President Joe Biden's average approval rating has dropped below 50% for the first time this year, with a dip driven by declining ratings among independents tied to the Delta surge of COVID-19.
Biden's averages this week are at 49.8% at FiveThirtyEight, which tallies its figures using weighted and adjusted numbers, and at 49.4% at RealClearPolitics, which uses raw averages in its tallies, reports NY Mag's Ed Kilgore.
“We don’t know the range in which Biden’s approval will ultimately settle, but if the past two presidents are any indication, it’ll be a narrow one: Donald Trump's approval mostly hovered between 40 and 45 percent during his presidency, while Barack Obama’s approval tended to fall between 45 and 50 percent," writes FiveThirtyEight's Geoffrey Skelley.
It would seem that Biden's numbers have dropped because of the catastrophic Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, but some of the polls used in the averaging were taken in the weeks before the country fell.
Biden's approval ratings have been ranging from 45% with Rasmussen to 53% in Fox News polling, and Kilgore notes that "Biden’s lowest average is still higher than Trump’s highest over his four years in office."
Skelley notes that Biden has been losing among self-identified independents, where the ratings have fallen by 2 to 4 percentage points in recent weeks, according to a sampling of polls taken since early July by The Economist/YouGov, Morning Consult, and Ipsos.
However, Morning Consult's polling has shown Biden's approval ratings dropping among independents since he took office in January, going from the low 50s to the low 40s, in a drop that was already happening even before the delta variant of COVID ramped up.
The dip is also sparking concerns among some Democrats about the 2022 midterms, with Democrats fighting to hold onto a narrow majority of three seats in the House and a tie in the Senate.
There have only been two times since World War II that a sitting president's party gained House seats in the midterms, with former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush holding that distinction. But then, both presidents were holding Gallup approval ratings of over 60%.
Kilgore concluded that as it's not likely that Biden's approval will grow to those levels, the president "and his allies should probably stop worrying about his approval ratings and just get as much done as they possibly can while they still control Congress."
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