Democrats Wary of Biden’s Plateaued Low Approval Ratings Could Hurt Midterm Chances

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Democrats

Democrats are increasingly concerned that President Joe Biden’s dwindling approval ratings will jeopardize their chances of retaining congressional majorities with only three weeks until Election Day.

In Summary

  • Polls show that only 42% of voters approve of his job performance, while 53% disapprove; almost half of the voters are likely to vote for Republicans in Congress.
  • Joe Biden’s approval rating has risen by about 5% since its low point in July. Since the end of August, he has remained at a still-low approval level of around 42.5%, the third-lowest approval rating for a current president at this stage in their term.
  • Democrats are increasingly concerned that President Joe Biden’s dwindling approval ratings will jeopardize their chances of retaining congressional majorities with only three weeks until Election Day.
Democrats
Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. With three weeks until Election Day, Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democrat Representative Val Demings will debate for the first and only time on Tuesday. [Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

Democrats Conscious President Biden’s Disapproval tied Party Candidates’ Chances.

As inflation rates continue to rise, several Democrats are concerned that Biden will become the scapegoat for rising prices, harming the party’s candidates through association. 

Democrats are also uneasy about being associated with the president, as only 42% of voters approve of his job performance, compared to 53% who disapprove, according to polling averages analyzed by FiveThirtyEight.

According to one Democratic strategist, it’s all about the economy. Everything is more expensive than it was a year ago, retirement accounts are plunging, and gas prices are decreasing but creeping up again. And since President Biden is in charge, people will naturally point to him, unfairly or not.

According to the most recent Siena College poll, nearly half of voters are likely to vote for Republicans to represent them in Congress.

Democrats
Gas prices listed at over 7 dollars per gallon in Los Angeles, California on June 22, 2022. – Joe Biden pitched a temporary fuel tax break June 22, 2022 to help American drivers face the highest inflation in four decades, but critics called it window dressing by an unpopular US president ahead of difficult midterm elections. [FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images]

Biden Campaigns Alongside a Few Democratic Candidates

According to the poll, the increase in Republican support is due in part to economic concerns, with rising inflation topping voter concerns and 44% of voters saying economic issues are the most critical issues facing the country. A majority of voters (64%) prefer Republicans (64%) to Democrats (30%) to handle the economy.

The same poll has prompted Democrats to reconsider Biden’s strength for a potential reelection bid in 2024, with the survey finding that 45% of voters would vote for former President Donald Trump, compared to 44% who said they’d back Biden in a hypothetical rematch.

Nonetheless, Biden has been invited to campaign with a number of Democratic candidates, including gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek in Oregon and a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser in Los Angeles, California.

However, some candidates have chosen to campaign alongside other prominent party members, such as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and First Lady Jill Biden. They have become the most popular surrogates in the Biden administration to appear on the campaign trail.

Democrats
President Joe Biden speaks about the importance of electing Democrats who want to restore abortion rights, during an event hosted by the Democratic National Committee at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, October 18, 2022. [Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images]

Biden Still Unpopular…

The president’s approval rating is too low to help Democrats in the midterm elections, but it is high enough to avoid a primary challenge in 2024.

With less than a month until Election Day and more than one million voters have already cast ballots, it’s a perfect time to assess President Joe Biden’s popularity. The good news for Biden is that he is up about five percentage points from his low point in July. The bad news for him — and Democrats in general — is that he has remained at a still-low approval level of around 42.5% since August.

This is the third-lowest approval rating among polling-era presidents at this point in their terms. He’s ahead of Harry Truman, slightly better than Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan, behind Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and even further behind Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. At this stage, all other presidents had 50% or higher ratings.

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