Biden knew the outrage such a sweeping federal mandate would cause. He knew Republican governors would cast the move as a step toward authoritarianism and federal overreach.
What Biden is betting is that there are more people fed up with the unvaccinated than there are those who are up in arms over a federal vaccine mandate.
To that end, Biden leaned in to the criticism leveled at him by GOP leaders.
The political calculation here — and, yes, of course there is a political calculation — is that the only way we get to the end of this pandemic or at least to a more manageable place is by forcing tens of millions of Americans who are resistant to getting vaccinated to do it or run the risk of losing their job.
And that, if the pandemic is believed to be under control, the bulk of the public — although certainly not the wing aligned with former President Donald Trump — won’t really care all that much about how we got there.
Biden is making this gamble from a position of (relative) strength. In new CNN polling, 56% of Americans approve of how he had dealt with the virus while 44% disapprove. While those numbers are solid, they are a significant decline from April, when two-thirds of the public (66%) approved of how he was handling the pandemic.
The Point: Biden is picking this fight on mandates because a) he thinks it’s the only path to curtailing Covid-19 and b) he believes he can win it.