The "Fairweather Johnson" President
What a forgotten Hootie and the Blowfish album and POTUS have in common.
In his excellent Trainwreckords series, about albums that destroyed or badly damaged careers, Todd in the Shadows examined the failure of Fairweather Johnson, the little-remembered follow-up to Hootie and the Blowfish’s 1994 mega-blockbuster Cracked Rear View. After a strong first week, it quickly slipped down the charts, sold a fraction of its predecessor and produced no major hit singles.
Todd makes an interesting observation about the rapid rise and fall of Hootie and the Blowfish: they were the band for everybody, and therefore the band for nobody.
They were all things to all people when their debut album came out, but their popularity was an inch deep, and after the hype died down, everyone moved on to their preferred genres (including lead singer Darius Rucker - no, for the last time, he’s not nicknamed “Hootie” - who pivoted to country music and became Nashville’s first major African-American star since Charley Pride).
And so it is that Joe Biden, a man with no core constituency but who also had the fewest Democrats who would never support him under any circumstances, finds his approval ratings plummeting faster than the price of Bitcoin:
As usual, Allahpundit hits it on the head. No matter how bad this get for Donald Trump, around 40% of the country is ride or die for him, sometimes literally:
I’ve made this point before but Fox’s numbers bear it out especially well: Views of Trump are hyperpolarized and never change whereas Biden’s coalition is more ambivalent about him, allowing for more movement in his polling. Trump’s favorability has barely moved an inch in Fox’s survey since 2018, when he was rated 45/53. In poll after poll after poll, around 44 percent of the country likes him while around 54 percent dislikes him and neither side will ever waver in those opinions. There are no “soft” Trump supporters or opponents. Biden is the opposite, a guy with no “hard” supporters. He won the primary in 2020 on perceived electability and then the general thanks to a makeshift alliance of anti-Trumpers on the far left, center left, and center right. Without the near-term threat of Trump to hold that alliance together, though, it’s begun to fray. Fox reports that Biden is now seeing record-high negative ratings among some of his own core blocs in 2020 — adults under 30, Hispanics, women.
Trump has a hard floor of 43 percent, rain or shine, but it’s anyone’s guess what Biden’s floor will turn out to be as “Anyone But Trump” voters from 2020 become disillusioned and peel away from him. Is it 39 percent? 37 percent? Worse?
It’s an especially bad sign for him that he now trails even when voters are asked specifically to choose between him and Trump in a hypothetical 2024 race. Amid grinding inflation, the prospect of a second Trump term simply isn’t enough to glue the Biden coalition back together per YouGov’s data.
If Biden is Hootie and the Blowfish, Trump is more like the Dave Matthews Band. I leave it to you to determine who deserves the apology for that comparison.
It’s looking very bad for Biden’s party in the midterm elections later this year, but does that mean he’s doomed in 2024? No. At the moment he’s uniquely unpopular (only one of his predecessors had approval ratings this low at this point of his Presidency; guess who) but Reagan, Clinton and Obama also had a rough first few years in office, and it was reflected in the polling.
George W. Bush was an outlier because of 9/11. His father looked absolutely unbeatable at this moment in his first term, and we know how that turned out. And, of course, if Trump wins the GOP nomination for 2024, the Biden coalition could reconstitute itself like the T-1000 Terminator.
But that’s not even guaranteed anymore. A lot can happen in politics, and Biden needs it to start happening now.
I’d like to try this, but I’m afraid I’ll forget the lyrics.