Not one but two new polls out today show the president’s approval rating hitting a new low. First up, the Hill reports the results of a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll.
Seventeen percent of registered voters said they “strongly approve” of Biden’s job in office while another 21 percent said they “somewhat approve.”…
“On the eve of his State of the Union, the president has hit a new low as inflation and economic anxiety hit new highs. The president is now underwater on every top domestic and foreign policy issue,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey.
Biden’s overall disapproval is at 55% with 39% saying they strongly disapprove. The poll was conducted this week on Wednesday and Thursday so news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was dominating the airwaves when some of these folks were responding. And on the issue of Russia specifically, 64% of respondents said Biden was “too lenient” while just 5% said he was “too tough.”
Maybe as sanctions begin to ramp up today people’s opinions will change on that but I think this demonstrates something I said earlier. Americans aren’t interested in a shooting war with Russia but they also don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines as this invasion happens. Given the right leadership and the right message, Americans might be willing to pay a price to really hurt Putin financially for this invasion.
But this isn’t the only new poll out today with bad news for the White House. A new NPR/PBS/Marist poll was within a point of the Harris poll results:
The president is clinging to just a 39% overall approval rating, a 36% approval for his handling of the economy and 47% for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Just 30% of respondents said they think the U.S. is headed in the right direction, days before Biden is set to give his first formal State of the Union address.
All are the worst marks of his presidency in the survey.
“These are sort of rock-bottom numbers,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll. “It’s about as low as you’re going to see him [Biden].”
The same poll also asked respondents to grade Biden’s first year in office. Here Biden was 17 points underwater with 56% judging his first year a failure and 39% saying it was a success. As you can see in the graph above, there’s a stark partisan divide in those responses. But unfortunately for Dems, 66% of independents called Biden’s first year a failure. There’s also this interesting detail about why that might be:
What’s more, 54% said he’s not fulfilling his campaign promises, and 52% said he has done more to divide the country than unite it, despite uniting the country being a pillar of Biden’s 2020 presidential run.
It’s possible to overinterpret this but it seems to me this fits well with the idea that Biden was elected as a moderates moderate who promised to restore things to normal. To the degree voters think he’s been too quick to side with his left flank in staffing and policies priorities (like Build Back Better) he may have overstepped his mandate.
Biden really did have a pretty easy assignment here. Take office and don’t tweet as much red meat to the party’s base as Trump had. Just take it easy and demonstrate some old-school competency. But he hasn’t cleared that fairly low bar according to a majority of Americans.