It’s been a rough few weeks for President Joe Biden, and it’s starting to show up in his approval ratings, with a new poll showing a majority of the country is unhappy with the job Biden is doing.
The Washington Post-ABC survey, taken as Biden was under the height of criticism for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, shows that 51% of Americans disapprove of his job performance compared to 44% who approve. That marks the first time in the news agencies’ poll that the president is “underwater” – meaning a higher percentage have negative views of him than positive views.
Presidential approval ratings typically drop a bit and settle after the commander in chief has been in the job for a few months, but Biden’s numbers have tumbled far and fast. In late June, the Washington Post-ABC poll showed the president riding high, with 50% approving of his performance, and 42% disapproving.
While the survey – which held back some results for later release – did not ask respondents why they had soured on the president, it was clear the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan was a major factor.
Overwhelmingly, Americans support extracting the nation from the 20-year war, which cost trillions of dollars and claimed the lives of more than 2,400 troops, including 13 killed at the airport in Kabul during the U.S. evacuation. More than three-fourths – 77% – of the public thinks it was the right thing to end the war, with 17% favoring staying in the fight, the survey showed.
But Americans are deeply dissatisfied with how Biden handled the withdrawal. Sixty percent of respondents said they disapproved of how Biden has handled the situation in Afghanistan, while 30% said they approved of his approach.
Biden isn’t the only political leader getting bad grades from a public weary of bad news on the pandemic, Afghanistan and natural disasters ranging from hurricanes to wildfires.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott have both seen their approval ratings drop dramatically as the delta variant ravages their states. DeSantis, until recently considered a shoo-in for re-election next year, would lose to either of two potential Democratic challenges, Charlie Crist or Nikki Fried, if the election were held today, according to a recent poll by The Political Matrix/The Listener Group. The driving factor was DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic: Nearly 54% disapprove of his handling of the crisis, and 43% approve of it.
In Texas, Abbott’s approval rating has tumbled to a new low, according to a survey this week by the University of Texas at Austin. The poll found Abbott unusually underwater, with 50% of Texans disapproving of the governor and 41% disapproving.
Other national political leaders, including Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, and Republicans Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, are also well underwater in their approval ratings, according to a summation of polls by RealClearPolitics.
The numbers come at a bad time for Biden, who faces strong political headwinds as he seeks to pass two major pieces of his domestic agenda when Congress returns from recess later this month.
The president is eager to win House passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill, a package he says is even more critical in light of the devastation from Hurricane Ida. Biden is set Friday afternoon to visit Louisiana, where he is expected to talk about the infrastructure package as well as the federal government’s efforts to help hurricane victims recover and rebuild.
But that measure is in some jeopardy because progressives are insisting it be linked to a massive $3.5 trillion budget bill. The bigger package’s fate is uncertain in the Senate, where Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginian who is one of the most conservative members of his Democratic caucus, is balking at the size of the package.
The Senate can pass a reconciliation bill with a simple majority, but Manchin’s vote is essential, since the chamber is split 50-50.