It’s Joe Biden’s third thud in the past two months at the bottom of what had been a fairly sympathetic polling series from Reuters. The latest tracking results show only a margin-of-error shift since mid-June, cementing the perception that Biden’s not rebounding. To the extent the job-approval line has wiggled, it appears to have been the proverbial dead-cat bounce:
U.S. President Joe Biden’s public approval rating fell to 36% this week to tie the lowest rating of his 19 months in the White House as inflation takes its toll on American life, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Tuesday.
The two-day national poll found that 59% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s job performance.
Biden’s approval rating has been below 50% since August 2021 and has hovered around its record-low since first hitting it in May, raising alarms his Democratic Party is on track to lose control of at least one chamber of Congress in the Nov. 8 midterm election. Biden’s rating fell three percentage points from 39% a week earlier.
And once again, the data now suggests that the confidence crisis has begun to infect his own base:
Biden’s approval rating within his own party fell to 69% this week from 74% a week earlier. Only 11% of Republicans approve of his performance in office.
That is the one data point that may still argue that Biden has yet to hit a floor. Democrats still approve of the job Biden is doing 69/29, which means he has a way to fall yet with his base.
One has to wonder, though, whether we’re seeing the functional floor for Biden. It’s hard to imagine Biden performing his job more poorly than he is now, and even the persistence of high inflation hasn’t shifted enough Democrats in this series to get him below 36%. You don’t usually see dead-cat bounces off of mid-air, either.
We might have hit the point among Democrats where Biden can’t really pick himself up any longer. The 69% who are still sticking with him are presumably almost entirely loyalists who will back Biden as long as Biden sticks to doctrinaire progressivism. If Biden suddenly shifts back to the right — say, on energy policy by backing oil and gas production and nuclear power — he could gain a rebound among independents and moderate Republicans. However, he would lose the loyalist Democrat voters who are marching with Biden into electoral hell at the moment.
I’d guess that Biden’s at least close to a functional floor, which in this series will be somewhere in the mid-30s. And at this point, he might not be far off from his functional ceiling, too. Politically speaking, he couldn’t be more toast if he spread avocado all over himself and sprinkled himself liberally with salt and pepper.
Biden hit bottom again in the RCP aggregate tracking after adding the Reuters poll result into the mix. He’s back at 37.7% approval, tying his previous low from ten days ago. Biden’s RCP disapproval is at 57.1%, just a skosh below his high of 57.5% on June 30, where he hit his highest negative gap of -19.4 points. Today’s reading is -19.1 points, so he’s flirting on the edge of even worse numbers mainly as a function of undecideds that may move into disapproval.