By JOSH BOAK and EMILY SWANSON (Associated Press)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s approval has dipped slightly in the past month, nearing the lowest point of his presidency as his administration tries to project a sense of stability while dealing with a pair of bank failures. and inflation that remains stubbornly high.
That’s according to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which shows there have been slight fluctuations in support for Biden in recent months. The president earned a 38% approval rating in the new poll, after 45% said they approved in February and 41% in January. His ratings hit their lowest point of his presidency last July, at 36%, as the full brunt of rising prices for gas, food and other costs began to hit American households.
In recent months, Biden’s approval had hovered above 40%.
Interviews with poll respondents suggest the public has mixed feelings about Biden, who is expected to announce a re-election bid by this summer. When it comes to the president, people generally don’t waver between the extremes of outright loyalty and aggressive hatred that characterize the divided politics of that era.
“Neutral about endorsement,” Andrew Dwyer, 30, said of Biden. “I don’t think he is the best to represent my position and my problems. But I know that being president involves compromises.
Dwyer, a data analyst in Milwaukee, said he voted for president in 2020 and considers himself a liberal. He acknowledged the recent failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, but said the economy is adjusting to higher interest rates set by the Federal Reserve to fight inflation.
“We’ve all gotten so used to cheap debt and the ability to spend money,” Dwyer said. He said there were “pain points” caused by higher borrowing costs, but he believes the process will “ultimately” lead to a healthier economy.
The president has taken ambitious steps to boost the US economy, with his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package starting in 2021, infrastructure investment, support for computer chip factories and taxes on corporations and the wealthy to help fund health care and move away from fossil fuels.
But these efforts involve multi-year investments that have yet to bring much optimism to a public facing 6% annual inflation. The president and other administration officials traveled the country to promote their achievements. But for many, the economy feels like it could be on a knife edge after recent bank failures, as well as the showdown with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, which could put the U.S. government in danger of default. .
Just 31% approve of Biden’s handling of the national economy, roughly where it has been over the past year. His management of the country’s economic fortunes has been a weak point at least since late 2021, when inflation the administration suggested was transitory became a bigger issue for businesses and families.
Michael McComas, 51, voted Republican in 2020 and described Biden as “not great — average, I guess.” A resident of Westland, Michigan, he noted that it will take years to determine if federal infrastructure spending is delivering on the promises made by Biden.
McComas said he believed inflation was a direct result of government spending to counter the pandemic, a claim Biden personally denied when asked by reporters.
“We poured so much money into the system – it’s kind of frustrating that we were shocked to have been hit by inflation when a lot of our policies were inflationary,” McComas said.
The difference between Biden’s overall approval and his approval of the economy is driven largely by Democrats, 76% of whom say they approve of how he handles his job as president while 63% approve of his handling of the economy. Few Republicans endorse Biden on either count.
Democrats under 45 feel less positive about Biden, hurting his approval rating. Only 54% approve of the president’s economic leadership, compared to 72% of Democrats over 45. Similarly, only 66% of Democrats under 45 overall approve of Biden, compared to 85% of older Democrats.
Only about a quarter of Americans say the national economy is good or the country is moving in the right direction, the poll found. These numbers have also fluctuated only slightly in recent months.
Ratings on Biden’s handling of foreign policy (39%) and climate change (41%) are roughly on par with his overall approval ratings. Seventy-four percent of Democrats and 9% of Republicans approve of Biden on foreign policy, while 67% of Democrats and 17% of Republicans approve of his handling of climate change.
Theresa Ojuro, a 29-year-old PhD student in Rochester, New York, said she “expected more” from Biden – “just a little more stability with the economy.” Ojuro, who voted for Biden in 2020, also noted that bank failures were weighing on her sentiment, but she worries about high taxes in New York state relative to the benefits provided.
“If Biden is doing his job, why in a state like this can you see people really hurting?” Ojuro said.
The poll of 1,081 adults was conducted March 16-20 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.