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President Biden's Key Issues Approval: Sink or Swim?

Americans feel the impact of having a weak president.

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz
Editor's note: The RealClearMarkets/TIPP Economic Optimism Index will be released at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, November 7th, on the RealClearMarkets website.

President Joe Biden's job approval rating stands at 39% in early November, rebounding from 36% in October, which marked the lowest score since he took office. Biden's job approval stands at 78% among Democrats, 13% among Republicans, and 24% among independents.

His approval rating for individual issues is even worse, with no issue receiving favorable ratings from over one-third of Americans.

These are the key findings of a TIPP Poll conducted from November 1 to 3. The national poll surveyed 1,400 Americans using an online survey and has a credibility interval of +/-2.7 percentage points.

The overarching message emerging from the poll is that Americans perceive Biden as a weak president who faces a challenging road ahead as a candidate in next year's presidential election.

Presidential Leadership Index

Two decades ago, TIPP developed the Presidential Leadership Index, an innovative metric considering favorability, job approval, and Presidential Leadership.

We compute the favorability component based on the survey question, "Overall, is your opinion of the President generally favorable, generally unfavorable, or are you not familiar enough to say one way or the other?"

The basis for the index's job approval component is the question: "In general, do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as President, or are you not familiar enough to say one way or the other?"

The question, "How would you describe the leadership that Joe Biden is providing for the country?" forms the basis for the leadership component.

The Presidential Leadership Index is the average of its three components. For the index and its components, a reading above 50.0 signals optimism, and below 50.0 indicates pessimism.

A deeper analysis shows this month, all components are below 50, indicating pessimism. The Leadership Index and its components have dropped by approximately 32% over the 34 months, roughly at the rate of one percent a month.

The index posted 42.9 in November, bouncing from 39.0 in October - its lowest reading during Biden's presidency. Further, all the three index components are below 50.

Below is the chart by party. Democratic support for Biden remains strong.  Since taking office, his support dropped 10% among Democrats from 90.5 in February 2021 to 81.0 in November 2023.

Meanwhile, support dropped 39% among Republicans on the index from 24.9 in February 2021 to 15.2 this month.

Further, it has declined 45% among independents from 53.4 in February 2021 to 29.5 this month.

Note that while Democrats are hopeful at 81.0 (above 50.0), both Republicans (15.2) and independents (29.5)  express deep pessimism.

Interestingly, the improvement in November is coming from Democrats and Republicans since independents declined.

The table below presents the Presidential Leadership Index for 36 demographic categories for November 2023.

A reading above 50.0 signals optimism, and below 50.0 indicates pessimism.

Direction Of Country

Under Biden’s leadership, most Americans think the nation is going in the wrong direction.

Each month, the TIPP Poll probes the general sentiment​ about the country’s direction using the survey question, "In general, how satisfied are you with the direction that the country is going in at this time?"

Using the responses, we also compute the Direction of the Country index. The index ranges from 0 to 100. An index of 50 or above is positive, below 50 is negative, and 50 is neutral.

Overall, the index entered the negative zone in September 2021 and has remained there for 27 months. The November reading is 37.5, bouncing up from 31.6 in October.

Democrats post the most optimistic reading, at 64.3. Republicans give the lowest score (19.4), indicating extreme pessimism. Independents are in the middle at 26.4.

Independents have been pessimistic throughout Biden's term, which does not bode well for his reelection.

Grading Biden’s Handling Of Issues

When asked to assess his overall performance using the familiar grading system from A to F, only 33% of respondents gave President Biden an A or B. Most Democrats (68%) give him good grades, while 79% of Republicans and 57% of independents give him a D or F. Notably, almost two-thirds (63%) of Republicans have assigned him an F.

Each month, we ask respondents to grade President Biden's performance on nine issues plus overall. The chart below shows the percentage of respondents who gave good grades for these issues.

It is noteworthy that Biden’s performance rates below one-third on all nine issues. On six of the nine issues, his favorable ratings are in the 30% to 32% range.

Also, note that Biden’s overall performance at 33% is better than his ratings for the nine issues. 

Biden’s Handling Of The Economy

In the TIPP Poll, the economy is the #1 issue for Americans. 

We have written in these pages about how Bidenomics, Biden’s signature economic policy, is a failure.

Supporting that finding, President Biden's handling of the economy gets good grades only from 30% of Americans, nine points less than his overall job approval of 39%. Over half (51%) give him a D or F.

Among Democrats, only 62% give him good grades, much lower than his overall job approval rating of 78%, a 16-point difference.

This month, 78% of Republicans and 61% of independents give him a D or F.

Handling Immigration

Americans consider immigration the #2 important issue facing the country following the economy. It is not an exaggeration to state that there is an invasion at the southern border, and the crisis results from President Biden's weak immigration policies. Even Democratic politicians in several states and cities have declared states of emergency due to the border crisis. The terrible situation is a catastrophe on multiple fronts: national security, sovereignty, human trafficking, and drug trafficking.

Only one in four (27%) gives President Biden good grades for handling immigration and border security issues. Over half (57%) of Democrats give Biden an A or B. Eight in ten (80%) Republicans, along with 58% of independents, are dissatisfied with President Biden’s handling of immigration. The share of Republicans and independents giving good grades is 9% and 13%, respectively.

Handling Of Israel-Hamas Conflict

After the conflict broke out on October 7, President Biden visited Israel and assured U.S. support.

He said: I come to Israel with a single message: You are not alone. You are not alone. As long as the United States stands — and we will stand forever — we will not let you ever be alone.

Only 32% give Biden favorable grades for his handling of the conflict. While 43% give him failing grades, 17% rate his performance as average.

Biden's support for Israel in late October has angered many of his one-time supporters, leading to a sharp split within his party. However, 62% give Biden an A or B. One in six (16%) give him a D or F.

On this issue, two-thirds (66%) of Republicans give Biden failing grades, while 49% of independents do so.

Handling Iran

The Hamas attack on Israel brought into focus Biden’s handling of Iran.  Only 28% see him favorably, and 46% don’t approve of his performance.

Handling Russia-Ukraine War

President Biden has yet to develop a vision of how to end the Ukraine war. ‘As long as it takes’ is his strategy. He has already committed over $100 billion, and the U.S. is on tap to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction, estimated above $750 billion, when the war ends.

Only 32% give President Biden good grades for his handling of the war. But, most of the Democrats (62%) give him good grades. Most Republicans (71%) and independents (46%) give him failing grades.

Nearly one-half (46%) of Americans are dissatisfied with President Biden's efforts to settle the conflict.

Americans are feeling the impact of having a weak president.

Under President Biden, the nation has transitioned from energy independence to dependence. Biden's immigration policies are perceived as weak, and the U.S. has witnessed over seven million people crossing the Southern border. On the foreign affairs front, America's standing as a global leader is in jeopardy.

Fixing these problems won't be easy. Biden's approval ratings are quite low and may not be of much help if he becomes the Democratic nominee. It's up to the voters to decide if his vision is the best for our country.

Our performance in 2020 for accuracy as rated by Washington Post:

Source: Washington Post

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