President Joe Biden’s approval rating is at its lowest point in his presidency. In the average of polls, he stands at about 47%. That’s a steady decline from the beginning of this month (51%), last month (52%) and beginning of June (54%). It would be easy to assign Biden’s decline to the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, but, as the data shows, Biden has been trending downward for a while. The truth is that he is losing ground on a number of key issues. The coronavirus pandemic, for example, had been one of Biden’s best issues. He was trusted more than former President Donald Trump to handle it in poll after poll during last year’s election. Trump likely would have won in 2020 had people trusted him more.
Biden’s approval rating on the coronavirus had consistently been in the 60s for the first six months of his presidency. That declined to the high 50s in July and has been sunk to the 50s in the month of August. Biden’s overall approval rating has declined at a similar rate to his coronavirus pandemic approval rating. The problem for Biden is that people are reacting to what they see on the ground. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are the highest they’ve been since the beginning of the year, as the Delta variant has taken hold in the US. More people fear catching the coronavirus than they have since the beginning of the spring when vaccines became widely available. Most Americans think the worst of the virus is still ahead of us, which is a shift from earlier this year.
Biden’s also seen his numbers on the economy drop. During August, Biden’s average approval rating on the economy has been just 47%. That’s down from the 51% it averaged during the month of July. Again, this drop can be assigned to a reaction to real world events. Consumer sentiment declined greatly during the first half of August, according to the University of Michigan. The decline of Biden’s economic approval rating should be worrying to him. As I noted previously, Biden’s economic approval rating has been closely tied to his overall approval rating. Right now, both of them are at 47% in the average of polls. Worse for Biden is that the economy is viewed as the second most important problem (behind the coronavirus), according to Gallup. It shouldn’t be surprising, therefore, that a drop in Biden’s economic approval rating coincides with a drop in his overall approval rating.
Biden’s declining approval ratings on the coronavirus and economy has been punctuated by how Americans see him handling the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. In July, before the troop withdrawal, Biden averaged a 58% approval rating when it came to getting the troops out of Afghanistan. Biden’s average approval rating on Afghanistan stands at a mere 34% today. You rarely see anything close to a 24-point drop on a president’s handling of an issue in such a short period of time. The fact that three big issues are going against Biden at the same time makes it difficult to figure out what is driving his overall approval rating down. It’s probably all three to some degree. Indeed, the entire mood of the country has taken a dive recently. Just 33% of the country say the country is going in the right direction in an average of recent polling.
This 33% is notable because optimism in the country under Biden had been reaching levels it hadn’t seen in a long time. At the beginning of last month, 43% of Americans agreed the country was going in the right direction. The last time 43% said the country was going in the right direction was back in 2009. The current 33% is much more like the readings we saw on this metric during the Trump administration. The big question going forward is how do American minds change from here. An issue for Biden is that even when the last American troops leave Afghanistan that probably won’t change people’s perceptions on the coronavirus or the economy. Still, the fact that Biden’s ratings have shifted as much as they have over the last month may be an indication that Biden’s once stable ratings are more susceptible to shifting around that was previously thought.