American voters think President Biden is making things worse.
Here are the main takeaways on the economy and the Biden administration from a Fox News national voter survey released Thursday.
- An overwhelming majority says rising gas prices are a problem for their family.
- Over half of voters think inflation is "not at all" under control and views on the economy remain decidedly negative.
- Two-thirds have had to cut back on spending to make ends meet, as a growing number say they are falling behind financially.
- More than twice as many think the Biden administration has made the economy worse rather than better.
- Two-thirds disapprove of how Biden is handling inflation, including a sizable minority of Democrats.
Here are the details behind those findings:
Biden’s overall job rating is upside-down by 9 points: 45% approve vs. 54% disapprove. Last month, it was 43%-56%.
That could be the bright spot in the survey for the administration.
The president’s marks are underwater by 21 points for his handling of the economy (38% approve, 59% disapprove) and a staggering 35 points on inflation (31% approve, 66% disapprove). That two-thirds disapproving on inflation consists of 39% of Democrats, 74% of independents, and 89% of Republicans.
"These ratings create incredibly difficult terrain for the president to navigate," says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, whose firm conducts the Fox News survey with Republican Daron Shaw. "Until the pinch of higher prices lessens, it’s hard to imagine what Biden can say to help people feel better about the job he’s doing on the economy."
Voters continue to say the economy is in bad shape, with 74% rating it negatively (32% only fair, 42% poor). That’s nearly three times as many as rate it positively (6% excellent, 20% good). These ratings have largely held steady since October.
Compared to six months ago, fewer say the Biden administration has made the economy better, falling from 42% in September to 22% today. That shift comes mainly from a 32-point drop in the share of Democrats saying Biden has improved the economy, as well as a 20-point decline among independents.
A 53% majority thinks Biden has made the economy worse, and another 24% say the administration hasn’t made much difference.
More families feel they are falling behind financially. Some 43% say they are losing ground, up 16 points since last summer. Only 12% feel they are getting ahead financially, while 45% are holding steady.
The increase in the share falling behind is driven by Republicans (+24 points) and independents (+18).
Forty-nine percent of those in households with annual income below $50,000 report they are falling behind financially, up 13 points since June. Plus, the number losing ground among $50K+ households doubled (from 18% to 37%).
Two-thirds report their family has had to cut back on spending in order to afford necessities. That includes 75% of those with annual household income under $50,000 as well as 60% in $50K+ households.
Overall, 56% think inflation is "not at all" under control, and a whopping 88% say rising gas prices are a problem for their family. That includes a 52% majority that says the cost of gas is a "major" problem for them.
Who do they think is responsible for that? An increasing number blame gas prices on the policies of the Biden administration: 68% now vs. 63% in February.
They also point to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as an equal number blame his invasion of Ukraine (68%).
Republicans are 24 points more likely than Democrats to blame Biden, while Democrats are 18 points more likely than Republicans to say gas prices are Putin’s fault. Two-thirds of independents blame both Biden and Putin.
"The administration’s attempt to frame price increases as ‘Putin’s inflation’ resonates with Democrats and some independents but doesn’t move the overall numbers much," says Shaw. "Focusing on Putin’s role just makes people blame both Biden and Russia."
Gasoline prices surged in recent weeks, reaching $5/gallon in some places. When asked the highest price they would pay for gas "if it helps Ukraine in the fight against Russia," 22% of voters say $4.99 is their limit. Another quarter (23%) would pay up to $6, while 22% would pay over $6 -- including 9% who would pay $8 or more.
What can we do about gas prices?
The most popular policy options to reduce gas prices include increasing renewable energy production (75%) and increasing domestic oil drilling (74%), as three-quarters of voters favor those. Two-thirds favor allowing oil pipelines like Keystone XL (65%). But it’s a step too far to import more oil from countries like Iran and Venezuela, as 61% oppose that.
More Republicans than Democrats favor increasing oil production (by 15 points) and approving pipelines (+34). On the other side, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to favor increasing renewable energy production (+24) and importing from repressive regimes (+19).
Majorities of independents favor increasing both renewable energy and domestic oil production, and approving more oil and gas pipelines, while most oppose importing from repressive regimes.
Conducted March 18-21, 2022 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,004 registered voters nationwide who were randomly selected from a national voter file and spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The total sample has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.