There’s a tendency when a new poll comes out to look at the so-called “topline” numbers – presidential approval being the main one – and then move on.
But it’s oftentimes in the guts of the data where you find the real story. Good national polling rewards deep dives, but people don’t often make them.
I wanted to do just that with a new survey from the Pew Research Center. The topline? Just 41% of Americans approve of the job President Joe Biden is doing, while 56% disapprove. Which is bad! But that number doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the bad news that’s in the poll for Biden.
Here are eight OTHER numbers that tell the full story:
1. 44%. That’s the percentage of Americans who say they are either “very” or “somewhat” confident that Biden can handle the challenges posed by Covid-19. Less than a year ago – March 2021 – that number was at 65%. Among Democrats, that number has absolutely cratered – from 92% in March 2021 to 69% now.
2. 76%. That’s the number of Democrats who say they approve of the job Biden is doing in office. It’s down seven points from Pew polling last fall and down drastically from the 95% support of Democrats Biden enjoyed in March 2021. Around 1 in 3 Democrats (37%) “strongly” approve of the job Biden is doing.
3. 30%. Just 3 in 10 Americans are either “somewhat” or “very” confident that Biden can “bring the country closer together,” which is one of the core pillars on which he built his presidential campaign. “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation,” Biden said in his inauguration speech.
4. 20%. Only 1 in 5 Americans say that Biden will be a successful president. Among Democrats, only 1 in 3 say they feel that way. A plurality (43%) of Americans believes Biden will be an unsuccessful president. While he’s only a year in, that sort of pessimism can be a self-fulfilling prophesy.
5. 72%. A large majority of Americans say that current economic conditions are either “fair” or “poor.” Even among Democrats, only 36% say that the economy is either “good” or “excellent.”
6. 35%. Asked whether they thought the economy would be better or worse next year, roughly 1 in 4 took the pessimist’s view. Just 27% said it would be better than it is today, while 37% said the economy would be about the same as it is today.
7. 89%. That’s the number of Americans who said that “prices of food and consumer goods” are worse today than they were a year ago. Of that 89%, 60% said prices were “a lot” worse, while 29% said they were “somewhat” worse. Another 82% said gas prices are worse this year than last.
8. 69%. Almost 7 in 10 Americans say that the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a major threat to the health of the economy. That number includes large majorities of Democrats (74%) and Republicans (66%).
The overall picture these numbers paint? A public that has lost confidence in Biden’s ability to get us to the other end of this pandemic and that has turned negative about the broader prospects for his presidency. People are worried about the economy – and Covid’s impact on it – while feeling the pinch of inflation on their daily necessities.
It’s a remarkably grim outlook. And one that suggests that Biden’s party is headed for a major comeuppance in November – unless things change both drastically and soon.