The huge convergence of world and company leaders on San Francisco for this week’s Asia Pacific Financial Cooperation gathering presents a fine addition — but additionally some threat — for Democratic Occasion leaders from President Joe Biden to Gov. Gavin Newsom and Mayor London Breed.
All three have seen their reputation sag in latest polls amid blended financial indicators, troubles overseas and home woes from crime to homelessness, whereas the host metropolis itself has seen its spectacular vistas, cable vehicles and sourdough eclipsed by information reviews of rampant retail thefts, automotive break-ins and homelessness.
The APEC CEO Summit — stated to be the largest gathering of world leaders within the metropolis for the reason that founding of the United Nations there in 1945 — presents an opportunity to reset that narrative.
“There’s quite a bit at stake,” stated David McCuan, a political science professor at Sonoma State College. “It’s a little bit of a forward-looking, turning of the web page.”
The occasion will carry collectively Biden with the leaders of China, Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Peru, Chile, Indonesia and the Philippines together with dozens of marquee CEOs together with Tesla’s Elon Musk, Pfizer’s Albert Bourla, Google’s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi.
The thought is to foster high-level dialogues round sustainability, inclusion, resilience and innovation throughout the pan-Pacific economies. Biden’s assembly with Chinese language President Xi Jinping, their first in a yr, is especially noteworthy, the place they’ll talk about fraught relations over commerce, Taiwan, North Korea and Iran.
However anytime the president involves the Bay Space, massive bucks fundraising is concerned. The occasion coincides with a San Francisco dinner Tuesday for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hosted by actual property magnate and political marketing consultant Clint Reilly. Tickets vary from $250,000 to $1,000. Newsom is featured as a particular visitor.
For Biden, who at 80 has been criticized for all the pieces from his superior age to inflation, unlawful immigration, the financial system and his dealing with of the Israel-Hamas battle and China, it’s a possibility to point out he’s engaged with world leaders and driving his agenda on a prime problem heading into his reelection bid subsequent yr.
“That is much less responding to crises and extra of a U.S. overseas coverage that’s lively fairly than reactive,” stated Jason McDaniel, affiliate professor of politics at San Francisco State College. “That’s one thing President Biden will need to present.”
McCuan added that there’s essential symbolism within the setting.
“That is the place the place the UN was established to resolve what a post-World Struggle II world would seem like,” McCuan stated. “It’s a spot the place these people can level to new period cooperation amid competitors.”
A Berkeley Institute of Governmental Research ballot Nov. 8 discovered that amongst voters in California, the Democrats’ nice blue whale on the electoral map, 52% disapprove of Biden’s efficiency and 44% approve. Majorities disapprove of Biden’s dealing with of immigration, inflation, crime and the Israel-Hamas battle, and extra disapprove than approve of his dealing with of China.
Ballot director Mark DiCamillo stated that whereas it doesn’t imply Biden would lose the Golden State to a Republican, it mirrors related findings in different nationwide polls that would sign bother for his reelection bid.
“His job scores are underwater,” DiCamillo stated. “That’s the primary time we’ve seen extra folks disapproving than approving of him.”
Harris, a former San Francisco District Legal professional and California’s former lawyer basic and U.S. senator, has additionally suffered dismal polling. It’s unclear what function she may play this week again within the Bay Space in addition to fundraising as a result of she isn’t listed amongst APEC’s official attendees.
For Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor who cruised to reelection after handily defeating a recall try and has since been elevating his nationwide profile for a presumed future presidential bid, the summit can also be an opportunity to reverse a latest slide within the polls.
A Nov. 7 Berkeley IGS ballot discovered extra Californians now disapprove than approve of his job efficiency, 49% to 44%, with discontent significantly amongst political moderates and impartial voters, the state’s two main swing voter blocs. These voters indicated they disapprove of Newsom’s latest extra lively function in nationwide Democratic politics, comparable to sparring with red-state governors, as a substitute of tackling the state’s points. And whereas half of voters accredited of his latest journey to China to advertise local weather initiatives, 39% disapproved.
“Voters need their governor to do the job they’ve elected him to do,” DiCamillo stated.
The APEC summit permits Newsom to point out doubters he has gravitas as a pacesetter, and never simply “this beautiful face and never loads of substance,” McDaniel stated.
“I believe for Newsom’s future political ambitions, this seems to be like a constructive occasion for him,” McDaniel stated. “It’s one thing he’ll level to as one thing constructive displaying some substance on the world stage.”
Breed, who many Democrats have seen as a rising star of their get together, additionally has been buffeted in polls as residents vent frustration over quality-of-life-issues and pictures of smash-and-grab thefts, retailer closures and encampments of homeless drug addicts lining metropolis streets.
A September ballot by a bunch known as GrowSF that has criticized the town’s dealing with of the homeless discovered 68% of residents say the town is on the fallacious monitor, and 60% have an unfavorable view of Breed, excess of for reelection rivals Daniel Lurie (11%), a Levi Strauss inheritor, and county Supervisor Ahsha Safai (23%).
Breed’s workplace has been stepping up homeless encampment clearings upfront of the APEC gathering, hoping to keep away from a repeat of Tremendous Bowl 50 TV protection in 2016 that confirmed homeless encampments and gave the town a black eye.
McDaniel stated the convention has enabled Breed to muster help for tackling these issues.
“She’s a susceptible incumbent, and it’s an opportunity to reset a few of these narratives going into the marketing campaign,” McDaniel stated. “She needs to have the ability to inform that story of progress being made.”
However the occasion additionally poses political dangers for all three as nicely, political consultants say. Quite a lot of teams are planning protests. They embody local weather activists calling out a gathering that additionally will embody CEOs of ExxonMobil and main banks and credit score corporations, and critics of the Biden administration’s insurance policies within the Center East, Cuba and the Philippines.
It’s onerous to say how massive and rowdy these protests is likely to be — heavy rain is forecast. However any ugly clashes between protesters and police carry political threat for the mayor, governor and president. Chaos would mirror on Breed, and on Newsom as he introduces himself to the nation’s voters, whereas protests would underscore Democratic divisions over China, Israel and financial coverage.
Overseas dignitaries and guests having their vehicles damaged into or encountering homeless encampments or public drug markets additionally pose a threat.
“That may feed again into the narratives we’ve seen as predominant about San Francisco,” McDaniel stated.
For Newsom, there may be an extra problem: He additionally should stroll a fragile tightrope, presenting himself as a reputable nationwide chief with out upstaging the president and vice chairman.
“You need to display you may have some substance,” McCuan stated, “and nonetheless you don’t need to step on the toes of the president of america.”