On Sunday morning, media talking heads were touting President Joe Biden’s approval rating after 100 days in office citing polls from NBC News and ABC News/The Washington Post. Both polls found that Biden’s approval sits at 52%, which the commentators pointed out is ten points higher than Donald Trump’s at the same milestone in his presidency. However, as the Washington Examiner’s Byron York pointed out, Biden’s approval is the third lowest since President Harry Truman. Only President Trump and President Gerald Ford scored lower. Both of them had the media united against them, and Biden has received nothing but air cover and glowing coverage from the corporate media.
Further, when you examine the poll detail, NBC surveyed American adults. It broke out some results between registered voters and non-registered respondents. Biden’s approval was 51% in this population, and his disapproval was 43%. In the ABC poll of American adults, the disapproval rating was 42%. The only president with a higher disapproval rating going back to President Truman was President Trump. The margin of error for ABC’s poll and the measure of registered voter responses from NBC was 3.5%, meaning there could be a much narrower difference between those who approve and disapprove.
Despite the approval rating, NBC’s poll found that 56% of Americans feel the country is on the wrong track. Further, it found that a plurality of 48% prefers a smaller government with fewer services, even post-pandemic. These results are surprising, given there are significant sampling errors. The ABC poll oversamples Democrats by 9%. NBC’s version oversampled Democrats by 6%. While results are weighted in the polls, the full effect of oversampling is never corrected. Polls of American adults are also not as indicative of the electorate as polls including only registered or likely voters.
Two almost honest commentators on Good Morning America were reviewing the results of the ABC poll. Anchor Dan Harris was discussing the results with ABC political director Rick Klein:
Harris: We have newly released numbers this morning from an ABC News/Washington Post poll. Look at this. Fifty-two percent of Americans approve of Joe Biden’s work in office as he approaches the 100-day mark. That is ten points higher than Donald Trump at this point in his presidency, but 17 points lower than Barack Obama. So, let’s bring in our ABC News political director, Rick Klein. Rick, good morning. What’s your take on these top-line numbers from the poll?
Klein: Dan, Biden’s honeymoon appears to be ending, if it was even there in the first place. What’s so striking here is, you can at the same time say President Biden is in so much stronger position than his predecessor, but so much weaker than almost everyone else that we’ve seen at this point in a presidency. And the easiest culprit to blame here is partisanship.
Unfortunately for Klein, the rest of the poll doesn’t bear that out. As he noted, Biden is under the delusion that there is some significant segment of Republican support for his policies, and that partisan Republicans in Congress, not moderate American citizens, broadly approve of his agenda. Even Klein had to concede that this is not the case even in a poll that oversamples Democrats:
We’ve never before seen in polling not even 100 days in, in the Trump administration, partisan divides dominate the approval of a president or disapproval of a president like we are right now for President Biden. And that, of course, is problematic for a president who has promised unity, has talked about bipartisanship, and has talked about Republican support that he sees out there in the country for his policy initiatives.
Both polls show Biden is only safely over 50% on policy issues for his handling of the pandemic at between 64% and 69%. This score is generous since the only Biden policy to date is mandatory mask mandates on federal property. The satisfaction here is probably a reflection of how Americans feel about their governor and local leaders, who have far more influence over pandemic policy. Biden did sign the COVID-19 spending package, and some Americans did receive $1,400 checks. But the coming inflation will take the blush off that rose when it occurs.
Approval for his handling of the border is in the 30s. The NBC poll found that on race relations, taxes and spending, China policy, and gun policy, approval for Biden’s policies are under 50%.
Klein gets close to the proper assessment at the end of the segment:
But we see in this poll deep skepticism about whether Biden is trying to grow government too large, too fast. A lot of concern about some of the scope of his programs, and some mixed messaging. [By a] two-to-one margin Americans say they want President Biden to make major concessions to try to get Republicans on board. But of course, no Republicans voted for that COVID bill.
Of course, no Republicans voted to bail out failing union pensions, to pay off the teachers’ unions with more school funding, and to punish red states who didn’t wreck their economies. Republicans openly supported a narrow COVID relief bill to address pandemic-related issues. The Democrats used reconciliation rather than negotiating. Biden’s stance has indicated they will do the same with his proposed union jobs plan that he calls infrastructure. He appears convinced he has a mandate that his approval ratings do not demonstrate.
The issue in the poll numbers is not partisanship as much as it is buyer’s remorse. The Biden campaign and the media sold his candidacy as the moderate choice. His first 100 days in office have demonstrated there was no truth in the advertising. Many conservatives warned that Biden was simply a vessel for the radical Left, and he moved very fast to show the country that those warnings were correct. As we move closer to the midterms, Republicans need to use this disconnect — along with strong approval for police departments and law and order — to make their case.