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Politics: The Biden 2021 report card: The not so good, the bad and the ugly

Analysis: Joe Biden puts it all on the line in voting rights battle

  Analysis: Joe Biden puts it all on the line in voting rights battle It took a year for Joe Biden to make an irrevocable bet that puts the credibility of his presidency on the line. If his bid now to change Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation fails, he'll lose more than just the bills he sees as vital to saving democracy. His drained political capital could spell the end of the entire domestic, legislative phase of his administration. © Patrick Semansky/AP President Joe Biden speaks in support of changing the Senate filibuster rules that have stalled voting rights legislation, at Atlanta University Center Consortium, on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, Tuesday, Jan.

President Biden leaves 2021 with 43 percent approval from American voters per the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average of major polls, with 53 percent disapproving.

The Biden 2021 report card: The not so good, the bad and the ugly © Ian Forsyth/Getty Images The Biden 2021 report card: The not so good, the bad and the ugly

The numbers are upside-down from inauguration day 2021, when the president in the same RCP average stood at 57 approval and just 37 percent disapproval.

Add it all up, and Biden has shifted negatively by more than 30 points. No president since World War II - not even Donald Trump - has seen such a massive slide.

So how did the 46th president, who received more votes than any candidate in U.S. history, get here? Let's break down his performance issue by issue.

Biden’s Been Counted Out Before—And Loves To Prove the Haters Wrong

  Biden’s Been Counted Out Before—And Loves To Prove the Haters Wrong As Joe Biden ends a rough year, it’s tempting to write him off as irrelevant, a has-been. That would be a mistake.It’s been an easy idea to hold over the years, a tempting one at times, really: Joe Biden is dunzo and isn’t coming back from this setback. The 1972 death of his wife and daughter, before he even got sworn into office. The plagiarism scandal that ushered him from the 1988 presidential race. A less-than-1% showing in Iowa 20 years later. The death of Beau Biden. A “gut punch” of a fourth-place finish in Iowa in 2020. And yet Biden got up off the mat every time. Joe Biden doesn’t always win, but he certainly doesn’t quit.

The economy: When Biden entered office, the economy was already roaring back from an unprecedented pandemic and shutdown of the U.S. economy. Unemployment was back down to 6.3 percent, a sharp drop from 14.4 percent in April 2020 when businesses were forced to close across the country.

Unemployment has continued to fall back to 2019 levels, while the stock market is at all-time highs. But despite that good news for Biden, inflation dominated economic headlines throughout 2021.

The administration continually insisted over the summer that inflation was "transitory" and may actually be a good thing for the U.S. economy. White House chief of staff and prolific tweeter Ron Klain even attempted to portray inflation and the supply-chain crisis as a rich man's problem.

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This was, of course, a patently tone deaf (and inaccurate) argument to make considering inflation affects poor people the most because they have a harder time than the rich absorbing skyrocketing prices on food, gas and home heating. And as 2021 becomes 2022, it's clear inflation is not transitory, while the supply-chain crisis may extend well into this year, according to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Overall, inflation - which is at a 40-year high - is a major issue that likely will be around well past the 2022 midterms in November, according to three-quarters of economists in a recent survey by the National Association for Business Economics. Year-end consumer prices also rose at their fastest rate since 1982. No spin can change what voters feel on line at the store, or at the pump or when paying their bills.

2021: The year Biden's approval ratings sank slowly underwater

  2021: The year Biden's approval ratings sank slowly underwater President Biden started his presidency with positive poll numbers but ends 2021 with his approval ratings well underwater.In an appearance on the late-night talk shows, Biden quipped to "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon that he kept an eye on his approval ratings earlier in his presidency, "but now that they’re in the 40s, I don't pay attention.

2021 grade on the economy/inflation: D

Crime: Sixteen cities reported record-high homicide rates in 2021. What's the one thing those cities have in common? All are run by Democratic mayors. Some have called for defunding the police or "reallocation" of police funds. Thankfully, voters rejected such measures in beleaguered cities, including Minneapolis and Portland, while moderate Eric Adams - a former NYPD officer - was elected mayor of New York City.

As for the Biden administration's performance on the issue, there's not much performance or even rhetoric to point to. President Biden and Vice President Harris (a former California attorney general) almost never speak about the crisis, as if they're hoping it will simply go away. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki even blamed Republicans for wanting to defund the Police, which earned her Four Pinnochios by the Washington Post's fact-checker.

Democrats hail Biden for calling out Trump

  Democrats hail Biden for calling out Trump Democrats have been waiting for a year for President Biden to call out former President Trump for his claims about the 2020 presidential election and pinpoint the role Trump played in instigating his followers to "fight like hell" to contest the result. Standing in the Capitol on Thursday, Biden finally did just that.A widespread sentiment among Democrats has been that Biden hasn't been hard enough on Trump as the former president relentlessly accuses Democrats of rigging the election and making repeated claims about widespread voter fraud in which a variety of legal maneuvers and state certifications have failed to prove.

As president, Biden has made stopping and controlling the pandemic and the multi-trillion-dollar Build Back Better spending bills the primary focus of the few speeches he's given. He rarely if ever mentions what he plans to do to combat the violent crime epidemic.

The public easily spots the lack of focus, the lack of a plan. ABC News finds that just 36 percent of Americans approve of Biden's handling of crime. And according to a Rasmussen poll, 89 percent of likely voters say crime will only get worse. That's a direct indictment of the president and his strategy on the crisis.

2021 grade on crime: D

COVID-19: The year that was supposed to be a good one for the country (and by extension for the president) has ended in awful fashion. Positive COVID-19 cases are shattering records. Lines for testing extend blocks and even miles in the cold of the holiday season.

At this point, there is no good excuse for this president and his administration on testing. They had almost a year to prepare for a winter holiday surge everyone saw coming. Instead, they focused their energy on the multi-trillion-dollar Build Back Better bill.

And the excuse from Biden and Harris? They claim they didn't see this variant coming so fast.

It's the Taliban of COVID variants, with omicron moving too quickly for this administration to get ahead of. They were caught flat-footed in Afghanistan (grade: F) when the Taliban took Kabul before this administration even knew what had happened. Now they've been caught flat-footed on omicron.

Biden's to-do list for 2022 looks a lot like 2021's

  Biden's to-do list for 2022 looks a lot like 2021's President Biden's to-do list in 2022 in many ways resembles the one he had when he took office in 2021.Biden campaigned on a pledge to shut down the coronavirus, but he enters 2022 facing record-setting case numbers from the omicron variant and public fatigue with the pandemic.The president called for unity in his inauguration speech, but that has been hard to come by as polls have consistently shown a swath of Republicans, including some holding or running for office, refuse to acknowledge that Biden legitimately won the 2020 election.Biden took office touting decades of Senate experience and a reputation for being able to cross the aisle.

Polling now shows the president down 20 points from his high based on his handling of this virus, a virus he said he would "control" and "stop" (his words as a candidate).

The old rule from sales to politics remains the same: underpromise and overdeliver. The president did the opposite of that here.

2021 grade on COVID-19: C

Border/immigration: More than two million migrants entered this country illegally in 2021. Kamala Harris, who was tasked with addressing the crisis, has been missing in action and almost never speaks about it. Border officials are overwhelmed. Democratic lawmakers in border states are demanding the federal government and particularly the vice president do more to stem the never-ending tide but can't even get a response. Result: The administration is consistently polling in the 20s on immigration and the border.

2021 grade on the border/immigration: F

As for 2022, things will likely only get worse for Joe Biden and Democrats as a whole.

Build Back Better is essentially dead. The party is in the throes of what appears to be a civil war. Most Democrats don't even want Biden to seek a second term, while the House will surely go back to the GOP, which needs to flip only five seats.

The Senate, currently 50/50, will also likely flip, given the president's toxic coattails and the state of the economy and crime.

Overall, Joe Biden is showing he won in 2020 not because he's Joe Biden but because he wasn't Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and he wasn't Donald Trump.

And given that the first year of any president's first term is often his most productive, his most positive, it'll likely only get uglier from here.

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.

Georgia’s voting rights advocates ask Biden: Where have you been? .
The president made a forceful case to revamp the Senate rules and pass election laws. But his base has grown skeptical.After working 70 hours a week, leading bus tours across the state and rallying voters to the polls last year, Brown, who co-founded Black Voters Matter, said she was fed up with the Democrats she helped elect. As Biden called on the Senate to get rid of the filibuster in order to pass voting rights and elections legislation in Atlanta on Tuesday, she stayed away.

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