New Poll Likely to Send Wake-Up Call to the Joe Biden White House: Many in the White House may believe that polls at this point in the Joe Biden presidency do not matter. It’s early in the second half of the term and re-election is several months away. But they should be concerned about these new numbers that have Biden scoring only a 38 percent approval rate. This is close to the lowest point of his presidency when he once polled at 36 percent approval. The biggest problem for the Biden team is negative perceptions of the president’s handling of the economy.
The latest poll from the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research delivered the bad news. The same pollsters had Biden scoring a 45 percent rating in February and 41 percent approval in January.
The Voters Are Anxious over Joe Biden and the Economy
The American people appear to be antsy about the direction of the economy and they are blaming Biden for the anxiety. Recent bank failures that have been backstopped by the FDIC gives an appearance that the president is overseeing a messy financial system. Inflation continues to bite shoppers. More voters are having a difficult time meeting their monthly expenses and have tapped out their savings accounts and thus rely on credit cards to get by. Combine that with high interest rates and it is more expensive to maintain a credit card balance and other personal debt. The Fed just raised the benchmark rate a quarter point this week.
Stagnant Poll Numbers for the President
The AP NORC Center poll is below the average of survey aggregator FiveThirtyEight. As of March 24, Biden is still at around 42.9 percent approval and 52.6 percent disapproval. Therefore, the AP and its partner’s survey could be an outlier, but it definitely shows that the majority of Americans are not happy with Biden’s job performance.
The economy has been tricky for Joe Biden to navigate. He deserves some credit for job creation. New jobs each month are coming in better than expected and the unemployment rate is at 3.6 percent. Three hundred and eleven thousand new jobs were created in February.
Perception Is Everything
But somehow many Americans perceive that their financial situation has not improved or is getting worse. Some may be taking more than one job and are living paycheck to paycheck. Even earners who take home over $100,000 a year are having trouble making ends meet.
Biden has tried to prime the pump with more government spending that was supposed to goose the economy. Early on, there was the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package. He signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill to invest in new construction projects that was supposed to result in well-paying construction jobs. He has also supported legislation to aid microchip plants.
There’s No Recession, So What’s the Problem?
But these efforts don’t appear to move the needle when it comes to presidential approval.
Joe Biden has been mired in approval numbers in the low forties for months. Only 31 percent of respondents of the AP-NORC poll believe that Biden is doing a good job with the economy. This must be frustrating for the White House because predictions of a recession have not come true, but we could be in a “slow-cessation” – with the economy barely treading water.
The problem is many people do not feel wealthy anymore. Retirement accounts have taken a beating as stocks and bonds have struggled in a bear market. The higher interest rates make mortgages more expensive and existing homeowners have seen their home values shrink.
Even Democrats are blaming Joe Biden for their economic troubles. Thirty-seven percent of them disapprove of the way Biden is handling the economy, the AP revealed. Some are blaming high inflation on Biden’s spending policies.
“We poured so much money into the system — that’s a little frustrating that we were shocked that we got hit by inflation when a lot of our policies were inflationary,” voter Michael McComas said.
The next hurdle for Joe Biden will be his handling of the debt ceiling fight in Congress. The U.S. debt is already crushing at around $31.4 trillion and must be raised by June to ensure the country doesn’t default. Republican lawmakers want discretionary spending to be cut before they agree on raising the ceiling. The White House budget managers have put forth a cost cutting plan in its current budget, but it has not attracted Republican supporters on Capitol Hill.
Joe Biden will have to use this showdown to display leadership and show that he is still fighting for the middle class. He must also court Independents who are not cutting him any slack on the economy. The problem for the White House is that he may have lost some centrist voters for good and low unemployment rates may not be enough to convince these naysayers that Biden is an adequate steward of the economy.
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Author Expertise and Experience:
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.