Still slidin': Biden hits new low in PBS/NPR/Marist poll -- especially among indies

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The apparent small rebound for Joe Biden’s approval numbers may turn out to be a dead-cat bounce. A new poll published yesterday for PBS and NPR from Marist puts Biden’s job approval rating at its lowest yet, at 41/55. That’s certainly bad enough, but the news from independents is much worse, and not just for Biden:

As President Joe Biden heads into the end of the year, he’s facing a sour reality: The number of Americans who approve of his performance has hit a new low. Just 41 percent of Americans approve of the job he has been doing as president, according to a new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll. Support among independents alone dropped eight points in a week.

Overall, more than half – 55 percent – of Americans disapprove of Biden’s performance, including 44 percent who strongly disapprove. His disapproval ratings have jumped 20 points since he took office, reaching a record high this month. The number who strongly disapprove jumped 6 points since a Marist poll conducted just one week earlier. …

Perhaps the most alarming drop for the White House and Democrats heading into the midterm election year is Biden’s support among independents. Two-thirds of independent voters disapprove of Biden, including half who strongly disapprove. Both numbers are up at least 30 points since he took office. Just 29 percent of independents approve of his job performance.

Two weeks earlier, Biden’s job approval had been at 42/51 in this series, and 42/50 a a month ago. Those themselves were significant shifts from autumn numbers where the gaps were much closer (44/49 and 45/46). Biden’s decline in this series began in early September after the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, where the Marist series went from 49/44 to 43/51 and has never returned to positive numbers.

Something more significant appears to have taken place in the last couple of weeks, but it’s not related to the final failure of the Build Back Better bill. This poll just got published yesterday, but the survey was taken between December 11-13. Something moved strong disapproval to 44% from 38%, but what? This poll didn’t ask any specifics on issues, but one has to wonder just how much inflation has eroded Biden’s approval ratings already. The next iteration of this poll will include both inflation and the BBB failure, so Biden and his team don’t have much to look forward to in January.

There are more reasons to worry. First, less than half of the Democrats who approve of his job performance (88%) do so strongly (42%), suggesting that Biden’s sapping the enthusiasm from the Democratic base. That’s even more pronounced among Biden 2020 votes, who approve 85/12 but only 38% strongly. The other demos in this poll should peg Democrats’ panic meters:

  • Independents: 29/66, 9/50 strongly approve/disapprove
  • Big city: 45/52, 21/34
  • Suburbs: 49/47, but 18/44
  • Women: 48/49, 21/37
  • 18-44YOs: 41/56, 7/39 (no typo — that’s seven percent strongly approving)
  • Non-white: 44/52, 18/38

So Biden’s losing independents, young voters, urban voters, non-whites, and women. Even while barely ahead in the suburbs, all of the enthusiasm is in opposing him. With that kind of voter profile, where do Democrats go in the midterms? Answer — retirement:

There is a growing sense of gloom among Democrats in the House. And every week or so, when another Democratic member of Congress announces they won’t run for reelection in 2022, the mood inside the caucus worsens.

Morale in the House is already markedly low, but as Democrats look ahead to what could become a trying midterm election cycle, the overwhelming belief is that the wave of retirements has yet to crash.

That was captured on Monday when two Democratic members announced they would not seek reelection in November.

Another retirement this morning has pushed the number of House Democrats retirements to 23. Expect that number to grow sharply in the days ahead as incumbents need to fish or cut bait soon to give their party a chance to field a replacement. Good luck recruiting with the Biden albatross around their necks.