,” he said during Sept. 5 Labor Day remarks.
“There’s no democracy where you can be pro-insurrection and pro-democracy. So when I say that democracy is at stake, I mean what I’m saying — literally.”
Why would Biden so aggressively go after former President Trump and his followers? It’s hard to say. One theory in conservative circles is that Biden is keen to help Democrats run against Trump, and not on Biden’s record, in upcoming mid-term elections.
As Instapundit founder and law professor Glenn Reynolds asserted last week in the New York Post, the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago and its coverup of Hunter Biden’s laptop’s contents, Biden’s recent lurid anti-Trump speech in Philadelphia (after days earlier accusing Trump followers of “semi-fascism”), not to mention Democrat attempts in both New York and Georgia to prosecute Trump, are all of a piece.
“Well, if it seems calculated to bring Trump to the forefront, it’s because it is calculated to bring Trump to the forefront,” Reynolds wrote. “The truth is, the Biden people would rather this election be a referendum on Trump than a referendum on Biden.”
If Reynolds is correct, “unity” will be the last thing Americans should expect. Rather the next two months leading to the Nov. 8 midterm elections will be heavy on angry, divisive rhetoric and filled with nonstop legal and verbal attacks on the nation’s 45th president.
Each month, I&I/TIPP publishes polling data on this topic and others of broad public interest. TIPP’s reputation for excellence comes from 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.