Democrats pivot on masks as Biden pollster says they 'risk paying dearly' for mandates ahead of midterms

Biden gave a maskless State of the Union despite a solo masked president seen just days before

Fox News contributor Joe Concha discusses President Biden’s first State of the Union, his main focus points, and a maskless crowd on ‘Fox News @ Night.’

The Democratic Party has dramatically pivoted on mask mandates as opinion polling suggests continued restrictions could spell political suicide ahead of the midterm elections.

Exactly one year after he said the lifting of mask mandates in Republican-led states amounted to “Neanderthal thinking,” President Biden gave his first State of the Union address Tuesday to a crowd of maskless Democrats who once led the way in backing lockdown orders and mandates over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With 215.7 million Americans now fully vaccinated, almost every state, with the notable exception of Hawaii, has eased or eliminated mask mandates, and Congress and the White House formally ditched their requirements in the days leading up to Biden’s historic address. Many have called into question the timing of such the decision to lift the mandates, which Democrats insist is based purely on science. 

During his speech, Biden unveiled a new COVID-19 initiative to return Americans to “more normal routines,” apparently recognizing a shift in the public’s perception of the need to move on from the virus.

President Joe Biden arrives to delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applaud.

“Americans can remove their masks, return to work, stay in the classroom and move forward safely,” the president said Tuesday.

According to a recent poll by Monmouth University, 70% of Americans say it’s time for the country to move on from the pandemic, and a decreasing number of Americans support COVID-related mandates. President Biden’s approval ratings on handling COVID, once a strength, are also underwater, according to the poll, with 43% approving and 53% disapproving.

Less than a month after that poll was released, Biden’s polling firm, Impact Research, reportedly issued a memo to Democrats saying they should “take credit for ending the COVID crisis phase of the COVID war” and “stop talking about restrictions.”

“If we focus on how bad things still are and how much worse they could get, we set Democrats up as failures unable to navigate us through this,” Impact Research’s Molly Murphy and Brian Stryker wrote in the Feb. 24 memo, which was first published by Punchbowl News. 

“When 99% of Americans can get vaccinated, we cause more harm than we prevent with voters by going into our third year talking about restrictions. And, if Democrats continue to hold a posture that prioritizes COVID precautions over learning how to live in a world where COVID exists, but does not dominate, they risk paying dearly for it in November.”

President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looks at a copy of Biden’s speech at left.

Swing states like Michigan, Colorado and Pennsylvania were among the first Democrat-led states to loosen COVID-19 restrictions last year, as the party faces an uphill battle to hold onto its razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate this November.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is up for reelection this year, implemented some of the strictest COVID-19 orders in the country in 2020, including banning travel between two residences and the selling of non-essential goods. She lifted most of her restrictions last summer and has since pushed vaccinations as the best way to slow the spread. 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who is also up for reelection, has taken a similar approach and refused to implement any new mandates.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, who is unable to run again this year, leaving his seat up for grabs, said in December, “Local municipalities, as you know, I think ought to be free to do with what they want,” echoing what many Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been vilified for saying for the past two years.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who barely eked out a win in the reliably blue Garden State in November, lifted his school mask mandate in February after the surge in Omicron variant cases declined, and Democratic governors in California, Delaware, Oregon, Connecticut and New York quickly followed course. 

Source: Read Full Article