Washington, Sept. 15 (AP) President Joe Biden’s popularity has improved significantly from its summer low, but concerns about his handling of the economy persist, Associated Press polling shows- NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Support for Biden rose from a low of 36% in July to 45%, largely thanks to a rebound in support from Democrats just two months before November’s midterm elections.
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During a few bleak summer months, when gasoline prices peaked and lawmakers seemed deadlocked, Democrats faced the possibility of massive losses to Republicans.
Their prospects look brighter after a string of legislative successes that left more Americans ready to judge the president on his favorite terms: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty.” Compare me to the alternative.
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The president’s approval rating remains underwater, with 53% of American adults disapproving of him, and the economy continues to be a weakness for Biden.
Just 38% approve of his economic leadership as the country faces stubbornly high inflation and Republicans try to make household finances the focus of the next vote.
Still, the poll suggests Biden and his fellow Democrats are gaining momentum as voter enthusiasm and turnout take precedence.
The average price of gasoline has fallen 26% since June to $3.71 a gallon, easing some pressure on family budgets even as inflation remains high. Congress also passed two landmark bills in the past month that could reshape the economy and reduce carbon emissions.
Republicans have also faced resistance since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and his abortion protections. And Biden openly portrays former President Donald Trump as a fundamental threat to democracy, a charge that gained momentum after an FBI search of Trump’s Florida home found classified documents belonging to the US government.
This combination of factors has won Biden plaudits among loyal Democrats, even if Americans are still lukewarm about his leadership.
“I don’t believe he’s the best person for the job at all – he’s the best of the people we had to choose from,” said Betty Bogacz, 74, retired from Portland, Oregon. “He represented stability, which I don’t think President Trump represented at all.”
Biden’s approval rating did not exceed 40% in May, June or July as inflation surged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The President’s rating is now similar to what it was throughout the first quarter of the year, but it continues to be below early highs. His average approval rating in AP-NORC polls during his first six months in office was 60%.
Biden’s recent surge in popularity is being fueled by renewed support from Democrats, who had shown signs of dejection earlier this summer. Now, 78% of Democrats approve of Biden’s professional performance, up from 65% in July. Sixty-six percent of Democrats approve of Biden on the economy, up from 54% in June.
Interviews suggest a big reason for Biden’s rebound is Trump’s re-emergence on the national stage, which has led voters such as Stephen Jablonsky, who called Biden “OK,” to say that voting Democratic is essential to the survival of the nation.
“The country has a political virus by the name of Donald Trump,” said Jablonsky, a retired music teacher from Stamford, Connecticut.
“We have a man who is psychotic and doesn’t seem to care about law and order and democracy. The Republican Party has gone to such an unattractive and dangerous place, this upcoming election in November could be the last election we ever had.
Republicans feel just as negative about Biden as before. Only about 1 in 10 Republicans approve of the president overall or on the economy, similar to ratings from early summer.
Christine Yannuzzi, 50, doubts Biden, 79, has the ability to lead.
“I don’t think he’s mentally, completely aware of everything going on all the time,” said Yannuzzi, who lives in Binghamton, New York. “The economy is doing very badly and I find it hard to believe that the unemployment rate is as low as people say.”
“I think the middle class is really disappearing and families are working two or three jobs per person to get there,” the Republican added.
Twenty-nine percent of American adults say the economy is doing well, while 71% say it is doing badly. In June, 20% said conditions were good and 79% said they were poor.
Democrats are more positive now than they were in June, 46% to 31%. Republicans remain largely negative, with just 10% saying conditions are good and 90% saying they are bad.
About a quarter of Americans now say things in the country are going in the right direction, 27%, up from 17% in July. Seventy-two percent say things are going in the wrong direction.
Nearly half of Democrats — 44% — have an optimistic outlook, down from 27% in July. Only 9% of Republicans are optimistic about the nation’s direction.
Akila Atkins, a 27-year-old stay-at-home mom of two, thinks Biden is “OK” and isn’t too confident his solutions will curb rising prices.
Atkins says it has become a little more difficult over the past year to manage her family’s expenses, and she is frustrated that she can no longer rely on the expanded child tax credit. The tax credit paid monthly was part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and has since expired.
The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the tax credit expansion nearly halved the child poverty rate last year to 5.2%. Atkins said it helps them “keep afloat with bills, kids’ clothes, shoes, school supplies, everything.”
Whatever worries the Democrat in Grand Forks, North Dakota has about Biden, she thinks he’s better than Trump.
“I always feel like he could be better, but again, he’s better than our last president,” she said. (PA)
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