The most remarkable aspect about today’s Harvard-Harris poll? It’s actually good news for Joe Biden. For the second month in a row, The Hill reports, Biden’s overall job approval comes in at 41/54. The problem isn’t so much overall approval as it is on the issues that will matter most to voters in the midterms:
Biden’s overall approval rating sits at 41 percent in the survey, and the numbers are not much better when broken down by each issue.
Only 35 percent of registered voters approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, 44 percent approve of his efforts to stimulate job growth and just 33 percent approve of his handling of inflation. Thirty-eight percent of respondents say they support his handling of immigration, and his approval rating on foreign affairs sits at 40 percent.
However, 52 percent of registered voters said they approve of his handling of COVID-19, the lone bright spot in the survey for the White House.
The Hill doesn’t link to the poll data, but notes that the survey took place last week with a sample of 1,963 registered voters. We do have April’s survey data, however, and can compare the issue approval ratings. All of these show a slight erosion, except on the pandemic and immigration:
- Coronavirus: 52/43
- Economy: 38/57
- Job growth: 46/47
- Inflation: 35/59
- Crime: 39/54
- Immigration: 38/53
The higher rating on COVID-19 is interesting, but perhaps not impactful. It’s likely an artifact of a sense of returning normalcy that is coming largely despite Biden and his team than because of it. Biden benefits from court losses on mask and vaccine mandates in that sense. The fact that the Biden Department of Justice is still apparently pursuing the CDC mask mandate on transit systems shows that this hasn’t dawned on his advisers.
Worth noting, too: Donald Trump leads Biden in a 2024 matchup, 45/43, and the generic congressional ballot vote is split 50/50. Those good feelings over COVID-19 don’t translate into electoral support, although reimposition of federal mandates might dent Biden even more if/when they occur.
With voters prioritizing inflation, economy, and crime, this is all very bad news, says former Hillary Clinton pollster Mark Penn, now working for Harvard-CAPS:
“Biden continues to struggle with the job and is particularly being slammed by the voters over inflation and immigration. No president has been reelected with numbers like these on job performance,” said pollster Mark Penn.
The news from other pollsters generally matches up with the Harvard-Harris results. The RCP aggregate average, in fact, matches up almost exactly, listed at 41.3/54.1 before this iteration enters into the calculation. Only YouGov and Reuters/Ipsos puts Biden’s deficit in single figures, and Quinnipiac and Marist’s latest iterations puts it at -17 and -16, respectively. The gap has begun widening slightly again over the last month but has remained relatively stable in 2022.
When it comes to the issues, this poll also matches up well. Biden has an aggregate 36.3/59.6 on the economy, 35.2/59.3 on immigration, and the direction-of-country aggregate is at 24.4/68.6, an astounding gap of 44 points that is expanding quickly in 2022. That’s an even bigger warning sign and much more significant slide, and Biden doesn’t seem capable of grasping that his happy talk isn’t helping. It might, in fact, be contributing to the slide.