A year ago in Monmouth’s poll series, Joe Biden enjoyed a relatively robust job approval rating for 54/41. Their latest iteration has Biden falling thirty-two points in the gap to his lowest level yet. Allahpundit covered the Monmouth result yesterday on abortion’s rise as a midterm issue, but Biden’s fall deserves its own look:
Turning to presidential politics, Biden currently receives a job rating of 38% approve and 57% disapprove. He held a 39% to 54% rating in Monmouth polls taken in January and March this year. Just 18% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, down from 24% two months ago.
Both the approval and disapproval ratings are new records for Biden in the Monmouth poll. The big flip took place last fall, but has continued to accelerate over the last several months:
Monmouth doesn’t ask issue-approval questions in its polling, so we can’t firmly say what is driving this trend. But we can sure take a guess from some indirect measures:
Among typical household expenses most Americans pay, a majority (58%) say it is currently difficult for them to afford gas for their cars. Just over half also say it is difficult for them to pay grocery bills (52%), their tax bills (51%), and health care deductibles and out of pocket expenses (51%). Just under half say the same about health insurance premiums (48%) and fewer than 4 in 10 say making their mortgage or rent payment (37%) is difficult. A Monmouth poll from 2017 – the year before Democrats took control of the House of Representatives – found somewhat more people saying these expenses were easy to meet and fewer saying they were difficult, with the ease of buying groceries being the starkest change (62% easy in 2017 versus 47% easy in 2022).
Compared to this past December, the number of people who have experienced difficulty paying their grocery bill has increased by 10 points, health insurance premium difficulty has increased by 8 points, and tax payment difficulty is up 7 points. Out of pocket health expense difficulties are up slightly by 3 points and there has been no appreciable change in the difficulty of paying housing costs. [The gas price item was not asked in prior polls]. Of note, for the household expenses where difficulty has increased, the shifts have been larger among independents than among either Republicans or Democrats.
“The fact that more independents are feeling the pain is a warning sign for the party in power,” said Murray.
Indeed. It’s clear that Biden’s months-long effort to shift blame for economic issues hasn’t succeeded, too. People understand that they had it a lot better before Biden took office, and the prospects right now appear that it will get a lot worse before anything improves, too.
That brings us back to the abortion finding in Monmouth. As AP noted, the sudden rise in its priority is mainly attributable to Democrats, among whom the issue has always resonated:
The importance of abortion policy in the current midterms compared with four years ago has shifted the most among Democrats. Nearly half (48%) of Democrats say a candidate’s alignment with their views on abortion is extremely important to their vote, which is up from 31% who said the same in 2018. Abortion’s importance is slightly higher among independents than it was four years ago (31%, compared with 27% in 2018). Among Republicans, however, there has actually been a decline in seeing abortion policy as an extremely important factor in their vote choice (29%, down from 36% in 2018). Of note, the importance of abortion in the congressional vote has gone up by six points among women (43% extremely important now) and by three points among men (27% now) since 2018.
Don’t discount this as entirely ephemeral, but … it will likely prove mostly ephemeral in terms of electoral impact. Monmouth polled this as the Supreme Court leak and the likely Dobbs decision overturning Roe dominated the news. That kind of blanket coverage makes an issue prominent in political calculations in that moment.
However, the impacts of inflation, shortages, and the corrosion of buying power is not a momentary story in American households — it is an experience lived every day. The PPI report this month showed that excessive consumer inflation will continue for at least the next several months, and there hasn’t been any indication of success in fixing supply-chain crises. In fact, a new such crisis in infant formula just broke into the national news after several weeks of percolating below the horizon. When the story over the Roe reversal falls out of the headlines in a few weeks, Americans will still have several months of stressing out about the bills, about shortages at the grocery store, crime, and so on.
Even for Democrats, these kinds of kitchen-table considerations will eclipse other matters when it comes to considering voting choices, including whether to bother voting at all. In this case, the economy and Joe Biden’s incompetent handling of it will remain the biggest issue for voters going to the polls. The fact that a sudden interest in abortion did nothing to halt the decline in Biden’s standing in this same poll makes that very clear indeed.