Analysis: Joe Biden’s political honeymoon is officially over



His average approval ratings is now below 50% in the running averages maintained by 538 (49.3%) and Real Clear Politics (49.6%). (Hat tip to Politico’s Playbook for first noting it!)

While polling averages are less-than-a-perfect measure — they take in lots and lots of polling data, of varying degrees of expertise and rigor — they do make clear that Biden has been on a downward trend. Gallup confirms the erosion in Biden’s support; as of late July his approval rating stood at 50%, the lowest of his term to date.

It also seems unlikely that Biden’s somewhat-freefall has stopped just yet.

There’s also the ongoing fourth spike of Covid-19 ravaging the country, with new cases up 52% nationally as compared to two weeks ago and deaths up 87% during that same time frame, according to The New York Times.

Given all of that — and the at-times conflicting messages coming out of the Biden White House — it seems likely that the President’s approval numbers have not gotten as low as they might over the coming weeks.

Now, it’s worth noting here that Biden is still in far better shape polling-wise than his predecessor was at this point in his first term. According to Gallup’s Presidential Approval Center, then-President Donald Trump was at just 38% approval in the late summer of 2017. And Trump’s approval rating never got to 50% in his entire term in office. In other words, Biden’s current low is higher than the best Trump ever did.

But go back before Trump and the numbers are a bit more humbling for Biden. Roughly seven months into his first term, Barack Obama had a 59% approval rating in Gallup numbers while George W. Bush’s approval stood at 56%.

So what, you might say? Biden isn’t up for reelection for three more years! Plenty of time for his numbers to recover!

Which is, of course, true. But it also paints an incomplete picture of the impact of presidential approval on a president’s party.

“In Gallup’s polling history, presidents with job approval ratings below 50% have seen their party lose 37 House seats, on average, in midterm elections. That compares with an average loss of 14 seats when presidents had approval ratings above 50%.”

That’s a VERY big difference. And by the way, that trend continued in the 2018 midterm elections as Trump’s approval rating hovered in the low 40s — and the House GOP lost 40 seats and control of the chamber.

That history has plenty of Democratic candidates and party strategists nervously watching Biden’s latest poll slippage. He won’t have to face voters until 2024, but many of them will be on the ballot in less than 15 months and know that much of their fate lies in how the public perceives the job Biden is doing.

At the moment, there’s plenty of reason for concern.



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