By Jeffrey Jones of Gallup
President Joe Biden’s job approval rating has fallen below 40% for the first time and now sits at a personal low of 38%.
Between September and June, the president’s rating had ranged narrowly between 40% and 43%. Before that, Biden mostly received majority approval ratings.
A year ago, Biden’s honeymoon period came to an end when his approval rating dropped to 50% amid a surge in U.S. coronavirus cases. Since then, his public support has eroded after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the highest inflation in four decades, record-high gas prices and continuing supply chain issues.
The July 5-26 Gallup survey finds 59% of Americans disapproving of the job Biden is doing, the highest for him to date. A follow-up question finds 45% of Americans strongly disapproving of Biden’s performance, compared with 13% who strongly approve.
Biden Sixth-Quarter Average Is Lowest for an Elected President
Biden’s sixth quarter in office, spanning April 20 through July 19, recently ended. During this time, an average of 40% of Americans approved of the job he was doing as president. No president elected to his first term has had a lower sixth-quarter average than Biden, although Jimmy Carter’s and Donald Trump’s ratings were only slightly better, at 42%. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan also averaged below majority approval.
Like nearly every president since Dwight Eisenhower, Biden saw his job approval rating decline between his fifth (41%) and sixth quarters. Trump is one of the exceptions, as his sixth-quarter average of 42% was better than the 39% during his fifth quarter. As a result of these changes, the sixth quarter marks the first time Biden’s quarterly average has been lower than Trump’s was in the same quarter.
History suggests it would be unlikely for Biden’s approval rating to improve during his seventh quarter. To date, only one elected president — George H.W. Bush — has seen meaningful improvement in his seventh quarter. The increase reflected a rally in support for Bush after he condemned Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, which eventually led to the U.S. and allies fighting the Gulf War against Iraq in early 1991.
Biden Support Among Democrats, Independents at Low Points
While Biden retains the support of the vast majority of Democrats, his 78% approval rating among his fellow partisans ties as the lowest for him to date, having previously descended to that level in December.
The 31% of independents approving of Biden is a new low for him, while Republican approval continues to be scarce.
Like his immediate predecessors, Trump and Obama, Biden is governing in an era of extreme political partisanship. In recent years, presidents have maintained relatively high approval throughout their terms from supporters of their own party while receiving minimal approval — usually in the single digits or teens — from those who identify with the opposition party.
Biden’s 78% job approval among Democrats nearly matches the low point for Trump among Republicans, 77% in December 2017. Obama’s low point among Democrats was 72% in October 2011.
Much of the variation in job approval for recent presidents has been tied to changes in independents’ evaluations of the chief executive. Biden’s 31% approval among independents matches the low for Obama, registered in December 2013 and March 2014. Trump’s support among independents fell to as low as 29%, in August 2017.
Vast Majority of Republicans Strongly Disapprove of Biden
For the first time in Biden’s presidency, Gallup asked Americans about the intensity of their views toward him. Republicans are most likely to hold strong opinions about Biden — nine in 10 do — and since most disapprove of the job he is doing, the result is 87% strong disapproval of Biden among Republicans.
In contrast to Republicans, 36% of Democrats have strong opinions about Biden. Thus, Democrats are much less likely to strongly approve of the job he is doing (30%) than to moderately approve (48%).
Slightly more than half of independents have strong opinions about how Biden is doing his job, with far more of these independents disapproving than approving. Consequently, the largest number of independents, 43%, strongly disapprove of the way Biden is doing his job.
Gallup has only periodically asked about intensity of job approval and disapproval, so it is unclear if a party group has ever held more strongly negative opinions of a president than Republicans now do of Biden. However, at least based on its limited measures, Gallup has never found a higher percentage than 87% of a party group strongly disapproving of a president.
In the six times Gallup asked about intensity of evaluations of Trump, between 75% and 83% of Democrats strongly disapproved. A high of 75% of Republicans strongly disapproved of Obama in the four times Gallup asked the question during his term. Eighty-one percent of Democrats strongly disapproved of George W. Bush in a November 2007 survey, the highest among 11 measures during his presidency.
Biden has faced a number of challenges as president, and Americans have generally graded his work poorly for the past year, with his average approval rating as president now at 46%. Currently, his public support is the lowest it has been to date.
Democrats were already facing a tough environment in this fall’s midterms as they seek to retain their narrow majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Biden’s now weaker approval makes their odds of doing so even steeper. Democrats are hoping that backlash against the Supreme Court’s recent conservative rulings on abortion, gun control and environmental protection may neutralize some of the advantages GOP candidates could get from Democrats holding power at a time when Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the country.