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How Biden’s slumping approval rating stacks up to past presidents

October 7, 2021, 10:30 PM UTC

Joe Biden entered the White House riding a wave of popularity. His Day 1 approval rating of 53% was well above outgoing President Donald Trump’s 38.7% approval rating.

But the honeymoon phase is over: As of Thursday, Biden’s approval rating stands at just 44.2%, according to FiveThirtyEight’s aggregation of leading pollsters.

At the same point in their first-term, presidents Ronald Reagan (55.6%), George H.W. Bush (67.6%), Bill Clinton (50.2%), George W. Bush (82.9%), and Barack Obama (52.3%) all had much higher approval ratings. Meanwhile, Biden’s current rating is a bit higher than Trump’s 38.1% rating was on Day 261 in office.

During the first few months of his administration, Biden was doing quite well. In March, he passed a very popular $1.9 trillion economic aid package—including a $1,400 stimulus check for most households. Meanwhile, he also oversaw COVID-19 vaccine rollouts which corresponded in a big boost to consumer confidence and the economy. By the last week of July, his 52% approval rating was nearly identical to his Day 1 approval rating.

But as the summer came to a close, things started to change. For starters, the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan didn’t go as planned. On July 8, Biden told reporters “the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.” Just one month later, that’s exactly what happened—something that’s resulted in weeks of bad press .

At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic—the focal point of Biden’s 2020 campaign—swung back with vengeance. In some states, deaths resulting from the Delta variant are greater than their worst weeks in 2020.

The silver lining for Biden? His disapproval rating of 48.3% doesn’t represent a majority of Americans. A significant portion of Americans (around 7%) neither approve of his job nor disapprove. (For comparison, at the same point in his presidency, Trump had a 55.4% disapproval rating.)

So far, Biden’s slipping approval rating has yet to give Republicans a big 2022 midterm edge. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average, Democrats hold a +2 percentage point edge against Republicans in 2022 generic congressional polls. That said, recent history is certainly on the side of Republicans. In the past four midterm elections (2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018), the presidents’ political party lost Congressional seats.

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