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GOP fails to dent the popularity of Biden's Build Back Better plan

Republicans tried to make the Democrats' Build Back Better package less popular. New polls make clear that the GOP failed to persuade the public.

For the most part, Democrats have reason to be discouraged with the latest national polling. President Joe Biden's approval rating is lagging; the party is trailing on the congressional generic ballot; and surveys show the governing majority getting little credit for the strong economic recovery.

But there is an important ray of sunshine breaking through the Democratic clouds. The new Monmouth poll found that a key part of the White House's legislative agenda is more popular than the president and the party pushing it.

Turning to Washington, the president's large spending plans remain broadly popular.... Support for the Build Back Better (BBB) plan to expand access to health care, college, paid leave and other services remains fairly steady at 61%.

The newest Data for Progress poll, also released yesterday, pointed in a similar direction, with the Build Back Better package enjoying 64 percent support.

What surprises me is the steadiness of the legislation's popularity. In Monmouth polling, support for the Build Back Better plan hasn't changed much over the course of 2021: In June, for example, 61 percent of Americans endorsed the package. Six months later, it still has 61 percent support.

It would've been easy in the recent past to predict a different set of numbers. Democrats started working in earnest on this bill in the spring, at which point Republicans and their allied lobbyists got to work trying to kill it. If the right had succeeded in making the Build Back Better agenda broadly unpopular, it would've vastly increased the odds of Democrats abandoning it.

And therein lies the point: The right failed in its public-relations and lobbying efforts.

Some in the GOP may not fully be aware of that. As regular readers may recall Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee was recently asked 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.

To be sure, the survey results alone may not get the legislation across the finish line. For example, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Congress' most conservative Democrat, sounds like he's very close to killing the bill. Its popularity seems unlikely to sway the senator.

But in theory, the polls should help stiffen Democratic spines. After more than seven months' worth of work, most of the country is still on board with the party's ambitious package.

Democrats will not benefit from abandoning their own popular plans.