- First sub-50% approval rating for Biden, but little changed from July
- Partial results after Kabul fell slightly less positive than early August results
- Approval of coronavirus response down; tied with education as top issue
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup's latest job approval rating for President Joe Biden, conducted mostly before the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban earlier this week, is 49%. The current rating is one percentage point below the 50% registered in July and is the lowest of his term thus far.
Line graph. Biden's presidential job approval ratings. Forty-nine percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, his first approval rating below 50%. His prior approval ratings ranged from 50% to 57%.
The Aug. 2-17 survey was conducted as the U.S. prepared to withdraw its military from Afghanistan while also dealing with a surge in COVID-19 infections tied to the delta variant of the virus.
Biden had pledged to withdraw U.S. troops by Aug. 31, but as troops began to leave, the Taliban swiftly took over the country from the Afghani government, seizing control of the capital Kabul on Aug. 15. The U.S. military mission, the longest in its history, began as a response to the 9/11 terror attacks and was aimed at removing the Taliban, which had harbored terrorists, from power.
Interviews conducted in the last three days of the poll's field period, after Kabul fell, showed slightly less positive ratings for Biden than those conducted earlier. Though inconclusive, the later interviews suggest the events in Afghanistan had a modest negative effect on Biden's public approval.
The complete survey results show Biden's approval rating among independents at 43%, down from 48% in July, the prior low for this group. Meanwhile, 93% of Democrats (up slightly from 90% in July) and 7% of Republicans (down from 12%) approve of Biden.
Line graph. Biden's presidential job approval ratings by party. Ninety-three percent of Democrats, 43% of independents and 7% of Republicans approve of the job Biden is doing as president. Compared with prior approval ratings among independents, 43% is a new low after being at 48% in July. It had been 50% or above prior.
Coronavirus Approval Rating Down; Issue Ratings Mostly Middling
In addition to measuring the public's overall approval of Biden, the survey assessed how Americans think Biden is handling seven key issues (Afghanistan was not among these). Biden's scores on these issues are not particularly strong. Slim 51% majorities approve of his handling of the response to the coronavirus and education. Slightly fewer approve of Biden's handling of the economy (46%), foreign affairs (46%) and race relations (45%), with slim majorities disapproving of his handling of each of these issues.
The president's ratings for handling immigration and relations with both China and Russia are weaker, all near 40%.
|The response to the coronavirus||51||48|
|Relations with China||39||55|
|Relations with Russia||39||52|
|Gallup Aug. 2-17, 2021|
In February, during the early "honeymoon" phase of Biden's presidency, Gallup measured the public's view of Biden's job performance on the economy, foreign affairs and the coronavirus. Today, in the first update of his issues ratings since then, his approval score is down eight points on the economy, 10 points on foreign affairs and a steeper 16 points on the coronavirus.
All party groups are now more critical of Biden's handling of the coronavirus situation compared with February, with approval among Republicans and independents down roughly 20 points.
Independents are mostly responsible for Biden's lower ratings on the economy and foreign affairs, though Democrats contribute a little to the decline, giving Biden a slightly less positive evaluation on these. Republicans were already highly unlikely to approve of Biden's performance on these issues in February.
|Feb. 2021||Aug. 2021||Change|
|The response to the coronavirus|
With Biden's last two job approval ratings around 50%, the honeymoon phase of his presidency is over. His approval shows its first sustained decline and now sits below the historical average 53% job approval rating.
The Afghanistan crisis may serve to further erode his public support. The president has been criticized for the United States being caught off guard by the quickness of the Taliban takeover and for struggling to get Americans out of Afghanistan. The worsening coronavirus situation is also a challenge for the president, whose early higher approval ratings were buoyed by the public's positive evaluation of his COVID-19 response at a time when they perceived the pandemic was improving.
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