AP poll: Biden approvals still tanking -- and the rematch no one wants

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Associated Press has bad news for Joe Biden … and pretty much everyone else. We’ll start with the president, who has spent the last several weeks attempting to sell Bidenomics to an inflation-battered electorate. It turns out that the voters aren’t buying it, likely because it’s too damned expensive.


According to the AP/NORC poll this week, Biden remains bottomed out on overall job approval and on the economy, where he has remained for the past 18 months:

President Joe Biden has devoted the past several weeks to promoting the positive impacts of his policies — but his efforts have yet to meaningfully register with the public.

Only 36% of U.S. adults approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, slightly lower than the 42% who approve of his overall performance, according to the new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Both figures are close to where Biden’s approval numbers have stood for about the past year and a half, including just two months ago. Signs of an improving economic outlook have done little to sway how people feel about the Democratic president as he gears up for a 2024 reelection campaign that could pit him against his predecessor and 2020 opponent, Republican Donald Trump.

Forty-two? How did Biden get to 42% approval rating?, you may be asking yourself. The answer is, in part, that it’s relatively easy to do that in a poll where the sample consists of 44% Democrats and 36% Republicans, including leaners. But even with that, Biden can’t even match his own party’s sample representation in the poll for his job approval.

Still, his approval rating here is actually pretty close to the RCP aggregate average at the moment of 40.8% on overall job approval. Biden’s approval has been slowly sliding downward over the summer on RCP’s aggregation, unlike what AP/NORC finds in this poll. The 36% approval on the economy is slightly lower than RCP’s average on the issue (38.3%), and only Economist/YouGov has Biden above 40% on the economy since the beginning of June.


So even the sample boost isn’t giving Bidenomics a boost, despite weeks of desperately flogging Biden’s purported economic genius. This poll also mainly got conducted before Biden’s infamous “no comment” on the Maui disaster and his lame policy response following it. The media has tried to ignore some of that — the same media who portrayed George W. Bush as uncaring after Hurricane Katrina — but that’s going to eventually hit Biden’s polling too. This may not be a floor, in other words.

That’s not the only bad news for Biden, and indeed, not just for Biden either. Byron York looks at some eye-popping general election numbers:

These aren’t exactly new numbers, as the historical track shows, but they aren’t improving for either of the two major-party frontrunners either. In fact, those numbers haven’t budged outside of the margin-of-error range in 18 months. Biden’s haven’t improved even with inflation supposedly coming under control, and Donald Trump’s numbers haven’t improved even with the supposedly motivating muscle after the indictments. Trump’s numbers haven’t declined either, but it’s pretty hard to decline to worse that 70% opposition to one’s candidacy as a major-party frontrunner — although amazingly, Biden manages to edge Trump on that score.


One can blame the polling sample or answering bias, but this data set tends to negate those complaints. Even with a favorable sample, 75% of American voters don’t want Biden to run. And while the sample is somewhat stacked against Trump, the 70% opposition figure goes well beyond sample bias. Like Biden on approval ratings, Trump can’t even clear the level of his party’s sample for support on another run.

What this shows is that somewhere between 70-75% of the American electorate not only don’t want a rematch of the 2020 election, they don’t want either of the two candidates to run again at all. Unlike other potential candidates, both Biden and Trump are too well known and their positives and negatives fully established. There is no upside or even much downside for either. And yet, at least for now, both major parties appear ready to give voters exactly what they don’t want rather than offer something new next year.

Remind me again … what’s the popular definition of insanity?

Finally, Trump does have a bit of good news, in a sense. Voters seem to be following the indictments over the past five months, but they are discerning about their value, it seems.

Filter this through the D+8 sample bias, but the comparative results seem to reflect reality. Voters are largely dismissing Alvin Bragg’s gimmicky attempt to make an NDA agreement with Stormy Daniels into All the President’s Wimminses, but they do take the classified-material case more seriously. They take the Georgia case almost as seriously, although one has to wonder whether the desperation to make that into a racketeering case might erode some of the focus in the next iteration of this poll. (The question got asked before the indictment.) Despite it being the most high-profile issue for Trump over the last few years, the J6 case doesn’t get taken quite as seriously.


Since the classified-materials case is the most straightforward of the four, comparatively again, this result seems to show an electorate that’s engaged enough to discern between the issues. The levels of seriousness here also fall well below the opposition levels to Trump’s candidacy too, so other factors clearly are in play than just his legal woes.

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