Wednesday, May 19, 2021

President Biden’s First 100 Days – Key Points

President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, as
Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi look on, April 28, 2021 | Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP

The first 100 days of a new presidency is an historical standard established during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s rush to meet the crisis of the Great Depression in 1933. The number of days is arbitrary and the standard subjective, but it has been used by presidents, politicians, the media and historians as an early indicator of leadership style and policy ever since.

University of Denver Chancellor Jeremy Haefner, with the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research and the Center on American Politics, hosted a presentation by political scientists and experts who reviewed President Joe Biden’s First 100 Days in office and the implications for America’s future domestic and foreign policy.

Tom Cronin - Former President of Whitman College, McHugh Professor of American Institutions at Colorado College

  • The Democratic Party has unified, while the opponents are as fractured as they’ve ever been. The Republican Party has no message and no messenger. That won’t last. Their strategy will be to pounce on failures.
  • One of Biden’s chief challenges will be keeping the Democratic Party together. Biden has so far been a left-of-center moderate liberal, rather than ultra-liberal. He needs to stay the course in order to keep the center alive.
  • Work on police reform, infrastructure and immigration could possibly bring lawmakers across the aisle together for compromises.
  • A lot of people are worried about climate change and COVID, but many are deeply worried about the health of our democracy.
  • Biden deserves credit for getting Xi and Putin to join him on climate change discussions.

Andrea Benjamin - Professor of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma

  • A veteran delegate at the Democratic Convention stated that if Blacks, especially Black women, don’t show up, Democrats won’t win.
  • The word for people of color is accountability. On Day One, Biden signed a racial justice executive order. We are watching closely to see if he comes through.
  • U.S. cities have had a majority of people of color for a long time, but they have few black mayors. Republicans totally dominate in many states with large black and brown populations. Yes, the country is growing more diverse, but it’s not translating to political power.
  • [Actions Biden could take for Black and Brown voters:] African Americans have high student loan debt, and he could follow through with loan forgiveness and moving funding to historically Black Colleges and Universities. He could work on voting rights and access. Wealth disparities and health disparities also need to be addressed.

Seth Masket - Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver

  • Biden learned from the experiences of the Obama administration. The work that Obama did reaching out to Republicans was probably not a wise move. Many of the concessions he made probably hurt the economic recovery and bought Obama no Republican votes. Biden learned not to wait around for compromise.
  • He has the smallest margin possible in the Senate and a very narrow margin in the House. Ted Kennedy died 9 months into the Obama administration and ended the majority in the Senate. It’s possible that some Senators also may not be there though the end of 2022. He is trying to get as much done as possible as soon as possible.
  • On highly salient issues, the parties are as polarized as we’ve ever seen. They don’t speak the same language. Democrats are doing things they’ve said have been needed for years. Republicans are worried about Dr. Seuss and hamburgers.
  • Immigration was a misstep from Biden. He was trying to rapidly ratchet down the amount of immigrants, and saw pushback from Democrats.

Floyd Ciruli - Director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

  • Biden focused on the pandemic and the economy. They were the public’s top priorities.
  • It was a winning strategy. He now has a positive approval rating and strong approval on handling vaccinations and relief checks. He is 10 points higher than Trump after his first 100 days in 2017.
  • To maintain Democratic Party unity, Biden issued a record number of executive orders, reversing many of Trump’s orders. His appointments rewarded many constituencies. The relief legislation was massive, which also helped assuage the left wing of the party.
  • Style and tone matter and Biden’s low-key style and moderate language were welcomed by Washington and the country. Not dominating the daily news cycle with daily commentary and insults was judged positively.
  • The administration mastered Zoom and has voided gaffs. The White House staff is functioning well and the chaos and leaks of the previous four years have mostly receded.

Jeremy Haefner – Chancellor of the University of Denver

The Chancellor asked what grade would the presenters give Biden: he received four A-’s with caveats related to immigration, social justice issues and the looming 2022 election.

Read more on the Biden Gets an A- for First 100 Days blog.

View the discussion from the May 4 panel.

Watch Video

Friday, May 14, 2021

Video Now Available on “President Biden’s First 100 Days”

Did Biden make the grade in the first 100 days? Hear nationally known professors rate President Joe Biden in a discussion led by University of Denver Chancellor Jeremy Haefner with professors Tom Cronin, Andrea Benjamin, Seth Masket and Floyd Ciruli.

The May 4 program was sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Center on American Politics.

Watch Video

Biden Gets an A- for First 100 Days

President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, as Vice
President Kamala Harris (L) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi look on,
April 28, 2021 | Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP

The University of Denver panel of political scientists and experts asked to grade President Joe Biden’s first 100 days settled for an A-, with a few caveats.

The group, made up of professors Tom Cronin, Andrea Benjamin, Seth Masket and Floyd Ciruli, saw Biden overcoming a disastrous transition and benefitting from low expectations. His success with managing the vaccination program and passing the massive relief legislation were high points that earned him the first positive public approval after President Trump’s four years. Having avoided gaffs and given several successful presentations, including press interactions and a speech before Congress that helped drive his agenda.

In the discussion, which was moderated by Chancellor Jeremy Haefner, I pointed out that, while focused on the pandemic and economic relief, he also signed a record number of executive orders (42) to reverse what Democrats considered Trump’s most egregious actions and help handle the myriad of constituencies and issues needed to maintain Democratic Party unity. Also, he used appointments to address constituent and party agendas. In addition, the massive relief expenditure ($1.9 trillion), which was more than twice President Obama’s economic stimulus of 2009, helped assuage liberals that their concerns about economic support and inequity were getting attention.

The group suggested Biden’s lowering the rhetorical volume and heat contributed to his success. Style and tone matter – Trump was the un-Obama, very loud, hostile, anti-establishment (including for Republicans McCain. Flake, Bush and Romney) and especially in opposition to the media. Whereas Biden is the un-Trump – very low-key, focused on a moderate tone, a sharp contrast in behavior and language. He’s deliberately not dominating the news cycle everyday with personal commentary and opinion.

The generally upbeat assessment had several caveats. Immigration management appeared repeatedly in for criticism. The understandable tension between humanitarian improvements and the surge of new arrivals was not anticipated, accompanied by mixed messages and not well- managed as it developed. The administration argued the lack of information and cooperation during the transition contributed to the chaos, but the political damage with both supporters and immigration opponents was done. From the left, there was criticism that there are many expectations that have not been met and political realists pointed out that there is a significant chance Biden could lose his majority in both houses of Congress next year.

So, a good 100 days, but many challenges in the next 600.

Trump Really Didn’t Like Merkel and It Mattered

Former President Trump made clear in actions and statements that he did not like Angela Merkel, chancellor of the Federal Republic. His public criticism began early in the 2015-16 campaign over his views of her poor handling of immigration. And, it continued into the administration with numerous references to his long-term belief Germany was a NATO defense freeloader and taking advantage of the U.S.’s friendship on trade. He believed European unity was more an economic threat than security benefit. His penchant for hyperbole and opposition to the German-Russian gas pipeline led him to argue that Germany was controlled by Russia. Interactions with Merkel tended to range from perfunctory to rude from White House visits to G-7 summits. It finally led the normally diplomatic and cautious Merkel to announce that Germany and Europe need to begin to think beyond depending on the U.S.

Not surprising, the hostility affected public opinion. In a series of European-wide polls, Germany consistently scored the least favorable toward the U.S. For example, more than half of Germans believed “Americans can’t be trusted” (53%) and 73 percent believed the U.S. needs major reform.

Although President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken are dedicated to restoring trust and rebuilding the partnership, and there is residual good will in Germany, a great deal of damage was done.

View a more detailed political account on the discussion of what our European allies now think of America at an April 21 event sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the University of Denver’s Political Science Department.

WATCH VIDEO

European Governments Dealing With Pandemic, Recession and Two Key Elections

President Macron and Chancellor Merkel are leading their parties into elections with considerable uncertainty. Along with dealing with surging pandemics and lagging economies, Russia has been staging a military build-up near Ukraine, adding even more tension.

In describing the political environment of a country or region (EU), knowing the approval rating of the leader and their governing coalition and the date of the next election is important. Macron’s popularity (41%) has been highly vulnerable due to various unhappy constituents, and now crime and violence is a major issue. The right, especially far right nationalists, are a threat in next year’s election. In Germany, Merkel remains popular (72%), but her coalition of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union have been losing local elections and haven’t settled on a candidate to replace Merkel as she steps down. The left, especially the Greens, have been gaining strength in an election scheduled later this year.

See video of political scientists discussing what our European allies now think of America at an April 21 event sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the University of Denver’s Political Science Department.

WATCH VIDEO

Read blog: Biden’s Task – Restoring Trust

Biden’s Task – Restoring Trust

In a recent poll conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations, Europeans in 11 democracies expressed major reservations concerning America’s political stability and dependability as an ally. A majority (61%) of the population believe the U.S.’s political system is broken and a third of Europeans don’t think they can depend on the U.S. for defense (53% of Germans). Very importantly for the Biden administration, Europe believes China is on the rise and they should be neutral between the rising U.S. and China competition.

When media, academic and political opinion leaders are asked why the huge distrust in the American system, they cite the circumstances around the 2020 election, the system’s general gridlock and the chance in 2022 conditions could get even more fractured. The question one hears most often is: How could Donald Trump, after his track record, get 74 million votes?

See video of political scientists discussing what our European allies now think of America at an April 21 event sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the University of Denver’s Political Science Department.

WATCH VIDEO

Heidi Ganahl a Frontrunner to Take on Governor Polis

University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl |
Photo via Colorado Times Recorder
Gabrielle Bye in an April 29 post in the Colorado Times Recorder collects political impressions about Republican CU Regent Heidi Ganahl’s possible run for statewide office in 2022. My bottom line assessment was she could be a frontrunner contender, but Colorado is still a major challenge for Republicans. My quotations follow.

Ganahl a Top Contender

Pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli believes that Ganahl is a top contender to run for another statewide position in 2022.

“She would be a front-runner for almost any position in the state, and one of the few people that would have some statewide credibility,” Ciruli told the Colorado Times Recorder. “…With both Republicans, and I would say–I don’t think the public knows her that well–but what I would say would be the ‘attentive public.'”

Additionally, Ganahl, as a female entrepreneur in an education role, also gives her an advantage, says Ciruli.

“I think being a woman would also help; being involved in education, I think, is very positive for her,” said Ciruli. “I know Republican leaders are often putting together panels or speaking groups, and they almost always like to have her and recommend her. So I think my opening statement that she would start in a very good position is true.”

An Uphill Battle in Colorado

“The real question is,” said Ciruli, “…can a Republican take this on, given the recent track record at least since 2018, which brought, as you know, the Democrats to every constitutional office in the state, and was reinforced by Cory Gardner, and the president doing so poorly in 2020? So, that’s the difficult road.”

That being said, Ganahl still has a fighting chance, Ciruli believes.

“Being the governor is not an easy job these days,” Ciruli said with a chuckle, pointing to yearly polling during the onset of the pandemic, when Governors Cuomo and Newsom were popular. “…Now, [governors] are just struggling, and Mr. Biden is at maybe 54% popularity. Mainly because they had to make so many difficult decisions, and this pandemic has not gone away. It keeps resurging and disappearing, and of course, we’re so polarized over whether you want to wear masks and whether we should close things down. So I do think the governor has some vulnerabilities, because he’s been the governor in a very difficult time.”

Ciruli also suggested that some pandemic points of contention, like whether or not to open the schools, can give Ganahl a platform to run on.

Compared to other members of the GOP who are easily categorized as extremists, Ganahl carries a more moderate image, both analysts said.

“That may be the benefit of being a regent, which is seen as a little less partisan, even though we all know obviously that there are Democrats and Republicans [on the board],” Ciruli said.