President Biden will become a casualty of his own success

President Biden will become a casualty of his own success
© getty: President Biden

All the indicators are trending up. Economic expectations are sky high. People are re-emerging into the world, seeing family and friends and going out to eat. COVID-19 is down, and the number of vaccine jabs is way up. That is our context today.

The administration’s linchpin at 100 days is its handling of COVID-19; the numbers here are impressive. The vaccine has made all this possible. The administration managed the roll-out, and Biden’s approval numbers have remained robust. 

But what happens when the pandemic wanes? While that will be a good thing for the country, the Biden administration will face a much more complicated issue landscape. As other problems take center stage, the public will evaluate Biden on these matters. And right now, the president holds a weaker position on non-pandemic issues.


Some of these dynamics are already emerging. About half of Americans think that they will return to something like their pre-COVID life within the next six months, double the number who believed that was possible when Biden first took office.

As a result, according to the latest Ipsos polling, Americans are starting to worry about other issues, such as immigration and inequality. For immigration, inequality, taxation and trade, Biden’s approval trails his performance on COVID-19, unmasking weak spots among both his critics and his base.

Partisanship also adds to these problems. Americans across the political spectrum mostly agreed on how to deal with the pandemic. The goal was straightforward: get vaccines into arms. On other issues, Republicans and Democrats have increasingly divergent aims. Any attempt Biden makes to address these issues will alienate some voters.  

The administration’s one saving grace could be the economy. The success of the stimulus is a win for Biden, and the infrastructure bill could add to that. More generally, a robust economy has always been a wind at the president’s back.

But will shoring up the economy help Biden maintain majority support? This is uncertain.


While Biden is making the right moves on the economy, he won’t necessarily reap the benefits if all goes well. History suggests that a strong economy does not always improve a sitting president’s numbers, but a weak one almost always hurts. Unless the public increasingly sees Biden as responsible for the economy (and right now, many don’t), his approval numbers will decline.

President Biden’s success in his first 100 days may be his downfall. The issues hovering just below the pandemic are all weaknesses for the president. Looking to the 2022 midterms, poor numbers from Biden hurts Democratic chances of keeping the House of Representatives. How the next 100 days unfold will be the leading indicator for the remainder of Biden’s presidency.

Cliff Young is president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs in the United States. His research specialties include social and public opinion trends, crisis management, corporate and institution reputation, and election polling.