The bubble has burst on Joe Biden’s popularity numbers. His approval numbers are now in the mid 40s. While a president's popularity can rise and fall, don’t expect Biden’s numbers to recover very much.
First, it is important to note that whether a president is popular matters very much to his party. Historically, the "most important predictor of a party’s performance in a midterm is the president’s job approval rating." If a president’s approval rating falls much below 50%, it spells significant trouble in ensuing elections for his party.
Right now, Biden’s approval rating has tumbled to somewhere between 44% and 46% with Rasmussen polling indicating a disapproval rating of 54%. Will Biden rise above 50% again? While it’s possible, here are six reasons why it is very unlikely.
6. Our Divided Era Makes It Very Difficult To Be Popular. Today, there is little common ground among Democrats and Republicans. Our divide has been growing for decades along with the size of government.
One measure of that divide is party loyalty during elections. In 2020, party voter registration was roughly even at 28% and 29%, and 95% of Democrats voted for Biden and 94% of Republicans voted for Trump. The nature of division, with so little crossover voting, makes it hard for any modern president to maintain popularity beyond his own party let alone significantly above 50%.
5. Biden’s Weak Initial Support. While many have questioned the 2020 results, what can’t be questioned is that much of Joe Biden’s support was because he wasn’t Donald Trump. Indeed, an August 2020 Pew poll found that "56% of Biden supporters say they are voting for the presumptive Democratic nominee because he’s not Trump, far more than any other reason." After the 2020 election more voters were happy with Trump’s loss than Biden’s win.
One takeaway from that is that loyalty to Biden was not deep when he entered office. That lack of an initial reserve of support will certainly limit Biden’s ability to bounce back.
4. Kamala Harris is a drag on Biden. Vice President Harris’ approval numbers are historically poor. In a Rasmussen poll, 48% of those polled said she was not at all qualified to be president. While vice presidents do not determine the fate of presidents, it is clear that Harris is not been helpful to Biden. Her disappearance from the national stage indicates as much. It is more than unlikely that negative dynamic will not change anytime soon.
3. Many Policy Problems Will Continue to Drag Biden Down. Biden’s approval rating bubble burst with the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal. That will continue while other problems continue to eat away at his popularity.
The Afghanistan problem will not simply go away. In today’s technological age, pictures from Afghanistan, including Taliban atrocities, will continue to remind voters of how bad Biden’s exit was.
It is also quite likely that Biden will be challenged again – this time by a far more dangerous foe like China, Russia or Iran. Given Biden’s mental and physical weaknesses and how he was played by the Taliban, as I said recently in another publication, we truly are in for four years of living dangerously under Biden.
The economy will also not be kind to our president. Inflation is already on the rise and won’t be tamed anytime soon. Biden and the congressional Democrats continue to pursue spending policies that are inflationary by nature. Further, Biden and the Democrats’ war on energy will produce higher energy prices.
Meanwhile, renewed COVID restrictions and threatened tax increases will weaken the economy as well. Finally, the border problem is growing in intensity not resolving.
Those unpopular results will continue to limit Biden’s popularity.
2. Biden’s Party is Moving Further Left. Even though the problems above are mounting, Biden’s D.C. Democrats are not moderating their behavior and continue to move Left. They want more spending and bigger government. While that may please some in their base, that troubles Independents and it is not a recipe for bridging the partisan divide. In other words, it won’t help Biden’s popularity in this divided era.
1. Biden Isn’t a Leader. Presidents can rise above policy problems and scandals. Both President Reagan and President Clinton faced scandals and economic problems. Both of them endured low polling numbers.
Both were reelected and both wound up popular at the end of their terms. The reason that was so was they both were dynamic politicians in their own way. They were both personally liked if not loved. They were charismatic and inspired many voters.
Joe Biden, because of his age and evident physical and mental problems, is not capable of inspiring voters any more. It is quite a sad statement but true.
Biden is not a charismatic leader. Indeed, polling shows a majority of voters don’t even believe Biden is in control of the presidency or his administration. That is the polar opposite of charisma and certainly is not a problem from which Biden can recover.
Overall, Biden is beset with problems – many of which are of his own making, some of which are due to his weaknesses. None of them, however, are likely to go away and all will keep Biden unpopular.