Politics

Biden Gets Best Approval Rating Poll in, Like, a Thousand Years

He may have committed an “oops” with some classified documents, and … there was a gaffe about stoves? But he’s back in the black!

Biden walks toward the Marine One helicopter as a Marine salutes him in gray early morning light.
Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Check it out, bro: The Economist and YouGov’s most recent weekly poll finds that 47 percent of Americans approve of the job that Joseph R. Biden is doing as president, while 45 percent disapprove. That makes for a net rating of [punching numbers into Slate’s proprietary algorithm] positive 2 percent, which, given the level of partisan polarization in the contemporary United States, is basically Harry Truman on VJ Day.

According to the Economist/YouGov, it’s the president’s best performance in their poll since July 2021. In FiveThirtyEight’s weighted aggregate measure of approval, Biden is still underwater by seven points—not tremendously impressive, but notably better than the 11-plus points he was down just before last November’s elections. (For the record, FiveThirtyEight did record three 2022 polls in which Biden had a positive net rating, but all were larger outliers relative to his average at the time than the new Economist/YouGov result.)

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

A few developments could explain Biden’s modest surge. As Economist poll wizard G. Elliott Morris observes, gas prices in the U.S. have dropped about $1.60 on average since their 2021 midyear peak. The news environment has also been generally positive for the Democratic Party since it outperformed expectations in the midterms and, more recently, because of the Republican Party’s historic four-day feud over whether Kevin McCarthy should become speaker of the House. (Further good news for Democrats regarding the latter issue: A CBS poll finds that 64 percent of Republicans approved of the way their party handled the speaker vote. Which means “the base” will continue to be disruptive.)

Is it too early to declare that Biden has nothing but “smooth sailing” ahead as he seeks to win a second term and become not just the oldest president ever, but the super oldest president ever?

Advertisement
Advertisement

Well, while it’s never “too early for punditry,” as a rule, one does also have to consider that in the absence of actual legislative activity in a divided Congress, the press may become increasingly distracted by minor Biden scandals, such as his attorneys’ discovery of classified documents at an academic office related to his vice presidency and, as of Wednesday afternoon’s news, at “a second location” about which no details are yet available. (CNN described the initial discovery as “not a good look” in relation to the potential prosecution of Donald Trump for what appears to be a larger and more intentional document-misplacement issue. Should news reports be allowed to use the phrase “not a good look”?)

Also, between now and 2024, there could be plenty more Fox News–style cultural panics like the current one over a Consumer Product Safety commissioner’s comment about potentially seeking to regulate gas stoves. Gas stoves are conservative and macho because they use fossil fuel, apparently, in contrast to induction stoves, which use … electricity? Is electricity a feminine-coded power source? Seems like time to wrap up this post, and possibly my entire career writing about American politics. For the record, Harry Truman’s net approval in October 1945 was plus 73.

Advertisement