Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Biden Loses Ground With the Public on Issues, Personal Traits and Job Approval

1. Views of Biden and congressional leaders

Chart shows Biden’s job approval rating drops among most groups – including Democrats

Over the past several months, Joe Biden’s approval rating has dipped among most demographic and political groups. Today, 44% of U.S. adults overall say they approve of the way he is handling his job as president, down from 55% in July.

Biden’s approval rating among men and women has declined by about the same margin (9 and 12 percentage points, respectively).

The share of White adults saying they have a positive view of his job performance has dropped from 45% in July to 37% today. Roughly six-in-ten White adults (61%) now say they disapprove.

Though majorities of Black, Hispanic and Asian American adults continue to hold more positive than negative views of Biden’s job performance, approval ratings among each group have dipped significantly over the past two months. For example, among Black adults, 67% say they strongly or somewhat approve of the way he is handing his job – down from 85% three months ago.

Among Republicans, already negative views of the president have grown even more so since July. Then, 17% said they approved of the way he was handling his job; today, just 9% say this. There have been comparable declines in Biden approval among both those who identify as Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party.

There also has been a sizable change among members of Biden’s own party. In July, 88% of Democrats and Democratic leaners said they approved of the way he was handling his job as president. Today, 75% approve, a 13 percentage point drop.

Chart shows Biden’s current job rating is higher than Trump’s, lower than most other recent presidents’ ratings at similar points

Two months ago, 92% of adults who identify as Democrats said they had a positive view of Biden’s job performance. Today, 83% approve of his job performance. There has been a steeper decline among those who lean toward the Democratic Party: 61% of Democratic leaners approve of the way Biden is handing his job as president, down from 82% in July.

Independents as a whole – those who say they do not identify as belonging to either major party, but most of whom lean toward one party or the other – are now more likely to say they disapprove rather than approve of Biden’s job performance. Two months ago, 54% had positive views; today, 42% say they approve.

Biden’s job approval ratings today are higher than Trump’s were at a similar point, but lower compared with other previous presidents.

Chart shows most Republicans strongly disapprove of Biden’s job performance; just under half of Democrats strongly approve

While Biden’s approval rating remains more positive than negative among several groups, Biden enjoys more tepid support today than he did in March.

Overall, 27% of adults say they strongly approve of his job performance – down from 38% six months ago. Similarly, the share who say they strongly disapprove of the job he is doing has risen (38% today vs. 29% in March).

This pattern is evident across several demographic groups – including among men and women and across age groups.

While a large majority of Black adults said they strongly approved of the job Biden was doing as president in March (71%), only about half say they strongly approve today. Only about a third of Hispanic (34%) and about a quarter of Asian adults (27%) say the same.

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, large majorities say they strongly disapprove of Biden’s job performance (73% overall). Conservative Republicans are particularly likely to say this (83% strongly disapprove).

While majorities of Democrats across ideological groups say they approve of the job Biden is doing, this support is not as strong than it was earlier in Biden’s presidency. Today, 46% say they strongly approve of the job he is doing, down from 65% who said this in March.

Confidence in Biden on key issues facing the country and views of his personal traits

Chart shows confidence in Biden to handle several issues – including COVID-19 and foreign policy – declines

Mirroring the decline in Biden’s job rating over the past few months, public confidence in the president to handle various issues – including the coronavirus pandemic and foreign policy – also has slipped.

In March, nearly two-thirds of adults expressed confidence in Biden to handle the public health impact of the coronavirus outbreak; today, 51% say this. Only about half as many Republicans now say they have confidence (33% then, 15% today), while the share of Democrats expressing confidence in Biden to handle COVID-19 has declined from 92% then to 81% today.

This pattern is also evident across other issues – including Biden’s ability to make good decisions about foreign policy, economic policy and immigration.

Republicans’ confidence in Biden to handle several issue areas was already low at the beginning of his term, and it has dipped even lower today. For example, in March, just 19% of Republicans said they had at least some confidence in Biden to make good decisions about foreign policy. Today, just 10% say this – a 9 percentage point decline.

Chart shows smaller shares of Americans have positive views of Biden’s personal traits

Smaller majorities of Democrats today express confidence in Biden to handle most issues compared with six months ago – and the drop has been particularly pronounced in views of his ability to bring the country closer together. In March, 74% of Democrats expressed optimism that Biden could do this; today, only about half say so (55%).

In March, majorities of Americans said Biden embodied several positive traits – including being a good role model, caring about the needs of ordinary people and standing up for what he believes in.

Today, about half of adults say Biden is described very or somewhat well by these terms. And while six-in-ten say he stands up for what he believes in, 66% said this in March.

There have been similar declines in the shares saying he is mentally sharp (54% then, 43% now) and honest (57% then, 51% now).

While there continue to be large partisan gaps in views of Biden’s traits, there has been a decline in the shares of both Republicans and Democrats who describe Biden positively.

For example, while 89% of Democrats said Biden was a good role model in March, that share has declined to 80% today.

And while six months ago, 86% of Democrats said “mentally sharp” described Biden at least somewhat well, that has dropped to 73% today.

Republicans also offer more negative assessments of Biden’s traits and characteristics than they did in March. For example, in March, 21% of Republicans said “honest” described Biden at least somewhat well. Today, that has declined to 14%.

On whether Biden takes responsibility for his actions – a trait not asked about in the March survey – there is a sizable partisan divide. Only about half of adults overall say this describes Biden well. This includes eight-in-ten Democrats and just 13% of Republicans.

Views of congressional leaders in both parties more negative than positive

Chart shows approval of congressional leadership in both parties more negative than positive

Today, 70% of adults say they disapprove of the job Republican leaders in Congress are doing. A somewhat smaller majority (58%) say they disapprove of the job Democratic leaders in Congress are doing.

Republicans are divided in views about how their own party’s congressional leaders are doing: 49% say they approve, while 49% say they disapprove. In contrast, a majority of Democrats say they approve of the job their party’s leaders are doing in Congress (67%).

Large majorities of Democrats and Republicans give the opposing party’s congressional leaders poor job ratings: 88% of Democrats say they disapprove of the job Republican leaders are doing, while 92% of Republicans disapprove of Democratic congressional leaders’ performances.

Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Fresh data delivery Saturday mornings

Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for The Briefing

Weekly updates on the world of news & information