It Can't Get Much Worse for Joe Biden

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Joe Biden has been underwater in the polls since the beginning of September. But the latest Democratic-tilting poll conducted by Quinnipiac University should set off the alarm bells and start to panic Biden’s political advisors because it really can’t get much worse.


Biden receives negative scores in the double digits on every issue except his handling of the coronavirus.

  • the response to the coronavirus: 48 percent approve, while 50 percent disapprove;
  • the economy: 39 percent approve, while 55 percent disapprove;
  • his job as Commander in Chief of the U.S. military: 37 percent approve, while 58 percent disapprove;
  • taxes: 37 percent approve, while 54 percent disapprove;
  • foreign policy: 34 percent approve, while 58 percent disapprove;
  • immigration issues: 25 percent approve, while 67 percent disapprove;
  • the situation at the Mexican border: 23 percent approve, while 67 percent disapprove.

Americans say by a 55-42 percent margin that the Biden administration is not competent in running the government, according to the poll.

The numbers on whether Americans are satisfied or unsatisfied with the direction of the country say a lot: “one-quarter of Americans [28 percent] say they are either very satisfied [5 percent] or somewhat satisfied [23 percent] with the way things are going in the nation today. Close to three-quarters [72 percent] of Americans say they are either somewhat dissatisfied [24 percent] or very dissatisfied [48 percent] with the way things are going in the nation today.”

On issue after issue, the surprise isn’t in the opposition to the president. It’s in the intensity of the opposition. For example, on the economy about one-quarter of Americans (29 percent) describe the economy as excellent (2 percent) or good (27 percent), while 69 percent describe it as not so good (35 percent) or poor (34 percent).


On the Afghanistan withdrawal, 28 percent agree with Biden’s decision to withdraw all troops, while 50 percent think that only some of the troops should have been withdrawn and 15 percent think no troops should have been sent home.

It looks like the narrative on Afghanistan will have to be adjusted since the Biden administration was insisting that the American people supported their cut and run strategy. What may have been true at the end of August obviously isn’t true today.

Even as Afghanistan has faded from the news cycle, Biden’s approval numbers have continued to drop.


This is consistent with the argument that the decline in Biden’s approval rating was never just about Afghanistan. The timing of it suggested it was also driven by the resurgent pandemic, dissatisfaction with the economy, or even natural post-honeymoon reversion to a mean that is more realistic in these polarized times. In other words, a myriad of factors.

Accordingly, there may be no easy fix for Biden. Even an improvement in the COVID-19 situation may not improve his political fortunes: According to data compiled by The New York Times, the rolling average of newly detected COVID-19 cases nationally has decreased since mid-September, but Biden’s average approval rating on the issue of the coronavirus has remained steady.

Also, on issue after issue, political independents strongly oppose Biden and the Democrats. You might expect independents to be lukewarm in support or opposition. But, in fact, the number of independents “strongly opposed” on most issues far outnumber the “somewhat opposed.”


So where does Biden turn it around? The media is eager to help him, but he needs a win to turn the tide in his approval.

Related: Build Back Better? More Americans Have Died of COVID This Year Than in All of 2020

Passing either the infrastructure bill or the massive Build Back Better bill will slow the downward momentum. But inflation and other bad economic news will continue to depress Biden’s numbers for a least the first part of his first term, making a Republican takeover of the House and Senate a distinct possibility.


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