According to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, President Joe Biden ends his first year in the White House with a clear majority of Americans disapproving of his handling of the presidency in the face of an unrelenting pandemic and soaring inflation for the first time.
By a margin of 56 percent to 43 percent, more Americans disapprove than approve of Biden’s performance as president. Currently, only 28% of Americans want Biden to seek for re-election in 2024, with only 48% of Democrats supporting him.
“I don’t believe the polls,” Biden said at a wide-ranging press conference on Wednesday when asked about his waning popularity.
It’s a significant shift from Biden’s early reign.
In a July AP-NORC survey, 59 percent of Americans said they approved of Biden’s job performance. In the aftermath of the tumultuous and violent U.S. military pullout from Afghanistan, as well as rising coronavirus infections and the administration’s patchy efforts to get economic, infrastructure, and tax initiatives through Congress, his popularity rating had dropped to 50% by late September.
As the omicron variant strains the health-care system and further exhausts an American electorate that had hoped life would be back to a semblance of normalcy by now, the latest poll shows that Americans’ confidence in Biden’s handling of the pandemic — seen as a strength early in his administration — has eroded.
Only 45% of people think Biden handled COVID-19 well, down from 57 percent in December and 66 percent in July 2021.
Joyce Bowen, 61, of Knoxville, Tennessee, praised Biden for pushing Americans to be vaccinated, but she voiced disappointment with the administration’s approach to rising inflation.
The part-time cleaner at a public library said she and her elder brother, whom she helps support, have started eating less meat to counter growing food expenses and occasional gas price surges, which have drained her $754 biweekly paycheck’s purchasing power.
“It’s simply hard to put food on the table and petrol in the tank,” Bowen said, adding that she voted for Biden but would prefer he didn’t run for president again in 2024.
Only roughly a quarter of those polled felt highly confidence in Biden’s ability to “service successfully as president” or “is healthy enough to serve effectively as president.” Nearly half of those polled doubt Biden’s mental capacity or health.
When asked about additional polls that reveals a large number of Americans are concerned about Biden’s mental health during his press conference on Wednesday, the president dismissed the results.
Gary Cameron, 66, of Midwest City, Oklahoma, said the president’s gaffes and age — at 79, Biden is the country’s oldest president — don’t inspire confidence in his ability to lift the country out of its funk.
“Every time he gives a speech on television, you’re wondering to yourself, ‘God, is this guy even going to get through this speech?'” Cameron, an independent who voted for Donald Trump in 2020, expressed his views.
Biden’s age — and the life experience that comes with it — has proven to be a benefit, according to other respondents.
Nicole Jensen-Oost, 79, of Plano, Texas, said Biden has shown leadership and empathy by speaking about his own personal pain during the epidemic.
As he has worked to comfort Americans who have lost loved ones to the virus, Biden has regularly brought up the losses of his first wife and a daughter in a 1972 automobile accident, as well as the loss of an adult son who died of cancer.
“This man has heart,” said Jensen-Oost, a Democrat who was one of the few people who thought Biden was healthy enough to be president. “He’s compassionate, and the country right now needs that.” In the past four years, we didn’t see much compassion.”
Only around a quarter of Americans believe the phrase “strong leader” accurately represents Biden, while approximately the same number believe it is a fair description. Approximately half of those polled believe he is a weak leader. Biden’s knowledge of “the needs and challenges of individuals like you” is viewed in comparable ways by different people.
Only 16 percent believe Biden’s presidency has made the country more unified, while 43 percent believe it has divided the country.
Harlan Epstein of Cleveland did not vote for Biden but hoped that the 46th president, who campaigned as a consensus builder, would govern from the ideological center.
However, Epstein, an independent, believes Biden’s moderate reputation has been tarnished by his drive for a $2 trillion climate and social services spending plan, as well as his effort to persuade bigger firms to require their employees to get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.
“He has to rein in his far-left flank and focus on more moderate measures,” Epstein added.
Biden has irritated some on the left, as well.
The president won approval of a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package and a $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure in his first year in office, but he failed to get his main domestic spending plan passed.
Zachary Lindahl, 34, of Raleigh, North Carolina, expressed disappointment that Biden was unable to pass the “Build Back Better” spending plan because Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona objected to the prices and scope.
“It started off beautifully with them clearing the $1,400 checks,” Lindahl added, referring to stimulus payments included in Biden’s early-term coronavirus treatment program. “However, as time passed, it became more of the same. They are prepared to sacrifice any great notion until there is no longer anything there.”
Not all is lost for Biden: many people still have good feelings about the president, his character, and his leadership.
According to a recent AP-NORC survey, Biden is in a stronger position than Trump at this stage in his administration. Only 35% of Americans approved of Trump in February 2018, according to a poll.
Overall, though, only 28% of Americans say they have “a great lot of trust” in Biden to run the White House efficiently, down from 44% a year ago, shortly after Biden assumed office. Another 33% have some trust in Biden, while 38% express little confidence in his ability to lead the executive branch.
In some respects, Rev. Joseph Courtney, 32, an Episcopal chaplain in Los Angeles, said Biden has been the president he expected, instilling trust in the people by empowering specialists and scientists in the country’s fight against the pandemic’s health and economic concerns.
Biden, on the other hand, has yet to deliver on his vow to reach out to Republicans or even some of his Democratic party’s more conservative senators, according to Courtney. On the campaign road, Biden claimed that his 36 years in the Senate — including eight years as vice president — would aid him in repairing Washington’s “broken” politics.
Courtney added, “He just continues getting railroaded time and time again.” “I’m not sure what he’s contributing to the president that makes me want to support him for a second term.”