News & Politics

How Low Can Joe Biden's Polls Go Before Democrats Tap the Brakes?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

As Democrats contemplate the potential for a stinging loss in the Virginia gubernatorial election, the party appears to remain utterly tone-deaf to the feedback it gets through public polling as they rush to pass President Joe Biden’s spending bills. New polling from NBC, ABC, and Rasmussen demonstrate just how badly Democrats misinterpreted their mandate in 2020.

Earlier this month, a summary of Rasmussen polls on Biden’s approval and related issues indicated that Americans are not pleased with the current state of affairs. On Friday, the pollster released another survey of likely voters that showed that 57% think the economy is worse under Biden. A plurality of 38% believes Biden deserves the blame, while 22% place it on congressional Democrats. While 31% think congressional Republicans are to blame, the majority see this as a Democrat problem when that party controls a unified government.

Polls released on Sunday underscore the data provided by Rasmussen over the last month. ABC/Ipsos polled Americans over 18 on the issues and the reconciliation bill negotiations. The poll has a 4.7% margin of error and oversampled Democrats by 7%. Biden gets his highest marks on the pandemic, with 56% of Americans approving of the response. However, that represents a 13-point decline from polling shortly after Inauguration Day. It dropped seven points after he announced the mandate in September.

Americans give Biden his lowest marks for handling the southern border, gun violence, and the Afghanistan withdrawal, with Biden earning 31%, 39%, and 34%, respectively. He is underwater on the economic recovery, crime, climate change, and taxes. The only issue rated over 50% approval other than the pandemic response is rebuilding the infrastructure at 52%, a 10-point decline from August.

With all of the effort Democrats are putting in to push the spending bills over the finish line, you might believe they have some information indicating that Americans want to see the bills pass. According to ABC/Ipsos, nearly 70% of Americans don’t have any clear ideas about what is in the legislation. A plurality of 32% believes the bill will hurt people like them, while only 25% feel it will help them. Nearly a quarter admit they don’t know. When asked if the legislation will help or hurt the economy, it is a dead heat at 34% for each and 25% that don’t know.

Imagine if the pollsters were honest enough to list some of the elements of the reconciliation bill. Previous drafts have included mass amnesty, tax credits for illegals, uncapped chain migration, and unlimited green cards for the tech industry. It would be interesting for the AFL-CIO to weigh in on the termination of tax incentives for reshoring manufacturing. All of these policies hurt the American worker through lower wages and fewer opportunities.

NBC’s poll was even worse for Biden and Democrats in Congress. Only 22% of respondents reported feeling the country is headed in the right direction, while 71% feel it is on the wrong track. Among registered voters in the sample, 45% approve of Biden’s performance, with 19% strongly approving. Fifty-two percent disapprove, with 44% strongly disapproving. Using Rasmussen’s formula, that gives Biden a -25 approval index. This result is within the range Rasmussen has been finding on its Daily Presidential Tracking Poll.

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When respondents characterized their feelings about the two parties and national leaders, the divide became quite apparent, and it should be clear that Democrats do not have the mandate to transform anything fundamentally:

Source: NBC News October Poll

Very positive ratings of the Democrat Party are only one point higher than they were in December of 2009. We all remember what happened in November of 2010. Donald Trump’s low during his term for a very positive rating was 24. Joe Biden is below that now and 14 points off his high of 35 in January of 2017.

On a scale of one to five, with five being very good, respondents credit Biden with a half-century in government, but not as much with competence or ability to unite the country:

Source: NBC News October Poll

Perhaps this is part of the reason Republicans hold significant advantages when it comes to selecting the party trusted to do a better job on critical issues. On border security, controlling inflation, and dealing with crime, the GOP holds an advantage of 27, 24, and 22 points. They earn double-digit leads on the economy and getting things done, and a nine-point lead in dealing with immigration. Democrats win on abortion, COVID-19, and climate change. Currently, they have a 10-point lead on education, but with current events in Virginia, that can erode quickly.

Vaccine mandates were the most divisive issue in the poll, with 50% of Americans opposed to them, and 41% strongly so. This response indicates that some portion of those who took the COVID-19 vaccine do not think it should be mandated, as 70% report taking it. The issue appears to have the ability to impact elections, with 40% saying they would oppose a candidate who supports a vaccine mandate and only 32% indicating they would be more likely to vote for one who did.

Parents are even less likely to support vaccinating children under 17. Only 27% say they will vaccinate their children aged 5-11, and 48% report their children aged 12-17 have not received it. Perhaps this is related to 73% of registered voters believing either the worst of the pandemic is behind us or it is not a significant problem. Just 19% believe the worst is yet to come. If the majority is correct, the pandemic may not impact 2022 at all, which is terrible for Democrats. It is the only issue where Joe Biden pulls consistently high approval ratings.