The Washington Times Weekly

GOP wary of Biden’s strategy to follow polls

Predicts backlash on other issues

- BY SETH MCLAUGHLIN

President Biden adopted a governingb­y-polls strategy to circumvent the GOP but claims he is fulfilling his pledge to bring bipartisan­ship back to Washington.

The strategy, however, exposes Mr. Biden to a powerful reversal in the long term, Republican­s say, because polling also shows a broad spectrum of support for ideas that make Democrats’ heads spin.

“If he wants to use voter support as an indication of bipartisan­ship, then he should be strongly and enthusiast­ically supporting voter ID laws, protecting our borders and not spending us into oblivion and a whole lot of other things that most American agree with,” said Charlie Gerow, a Pennsylvan­ia-based Republican consultant and member of the American Conservati­ve Union.

Mr. Biden put his twist on bipartisan­ship as part of a public relations push for his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which Democrats muscled through Congress using a budget process known as reconcilia­tion that allowed it to pass without the support of a single Republican vote.

“I would like Republican — elected Republican support, but what I know I have now is that I have electoral support from Republican voters,” Mr. Biden said recently. “Republican voters agree with what I’m doing.”

He is relying on the same logic in the debate over his proposed $2.25 trillion American Jobs plan, reeling off polls that suggested Republican voters like what they see.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week that Mr. Biden is open to negotiatin­g the size and scope of the package and wouldn’t be meeting with Republican­s if he weren’t serious about cross-party cooperatio­n.

Republican­s, though, remain skeptical. “This infrastruc­ture bill is a debacle, and Democrats want to ram it through without any cooperatio­n by Republican­s, without any discussion, without any compromise,” Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, said on Fox News.

The White House has stared down the critics by highlighti­ng a Morning Consult poll that found registered voters, by a 2-1 margin, backed a hypothetic­al $3 trillion infrastruc­ture package and an Invest in America and Data for Progress survey that found 73% of voters backed the American Jobs Plan, including 57% of Republican voters.

“The evidence is unanimous that the American people support the president’s vision of rebuilding our economy and his plan to pay for it by asking big corporatio­ns to pay their fair share,” Ms. Psaki said this month.

Challenged on whether governing by polls was a smart idea, Ms. Psaki fired back: “Do you not think the American people’s view is important as it relates to what elected officials do on the Hill?”

Republican­s say Democrats should look in the mirror.

For starters, they say, Democrats seem to forget they muscled the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, into law even though it struggled to garner broad backing across the political spectrum, rarely eclipsing 50% in overall support.

Other ideas, however, flourish in the polling world, Republican­s say.

An Economist/YouGov Poll released last month showed that 62% of adults think a photo ID should be required to vote in person, compared with 24% who think people should be able to vote without a photo ID.

More than half of the respondent­s also said a photo ID should be required to vote absentee.

Democrats have long opposed voter ID laws and denounced them as a form of voter suppressio­n. Mr. Biden himself called a Georgia law that includes such a provision “Jim Crow on steroids.”

Just as Ms. Psaki has touted liberallea­ning pollsters, Republican­s could do the same by highlighti­ng a recent poll from the Senate Opportunit­y Fund that found a majority of voters, by a 71% to 19% margin, now say they want the government to finish constructi­on of Mr. Trump’s border wall.

Mr. Biden halted constructi­on of the border wall on his first day in the Oval Office, the same day he canceled the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The same Morning Consult outfit that the White House has relied on to sell the American Jobs Plan also released a poll showing that just 42% of voters supported Mr. Biden’s decision to pull the permit on the Keystone XL pipeline, including just 33% of independen­ts and 14% of Republican­s.

Taken together, Republican­s say it shows Mr. Biden’s pledges of bipartisan­ship have been a smokescree­n.

“Here is Joe Biden’s definition of bipartisan­ship: As long as no one believes in anything but what I’m selling, then that is bipartisan­ship,” said Patrick Griffin, a Republican political consultant.

Mr. Griffin said the public is giving Mr. Biden the benefit of the doubt so far because of the success the administra­tion has had distributi­ng vaccines, but he predicted things will get harder for the president once voters wake up to the reality of his agenda.

“This thing is going to snap back, and when it does people are going to look around and say, ‘What is happening right now?’” he said.

Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster, said enacting public policy based on polling is “not leadership.”

“Sometimes you have to make tough decisions based on what is right,” Mr. Bolger said. “The other problem with Biden’s redefining bipartisan­ship as whatever he chooses it to mean is that a HumptyDump­ty approach to language will hurt him in the long run.

“The more the White House dissembles about words, the less credibilit­y they will have in the long run with the people, even if the left-wing media plays along with him,” he said.

 ?? ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? President Biden doesn’t have Republican support in Congress, but he said he has found approval among Republican voters. Polls show some independen­ts and Republican­s support parts of his agenda, including the American Rescue Plan.
ASSOCIATED PRESS President Biden doesn’t have Republican support in Congress, but he said he has found approval among Republican voters. Polls show some independen­ts and Republican­s support parts of his agenda, including the American Rescue Plan.

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