by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden is having a quiet week, but the decline in his popularity may be problematic for Democrats if it proves to be more than a summer slump.
Biden’s surprisingly steady approval ratings are starting to crater, though his disapproval numbers have consistently climbed during the first six months of his administration. That is a foreboding trend for Democrats before the 2022 midterm elections when the party is clinging onto power with slim majorities in the House and Senate.
Barely half of the country approves of Biden’s job as president, his lowest average rating since his January inauguration, according to FiveThirtyEight. That number is down from a 55% high in March. While that may not be a dramatic drop, it means Biden is not infallible to the drumbeat of time or shifts in political currents.
Simultaneously, more than two-fifths of the country disapproves of Biden, according to FiveThirtyEight, compared to slightly more than a third who held the same opinion in February.
A dent in a president’s popularity after an initial honeymoon period is “a typical and early signal that the incumbent party is vulnerable in the midterms,” according to Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos.
“A lot can happen between now and then, and the downward trajectory could change to the upside, but this trend seems to align with historical norms,” he told the Washington Examiner.
The 2022 midterm election cycle will be determined by voter turnout, similar to elections before it. But for Paleologos, the contests and Biden’s waning popularity will also hinge on independent voters. Biden’s ploy to appeal to them with bipartisanship does not appear to be working.
“Right now, the latest national polls have Biden’s job approval among independents in the low 40s. If that number dips into the high 30s, it spells trouble ahead,” Suffolk University Political Research Center’s director said.