Reuters/Ipsos: Biden approval "tanks" to 44/50

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

“Tanks” in this sense is a relative term, but in the context of normally friendly-to-the-point-of-obsequious Reuters/Ipsos polling, a valid term from the Free Beacon. Not only did Joe Biden hit the lowest job approval rating of his presidency, the reversal came swiftly. And while everyone can guess what the catalyst is, the actual data shows dissatisfaction to be broader than just Biden’s disgrace in Afghanistan:

Public approval of U.S. President Joe Biden has dropped to the lowest level of his presidency, with Americans appearing to be increasingly critical of his response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

The national poll, conducted Sept. 15-16, found that 44 percent of U.S. adults approved of Biden’s performance in office, while 50 percent disapproved and the rest were not sure.

Biden’s popularity has been declining since mid-August as the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed and as COVID-19-related deaths surged across the country.

The pandemic might have provided some context for Biden’s decline in approval, but it’s clearly not the catalyst. The Reuters/Ipsos data from its weekly survey gets a graphic representation in this chart, and the takeaway here is obvious:

The trend lines show Biden’s approval gap narrowing since mid-May, likely a result of relatively mediocre economic growth and issues regarding the pandemic. The crossover didn’t start happening until the collapse in Afghanistan, though, and the big spike in disapproval not until well after the military pull-out was completed and Biden abandoned thousands of Americans to the Taliban. And that’s among all adults, typically a more sympathetic audience to Democrats than registered or likely voters.

Speaking of which, take a look at the sample here. Reuters/Ipsos surveyed 1,005 adults comprising 442 Democrats, 360 Republicans, and only 111 independents. That’s a DRI of 44/36/11, an absurd sample that hardly reflects the American electorate. The polling document states that they weighted the results according to “US current population data” in regard to gender, age, education, ethnicity, and region — in fact, pretty much every demo except political affiliation. And Biden still gets 50% disapproval in this poll. Hmmmm.

By the way, Biden’s approval among independents has dropped to 33%, too. In a poll with a more representative partisan breakdown in the sample, Biden would be well below 44% for overall job approval.

Afghanistan isn’t Biden’s only problem, even if it might have been the catalyst for voter unhappiness. The overall assessment of right/wrong direction is a stunning 24/61 in a sample comprised of 44% Democrats. It’s only 44/38 among those Democrats, in fact. You can guess what Republicans think (8/86), but the thin slice of independents doesn’t sound much more optimistic (16/67) either.

Let’s focus on independents to see where Biden’s overall approval likely lies on the issues, too:

Biden only gets rightside-up on the environment among indies, but that’s an issue that only 15% of indies — and 14% overall — deem a priority. Biden only barely gets to 40% in two other issue areas (the pandemic and economy) and falls to 29% on corruption. Oddly, Reuters/Ipsos never even bothered to ask about terrorism or foreign policy for some reason, a stunning omission coming so soon after Biden’s disgrace on both issues in Afghanistan.

Regardless of sampling issues and questionable omissions, there’s no doubt of the trend line for Biden’s standing with voters. Here’s the RCP aggregate chart for this year and its current 45.3/49.8 approval average:

Until a month ago, not a single poll had Biden underwater on job approval. Since our bug-out from Afghanistan, only five of eighteen have him above water on job approval — and all of them within the margin of error in each poll. Afghanistan is undeniably the catalyst for this shift, but it’s far from Biden’s only problem.