OLDTOWN, Maryland — This ancient colonial town nestled along the north branch of the Potomac River could not be more different from the upscale suburbs of Chevy Chase located much closer to the tidal portion.
While both are in the same state, this town of 86 people is more culturally connected to the people and places in West Virginia and Pennsylvania close to this region than the D.C. suburb located in the center of wealth and power in this country.
Yet they do share one recently developing commonality that has gone under the radar of the national press that tells the story of a state, and by default, a country so disapproving of the president and the Democrats that even the bluest of blue-state voters can’t pretend anymore that things are going well.
With a border Biden has refused to visit, crippling inflation that he initially dismissed as temporary and a broken supply chain that has affected every segment of our lives and our economy, Biden is widely seen by voters as negligent on all of those issues.
His problems do not end there. Ending the war in Afghanistan, a move that had widespread support, was never supposed to be at the expense of American lives. His management of COVID-19 became political instead of managerial, and how he and the Justice Department have addressed parents’ distress with local school boards has sent chills to suburban parents here and across the county.
And the oddest thing is that this administration and its surrogates think all the public are concerned about is passing a massive social spending bill filled with liberal programs that overreach at every turn.
The message is: Once it becomes law, all will be fine.
A bill so massively outside the norms of a traditional social spending bill is not why people voted for Biden, and anyone who says otherwise is peddling spending pornography. Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would know that if they took the time to listen.
But they don’t.
As one Democratic strategist told me last week, “If Biden can just get a win and pass this bill, voters will be happy,” completely missing why voters are falling away from Biden.
In October, the Goucher College poll conducted here in Maryland showed that since March, Biden’s job approval went from 62% to 53%, with only 43% of independent voters approving of his performance.
The two Democrats representing the state in the Senate, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who is up for reelection in 2022, and senior Sen. Benjamin Cardin, were underwater at 44% and 46%.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, conversely, is at a robust 68% approval rating, up 6 percentage points since the last poll.
Hogan has lived up to his promise to be a good conservative manager and not an ideologue. Whether they are here or Baltimore, Hagerstown, Cumberland or the suburbs of Bethesda and the Chesapeake Bay, his voters have rewarded him for living up to his promise.
He won this very blue state’s support in 2014 under very similar circumstances to what happened in neighboring Virginia in its gubernatorial race, an antidote to a party and a White House bent on plowing ahead with overreaches voters never elected them to do.
Barack and Michelle Obama campaigned here against him that year alongside Hillary Clinton, never fully understanding that they were the reason voters were unhappy.
The polling in blue Maryland showing Biden losing the heart of the bluest of voters, a place where the chance of a Republican winning here for president is less than zero, is not an outlier. It is happening all across the country in both red and blue states.
The problem for Democrats and Biden is they listen too much to the loudest liberal activist voices in the party and ignore the people who put them in office. Yet, oddly, it appears they are operating as though they are one and the same.
Salena Zito joined the Washington Examiner in 2016 as a Western Pennsylvania-based columnist and reporter covering national politics and culture. She is also a weekly columnist at the New York Post, contributes to The Wall Street Journal and co-authored “The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics” with Brad Todd. In 2018, she won first place for her columns in the Associated Press for her coverage of American politics, and she also won the Barbara Olson award for excellence and independence in journalism.
She has taught journalism at the Harvard Institute of Politics, Washington and Lee University, and Hillsdale College.
She has interviewed every president, vice president and candidate who sought their party’s nomination on both sides of the aisle in the 21st century.