1. Views of Joe Biden
As major pieces of President Joe Biden’s agenda remain bogged down in Congress and the coronavirus pandemic enters its third year, his approval rating continues to decline among many demographic and political groups. Today, 41% of U.S. adults say they approve of how Biden is handling his job as president, which is down modestly from the 44% who said this in September.
Biden’s standing has further slipped among members of his own party after declining in September. About three-quarters of adults who identify as Democrats (76%) say they approve of Biden’s performance – down 7 percentage points from the fall. There remains a wide gap in approval between Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party. A narrow majority of Democratic leaners (56%) approve of the president’s job performance today, little different than in September.
Among Republicans, the last few months have seen no change in the president’s job performance ratings. One-in-ten or fewer adults who identify as Republicans (6%) or who lean toward the Republican Party (10%) give positive assessments.
Today, 41% of adults approve of Biden’s job performance, including 21% who say they strongly approve. In September, 44% approved of Biden, while 27% strongly approved.
Biden’s job approval numbers have declined across most demographic groups since September.
The share of Democrats and Democratic leaners saying they approve of Biden’s job as president has fallen by 7 percentage points since September. Approval of Biden’s performance is down among both liberal Democrats (72% today vs. 80% in September) and conservative and moderate Democrats (65% vs. 71%)
Most Republicans and Republican-leaning independents remain disapproving of Biden’s job as president. Roughly nine-in-ten Republicans (91%) disapprove of Biden’s performance in office, while three-quarters strongly disapprove. Republicans’ views of Biden’s job performance are little changed from September.
Today, 60% of Black adults approve of Biden’s job performance, down from 67% in September. The share of White adults who approve of the way Biden is handling his job has also declined, from 37% to 33%; roughly six-in-ten White adults disapprove of Biden’s performance. The shares of Hispanic (52%) and Asian adults (55%) who approve of Biden’s performance are essentially unchanged since September.
Adults ages 18 to 29 are somewhat less likely than those 30 and older to say they approve of Biden’s job performance. And relatively few adults under age 50 strongly approve of Biden’s performance, with just 14% of those ages 18 to 29 and 18% of those 30 to 49 saying they strongly approve. About a quarter of adults older than 50 (26%) strongly approve.
Adults with a postgraduate degree offer the most favorable ratings of Biden’s performance: 54% approve, compared with about four-in-ten of those with a college degree but no postgraduate experience (42%), those with some college experience but no degree (38%) and those without any college experience (37%).
Confidence in Biden on key issues facing the country
Confidence in Biden to handle several major issues facing the country also has declined substantially since last year. Today, fewer than half of Americans say they are confident in Biden to handle each of the eight issues asked about in the survey, including two previous areas of strength for Biden – his ability to handle the coronavirus outbreak and the economy.
Just over four-in-ten say they are very or somewhat confident in Biden to deal with the public health impact of the coronavirus (44% of Americans are very or somewhat confident), make good decisions about economic policy (44%) and handle an international crisis (43%).
Comparable shares express confidence in him to handle law enforcement and criminal justice, work effectively with Congress, make wise decisions about immigration policy and deal effectively with China.
Early in his presidency, Biden drew less confidence for his ability to unite the country than to handle major issues. That remains the case today: 30% of Americans are confident in him to bring the country closer together, while more than twice as many (69%) have little or no confidence in him to do this.
Confidence in Biden on several issues has fallen over the past year, but the decline has been particularly notable when it comes to his ability to handle the public health impact of the coronavirus.
Last March, the public expressed more confidence in him on the coronavirus than other issues; 65% said they were very or somewhat confident in his ability to deal with the public health impact of the pandemic. Today, 44% say the same; his rating on the coronavirus is about the same as on the economy and other issues.
The shares expressing confidence in Biden’s handling of economic policy, immigration policy, criminal justice issues and dealing with China also have fallen over similar periods of time, though most Democrats still have confidence in Biden on these issues.
The erosion in confidence in Biden’s handling of issues has come among members of both parties, but it is especially evident among Democrats. A majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (69%) say they are very or somewhat confident the president can handle the health impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, but the share saying this is now 12 percentage points lower than it was in September (81%) and 23 points lower than last March (92%).
As they have throughout his presidency, Republicans express little confidence in Biden’s ability to handle these issues and for the most part there have been only modest changes. Still, a third of Republicans and GOP leaners expressed confidence in Biden on the coronavirus last March; today, only about half as many (14%) do so.
Will Biden be a successful or unsuccessful president?
About a year into Biden’s time in the White House, about four-in-ten Americans (43%) say he will be an unsuccessful president in the long run. Another 37% say it’s too early to tell, and two-in-ten say he will be successful.
The public’s views are roughly comparable to Donald Trump’s ratings in a telephone survey conducted in January 2018 (in that survey, 41% of Americans said Trump would be unsuccessful, 34% said it was too early to tell and 23% said he would be successful).
The share saying Biden will be unsuccessful (43%) increased 17 percentage points compared with January 2021 (26%), shortly before he took office. This change is largely driven by a 28-point increase in the share of Republicans and Republican leaners who say Biden will be unsuccessful (53% said this in January 2021 versus 81% now).
A smaller share of Democrats and Democratic leaners now say Biden will be successful (34%) compared with a year ago (51%). About half of Democrats (51%) say it is too early to tell whether Biden will be successful or unsuccessful, which is up 6 points from a year ago (45%).
Democrats say Biden should listen equally to moderates and liberals in his party
A majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (63%) say that, in handling his job as president, Biden should listen about equally to liberal and moderate Democrats in the party. Fewer (53%) say he is actually doing this, however.
When asked who Biden is listening to in the party, a larger share of Democrats say he is listening more to moderate Democrats (32%) than to liberal Democrats (13%).
Among liberal Democrats, far more say Biden listens more to moderates than liberals (39% vs. 9%). About half of liberal Democrats (51%) say he listens to both equally. Among conservative and moderate Democrats, more also say he listens more to moderates, though the margin is smaller (27% say moderates, 18% say liberals).
A year ago, most Democrats expected him to listen equally to liberals and moderates in the party (62% said he “will listen” about equally in January 2021).