The latest polls have President Biden’s approval rating at near lows for his presidency, despite relatively good economic numbers.
Two commentators have a theory as to why.
Why is Biden’s Approval Rating so Low?
According to FiveThirtyEight.com‘s average of the polls, President Biden’s approval rating is 39.1 percent, while his disapproval rating is 55.4 percent.
In a column for Yahoo News, and a recent TV appearance, Andrew Romano looked into why that is.
“Negative 16.3% is also really bad historically speaking,” Romano writes. “In fact, the only president with weaker numbers than Biden was Jimmy Carter, who hit -28.6% on day 910. At the time, just 29% of Americans approved of Carter’s performance on average, while 57.6% disapproved.”
Per Romano, Biden’s unpopularity comes despite numerous positive economic indicators.
“A gallon of gas today costs roughly 30% less than it did 12 months ago. At 3.6%, unemployment is on par with 50-year lows — and down by almost half since Biden took office. The U.S. economy added 4 million jobs over the past year,” he writes. “Inflation has cooled to 3% after peaking last summer at triple that rate. And America’s so-called misery index — a combination of unemployment and inflation — is lower now than it has been during 83% of all months since 1978. Recession fears are subsiding.”
Numbers are even trending positively on things like border crossings and crime, which the GOP used as major cudgels in the 2022 midterms.
Why has Biden remained unpopular? Romano speculates that it could be his advanced age and gaffes, as well as perceptions of some of those economic factors not catching up to the numbers, especially as prices remain high for things that “count” and are easily noticed, such as gasoline.
In addition, presidents these days tend to be unpopular- both Barack Obama and Donald Trump were underwater approval-wise for the majority of their presidencies. Trump was never over 50 percent approval at any point during his presidency, and would even post celebratory graphics to social media when his rating reached certain levels in the 40s.
Michael Smerconish, the CNN commentator who is a conservative-turned-centrist, had Romano on as a guest on his weekend show. Prior to his appearance, Smerconish led by discussing the effort by No Labels to possibly field a centrist presidential candidate, to spare the country the choice between Biden and Donald Trump. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan have been mentioned as potential candidates.
Smerconish would seem a natural fit to support such an effort, but he stated that while he understands why No Labels would want to stop Trump from winning again, he’s not sure about their opposition to Biden.
“My answer has more to do with our political climate generally, then with him personally,” Smerconish said. “I see it as a reflection of our nation’s ever-widening divide in an era of polarized media, including social media.” He compared that to Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory in 1984, as opposed to elections today, where far more counties are decided by landslides, but fewer parts of the country are seriously competitive.
Not everyone wants “common sense” centrism.
Kevin Walling, now a Democratic campaign strategist but previously a cofounder of No Labels, wrote for Fox News this week about how he was wrong to have encouraged that organization’s work in the past.
“Early on, No Labels served an important function during the rise of the Tea Party, at a time when intra-party primary challengers targeted consensus-builders. Here was a group of Americans who were pushing back on the increasing bitterness in our national discourse, and I was all in,” Walling writes, also comparing the group’s efforts to a plot from the satirical TV series “Veep.”
“In the years that followed this early success, No Labels veered dramatically from its original founding principles by engaging directly in campaigns. They began endorsing partisan candidates in general elections, picking one party over another, all under the auspices of bipartisanship.”
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.