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Biden’s approval rating goes under water

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Biden's approval rating goes under water

A tough stretch for 46.
Photo: Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

It is not at all clear how important the brouhaha on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan will be in view of the 2022 or 2024 elections, or even how much it will contribute to an increasingly acidic public and media perception of Joe Biden. But there is no question that the president’s intensive public relations work on the management of the situation in Kabul has undermined his previously amazing ability to lurk in the background, seemingly protected from Republican attack, even when his policies sparked controversy. What we can see now in his job admission reviews is how well Biden is doing with the nation’s eyes on his every action.

Given what Americans think of current conditions in the country (RealClearPolitics’ poll averages dropped from 44-50 in May to 30-60), it’s not so surprising that Biden’s enrollment ratio is now underwater for the first time (47 percent approval up to 49 percent disagreement in the simple RCP averages and 46.7 percent agree to 47.2 percent disagreement with FiveThirtyEight, which corrects polls for partisan bias and weights them according to reliability).

An analysis of their own numbers showing Morning Consult’s Biden is underwater attributed much of the slide to a 6 percent drop in his net approval rating among self-proclaimed independents since Aug. 14. They also showed movement among the partisans, albeit mainly in terms of intensity: the “strong support” for Biden among the Democrats has fallen by six points since August 14, while the “strong opposition” among the Republicans has fallen over the same period rose seven points.

As I noted in a previous post, responses to adverse developments overseas can wear off pretty quickly, as happened shortly after the fall of Saigon in 1975, when Gerald Ford’s approval rating rose significantly as soon as the Mayaguez incident (which the US Freed merchant sailors) captured by the Khmer Rouge off the Cambodian coast) replaced the collapse of Vietnam in the news.

Whatever it means, Biden’s underwater dive is hardly unique. According to an analysis of UC Santa Barbara Gallup data, every president traced back to Lyndon Johnson had negative approval ratings at one point or another. (John F. Kennedy’s shortened presidency was very unusual; his lowest monthly Gallup approval was 56 percent, just before his assassination. His Republican predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was also blessed with consistent popularity.)

The most relevant points of comparison to Biden should comfort him. Barack Obama was regularly underwater in Gallup weekly polls for most of 2010, the first half of 2011, and all of 2014. But he managed to serve two full terms. And Donald Trump didn’t get his first positive Gallup approval rating until the spring of 2020 and was about to be re-elected, despite getting it on the eve of the 2020 election despite a Gallup rating of 46-52.

So there’s no reason for Team Biden to freak out unless the Democrats in Congress get scared and can’t maintain their remarkable level of unity long enough this year to pass the combo plate of infrastructure and budget balancing laws that make up a lot contains von Biden’s agenda. But while you never know what to expect these days, the chances are further diminishing that the 46th president will be popular enough (and he would have to be very popular to defy the intermediate story) to win his party in the 2022 elections respectively .

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