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Amid Debt Crisis, Ratings of Biden, Congress Still Low

Amid Debt Crisis, Ratings of Biden, Congress Still Low

Story Highlights

  • 39% approve of Biden’s performance, close to his 37% personal low in April
  • 20% approve of the job Congress is doing, up slightly from 16% last month
  • Mentions of federal debt as top problem in U.S. ticked up in May

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a Gallup poll conducted amid tense budget negotiations in Washington involving raising the federal government’s debt ceiling, President Joe Biden’s latest job approval rating of 39% is just two percentage points higher than his personal low recorded last month. Meanwhile, Americans’ approval of the job Congress is doing has edged up four points since April but remains lackluster, at 20%.


Over the course of the May 1-24 poll, the Biden administration and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy failed to make much headway in their debt ceiling negotiations, but finally succeeded over the weekend. The stakes of Congress passing the budget are high as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the U.S. may default on its financial obligations if the debt limit, the maximum amount of debt the nation can incur, is not raised in early June. While there have been political tussles over raising the debt ceiling in the past, Congress has ultimately always increased it.

Mentions of the federal budget or debt as the most important problem facing the U.S. ticked up this month to 5%, from 2% in April. While it is rare for more than 2% of Americans to cite this category of concerns, it rose to as high as 20% in 2013 and 17% in 2011 during previous debt ceiling showdowns.

Similar percentages of all party groups currently name the budget or federal debt, including 7% of Republicans, 5% of independents and 4% of Democrats.

In addition, a steady 19% of Americans cite the government as the nation’s top problem, with 23% of Republicans, 17% of independents and 19% of Democrats saying as much.

Meanwhile, partisans remain sharply divided in their assessment of Biden, with 84% of Democrats, 33% of independents and 4% of Republicans saying they approve of the job he is doing. The parties are more closely aligned in their rating of the divided Congress, with 24% of Democrats, 17% of independents and 16% of Republicans approving.


Bottom Line

As the U.S. inches closer to possibly defaulting on its obligations for the first time in U.S. history, Americans’ ratings of the president and Congress remain relatively steady at a low level. While the president and Congress are blaming each other for the lack of a deal, a failure to raise the debt limit could result in significantly lower ratings for both parties from the American public.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on May 30, 2023, to reflect a recent agreement reached by the White House and Congress over raising the debt ceiling.

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