WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden faces a slump in summer, with Americans being far less positive about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his assessment of job admission.
A new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows 54% of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance, up from 59% last month. While this is still a relatively solid rating for a president in his first year in office, especially given the country’s deep political polarization, this is a worrying sign for Biden as he faces the biggest domestic and foreign policy challenges of his presidency to date.
The biggest warning sign for the president in the poll focuses on his handling of the pandemic. Last month, 66% of Americans agreed to his responsibility for the public health crisis; Now that number has dropped to 54%, due to a decline in support from Republicans and Independents.
This drop in support coincides with other storm clouds looming over Biden’s presidency, particularly the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan as US forces withdraw and the Taliban consolidate their control over the country.
The poll, conducted August 12-16, when the Taliban invaded Kabul was widely reported in the United States, shows Americans over Biden’s handling of foreign policy (47% agree, 51% disagree ) and national security (52nd) are divided% approve, 46% reject).
Biden’s domestic agenda also faces an uncertain future on Capitol Hill as Democratic leaders seek to mend the party’s divisions over two infrastructure laws and few signs of progress on voting rights or police reform legislation.
Still, Biden’s advisors believe his presidency is likely to rise or fall because of his handling of the pandemic. Back in early summer, the White House virtually declared victory over the virus, helped lift public health restrictions, and encouraged vaccinated Americans to return to normal this summer. Polls showed that Biden was praised not only by nearly all Democrats but also by a healthy percentage of Republicans for his handling of the pandemic.
Some of that support has eroded as a dangerous new strain of COVID-19 takes hold, worries about the virus mount and vaccination rates stagnate in the US, leading more communities, businesses and schools to reintroduce restrictions like masking requirements, which were canceled earlier in the year when the trends were in a more positive direction.
Biden has pleaded with Americans to get vaccinated and has introduced vaccine requirements for federal employees and the military where he can. Resistance to the vaccine has proven persistent, however, mainly in more conservative parts of the country, which are currently seeing a shocking spike in COVID-19 cases.
“I think a lot of that is out of his hands,” said Judy Kunzman, 75, a Democrat from Middletown, Pennsylvania. “If he becomes too dictatorial, there will be a lot more setbacks.”
But Jeanette Ellis-Carter, 69, wants Biden to push for more vaccine mandates across the country. Despite being fully vaccinated, the Cincinnati resident recently contracted COVID-19 and fears that without vaccine requirements, more Americans are at risk of getting sick.
“When I was a kid in school, we were asked to get the polio, measles, vaccine. What’s different about that? ”She said.
Republican officials have led opposition to the vaccine and mask measures introduced by the Biden government this summer. The August AP-NORC poll shows only 21% of Republicans approve of Biden regarding COVID-19, up from 32% last month and 43% in June. Among the independents, 44% now support his handling of the pandemic, up from 72% last month.
These shifts bring Biden’s approval rating for the pandemic more in line with public views about his handling of other important issues that are largely split on partisan lines.
The survey shows, for example, that 49% support Biden’s approach to the economy and 49% disagree. That is less than 57% approval in April.
The White House hopes that two major bills will be passed this fall that would pump money into the economy for infrastructure projects, as well as spending on health, education and family services.
Biden hailed the passage of a hard-won $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill that was passed with bipartisan support. But that move, and a $ 3.5 trillion draft budget brought through the Senate by the Democrats, face an uncertain future in the House of Representatives. Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-California, seeks to navigate between moderates who shy away from the price of the bigger bill and progressives who insist that this is the price to be paid for their support for the bipartisan move.
Another metric to watch out for by the White House: Americans are a little pissed off about which direction the country is going, 39% say the nation is going in the right direction, while 61% say it is going in the wrong direction. Last month, 44% said the nation is on the right track.
The AP-NORC survey of 1,729 adults was conducted August 12-16 using a sample from NORC’s AmeriSpeak probability-based panel, which is representative of the US population. The sample error rate for all respondents is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.