Biden’s approval rating in free fall

A few days ago, Joe Biden’s approval rating dipped “below water” for the first time. In other words, more Americans disapproved of his performance as president than approved of it.

Now, apparently, it’s not even close. Biden’s approval rating is sinking.

USA TODAY/Suffolk University found that 41 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s performance, while 55 percent disapprove. That’s about where Donald Trump stood during most of his presidency, although in Trump’s case there is reason to doubt that the result accurately reflected public opinion, given pollsters’ own performances in the 2016 and 2020 election.

Biden is still supported by 87 percent of Democrats. However, only 32 percent of independents say he’s doing a good job. If his support among independents is that low, I suspect that his real approval number is south of 41 percent.

As to specific issues, about half of those surveyed approve of Biden’s performance regarding the pandemic. 39 percent approve of his handling of the economy and 26 percent approve of his handling of the Afghan withdrawal.

Comparing these results to the overall approval rating, we see that that the latter is in line with how Americans regard Biden’s handling of the economy. Arguably, then, “it’s [still] the economy, stupid.”

To that extent, Biden can hope to get back “above water” if the economy improves markedly. But keep in mind that that the Afghanistan debacle hasn’t played out fully. If Americans die there or can’t get out, Biden’s approval number will likely dip as many as ten more points, and even a rip-roaring economy might not get him back on level terms.

There’s also the matter of Afghans who worked closely with America. Obviously, their fate is less potentially explosive politically than that of U.S. citizens, but it does matter to Americans.

The survey found that 84 percent believe that Afghan translators should be eligible for special refugee visas. Only 10 percent disagreed.

These numbers suggest that horror stories about the fate of translators who are left behind will harm Biden politically. As one independent voter put it, “How will the rest of the world view the American people if we can’t even help the people that helped us?”

Here is a related question: How can the rest of the world ever trust the U.S. again? The answer, I think, is that it can’t.

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