Voters Aren’t Rewarding Biden for Democrats’ Legislative Wins

45% of voters approve and 52% disapprove of Biden’s job performance, unimproved since before infrastructure enactment, House passage of Build Back Better Act
President Joe Biden delivers a Nov. 16 speech on infrastructure while visiting the NH 175 bridge spanning the Pemigewasset River in Woodstock, N.H. The visit to the bridge, listed in poor condition since 2013, follows the Nov. 15 signing of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure. (John Tully/Getty Images)
December 02, 2021 at 6:00 am UTC

After months of infighting, Democrats in recent weeks finally notched significant victories in delivering on President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, but that hasn’t translated into an uptick in popularity for America’s top elected official, Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking shows.

Recent Legislative Victories Haven't Buoyed Biden's Popularity

Voters were asked whether they approve or disapprove of President Joe Biden’s job performance
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Data points reflect 3-day moving averages of at least 6,226 registered voters in 2021, with margins of error of +/-1%.

On the numbers

  • In polling conducted Nov. 28-30, 45 percent of voters approved of Biden’s job performance and 52 percent disapproved, marking a low in his net approval rating in daily tracking after a gradual decline that was accelerated by the chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan in mid-August.
  • Neither Biden’s Nov. 15 signing of the bipartisan infrastructure bill or House Democrats’ Nov. 19 passage of the Build Back Better Act, his social spending and climate legislation, yielded any sustained boost to public sentiment about the president.
  • That stasis is also apparent among Democratic voters, among whom 44 percent “strongly” approve of his job performance, virtually unchanged since his infrastructure bill passed on Nov. 5. 

The context

After Biden’s job approval rating fell underwater amid the Afghanistan withdrawal, there was talk that time and legislative victories could help heal the public’s view of the president. But polling over the past several weeks — which came as voters raised concerns about inflation and yet another variant of the coronavirus — suggest that reversing course will be difficult.

Less than a year out from the midterm elections, that could prove challenging for the Democrats working to hold on to the House and Senate, especially given the fact that voters’ views about Biden look strikingly similar to perceptions about then-President Donald Trump four years ago — before Republicans went on to suffer heavy losses en route to the House minority.

How Biden compares to Trump four years ago

  • The share of voters who approve of Biden is just 3 percentage points higher than the share who approved of Trump (42 percent) in Morning Consult polling conducted Nov. 28-30, 2017.
  • When it comes to their respective bases, Biden’s job approval rating among Democrats (83 percent) is slightly better than Trump’s was among Republicans four years ago (81 percent). Among independents, 35 percent back Biden now, compared with 36 percent who approved of Trump at this time four years ago.
  • Among those who voted for Biden in 2020, 82 percent approve of his job performance, slightly less than the 86 percent of Trump’s 2016 voters who supported him in November 2017.
  • Biden’s approval rating is stronger in urban America than Trump’s was four years ago in rural communities (60 percent to 50 percent), but suburban voters’ approval of the current president (44 percent) is only slightly better than how they saw his predecessor (41 percent).

The latest survey was conducted Nov. 28-30, 2021, among 18,914 registered voters, with a 1-point margin of error. 

A headshot photograph of Eli Yokley
Eli Yokley
U.S. Politics Analyst

Eli Yokley is Morning Consult’s U.S. politics analyst. Eli joined Morning Consult in 2016 from Roll Call, where he reported on House and Senate campaigns after five years of covering state-level politics in the Show Me State while studying at the University of Missouri in Columbia, including contributions to The New York Times, Politico and The Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter @eyokley. Interested in connecting with Eli to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

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