Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman at Sabato's Crystal Ball have an excellent, empirically well-informed roundup of the five key warning signs for Biden and the Democrats after that first year in office. Here's #2, but they're all important!
2. Biden is having trouble with key subgroups
"According an analysis from the Democratic data firm Catalist, as well as exit polls and granular precinct-level analysis, Joe Biden performed worse with nonwhite voters in 2020 compared to Hillary Clinton’s showing in 2016. Ruy Teixeira, a Democratic electoral demographics expert whom we deeply respect, has sounded the alarm bells for his party in recent items for the publication the Liberal Patriot analyzing Democratic problems with both Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans.
Broadly speaking, Biden’s numbers with people of color appear to be weak across the board. Let’s put this in some perspective, first.
There were 2 major exit polls of the 2020 election. One was from Edison Research on behalf of several major news organizations. The other was from NORC at the University of Chicago on behalf of the Associated Press and Fox News. While they differed somewhat in their findings, they each found that Biden won a little more than 70% of the vote among voters of color (defined here as those who do not identify as non-Hispanic white), while Biden won a bit over 40% of the white vote.
Compare that to what some polls are telling us about how Biden is viewed now. Reuters/Ipsos finds Biden with a 45% approve/50% disapprove split, a bit better than the averages. That poll splits respondents into white and nonwhite groups: Biden’s approval split with white adults is 41%/54%, not that different from the white vote overall in 2020. But his approval with nonwhites is just 52%/42% — still positive overall but a steep drop from what the exit polls told us about his level of electoral support with the nonwhite voting bloc in 2020.
This has some implications for Democrats if weaker Biden approval among nonwhite voters translates into weaker electoral performance and/or turnout (Democrats often fret about nonwhite turnout in non-presidential election years anyway). For instance, we rate 3 Democratic-held Senate seats as Toss-ups: Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada. The electorates in all 3 of these states have very important nonwhite voting blocs.
Though younger voters tend to turn out at lower rates than seniors, Democrats were aided in the 2018 midterms by a relatively engaged youth bloc. But after a year in office, Biden’s standing with the 18 to 29 year-old demographic has weakened. In December, the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School put the president’s approval spread at 46%/51% with voters under 30. According to the estimates from Catalist, Biden carried that group with 62% in 2020. To be sure, Harvard found Trump’s favorables with younger voters are at a horrid 30%/63% spread, and it’s easy to see Biden winning the youth vote handily in a rematch — but that is less relevant for 2022’s elections, as Democrats will not have the luxury of running against an unpopular Trump, although the former president may be active on the campaign trail."
"After negotiations stalled on Build Back Better, congressional Democrats are beginning the year with a focus on voting rights — they have also vowed that they have not given up on the former. But both items face uphill battles and are perceived as more partisan than other legislation that passed Congress last year. Republicans, meanwhile, will likely maintain that the administration is more focused on placating Democratic partisans than on curbing inflation or tending to other national priorities.
Re-orienting his and Democrats’ agenda on these issues could be helpful to Biden, but that is much easier said than done.