Many Independent voters question Biden's leadership amid COVID surge, legislative setbacks

The broad coalition of voters that Joe Biden gathered for his 2020 election is at risk of being lost. Independent voters continue to be critical of how he has handled domestic issues. Some are questioning whether he has the leadership skills necessary to navigate a politically divided Washington.

Many Independent voters question Biden's leadership amid COVID surge, legislative setbacks

Biden is approaching his first year in office with many campaign promises unfulfilled. He faces a nation where the coronavirus epidemic he promised to contain still rages. While several legislative priorities such as voting rights and police reform are being held up by a fractured Senate, most often by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Silena (D-Ariz. Biden faces many challenges beyond Washington. Some independents are dissatisfied that stark political divisions remain despite promises for unification.

A recent ABC News/Ipsos survey found that 53 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the pandemic. Independents, however, are slightly less positive. A slimmer 49% approve of Biden's handling of the pandemic, which could indicate tensions between independents and centrist Biden. According to data cross-tabulations, their support for a wide range of important issues is lower. Biden sees worryingly low scores from independents on the economy (40%), taxes (38%), inflation (27%), and guns (25%).

Low ratings are not enough to account for the political fallout from Sunday's Manchin bombshell announcement that he would vote against Biden’s "Build Back better" bill.

The White House relies on Sinema and Manchin's uncertain support to pass much of Biden’s agenda. It also attempts to avoid party-line deadlocks by issuing executive orders. Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, argued that the administration had been able to achieve much more than the finish line after Manchin's "no” on Build Back better.

Psaki stated that "We are proud to have achieved what we have done in 2021: The American Rescue Plan, which saw the fastest decline in U.S. unemployment history, the Bipartisan infrastructure Law, more than 200 million Americans vaccinated and schools reopened. It also had the fastest rollouts of vaccines to children anywhere on the planet, and historic appointments in the Federal judiciary." We will continue to fight for the American people's health, their elder care, and prescription drug costs. It is impossible to abandon the fight for Build back Better. Next year, we will find a way forward.

Pew Research data shows that Biden held a close 10-point lead among independent voters in 2020. He secured their support 52%-43% for Trump. The new lagging poll numbers of independents could make it difficult for Biden to continue his big-tent party pitch on the campaign trail. This is especially important if Democrats want to keep their grip on Congress in the midterm elections.

"Here and now, I give you my promise: If you entrust to me the presidency, I will draw from the best of us, and not the worst. l'll be an alligator of the light and not the dark. "United we can and will conquer this season of darkness" Biden stated in August's address to the Democratic National Committee.

Respondents to a poll that they consider independent voters gave their reasons for doubting Biden's ability to keep his promise of building coalitions in a series interview with ABC News.

Timothy Pinson, an ex-accountant from Dallas, said that he voted in 2016 for Trump, but was overwhelmed by divisional politics and he voted in 2020 for Biden.

"I just wanted to get back to the old ways of things. You know, the way that a president should behave, you know? Having normal."

Pinson said that while he enjoys Biden's rhetoric and is still experiencing instability, he doesn't agree with it. Pinson, a disabled man, will soon receive the largest Social Security increase in nearly six decades. He says that it isn't enough in the face of high inflation and expresses frustration at how the administration prioritizes policy issues.

"More on economy...jobs... getting people's life back to normal. Pinson reveals that then we can discuss the social programs. "And social programs, I don’t get why they need to put them all together in one bill. They should just do each one individually.

Similar frustrations exist about the Democrats' legislative agenda on Capitol Hill. The ruling party is facing log-jams within its ranks. Manchin's defeat of Biden's $1.7 trillion climate and social spending package was the latest in a string of disappointing setbacks.

Roger Bonnie, a Cincinnati-area software engineer, finds Washington's deadlock frustrating.

Bonnie feels "absolutely” let down by the White House that he voted for because of Biden’s promises regarding voting rights and climate change, among other priorities. He says that the left has "really not shown any fight."

"The Republicans will torch the country in order to get their way. Bonnie explained that the Democrats will respond with "well, we can’t do anything because Manchin and Sinema.”

However, this independent poll group believes that their support is based on more than just policy success. It seems that frustration stems from Biden's inability navigate an electorate more divided.

He doesn't stand for anything, he's not a crusader. Bonnie, 56, said that he doesn't think that hinders his ability establish his message. She voted for Biden in 2020 and will support him if he runs for office in 2024. But, she added, "That doesn't mean it's the least bit happy about it."

Caitlyn Crelin from Colorado Springs is an Independent registered voter who shares the same sentiments. After being criticized by peers for voting in 2016 for a third party candidate, she voted for Biden in 2020.

Crelin says that he felt like he had to vote for Joe Biden if Trump was going to win. "At this point I would have been 100% happier supporting Trump."

Crelin claims that her breaking point was during the pandemic of lockdowns, mandates, and that she felt Congress Democrats weren't accepting enough Republican viewpoints.

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