Byron York points out that Joe Biden’s approval rating shows the first sign of meaningful decline. In the latest Gallup poll, Biden is at 50 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval — down from 57 percent approval and 37 percent disapproval at the start of his term.
What’s the explanation for this decline? Gallup attributes it at least in part to “the law of political gravity” — the end of the “honeymoon” most new presidents get from the public that has just elected them.
However, Biden’s favorable rating among independents has dropped from 61 percent at the start of his presidency to 48 percent now. More than political gravity is required to explain that fall.
Several plausible explanations come to mind. They include growing awareness that Biden might not be “all there,” the border crisis, the surge in violent crime, and Biden’s unwillingness to stand up to the far-left wing of his party on a variety of matters.
In my view, though, the biggest factor is concern about the economy and, relatedly, concern about the coronavirus. Byron points to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll in which Biden’s approval for handling the economy has fallen below 50 percent among independents. This corresponds roughly to his overall rating with this group.
Byron highlights another finding from the same poll. ABC News asked: “Thinking about the next 12 months, would you say you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the ways things are going in this country?” At the end of April, 64 percent said they felt optimistic, versus 36 percent who felt pessimistic. Now, less than three months later, just 45 percent feel optimistic, while 55 percent feel pessimistic.
Why the surge in pessimism? It’s due partly, I think, to the fact that recent economic performance hasn’t matched expectations. Perhaps more importantly, there’s a sense that, because coronavirus cases are increasing, the next 12 months are likely to be bumpier all around than had been hoped.
This means that Biden’s approval rating might move upwards if fears about the next 12 months aren’t realized. But even if it does, Biden for now must govern without the popularity he enjoyed a few months ago. For Byron, this means “less clout on Capitol Hill.”
Of course, [Biden] is still solid with nearly all Democrats, especially the most partisan ones. But for the “centrist” Democrats, most notably Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have given Biden fits in a 50-50 Senate, Biden’s decline in support among independents will encourage more independence.
That is why you see so many Democrats urging Biden to hurry up and push his agenda through Congress as quickly as possible, before his ratings decline more. The president is politically weaker today than he was three months ago, and he will likely be weaker still three months from now.