Democrats probably weren't thinking about public relations when they passed their infrastructure package. After all, the legislation cleared the House close to midnight on Friday night — a time usually reserved for news dumps officials don't want the public to see — and President Joe Biden held a press conference on Saturday morning.
If the goal was to reach a massive national audience, in order to boast about an important legislative breakthrough, this probably wasn't the way to do it.
That said, Team Biden has a p.r. plan in mind. NBC News reported this week that the president is "deploying top Cabinet officials as part of an all-out push to promote his infrastructure bill." A White House official said the sales pitch will take administration officials "to red states, blue states, big cities, small towns, rural areas, tribal communities and more to translate what this deal means for real people across the country." That effort will begin in earnest today, with Biden traveling to the Port of Baltimore.
There's reason to believe the White House's message will land on fertile soil. A newly released Monmouth University poll found:
The president's large spending plans remain broadly popular. Support for the Bipartisan Infrastructure deal (BIF), which passed Congress last week and awaits the president's signature, stands at 65%, down just a few points from prior polls. Support for the still-pending Build Back Better (BBB) plan to expand access to health care, college, paid leave and other services remains steady at 62%. Furthermore, 60% of Americans support the climate change funding part of the BBB bill.
The poll was conducted between November 4 and 8, which means it was in the field immediately before and immediately after it passed the House.
It's important to emphasize that, broadly speaking, the survey results do not offer Democrats great news: Biden's approval rating in the poll has slipped to 42 percent; the Democratic-led Congress' approval rating is down to just 18 percent; and the party's congressional leaders remain largely unpopular at the national level.
But that only makes the results on the White House's policy plans that much more notable: The American mainstream may not be enamored with Democrats right now, but Biden's domestic agenda is popular anyway.
What's more, there's no reason to see the poll as an outlier. Circling back to our earlier coverage, Monmouth's results are roughly in line with recent polling data from Quinnipiac, Morning Consult, the Pew Research Center, Data for Progress, Fox News, and Suffolk. All of these surveys show both parts of the White House's domestic agenda enjoying fairly broad support — with Biden's proposals remaining even more popular than Biden.
As for why this matters, there are a few relevant angles to keep in mind.
First, Republicans have taken a political risk by forcefully rejecting a popular infrastructure package that's backed by roughly two-thirds of the country. Indeed, GOP officials set out to make the plan less popular, and all available evidence suggests they failed. If the party was waiting for a public backlash, it hasn't materialized.
Second, whether Republicans are aware of this is unclear. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, for example, was asked last month about the Democrats' Build Back Better agenda. The GOP senator replied, "[T]he American people have figured out that what they're trying to do is institutionalize socialism."
If that's true, institutionalized socialism is a lot more popular than I thought it'd be.
Similarly, conservative media figure Meghan McCain recently said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Biden's proposal is "not polling well." Actual polling suggests otherwise.
And third, the polling should offer a map for Democrats unsure of the party's best course. In the wake of disappointing results in Virginia and New Jersey, many Democrats — who are already predisposed to panic — wondered whether to curtail the party's legislative ambitions.
The latest polling suggests those instincts are backwards. Americans support this agenda. Democrats will not benefit from abandoning their own popular plans.