The One Thing Biden Can’t Afford to Lose

The next presidential election is more than three years away, and even the midterms won’t happen for another 14 months. Yet President Joe Biden could be on the brink of losing something costly: the benefit of the doubt. 

While I’m on the record as skeptical that Afghanistan will be the defining issue in the fall of 2022, there are pieces of the story that could do lasting damage to Biden’s standing. Considering that midterm elections typically serve as referenda on the president, a politically damaged Biden is likely to negatively affect Democratic candidates next year.

“If there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out,” Biden told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Aug. 18. That sound bite will be replayed by Republicans for the undetermined future, given that the last American soldier left Afghanistan two weeks after Biden made that declaration and some Americans were left behind.

Beyond the impact on Americans and allies remaining in Afghanistan and the diplomatic consequences, there’s potential political fallout as well. 

Remember, Biden is close to the lowest point of his presidency. As of Thursday, FiveThirtyEight’s average had his job rating at 45.6 percent approve/48.8 percent disapprove, and the RealClearPolitics average was 45.3 percent approve/49.8 percent disapprove. 

It will be weeks and months before we know whether the current downward trend in Biden’s job approval is the beginning of a continuous slide or a valley…

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