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Biden Job Approval Steady at Lower Level

Biden Job Approval Steady at Lower Level

Story Highlights

  • 42% of U.S. adults approve of job President Biden is doing
  • Latest reading essentially unchanged from last month
  • Biden averaged 44.7% job approval in his third quarter in office

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Joe Biden's job approval rating is holding steady at 42% after a sharp decline in September. His public support has fallen 14 percentage points since June, including a six-point drop last month.

Line graph. Trend in President Joe Biden's job approval ratings. After staying at 50% or above through July of his first year, President Biden's job approval rating fell to 43% in September and is 42% in October.

The latest results are based on an Oct. 1-19 Gallup poll.

Biden began his term with relatively solid approval ratings, ranging between 54% and 57% from January through June. His approval dropped to 50% in July and 49% in August as coronavirus infections surged in the U.S. The chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August, which included the deaths of more than a dozen U.S. military personnel in a terrorist attack at the Kabul airport, was likely the reason Biden's September job approval rating fell further to 43%.

His latest rating suggests no improvement in his public support, as Democrats delayed passage of a pair of infrastructure bills due to internal disagreements on their size and scope. The U.S. economy continues to be plagued by supply chain issues, rising inflation and worker shortages, even as economic growth and stock values remain strong and the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level of the pandemic.

Extreme Party Polarization Characterizes Biden Job Ratings

As has been the case for Biden throughout his presidency, Democrats and Republicans hold diametrically opposite views of his performance. In the latest survey, 92% of Democrats approve and 6% disapprove of the job Biden is doing, while 4% of Republicans approve and 94% disapprove.

The 88-point partisan gap in job approval is the largest for Biden thus far in his presidency and ranks among the largest in more than eight decades of Gallup measurements of presidential approval. Donald Trump is the only president to receive more politically polarized approval ratings, having done so on several occasions, including a record 92 points just before the 2020 election.

Given the extreme partisan gaps in Biden's approval ratings, political independents' changing views of him are largely responsible for the recent declines in his approval rating. Currently, 34% of independents approve of the job Biden is doing, the lowest of his term to date. His approval among independents has fallen a total of 21 points since June, including nine points since August.

Line graph. Trend in President Joe Biden's job approval ratings by political party. President Biden has consistently held approval ratings of 90% or higher among Democrats. His approval ratings among Republicans have typically been below 10%. Sixty-one percent of independents approved of Biden at the beginning of his presidency, and a majority did through June. By July it fell below that mark to 48%. It was 43% in August and is 34% in October.

Biden Averages 44.7% Approval in Third Quarter

Oct. 19 marked the end of Biden's third quarter in office since his Jan. 20 inauguration. During the quarter, which began July 20, Biden's approval rating averaged 44.7%. All other elected presidents except Trump had higher third-quarter job approval ratings, with Trump averaging 36.9% at the same point in his presidency.

In addition to Trump and Biden, Bill Clinton also had a third-quarter average below 50%. In contrast, George W. Bush and John Kennedy had averages exceeding 70%, and Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush averaged better than 60% job approval.

Elected Presidents' Third-Quarter Job Approval Averages
Dates % Approve Number of measurements
Eisenhower Jul 20-Oct 19, 1953 68.3 4
Kennedy Jul 20-Oct 19, 1961 76.8 4
Nixon Jul 20-Oct 19, 1969 59.7 6
Carter Jul 20-Oct 19, 1977 60.2 6
Reagan Jul 20-Oct 19, 1981 56.8 5
G.H.W. Bush Jul 20-Oct 19, 1989 69.0 3
Clinton Jul 20-Oct 19, 1993 47.7 7
G.W. Bush Jul 20-Oct 19, 2001 71.5 10
Obama Jul 20-Oct 19, 2009 52.9 90
Trump Jul 20-Oct 19, 2017 36.9 92
Biden Jul 20-Oct 19, 2021 44.7 3

Biden's average third-quarter job approval rating is down eight points from his second-quarter rating (53%) and 11 points from his first-quarter rating (56%).

This 11-point decline is larger than any prior president registered between his first and third quarters, although it is similar to those for the last three Democratic presidents -- Barack Obama (10 points), Clinton (seven points) and Carter (nine points).

All other presidents showed declines of less than five points between their first and third quarters, if not gains. Two -- George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush -- enjoyed significantly heightened public support amid a strong economy and the weakening of the Soviet bloc in 1989 and the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, respectively.

Changes in Presidential Job Approval Averages, First to Third Quarters, Elected Presidents Since World War II
% Approve, Q1 % Approve, Q2 % Approve, Q3 Change, Q1 to Q3
Eisenhower 70.5 71.5 68.3 -2.2 pts.
Kennedy 74.3 76.2 76.8 +2.5
Nixon 61.6 62.0 59.7 -1.9
Carter 69.1 63.5 60.2 -8.9
Reagan 60.0 60.8 56.8 -3.2
G.H.W. Bush 57.0 63.8 69.0 +12.0
Clinton 54.5 44.0 47.7 -6.8
G.W. Bush 58.4 55.8 71.5 +13.1
Obama 63.0 62.0 52.9 -10.1
Trump 41.3 38.8 36.9 -4.4
Biden 56.0 53.3 44.7 -11.3

Bottom Line

While the decline in Biden's approval rating seems to have stalled for now, it has also not begun to reverse course. With his public support settling in the low 40% range, it is now at a level that has been more typical for recent presidents than his early-term "honeymoon" ratings. All of Trump's approval ratings were below 50%, Obama spent much of his presidency below 50%, and George W. Bush was below that mark for all but the first few months of his second term in office.

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Explore President Biden's approval ratings and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.

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View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

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