Biden’s Plunging Job Approval!

Democrats and Independents are losing their enthusiasm. But some perspective is needed.

The headline from yesterday’s Rasmussen poll release blares, “Biden Not More Popular Than Trump, And Most Voters Like Obama Better.”

The intro:

There’s good news and bad news for President Joe Biden. The good news is that most voters have a favorable opinion of him. The bad news is that his numbers aren’t better than former President Donald Trump’s, and are worse than former President Barack Obama’s.

A new national telephone and online survey by Rasmussen Reports finds that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of Biden, including 33% whose opinion is Very Favorable. Forty-eight percent (48%) view Biden unfavorably, including 39% who have a Very Unfavorable opinion of him.

Wow! Biden is no more popular than the twice-impeached man he defeated by 7 million votes last November?! That’s crazy. I know that Trump was never at 51% approval during his entire Presidency in the various polling aggregates but can’t see what exact comparison they’re making because the rest of the report is paywalled.

Regardless, Rasmussen is known to have a Republican bias in its sampling. Let’s turn to the old, reliable Gallup poll. It, too, had a release yesterday. Its headline? “Biden Approval Drops to 50%, Lowest for Him to Date.”

President Joe Biden’s latest job approval rating of 50% is down from 56% in June. Before this month, his ratings had not shown meaningful variation during his time in office, and the current figure marks the lowest measured for him to date.

The new rating is from a July 6-21 Gallup poll, which also finds that 45% of U.S. adults disapprove of Biden’s performance and 5% do not have an opinion. It comes at a time when U.S. progress in fighting the coronavirus has stalled, with vaccination rates slowing and case levels now rising. The economic recovery continues, with unemployment declining and stock market values near record highs. But consumers are paying higher prices for gas and other goods. Biden has also struggled to deliver on his promise of greater bipartisanship, although negotiations on an infrastructure bill continue in the Senate.

That Biden is being blamed for things completely out of his control, like the virus and gas prices, is both unfair and par for the course. That he’s being blamed for things caused in large part by the opposition party—the reluctance to get vaccinated against said virus among the masses and an unwillingness to cooperate on the part of the elected elites—is somewhat weird but, again, goes with the territory.

Biden’s approval ratings are marked by extreme party polarization, which has become the norm for presidential approval in recent years. Currently, 90% of Democrats, 12% of Republicans and 48% of independents approve of the job Biden is doing. His ratings among Democrats and independents are the lowest to date among those groups. The new poll marks the first time he has less-than majority approval among independents.

Here’s the graphic:

It’s not surprising the Democrats are frustrated by the fact that six months into a Democratic administration with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Biden has yet to deliver on all of his hefty promises. And, to the extent this stems from his unlikely-to-succeed gambit of seeking bipartisan cooperation rather than trying to blow up the filibuster, it’s understandable. What, precisely, Independents are upset about is harder to fathom since, by definition, they’re an amorphous group without a coherent agenda.*

Because Gallup has been around for so long, they have the ability to provide insights like this:

Biden’s second-quarter average compares favorably with those of presidents from the past three decades. It is significantly better than the second-quarter averages for Bill Clinton (44.0%) and Donald Trump (38.8%) and slightly lower than George W. Bush’s 55.8% average. Barack Obama, at 62.0%, is the only other president during this period to have a significantly higher second-quarter average than Biden.

Presidents who served in the 1950s through the 1980s — when party ratings of presidents were far less polarized — had higher averages, with none below 61%. This includes Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy, who averaged better than 70% job approval during their second quarters.

As to the future:

Looking ahead, presidential approval ratings have been more likely to decline rather than increase during presidents’ third quarters in office. Obama had the largest drop, of nearly 10 points, as unemployment climbed and his push for healthcare reform proved controversial. Other presidents had drops of two to four points, including Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Trump.

There have been exceptions, though, as George H.W. Bush (+5 points) and George W. Bush (+16 points) saw their ratings rise amid rallies related to the easing of the Cold War and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, respectively. Clinton’s approval rating started to show improvement (nearly four points higher) after his unusually low second-quarter average, while Kennedy’s was largely unchanged.

Biden’s approval rating is showing the first signs of meaningful decline. If the lower ratings persist, it could indicate his “honeymoon” period is over. Because Republicans have been unlikely to support him from the beginning of his presidency, changes in his approval are likely to come from Democrats’ and independents’ evaluations of him. That is what has occurred now, with both groups slightly less positive toward Biden than they have been to this point. Still, he maintains very high approval among Democrats, and his rating among independents remains higher than his immediate predecessor Trump ever received from that group.

It’s also worth adding another perspective here. The RealClearPolitics average, which includes both Gallup and Rasmussen along with several other polls, shows us this:

While Biden’s disapproval is up considerably since he took the oath six months ago, his approval numbers have been remarkably steady. And, again, here’s Trump’s entire four-year administration:

Aside from his first couple of days in office, Trump was underwater—with more people disapproving than approving. There was never an instant where he was above 50 percent approval. Thus far, Biden is the reverse of Trump: the black line is on top and the red line on the bottom. So long as that continues, I’m not going to get too concerned about his polls.

______________

*This isn’t intended as an insult. Many if not most self-identified Independents are effectively Democratic or Republican voters and most of the remainder are non-voters.

FILED UNDER: Joe Biden, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. It’s pretty typical for recent presidents. Trump was atypical.

    It should be noted that Reuters/Ipsos and The Hill/Harris show numbers so much better they skew the RCP index.

    3
  2. Barry says:

    Rasmussen.

    2
  3. CSK says:

    This is being headlined at Breitbart.com as : “Donald Trump More Popular with U.S. Voters than Joe Biden.”

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Barry: Rasmussen is an excellent polling outfit, ranking ahead of a lot of widely-cited polls in the FiveThirtyEight rating scheme. Their likely voter screen skews consistently Republican–which worked to their advantage in 2016 and 2020 and not so much in 2018. But nobody is really good at the LV screen anymore; there are just too many variables.

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    Given the heated political atmosphere Biden’s polling is great. He’s been consistently 10 points net positive. That’s amazing and gratifying. The Rasmussen headline is ludicrous and dishonest.

    I think, James, you underestimate Rasmussen’s need to remain the GOP pollster of choice. Their business relies on their ability to pander to Republican clients. Don’t be so sure the numbers aren’t being deliberately leaned on to get the conclusion they need. I don’t know about you, but I have consistently over-estimated the amount of integrity to be found in national politics.

    9
  6. Jen says:

    @CSK: Oh FFS. The not-so-Breitbrats have their heads on upside down.

    1
  7. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    To further entertain you, here’s a selection of the reader responses from Lucianne.com:
    1. “More likely Trump 65% Biden 35%.”
    2. “That’s because the majority of voters recognize President Trump as the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election…”
    3. “Yes, Trump won in a landslide. The deep state stole the election…”

    Oh, why bother?

    P.S. I assume BreitBRATs was intentional. 😀

    2
  8. Teve says:

    @CSK: Totes not a cult.

    1
  9. Scott F. says:

    I pause for a moment to consider why Trump’s RCP trend lines move so dramatically apart right there at the end and, interestingly, I don’t think polls are where the focus should be.

    1
  10. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    It’s amazing how they seem to believe that most Americans share their beliefs.

    1
  11. One of the best ways to lower approval is to win office.

    10
  12. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    One of the best ways to lower approval is to win office.

    Indeed. One goes from a cipher upon whom one can cast wishes to a mere politician at that point.

    3
  13. Teve says:

    @CSK: the (non) Silent (non) Majority!

  14. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    The Noisy Minority.

    1
  15. JKB says:

    Ah, but this is Biden with a fawning press corp where most media were 24/7 trying to denigrate Trump. But how long will CNN and MSNBC let their audience collapse till they flip their script?

    As for Biden getting blamed for high gas prices, well, a couple of the first things he did was cancel a pipeline and impede fracking on federal lands. Then has been the epitome of inaction in the face of the Colonial pipeline hacking. Not directly related, but very good soundbites for people to associated with the rising fuel prices.

    1
  16. Jax says:

    @JKB: The pipeline that wasn’t carrying any oil or gas, you mean? That one?

    Those same federal lands that Biden put on pause already have thousands of approved leases that they could drill, but won’t, because…..the price of gas isn’t high enough to make it profitable. Nothing to do with Biden, just straight up capitalism.

    7
  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    Biden is scoring higher than Trump ever did. Trump was a disaster, a failure, and despite being an incumbent, got his ass handed to him.

    Right, @JKB? Trump lost. Right?

    Such an easy question and yet you can never answer it.

    4
  18. JKB says:

    @Jax:
    In politics, perception is everything. Joe Biden’s handlers created the perception that Joe Biden made gas prices go up.

    Joe Biden cancelled pipeline. Joe Biden stopped new fracking leases. Joe Biden made gas prices go up. Feel free to give a long, boring explanation of how those things are unconnected and see how many people hear you.

  19. Mister Bluster says:

    @JKB:..Joe Biden made gas prices go up.

    According to you Trump is still the President so Trump made the price of gas go up.

    5
  20. JKB says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Donald Trump never loses, just ask him. But Joe Biden was installed as the president in accordance with the vote in the Electoral College. Whether the popular vote counts were legit or not, electors were appointed and sent to the electoral college. Audits of the voting, which some are so terrified of, will not change the electoral college vote as certified in the Congress. Which makes the opposition to audits all the more puzzling.

    Now, if audits were to show error or fraud, to an extent to not support the roster of electors sent by the state, then state and local officials are likely in for a beating by the disenfranchised voters. It would not change that Joe Biden was installed as president. The only way to remove Biden and Harris at this point is by impeachment. And it would require more than the partisan impeachment shows Nancy Pelosi put on. Well, for Biden, there is the real prospect of the 25th amendment. Sooner or later, even his most ardent supporters will have to face the reality of his cognitive decline.

  21. @JKB:

    As for Biden getting blamed for high gas prices

    Clearly, people are going to blame the president/give credit on this issue because they don’t understand supply and demand.

    But if one is really going to blame Biden policy for year-on-year gas prices, given that last year was during various levels of pandemic shut-down/pre-vaccine, then one is showing oneself to be a hack, a dupe, or someone how really just doesn’t have a clue.

    It is just fundamentally silly.

    4
  22. @Jax: Details, details.

    1
  23. @JKB: That is one fancy and lengthy non-answer.

    5
  24. @JKB: “If the scoreboard was in error, and if the officials didn’t notice, along with all the viewers, then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not have won the Super Bowl.”

    Good Lord.

    4
  25. wr says:

    @JKB: In other words, JKB won’t say Biden won. I’m sure I’ll take him seriously on all sorts of other issues now that he’s shown such courage.

    6
  26. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    1) Thank you. Despite your excess verbiage you acknowledge that Trump lost and Biden won. It’s taken you five months, but that’s OK, keep at it and you may yet catch up to reality.

    2) You have zero evidence to support the claim that there was any fraud. You know it, I know it, all but the dumbest of MAGAts knows it. But you choose to perpetuate a lie. Don’t know why you want to lie so publicly and diminish interest in your b.s. still further, but hey, it’s a free country. A free country where no one here is going to take you any more seriously than we would a flat-earther.

    3) As for ‘cognitive decline,’ dude, that bullshit died many months ago, no one but – again – the dumbest of MAGAts believes it. It’s like you keep telling a really old Dad joke that no one is laughing at. And you’re toady to a man who thinks repeating person, woman, man, camera, TV is an intellectual accomplishment – and is indeed applauded as such, by you. Right? I mean, you were proud that Dear Leader could repeat a sequence of five words, weren’t you?

    4
  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @JKB:..Audits of the voting,..

    These audits are provided for in Article XII of the United States Constitution.
    I am confident that you will be able to post the text of Article XII and your boyfriend Trump’s interpretation for everyone to see.

    1
  28. Matt Bernius says:

    Wow, @JKB way to say you are an election truther without ever directly saying “I am election truther.” But you are of course too cowardly to say it out right.

    Alos, never have I seen some one try to write so intentionally “intellectually” while simultaneously constantly proclaiming the distain you fold for intellectuals.

    But we knew that when you jumped on that early when you pushed Dominion Voting rumors in the Elections immediate aftermath.

    BTW, can you point out a SINGLE audit that has gone in Trump’s favor? I mean there had to be one given your level of uncertainty about the validity of the count.

    Also “Biden’s handlers”? Say classy dude.

    2
  29. Matt Bernius says:

    @JKB:

    Sooner or later, even his most ardent supporters will have to face the reality of his cognitive decline.

    Again stay classy. Also I wonder how you felt about all of the remote diagnosis of Trump? Or the fact the man still continues to brag about how he passed a “hard” cognative acuity test. https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-still-bragging-about-passing-cognitive-test-in-2018-2021-7

    Frankly it would be nice if both sides stepped away from this behavior.

    2
  30. JohnSF says:

    Looking from the outside, and thus with less daily news exposure, I have to say the more I see of President Biden, the more impressed I am.
    I can’t say I agree with all of his policies.
    (I think absolute withdrawal from Afghanistan may turn out to be a terrible thing for the Afghans, but OTOH arguably open commitment from US POV was unsustainable, and in terms of hard nosed Kissingerian realpolitik the USA has relatively little downside)
    But the main thrust appears to make sense.

    The big question will be managing the uptick in prices (and possibly inflation the two NOT being the same) with Fed deciding it needs to nudge up rates and likely hit to financial markets and also to debt costs.

  31. JohnSF says:

    @JKB:
    “…cognitive decline.”
    ?
    Seriously, what is this thing about cognitive decline?
    I’ve seen this comment on various righty social media posts, and in all fairness, I can see zero evidence of such.
    Guy seems sharp as a tack to me; see recent encounter with a “gotcha” question:
    reporter: “…some Democrats support defunding the police, don’t they?”
    Biden: “Are there people in the Republican Party who think we’re sucking the blood out of kids?”

    President Biden appears to have a sleepy, folksy affect; but its only superficial.
    Other presidents have had a similar habit, in different ways, of concealing a hard core and sharp mind under an “aw shucks” exterior e.g. Truman, Clinton, Bushes, Carter etc.

  32. liberal capitalist says:

    Sorta like a horrible car accident…

    You realize that you didn’t die, and the world is fantastic. Food tastes great, the sky looks so blue, and everyone is awesome.

    A week later, it’s life as usual.

    So, Biden. Overcome with joy that he won. Now, he’s a nice guy and what we expect as a president.

    2
  33. JohnSF says:

    @JKB:
    @JKB:
    If you are founding a political prospectus on a requisite of the rejection of addressing carbon dioxide emissions, you are going to have real problems going forward.
    It is increasingly obvious that this is going to require serious measures in the near term that will stamp on a lot of toes.
    Inaction is no longer an option, which is going to become ever more evident.
    This will require major adjustments to the current economic system, via a variety of mechanisms; and purely “free market” ones are unlikely to resolve the problem, “conservative liberal ” distaste notwithstanding.
    (As opposed to using market mechanisms)

    This is not just a US issue, to be fair.
    I have a continual urge to shake the German Greens over their idiotic energy policy.
    “Look at France, you fools!”

    1
  34. Teve says:

    @JohnSF:

    (I think absolute withdrawal from Afghanistan may turn out to be a terrible thing for the Afghans, but OTOH arguably open commitment from US POV was unsustainable, and in terms of hard nosed Kissingerian realpolitik the USA has relatively little downside)

    it will be terrible for lots of Afghanis. But that fate was locked in while George W. Bush was still President.

    3
  35. JohnSF says:

    @Teve:
    Perhaps. I quoted on a recent thread a Brit working in Afghanistan

    Then there was several years of American contractors, paid by the hectare of removed poppy.
    These guys were total cowboys. I remember meeting one as he stepped off a helicopter in our patrol base – cowboy boots, two Pearl handled revolvers on a pistol belt. Complete disregard for the Helmandis – totally focussed on destroying poppy (read livelihoods). This was ‘08 or so

    I’ve heard similar stories (though not so directly involved; they were from Brit military guys who were too low down the food chain to know or care much about policy matters; but still sometimes asked “Sarge, why are we destroying these villagers fields? They ain’t gonna be our friends if we do.”)
    Idiocy.
    And it seems not to have got much better, on the ground, under Obama.
    Bureaucratic inertia of the alphabet soup:

    our policies are good, and must be pursued; any change would reflect badly on us, and is therefore unthinkable

    *head-desk*

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The more interesting thing to me is the “if” statements. JKB’s argument is based on hypotheticals that countless public officials, and now third party adjudicators (at the expense of having broken voting machines doing adjudication, I would add), have declared didn’t happen. At some point, one finally has to admit that the rocking horse they’re on is not going to take them “riding the range” as it were.

    4
  37. Teve says:

    If Trump runs in 2024, he will of course lose the popular vote for the third time. Has that ever happened with a major-party candidate before?

    1
  38. James Joyner says:

    @Teve: William Jennings Bryant maybe?

    1
  39. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    Henry Clay (1824, 1836 and 1844) as well as Bryan (1896, 1900 and 1908).

    2
  40. Matt Bernius says:

    @JKB:
    So Donald Trump said the following tonight:

    Trump tonight said, “If I lost the election, I could handle it pretty easily. But when they steal it from you and rig it, that’s not easy, and we have to fight!” https://t.co/kMbQ4rX10O

    So tell us, do you support the president in exile or not?

    Do you think that Trump should stop contesting the constitutional process or not? Is it time he accepts the loss? Or is there even any loss he would accept?

    1