Biden’s Approval Ratings Dip Approaching Congress Elections

Nanditha Ram ‘25

With just six months away from the next Congressional elections, President Biden’s approval ratings have reached an all time low. Fueled by both political and economic reasons, this drop in public approval will likely influence major political changes in the next few years.

Why are Biden’s approval ratings dropping?

Currently, the Biden administration faces a multitude of domestic and foreign issues. Still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation has increased 8.5% from last year, the highest change since 1981 [1]. Furthermore, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia continues, with no end in sight. As a result, the US has imposed economic sanctions on Russian exports—most notably, their oil—causing an increase in gas prices throughout the US [1]. Finally, immigration issues, a constant in American politics, have once again come to the forefront.

The most discussed of these issues are the high rates of inflation and the state of the economy. Both the pandemic and Russian economic sanctions have played a role in increasing inflation rates. As a result, the common sentiment among American adults is that Biden’s handling of the economy and foreign conflicts has not been satisfactory. In a poll conducted by NBC, Biden’s approval ratings have dropped to a dismal 40%, not only the lowest in his presidency, but the second lowest amongst presidents since the 1950s one year in [2]. In comparison, 55% of adults do not approve of his job as president, including many Americans who voted for Biden in the 2020 election.

As common goods become more expensive, one of the largest concerns among American people is the current cost of living. In the same poll, 62% of adults reported that, with their current income, they cannot sustain the rising cost of living [3]. As a result, the majority of Americans want Biden to focus on domestic affairs instead of foreign affairs.

Whether Biden can effectively support Ukraine, which may risk further impairing the American economy, while also being able to lower inflation rates, the issue most important to American people, is what will determine his approval ratings from this stage forward. It appears that the president’s attempts to remain positive about the economy, including pointing out the declining unemployment rates [4], have not appeased the public. Nor has his proposed Build Back Better Bill which, according to a statement from the White House, will “create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out” [5].

In another debated action, Biden plans to pull back Title 42 next month, a policy instituted during the pandemic by the former president. According to CNN, the measure “allows border authorities to turn migrants back to Mexico or their home countries because of the public health crisis” [6]

What will this mean for the Congressional elections?

National elections for the Congress will be held on Saturday, November 5th this year, with 34 Senate seats and 435 house seats up for election. As of right now, Democrats maintain a very slim majority in the house, and a 50/50 split in the Senate. But President Biden’s low ratings, as well as powerful opponents on the Republican side, make it unlikely for Democrats to stay in power. According to NBC News, 46% of registered American voters prefer that Republicans gain a majority in Congress, compared to 44% for Democrats [3].

Therefore, it will be an uphill battle for Democratic runners, who not only face strong Republican support, but also a largely unsatisfied Democratic and Independent population. In hopes of turning public opinion, several Democratic candidates are attempting to distance themselves from Biden’s policies. Notably, Democratic senators in New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, all swing states this election, are publicly against Biden’s Title 42 plan [6]. Many allege that lifting the plan would create surges of immigration that the government is ill equipped to handle.

Despite forecasts for a Republican-led Congress, election results are impossible to determine just yet. Just last year, Republicans surprised even themselves with several wins in the congressional election, creating a far narrower margin than expected [7] The Biden Administration’s actions over the upcoming months will be critical in determining which party ends up in control of Congress, and by extension, the direction that the nation will take in terms of national and foreign policies. So for now, all we can do is wait – and for Democrats, hope.