Biden Sees Marginal Improvement in State-Level Approval Ratings
Biden's approval rating saw its only major quarterly boost in Rhode Island, while voters in Maine were alone in further souring on his job performance.
Little has changed in sentiment about Biden in key presidential battlegrounds such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Nationwide, 43% of voters approve of Biden’s job performance following improvements among suburban women and younger voters.
The bad news for President Joe Biden is that voter perceptions of his job performance still err on the negative, both nationally and at the state level. The good news is that he’s stopped the bleeding — even making modest gains in some parts of the country following a low point last summer.
That’s according to the latest Morning Consult Political Intelligence data tracking perceptions of Biden in every state and at the national level, which provides something of a political foothold as he and his party prepare to blame Republicans for partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill ahead of another expectedly tight presidential election in 2024.
According to the latest quarterly surveys, conducted Oct. 1-Dec. 31, voters in 42 states are more likely to disapprove than approve of Biden’s job performance, down from 45 states in the prior quarter.
Tracking Biden's Popularity Among Voters in All 50 States
The only major quarterly boost to Biden's approval rating came in the solidly blue state of Rhode Island, which has voted for the Democratic candidate in the last nine presidential elections. Half of the state’s voters approve of Biden’s job performance, up 9 percentage points from the third quarter of 2022, while his disapproval rating fell from 56% to 48%. That puts his net approval rating — the share who approve minus the share who disapprove — above water for the first time since the first quarter of 2022.
Biden's net approval rating in Delaware, his beloved home state, remains underwater, but only barely after his approval rating ticked up from 45% to 48% and his disapproval rating dipped from 52% to 49%.
Things got significantly worse for Biden in just one state, though it could be an important one: Maine, which splits its presidential Electoral College votes. In the Pine Tree State, 57% of voters disapprove of Biden’s job performance, up from 54% throughout much of 2022. Roughly 2 in 5 Maine voters (41%) give Biden positive marks — marking his lowest approval rating there since he took office.
In bigger, more consequential states on the 2024 presidential map, opinions about Biden were largely static.
Biden’s Troubles Have Started to Ease in Key 2024 States
In Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — states that were key to Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump in 2020 — Biden’s approval rating sits in the low 40s after improvements within the surveys’ margins of error during the second half of 2022, with solid majorities disapproving of his job performance.
But with the exception of Maine, 2022’s fourth quarter marked the first time in Biden’s presidency without declines in his approval rating across the 2024 presidential battleground.
Biden’s nationwide standing
As Biden enters his third year in office and an expected re-election campaign, national surveys conducted since his inauguration in January 2021 show him to be far less popular than when he took office, but suggest the worst could be behind him.
In July 2022 — the beginning of the third quarter — Biden scored his worst marks since taking office, with 40% approving and 57% disapproving of his job performance at the time. In the months since, as Trump faced negative headlines related to federal and congressional investigations, the 2022 campaign hit full steam and Republicans won back the House, Biden has maintained better ratings.
Biden’s Nationwide Standing Has Recovered From July Nadir
According to surveys conducted Jan. 1-12, 43% of voters nationwide approve of his job performance, while 54% disapprove. The figures are similar to monthly surveys conducted throughout the fourth quarter, reflecting the general stability of public sentiment in the quarterly state-by-state surveys as well as recent shorter-term surveys.
Notably in the eyes of some Democratic strategists, a sizable chunk of Biden’s detractors in the electorate (about a quarter of the 54% who disapprove) only “somewhat disapprove” of his job handling. According to exit polling from the November elections, these voters were more likely to opt for the Democratic congressional candidate than the Republican, underscoring the unique dynamics of that election, which voters viewed more as a choice between two parties than the typical referendum on the party in power.
That has imbued Democrats with a sense of optimism, regardless of where the president’s approval ratings sits. As one Democratic campaign operative put it, some voters may not like Biden but also fear a return to Republican power — a dynamic they hope could help their chances of winning back Congress and the White House in 2024 even if they’re not fully sold on the president’s leadership.
Many of those voters are among America's youngest, a group that overall continues to give more favorable marks to Biden than their older peers.
The latest surveys show 46% of voters ages 18-34 approve of his job performance, up 6 points since July, while 47% disapprove, a 5-point decline over that time frame. The disapproval figure includes just 30% who do so strongly, the smallest share of firm dissension when accounting for age among a group that is traditionally more favorable toward Democrats.
Among women in America’s suburbs — the group that helped Democrats beat Republicans in the race for the House in 2018 and the presidency in 2020 — Biden’s approval rating has risen from a low of 40% in July to 45% in the January surveys. His improvements have been less pronounced in America’s urban communities, where a gender gap in his approval rating has closed in recent months.
On the racial front, Biden remains most popular with Black voters — a core part of the constituency that won him the Democratic presidential nomination. His approval rating with this group is 66%, up from 62% in July.
Few white voters (38%) approve of Biden’s job performance, with educational attainment continuing to serve as a key divide. While almost half of college-educated white voters (47%) approve of Biden’s job performance, only 31% of white voters without degrees give him positive marks. Both figures are up slightly since July.
For Morning Consult’s state-level survey data, weights are applied to each state separately based on age, gender, education, race, home ownership, marital status, presidential voting history and — for a subset of states — race by education as well as an age-by-gender interaction.
Margins of error for responses from all voters in each state range from 1 to 5 points. For more detailed information, you can download the 50-state data set for Biden’s approval ratings among all voters here.
Eli Yokley is a senior data reporter at Morning Consult covering politics and campaigns. @eyokley