- Biden’s ratings on various issues on par with or behind his recent predecessors
- Biden’s rating on relations with China lowest of the three presidents
- Approval of Biden’s COVID-19 pandemic response higher than Trump’s
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup reviews Americans’ opinions of President Joe Biden’s handling of five key issues as well as ratings of Barack Obama and Donald Trump on the same issues: the economy, immigration, foreign affairs in general, and relations with Russia and China. A sixth chart compares Biden and Trump on the pandemic response.
Biden’s approval ratings on all of these issues come from Gallup’s Feb. 1-23 survey in which Biden’s overall job approval registered 42%, consistent with where it’s been for the past 18 months.
1. The Economy: Not Biden’s Strongest Suit
Biden’s latest job approval rating on the economy is about halfway between the worst ratings Trump and Obama each received. Both of his predecessors’ low points on the economy came toward the beginning of their presidencies, after which they saw strong improvement. This holds out some hope for Biden that he could follow a similar trajectory. Indeed, his 34% rating in February is slightly improved from his own low point of 31% in August 2022.
2. Foreign Affairs: A Quick Decline
Like Obama, Biden began his term in office with a majority of Americans approving of the job he was doing on foreign affairs in general. Yet, Biden’s approval ratings for handling foreign affairs have been 43% or lower since late 2021, including 41% now. However, Biden remains above the lowest points for both of his predecessors on the issue -- 31% for Obama and 33% for Trump.
3. Immigration: Lower Than Trump
As recently highlighted in our weekly newsletter, Biden has mostly fared worse than his recent predecessors on the issue of immigration. Fewer Americans approve of the job he is doing on immigration than ever did for Trump. Obama received low approval on immigration at points in his first and second terms but saw some improvement by the end of his presidency.
4. Handling Russia: Similar to Obama and Trump
With the Russia-Ukraine war, which started over a year ago, being a major foreign policy focus of his presidency, Biden has spent a lot of time communicating to the American public about Russia. Today, Biden stands virtually tied with Trump’s last reading on handling U.S.-Russia relations, and his 37% approval rating on Russia matches Gallup’s only rating of Obama on the matter, from 2014.
5. Relations With China: Room for Improvement
For the third year in a row, Americans see China, more than any other country, as the United States’ greatest enemy in the world. As relations with China have soured, Biden’s marks on how he is handling it have worsened. Rising tensions between the nations in the past two years may also be a factor in the decline of Biden’s marks.
Gallup measured Obama’s approval on relations with China (39%) just once, in 2012, while it did so on three occasions for Trump, ranging from 40% to 47%.
6. Response to COVID: A Strong Point
COVID-19 emerged as a global pandemic in 2020 and thus has only been an issue of concern for Biden and Trump. This is one area Biden has generally outperformed his predecessor, with approval ratings ranging between 47% and 67%. After an initial high of 60% for Trump at the beginning of the pandemic, his ratings were between 36% and 44% in the summer and fall of 2020.
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